The Lord's unfailing love leads to Redemption
By Gloria Nesloney
Psalm 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD:
for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
WHERE IS RIO GRANDE AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT?
If you are from South Texas, you would say in South Texas. You would say it’s at your back door if you are from Brownsville, El Paso, or Del Rio. You would be right to say it is in Colorado. You would be right to say it is in New Mexico. You would be right to say in the United States. You would be right to say in Mexico. You would be right, and you could still be wrong. How? The perspective of where you are and what you know at the time. If you grew up in the Rio Grande, you may feel safe and know the diversity, great places to hang out, the location to stay away from, and the people you could get along with and those you wouldn’t trust.
You would want to go again if you had a wonderful experience there. If you didn’t have a great experience there, you wouldn’t return. You would want to go if you heard only great things about the place. If you only heard bad things about there, you would stay away. If you were a journalist, this would be great news for you. But if you were someone who wants to promote Real Estate or Tourism. Each person would tell their own story in their own way depending on what they were emphasizing.
The Rio Grande, known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte or simply the Río Bravo, is one of the principal rivers in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The length of the Rio Grande is over 1,800 miles. It runs from south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. It also splits into other rivers like Rio Chula or Rio de Taos.
If I told you it ran through San Antonio, you would probably think I am talking about San Antonio, Texas, and I would be wrong. But if you knew I was talking about San Antonio and San Antonio Park in New Mexico, if you knew where that was, then you would know I was telling the truth. Again if I said it is 20 minutes from Alamo, you need to know if I am talking about the monument in San Antonio, Texas or the small city in South Texas.
The cities included in the Rio Grande Valley are Port Isabel, Los Fresnos, Harlingen, San Juan, Brownsville, San Benito, Raymondville, Elsa, Mercedes, Donna, Alamo, Pharr, McAllen, Mission, and Rio Grande City, along with some valleys, hills, farmland, industrial and commercial properties.
TRADITIONS OR RELIGIONS IN RIO GRANDE?
Religion has been present in the Rio Grande Valley since the Spanish colonization. There is a significant shrine in San Juan. People travel from all over the world to come. One offshoot of this religion is the worship of Santa Muerte. It is not of the same religion, but many people believe it is. However, the offshoot is a cult image, a female deity, to honor the dead. Some people put shrines in their homes and public places, not knowing it is related to idolatry. It reminds me of an overly used phrase in the movie the Fiddler on the Roof who constantly says “It’s tradition” People don’t even know why they continue in the practice of the rituals for lighting candles and particular incense; they just know to do it without question or because they are forced to participate in idolatry.
THE WRITER AND CONTEXT
The reason for this explanation is to get a concept of how to understand the bible when it speaks of people from regions, cities, or nations. To get an understanding of its people and their beliefs or traditions is in the details of perspective from the writer’s point of view and experience. When addressing people within a tribe, the writer could use a figure of speech to describe a group of people like those from another region.
The writer could compare someone from the inner city as business-oriented or from the coastlands as a merchant or mariner. Maybe they can be described as those who live in desert places and have learned to live off the land. Maybe they are skilled individuals who travel. Whatever the writer is trying to portray is as best as he knows how to describe with his own experience of what he has seen or heard about people, places, and things.
JACOB AND ISRAEL
Let’s look at the names Jacob and Israel. When described, the author, prophet, or apostle sometimes refers to the same person in the Bible, but they are used in different contexts and have different meanings. Jacob was the son of Isaac and the twin brother of Esau. The name Jacob means "heel-catcher" or "supplanter" in Hebrew, which refers to the story in the Bible where Jacob was born holding onto Esau's heel. Jacob was known for his cunning and deceitfulness, demonstrated when he tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing.
God changed Jacob's name to Israel. The name Israel means "God prevails" or "God strives," It was given to Jacob after he wrestled with an angel and prevailed. This event symbolized Jacob's transformation from a deceptive and self-centered person to a man who had faith in God and was committed to fulfilling God's plan for his life.
So while Jacob and Israel refer to the same person, they represent different aspects of his character. Jacob represents his early life as a deceiver, while Israel represents his later transformation and relationship with God. Jacob, however, is not a location, but Israel is. Israel is a nation of tribes, people set apart for God, a culture with different customs, traditions, and one GOD, unlike their neighbors.
So what happened to Israel, the nation? They did not do what was right in the sight of God. They raised statutes and idols and worshipped them. They became people who were not set apart but indulged in all types of sin. They were not keeping the commandments of God. Instead, they were prostituting themselves even in holy places. The nation was divided, and the people of God were becoming viler then some of their neighbors. The worse part of it was the children of Israel were forced to the new rules and regulations that they were taught, they didn’t know any better and so they did as their forefathers did because “It’s Tradition”
WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU STILL HOLD ON TO THAT YOU DON’T KNOW WHY YOU DO IT? THE SAME IS TRUE ABOUT HABITS, ADDICTIONS, SUPERSTITIONS, AND BELIEFS.
TEST: 1. LISTEN TO THE QUESTION
WHERE IS GOMER, AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT?
Some may not know where Gomer is or what they are known for. They are nomadic tribes traveling by horse from Northern Iran and South Russia. If you are confused, it is because you have never heard of Gomer, or maybe your information about Gomer was a different answer than the question required.
TEST: 2. LISTEN TO THE QUESTION
WHO IS GOMER, AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HIM?
If I gave you more detail in the question, you would be certain of who I was talking about. Maybe I was asking about Gomer Pyle, a fictional character from "The Andy Griffith Show.”
Maybe I am referring to Gomer in the bible, he was the eldest son of Japheth (Noah’s son)
What is the best way to get more information? Ask more questions that will lead to your answer.
TEST: 3. LISTEN TO THE QUESTION
WHO IS GOMER FROM THE BOOK OF HOSEA, AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HER?
Gomer was Hosea’s wife. We will talk a little more about her to know who she is or what the author wants to tell us about her.
MEANING OF SOME NAMES AND PLACES IN THE BOOK OF HOSEA
Beeri - Hosea’s Father, a Prophet in the book of Isaiah. belonging to a fountain; expounder
Hosea - Help or salvation, like Joshua or Yeshua, where we get “Yah Saves” God Saves. He came from a family of prophets and followers of God.
Diblaim - Was Gomer’s parent. Diblaim was already known for being a prostitute. It doesn’t mention if this parent was the father or mother, as the name is masculine. Most people mistake prostitutes for women only.
Gomer - Hosea's wife means “complete” and can be a man's or woman’s name.
Question: Could it be that Gomer was a child born out of prostitution? Could it be that Gomer was not a prostitute by choice but by family heritage, being a sex slave, or becoming numb to the pain, ridicule, torment, and torture she just didn’t care anymore? Some families in my hometown are known as thieves, and the children were labeled as thieves only because of their last names. Or the local drug addicts who had children that didn’t have a chance to become great because of the labels they were given. I can only imagine how difficult their lives were to escape those challenging situations and how many stayed trapped because they were mocked and shamed instead of getting help from others. I wonder how many of us are known because of what our families did, even though that was not what we did. I have been guilty of practicing traditions that my family does that have roots of idolatry. I have also been guilty of judging people according to their appearances, lifestyle, or family labels. I can only imagine what labels they put on me because of what I was doing or for those who knew my family. I’m sure they were true, but that was not who I wanted to be, and that is not who I am today. I am a Child of God and identify as His favorite because He has redeemed and loves me.
Maybe some of you still carry shame from your family heritage. What if we continued in sinful living because that was what we were taught, and since no one told us it was wrong, we continued? I continued in a destructive lifestyle from the age of 8 until the age of 21.
Jezreel - God sows and plants First born son to Hosea and Gomer
Lo-Ruhamah - the daughter born to Gomer but doesn’t mention that she belongs to Hosea. Her name means “Not loved”
Lo-Ammi - was a son born right after the daughter; again, doesn’t mention that he belonged to Hosea. His name means “Not my people”
Just like those from the Rio Grande who grow up surrounded by rituals, or like Gomer surrounded by a culture that made it ok to be a prostitute, we too get trapped into things that don’t please God. But there is good news….Your Identity is not in your last name, where you live, or who you used to be. You don’t have to carry the Scarlet letter or labels anymore. There is freedom because we have a Redeemer! Do you know God changes your name?
HOSEA’S SIDE OF THE STORY
Has it ever come as a surprise when you hear someone speak about themselves in a good way, but their character doesn’t quite match up? I want to believe them, but they have deceived me before. Character is everything, even behind closed doors when no one is watching. But when it is blatant, it is obvious; everyone knows. According to the writer in the Book of Hosea, Gomer was a prostitute woman whom Hosea was instructed by God to marry her. After their marriage, she continued to be unfaithful, but Hosea forgave her and continued loving her. It is a powerful example of God's love and mercy towards Israel, not just the person but also the nation and humanity.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE BOOK OF HOSEA
The Lord doesn’t just love me, He is in love with me. He loves me so much; he did everything He could to ensure I would be His. Before I knew the Lord as my Savior, I was like the harlot who chose my way, my path, and it led me down a path that was shameful, pitiful, and continued in a whirlwind. My life was a mess before age 21; for the sake of time, let's just say that I understood Gomer more in my younger years. Though I knew what I was doing wasn’t right, it’s what I knew. No one stopped me or tried to stop me. In exchange for my sins, anger, rage, hate, self-harm, and suicide attempts drove me to hospitals and psychiatric wards numerous times. It seemed endless, but I stand here today to testify that God's redemption has set me free from so much that He saved me from eternal death. Through hard times and my stubbornness, I have learned that the Lord was always there with me. He says He never leaves me or forsakes me.
WHAT DOES A HOLY GOD WANT? HE WANTS ALL OF ME, ALL OF YOU, ALL OF US
He Wants Relationship
Child of God, Friend of God, Bride of Christ, Body of Christ
Hosea was the son of a prophet. The Lord speaks to Hosea, The Lord tells Hosea to marry Gomer. The Lord uses Hosea to show his love for Israel. Hosea's relationship with Gomer in the story symbolizes God's relationship with his people. Just as Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, the people of Israel were unfaithful to God, turning away from him and worshiping false gods. But just as Hosea continued to love and care for Gomer, despite her unfaithfulness, God continued to love and care for his people, despite their unfaithfulness.
We Rejected Him
Cut Him Off, Let Go, Throw Away
The nation rejected God’s ways by serving idols, and religion became a business industry of sex and infidelity with ordinary people, shrine prostitutes, and temple leaders. Some practices were so detestable that the whole city was condemned. It was evident from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Book of Judges when even the Levites had concubines. In the Book of Hosea 11:8, it is noted that Admah and Zeboiim received the same judgment as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord’s anger was withheld from Ephraim and Israel, but He warned them time and time again. We, like sheep, have gone astray.
Revelation 3:15-16 To the Church in Laodicea I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!
He Rebukes Us
Disapproves, Quick Correction, Chastises, Personal, and Private
Deuteronomy 8:5 So know that just as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.
High Offense, Lecture, Condemn, Official, Group Setting, Legal Issue
Proverbs 1:23 - 25 Listen when I reprimand you; I will give you good advice and share my knowledge. I have been inviting you to come, but you would not listen. You paid no attention to me. You have ignored all my advice and are unwilling to let me correct you.
He Will Release Us
Prodigal Son / Daughter, Feeling of Freedom, Allowed to Escape, Free Will, Liberty with no laws can lead to destruction. Freedom with no boundaries can lead to death.
1 Corinthians 6:12 - All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
We Reaped what we sowed
Unwanted results, Sickness, Disease, Heartache. Sowing into Sin, reaping a harvest of Sin
James 1:13-15 - No one tempted should say, “I am being tempted by God,” for God ⌊cannot be tempted by evil, and he tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his desires. Then desire, after it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is brought to completion, gives birth to death.