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Scandalous love

Updated: Mar 9

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash


The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded.

Then the people asked me, “Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us? Why are you acting like this?”

So I said to them, “The word of the Lord came to me: Say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. And you will do as I have done. You will not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners. You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’

The ways of God can be quite shocking as Ezekiel can attest. He's not the only one.

The Lord spoke his word to Hosea, son of Beeri, when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah and when Jeroboam, son of Joash, was king of Israel.

When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, the Lord told him, “Marry a prostitute and have children with that prostitute. The people in this land have acted like prostitutes and abandoned the Lord.” So Hosea married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim. She became pregnant and had a son.

Photo by Raphael Wild on Unsplash

The ways of God can be downright scandalous; Hosea is another unforgettable example.

How could the Lord command a prophet to marry a prostitute? Some Biblical scholars find this too bitter of a pill to swallow. They interpret it figuratively. That's wrong. Not only did God order Hosea to take a prostitute as his wife, and to have children with her, he later commanded his servant to take Gomer back after she cheated on him.


Then the Lord told me, “Love your wife again, even though she is loved by others and has committed adultery. Love her as I, the Lord, love the Israelites, even though they have turned to other gods and love to eat raisin cakes.”

So I bought her for 23 ounces of silver and 10 bushels of barley. Then I told her, “You must wait for me a long time. Don’t be a prostitute or offer yourself to any man. I will wait for you.”


Hosea’s scandalous marriage was a reenactment of how the Lord treated his wayward bride, the people of Israel.

Century after century God’s people cheated on him. The Lord Almighty was the all-time jilted lover. God’s people continued to break his heart even after their self-imposed exile to Babylon. And just like Hosea did with Gomer, the Lord sought out and brought his bride home. But He wasn’t quiet about it.

Just ask Ezekiel.

The Lord spoke his word to me. He said, “Son of man, make known to the people of Jerusalem the disgusting things they have done. Tell them, ‘This is what the Almighty Lord says to the people of Jerusalem: Your birthplace and your ancestors were in the land of the Canaanites. Your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite. When you were born, your umbilical cord wasn’t cut. You weren’t washed with water to make you clean. You weren’t rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloth. No one who saw you felt sorry enough for you to do any of these things. But you were thrown into an open field. You were rejected when you were born.

“Then I went by you and saw you kicking around in your own blood. I said to you, “Live.” I made you grow like a plant in the field. You grew up, matured, and became a young woman. Your breasts developed, and your hair grew. Yet, you were naked and bare.

“I went by you again and looked at you. You were old enough to make love to. So I spread my robe over you, and covered your naked body. I promised to love you, and I exchanged marriage vows with you. You became mine, declares the Almighty Lord.

“Then I bathed you with water, and I washed off your blood. I poured olive oil over you. I put an embroidered dress on you and fine leather sandals on your feet. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. I gave you jewelry. I put bracelets on your wrists and a necklace around your neck. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. So you wore gold and silver jewelry. You were dressed in fine linen, silk, and embroidered clothes. Your food was flour, honey, and olive oil. You were very beautiful, and eventually you became a queen. You became famous in every nation because of your beauty. Your beauty was perfect because I gave you my glory, declares the Almighty Lord.

“But you trusted your beauty, and you used your fame to become a prostitute. You had sex with everyone who walked by. You took some of your clothes and made your worship sites colorful. This is where you acted like a prostitute. Such things shouldn’t happen. They shouldn’t occur. You took your beautiful gold and silver jewelry that I had given you and made male idols for yourself. Then you committed adultery with them. You took off your embroidered clothes and covered the idols with them. You offered my olive oil and incense in their presence. You also offered them sweet and fragrant sacrifices. You gave flour, olive oil, and honey—all the food that I gave you to eat. This is what happened, declares the Almighty Lord.

“You took your sons and daughters, who belonged to me, and you sacrificed them as food to idols. Wasn’t your prostitution enough? You slaughtered my children and presented them as burnt offerings to idols. With all the disgusting things that you did and all your acts of prostitution, you didn’t remember the time when you were young. You didn’t remember when you were naked and bare, kicking around in your own blood.

“‘How horrible! How horrible it will be for you! declares the Almighty Lord. After all your wickedness, you built yourself platforms and illegal worship sites in every city square. You also built worship sites at the head of every street. You used your beauty to seduce people there. You offered your body to everyone who passed by. You increased your acts of prostitution. You had sex with your lustful neighbors, the Egyptians. You used your prostitution to make me angry.

“So I used my power against you. I took away some of your land, and I handed you over to your greedy enemies, the Philistines, who were ashamed of what you had done.

“You had sex with the Assyrians because you weren’t satisfied. You still weren’t satisfied. So you increased your acts of prostitution to include the land of the merchants, the Babylonians. Even after that, you weren’t satisfied.

“You have no will power! declares the Almighty Lord. You do everything a shameless prostitute does. You build your platforms at the head of every street and place your illegal worship sites in every square. Yet, you aren’t like other prostitutes, because you don’t want to be paid. You are an adulterous wife who prefers strangers to her husband. All prostitutes get paid. But you give gifts to all your lovers and bribe them to come to you from all directions to have sex with you. You are a different kind of prostitute. No one goes after you for favors. You are the opposite. You pay them, and you don’t accept payment.

“Listen to the Lord’s word, you prostitute. This is what the Almighty Lord says: You exposed yourself and uncovered your naked body when you gave yourself to your lovers and to all your disgusting idols. You also killed your children and sacrificed their blood to these idols. That is why I will gather all your lovers with whom you found pleasure. I will have all those who love you and hate you gather around. I will uncover your body for them, and they will see you naked. I will punish you the same way that those who are guilty of prostitution and murder are punished. I will give you the death penalty in my fury and burning anger. I will hand you over to your lovers. They will destroy your platforms and tear down your illegal worship sites. They will tear off your clothes, take away your beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. They will also bring a mob against you. They will stone you and cut you into pieces with their swords. They will burn your houses and punish you in the presence of many women. I will put an end to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay others. Then I will rest from my fury against you, and I will stop being angry. I will be at peace. I will no longer be angry.

“You didn’t remember the time when you were young, and you made me very angry with all these things. So I will pay you back for what you have done, declares the Almighty Lord. Didn’t you make wicked plans in addition to all your disgusting practices?

“Everyone who uses proverbs will speak the following saying against you: Like mother, like daughter. You are your mother’s daughter. She rejected her husband and her children. You are exactly like your sisters. They rejected their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite, and your father was an Amorite.

“Your older sister was Samaria. She and her daughters lived north of you. Your younger sister is Sodom. She lives south of you with her daughters. You didn’t follow their ways. You didn’t do the same disgusting things that they did. It only took you a little time to be more corrupt than they ever were. As I live, declares the Almighty Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. This is what your sister Sodom has done wrong. She and her daughters were proud that they had plenty of food and had peace and security. They didn’t help the poor and the needy. They were arrogant and did disgusting things in front of me. So I did away with them when I saw this.

“Samaria didn’t commit half the sins you did. You have done many more disgusting things than they ever did. Because of all the disgusting things that you have done, you make your sisters look innocent. You will have to suffer disgrace because you accused your sisters. Yet, your sins are more disgusting than theirs. They look like they are innocent compared to you. Be ashamed of yourself and suffer disgrace, because you have made your sisters look like they are innocent.

“I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and Samaria and her daughters. I will also restore your fortune along with theirs. You will have to suffer disgrace and be ashamed of everything you have done, including comforting them. When Sodom and her daughters and Samaria and her daughters return to what they once were, you and your daughters will return to what you once were. You didn’t mention your sister Sodom when you were arrogant. You didn’t mention her before your wickedness was revealed. Now the daughters of Aram  and their neighbors despise you. The daughters of the Philistines also despise you. Those around you hate you. You must suffer because of all the crude and disgusting things you have done, declares the Lord.

“This is what the Almighty Lord says: I will give you what you deserve. You despised your marriage vows and rejected my promise. I will remember the promise that I made with you when you were young, and I will make it a promise that will last forever. Then you will remember what you have done. You will be ashamed when I return your older and younger sisters to you. I will give them to you as daughters, but not because of my promise with you. Then I will make my promise with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. You will remember and be ashamed. You will never again open your mouth because of your disgrace when I forgive you for everything you did, declares the Almighty Lord.”

Photo by brunetto ziosi on Unsplash


Ezekiel and Hosea remind us that the Lord our God is a jealous God. A jilted lover is he. Be that as it may, he simply will not let us go, not without a fight. Hosea and Ezekiel remind us that the Lord our God is a passionate God. The love he has for his people is downright scandalous. The truth be told, it’s almost unbelievable. Such is the love of the God of the cross.

It was a heart-broken Jesus who entered Jerusalem for the final time.

When he came closer and saw the city, he began to weep. He said, “If you had only known today what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden, so you cannot see it. The time will come when enemy armies will build a wall to surround you and close you in on every side. They will level you to the ground and kill your people. One stone will not be left on top of another, because you didn’t recognize the time when God came to help you.”


Like Hosea and like Ezekiel, Jesus was given a truly shocking assignment to carry out. On the cross, the unbelievable love of God was on full-display, naked for one and all to see. Such was the tremendous price he willingly paid for our redemption.

Centuries later, the poet-turned-preacher John Donne marveled at the shocking nature of what took place on that dark, good day.

As he did so, he penned this absolutely stunning, and oh-so scandalous, prayer.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp'd town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,

But am betroth'd unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

May John Donne’s poem be our Lenten prayer this year:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


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