Biblical Masculinity-pt.2

If you were asked to write a book, only one book, that you believe would summarize who God is in every way, what would be the topic of that book? Some might say, “holiness.” That is true, God is holy, immensely holy. Some might say, “Grace.” That is true, God is a God of grace. However, after considering a bit I believe that I would write it on the “Love of God.” Why the love of God? Because it is the love of God that bridges the distance from a sinner to a holy God. It is the love of God that motivated grace to be extended to me, a sinner. It is the love of God that defines the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and has done so for eternity. God is love. Further, it is the love of God that summarizes the magnificent work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross. Paul writes,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

When a person considers all that occurred in the death of Jesus Christ, and to know that it was all motivated out of love, love for God and love for His neighbor, it must bring you to your knees. Why? Because that one act is so much unlike us. We do not love in that way. We should. We are made in the image and likeness of that God who is love. But we don’t. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.

There are a myriad of ways the love of God can be understood and observed. However, one of the best displays of that love, outside of the cross itself, is found in that little-known prophet of the Old Testament, Hosea.

Hosea ministered during the reigns of four kings of Judah and one king of Israel (Hosea1:1), a number of years before Israel’s exile into Assyria, and Judah’s into Babylon at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He is prophesying as a prophet of God toward both Israel and Judah. What God commands Hosea to do is very unusual and even irrational. However, Hosea obeys and thus speaks volumes about his character as a man of God, and God’s character as one who loves.

In chapter 1, verses 1-3, Hosea is told to go and take a harlot as a wife. Further, he is to have children by her also. This would signify Israel who is like that harlot and has gone after other gods and thus has offspring by those other gods/men. This would be highly illustrative of Israel’s waywardness, often spoken of in terms of adultery. So, Hosea went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, as his wife. This was extremely unusual because a priest was forbidden to take a harlot for a wife (Leviticus 21:7, 13-14). This level of consecration would, I assume, also extend to God’s prophets as well. He would not be expected to marry a known prostitute, yet God commands him to. Why? To demonstrate that love triumphs over law. Love establishes the law, fulfills the law, supersedes the law. Hosea would then demonstrate God’s love to an unfit woman.

At some point, the woman returns to her wickedness, and leaves Hosea behind with the two children she bore to him. We know this because in chapter 3, Hosea is once again told to go find a woman who is loved by her husband and yet is an adulteress (v.1). That is the same woman, Gomer. He does find her…on the slave block. She would have been naked, chained, and being sold for slavery in order to repay her debts. It is a pitiful sight from a woman who had a godly man for a husband. Hosea gathers all that he had, some silver and barley to pay for her. He apparently used all the money he had, because he resorted to paying by barley, a valuable commodity. He pays everything he has to buy her back. Sold. She is his now. He makes a covenant with her, since he paid her price-you will remain faithful to me, and I to you (v. 3).

What a display of love. This woman deserved to be on that block. She was in flagrant sin, rejected her responsibilities at home, despised her husband and children, and rejected the Law of God. However, Hosea loved her. He loved her! He went to her in her worst, and paid the price for her freedom and purchased her from the slave market so that he could take her home and care for her. She would never again go after other men. She would never again be in debt. She would never again have to resort to wickedness for her needs. She would be cared for, protected. In short, she would be loved by a faithful husband.

This is the love of God. You obviously see the similarities between Hosea’s love for Gomer, and Christ’s love for the church (not to mention God’s love for Israel, which will culminate to her restoration in the future-2 Kings 13:23;14:27). To love a woman who is defiled, unlovely, and unfaithful is not the normal husband’s ideal bride. Normally, a man wants the most beautiful, the most lovely, the most respectful and faithful woman he can find. But, what about the woman who is none of those things? Would we love her? God did.

Men, if we are to be like God toward our wives, then this is the love that we are to exhibit. God’s love seeks to cleanse, restore, and sanctify. This kind of love understands the state of the other person. She may be defiled, disrespectful and dirty. But God’s love seeks to make her beautiful and holy.

All of this is in the powerful verse in Ephesians 5:25. This one verse sums up the motivation of the behavior of a godly husband. He loves his wife in the same manner as Christ loved the church-He gave Himself up for her. Jesus Christ “threw away”, so to speak, His life for the benefit of a people who were dirty, defiled, destined for destruction and unfaithful. However, He did not consider His high and lofty privileges in heaven something to hold onto, but rather left those behind out of obedience to the Father and benefit to the church, in order to purchase a bride off of the slave block, naked, destitute and unclean. Thus, making for Himself a cleansed bride who would be presented to Himself something glorious. In short, like Hosea, “He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that [we] through His poverty, might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

Husbands, do you love your wives? According to what standard? Do you love her when she does good to you? Do you love her when she respects you and agrees with your decisions? Do you have a harder time loving her when she is disagreeable, and defiant? Do you have a harder time loving her when she rejects you and maybe even slanders you? The world’s love would never hold up under such disrespect. But God’s will. If you doubt that, look at Christ. The love of God and man met at the cross. Jesus loved God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength and obeyed Him to the point of death. Jesus loved sinners as Himself and died so that they might be with Him forever and share in His glory and joy. This love endures. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

So, men, the next time you think that you just can’t love a woman like that, remember the cross of Jesus Christ. What if Jesus used that excuse to the Father? “I can’t love a sinner like that. He despises Me, he disrespects Me, he will not do what I say, and he refuses to listen.” Remember, men, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for the ungodly, not the godly. He came to call the unrighteous to repentance, not the righteous. Men, you love your wives, because they are sinners; seek to cleanse them, in wisdom and love, and you will enter into the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, thus bearing His image and likeness.