Raisin Cakes and the Love of God
Transcript of episode:
The Ponder Podcast exists to help women ponder God’s word on the go.
We peer into his word with great anticipation.
We ponder his word with open and humble hearts.
And we look for ways to practice his word, confident in our own standing before God that is by faith alone.
This podcast is not meant to replace your personal time reading and studying God’s word but is rather a snack for you as you run errands, clean, or just need a moment during a crazy day.
I’m your host, Laura Hardin. Let’s jump right in with prayer.
Lord I thank you for the gift of technology and the ability to encourage my sisters in Christ this way. Father please help me decrease in this moment, even as I record this, that you may increase and use this time of meditating on your word for your glory and our good. Lord, please, . Turn our eyes from worthless things that we may behold wonderful things in your word today. Thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to help us understand all you’ve given us, even understanding of your holy word. We pray this in Christ today. Amen.
All right, ya’ll. Before we dig in, I just want to remind us of the 3 P’s of the Ponder method, four if we include the bookends of prayer. Peer. Ponder. Practice. I included a link to Ponder: A Simple Guide to Time Alone With God in the show notes. Today we’re going to peer into Hosea 3 and see what sticks out to us. Then we will ponder its meaning and why it stuck out. Then we will address our hearts and consider how we can put this passage into practice in our lives.
Today let’s peer now into Hosea 3:1-5. It reads:
And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward, the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
What jumped out at you as I read?
I’ll tell you what strikes me. The first verse: “Go again, LOVE a woman who is LOVED by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord LOVES the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and LOVE cakes of raisins.”
Do you see the repetition there?
I know some of you all are probably like, “Okay but what’s going on with these raisin cakes.” I know, I was wondering about that too.. We’ll get to that later.
For now, let’s take a moment to consider the context of Hosea 3:1 and ponder this verse a bit.
It’s strange just jumping into the middle of a book of the Bible isn’t it? That’s why we’ll consider the context surrounding Hosea 3:1 before we ponder the vers’s meaning and how it hits us on the heart level.
Greg Gilbert’s notes in the ESV Story of Redemption Bible are so good and CONCISE. He writes, "The book of Hosea breaks down into two parts. The first, which runs through the first three chapters, tells the story of how God commands Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer who, again and again, adulterously betrays him. Each time, however, Hosea pursues Gomer and brings her home, only to watch her turn away from him again. The point, of course, is that this is exactly how the people and kings of Israel have treated God and the covenant he made with them. Time and again, they have betrayed him, chasing after foreign gods and giving them—instead of Yahweh—their devotion and worship.”
So that’s our context. Now we can get into what Hosea 3:1 means within that context. When the Lord says, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man,” he’s talking to a real man, the prophet Hosea, about a real woman, Gomer. He doesn’t just say, “take her back,” he says “love her. Yes, she’s cheated on you again. Yes, another man who is not her husband loves her. You love her, bring her back into a loving union that points to me.”
I wonder what this was like for Hosea. He was not God. His love was not perfect. He was not sinless. I wonder if he asked God, “How? How can I do this?” Maybe he was heartbroken. Maybe his heart burned with jealousy. What we know from the text is that he was obedient. Hosea could do this because the Lord was already doing it and he was with Hosea. He could love Gomer as the Lord loved the children of Israel in the midst of their rebellion. His chosen people.
But what do the Israelites love according to this passage. “Cakes of raisins.” And that’s the part that really jumps out at me. I honestly don’t know what the significance of this is completely but it seems silly compared to loving God. It reminds me of the short-lived gratification of the flesh. And I think that’s the point. And I don’t mean that in a judgmental way. We all turn to idols for silly things we’d prefer instead of God. They turned to other gods and loved cakes of raisins. I wonder if they loved cakes of raisins so much they were willing to turn to other gods. Many times back in those days and still now in parts of the world, people worshipped certain gods for what they could get from them that was earthly — fertility, romance, a good harvest. We idolize things now because of what they can do for us in the moment.
God still loves his adulterous people. But he strips them of everything they go to for security—their king or prince, sacrifice or pillar (which represents the temple), their ephod and household gods—the things that got them into this mess in the first place. I’m sure if they couldn’t have their idols, they at least wanted their temple and their king but this would all be stripped from them when exiled.
It didn’t feel good and loving but it was good and loving because it put them it prepared them as a people to return and seek their Lord, and David their king, to come in fear to the Lord and to his GOODNESS in the latter days. God says, that after the exile, this “shall happen.” God’s word doesn’t come back void, what he says he means . He ultimately fulfills this in Christ. That’s the larger context, right? The Bible is really one big story of how God saves his sinful people in Christ. And here it’s all to clear that the chosen People of Israel weren’t good enough to earn God’s salvation. They could not be faithful on their own. Sin ran deep. They needed a Savior. Sin still runs deep. We still need a savior. Verse 5 in our passage is a guarantee that somehow they would be saved—-otherwise how would they return, how would they seek the Lord, how would they come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness.” He would save them and by his spirit change their hearts.
We’ve already hit on what this verse teaches about God but to summarize, God loves his people intensely. And his love is a jealous love. I know that sounds strange but please check out Hosea 11, really the whole book, but Hosea 11 is an incredibly vulnerable text. Whoever says the Bible is just a book of do’s and don’t, hasn’t read Hosea or much of the prophets. These books may be confusing at times but the way they disclose the heart of our God is gold.
As believers we are prone to wander from the LOVER of our souls to false gods and earthly pleasures. We’ll dig into this more in our next section on practicing the word of God. But for now, let me just ask you:
What are you tempted to turn to even now instead of God. Have you forgotten his fierce love for you?
Hmm. Raisin cakes aren’t a bad thing. Turning to a false god to get as many raisin cakes as we want is sin. As We consider how to practice this passage, let’s remember We were created to worship only one God, the one true living God, the maker of heavens and earth, the Savior of the world. But the sin in our hearts, inherited from Adam and Eve, entices us to worship everything and anything but God! To LOVE everything and anything but God! And Jesus, our Lord, Jesus, taught us that the greatest commandment —the commandment in which every other commandment ultimately finds it home— is to LOVE God with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength. As Christians we trust and believe that Jesus died for our arrogant idolatry. He died for every earthly pleasure we prioritize over seeking him. He forgave us because he loves us and he’s offered life eternal and his spirit who teaches us another way of FAITHFULNESS. We don’t have to cheat on God anymore but many of us still do. Let’s be honest. We all do. I do.
In the last episode, I mentioned SPECK as an acronym to help us figure out how we might practice the truth we gleaned today. I’ll share it again in the show notes. The first S in the acronynm stands for a sin to confess, and I definitely have that.
I’ve been turning to social media a lot during this coronavirus crisis instead of turning to him. Like raisin cakes, social media isn’t sin in and of itself. But when it begins to replace prayer and a dependency on God for what I need, it’s a problem. It’s easy to refresh, scroll through posts, see who liked mine rather than to be still with God and let him deal with my messy heart.
As foolish as Israel preferring cakes of raisin over God, I prefer that which only aggravates the problem rather than running to the only answer to the problem, Jesus my refuge and strength. So I’m often anxious and stressed out rather than having peace in the midst of all the uncertainty, confusio, and fear around us.
In this passage, I only see kowledge of God to praise him for..that’s what the k in the acronynm stands for... God LOVES US. His love is strong, passionate, perfect, and generous. And we see it the most when we remember Jesus on the cross, bleeding, fighting to breath, in excruciating pain physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, but with joy set before him. LIke Hosea with Gomer, he was bringing us home.
Mmm. God’s word truly is bread to the redeemed soul. Man, I really enjoyed pondering the God of Gomer with you.
But I don’t know about you. It’s been hard to be still amidst the uncertainty and unique uprooting of the novel coronavirus. One thing that helped me is doing something new, carving out time to engage with the word of God that actually... is fun for me. Like studying the Bible. And so many ministries are making their resources free for an extended period of time. Like Crossway. Their Knowing The Bible study series is free on their ESV app or esv.org. Just sign up for a free basic subscription and you’ll have access to all their study Bibles and this interactive Bible study series through May 31 of this year.
When will you feed on his word again? Think over your schedule for a minute. When can you carve out a few minutes to read, reflect, and pray on your own.
Thank you for pondering the God of Gomer with me today. Have a blessed day.