Play the harlot
How would you feel if your yearly work review summed up your performance as, “Unfaithful?” You might expect negatives like “incompetent” or “lazy”. But, “unfaithful”? What if your your work was described as“adulterous”? Adulterous? Surely you’re not married to your job!
And yet, throughout the Bible, the LORD says to His people, “You are unfaithful… You are adulterous… You play the harlot… You play the whore.”
We expect verdicts like “disobedient” or “wicked” or “transgressing”, but “unfaithful”? Are we meant to be married to the LORD? Yes.
You see the Bible is a love story. It begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve. It ends with the marriage of the Lord Jesus to His people (Revelation 19). And all throughout we are told that our relationship to the Lord is likea marriage. He is not simply our Master, but our Husband as well.
But the course of true love never did run smooth. Which brings us to Hosea. He was a contemporary of Isaiah, living in the northern kingdom in the 8th century BC.
Essentially the LORD said to Hosea, “I’ve got a task for you. You’re going to experience what it feels like to be Me in the great Love Story.” This is what happened:
“The LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer.” (Hosea 1:2-3)
When Hosea marries the prostitute Gomer, the world is shown a little of how we treat the LORD. True to form, Gomer doesn’t stick around for long She leaves the marital home and returns to the brothel. But Hosea’s job was not over. Even though she left him, God called him to pursue her and to win her back. This is what He tells poor Hosea:
“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. 2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: 3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.” (Hosea 3:1-3)
Hosea has to go to the brothel and pay 15 shekels – the prostitute-price – to get his wife back.
Can you imagine it? Banging on the brothel door. “I’m here for Gomer… I’m her husband… Fine, I’ll pay whatever it costs, I just want her back.”
He is so vulnerable. He’sputting his heart on the line once again with a woman who keeps spurning his love. Why should he pay for his own wife? Because that’s what the LORD is like.
When we look to the Cross, we see a Husband who has left His home, come to our house of slavery, begs us to return and who pays the price to redeem us. He is vulnerable, and shamed, arms outstretched to receive us back.
What is your view of the LORD?
An impersonal force? A Sergeant-Major in the Sky? A Heavenly Slave-Driver? A Moral Policeman? A Cosmic Headmaster? If we’ve inherited such views, it’s not been from the Bible.
In the Bible, the LORD is a Bridegroom. A Husband. A Royal Prince, who pledges Himself in marriage to we who “play the harlot.”
This means the LORD is not looking for soldiers, slaves or moralists, He’s not seeking good intentions, good efforts or good works. He’s calling Gomers to come home.