God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them. How? In a most unlikely way. God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer. As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved. In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family. God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.
God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again. But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely. Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy. He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience. After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.
While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you. You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile. But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him. Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.
Do you seek the acceptance of others when you make decisions? You’re not alone. Many men seek approval by often siding with the majority viewpoint. Unfortunately, in our world system, the majority viewpoint seldom gives God and his Word much consideration.
Caleb, however, was a man who saw things from God’s perspective and stood against the majority opinion. Do you remember his story? He was among the twelve spies who entered Canaan. Ten of these spies–a clear majority–believed that the Promised Land couldn’t be conquered. They came back with stories of impregnable walled cities defended by terrible giants. They told the people the task was hopeless, letting their fears and the majority opinion decide the course of action. But Caleb, along with Joshua, differed with the majority. Caleb agreed that Canaan was well fortified and the task formidable. But he also believed that even the greatest of enemies was no match for the mighty God of Israel. He urged the people to believe in God’s promises.
Sadly the people followed the majority opinion and refused to enter the Promised Land. It’s easy to focus on the obstacles in our own lives–all those things that make change seem impossible. But you and I can learn from Caleb. When the situation appeared hopeless, he knew that victory could come by seeking the God who promised victory. Caleb knew that self-worth isn’t found in the approval of other people, but only in the loving eyes of God.
Male friendship has been greatly distorted in our culture. As a result, many men don’t know how to be or how to make good friends. Can you relate? Sure, you may have some buddies. But I’m talking about something much deeper–I’m talking about a friend who knows you–really knows you. A friend who struggles alongside you, battles for you, and encourages you.
Consider the friendship, for example, of David and Jonathan. David was anointed King, which meant Jonathan, who was heir to the throne, would never claim his title. It would be similar to this: If your dad was the president of a huge corporation and you were serving as vice-president. But instead of taking your rightful position as president, the CEO chooses your friend instead. How could a friendship under these circumstances survive?
One reason is because both David and Jonathan counted each other better than themselves. There are few more graphic pictures of this than Jonathan’s surrender of his robe, his armor, and his position to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4). ‘You are going to be king of Israel,’ Jonathan tells David, ‘and I will be next to you’ (1 Samuel 23:17).
And even after Jonathan was slain in battle, David continued to honor Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s son.
Do you have at least one relationship that approaches this level of love and care? It’s a costly commitment. The only thing more costly is not having such a friend.