For Ministry Resources Youth Series : Hosea

Lesson 01: Hosea 01/03: We Found Love in a Hopeless Place

Lesson 01

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be unpacking one of the weirdest love stories in the entire Bible. The Minor Prophet Hosea tells us a love story like no other. It’s about a preacher and a prostitute. This story is actually used as a metaphor to teach us about our relationship with God. Today’s message introduces the story of Hosea and demonstrates how we can be reckless, but God’s love is relentless.



Large Group

Large Group Instructions

PREPARATION
Materials: Download and Print PDF
Leader
Note:

Send the attached letter to your parents in preparation for this talk.

Note:

Download the attached script to bring with you to the podium.

Materials needed: Compass

Materials:
Leader
  • Discuss a time when you were “in love” as a child. Be cheesy here!

Here is my example:

“I am going to marry her one day," I daydreamed while eating a slice of pizza in my school cafeteria. It felt like butterflies were fluttering around my pizza-filled stomach as I watched my new girlfriend from across the room. With the grace of an ice skater, she glided across the cafeteria right towards me. When she sat next to me and touched my arm, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. This had to be true love.

It wasn't. We broke up eight days later. We didn't share true love; it was puppy love at best. We connected over mutual friends and a shared taste in music. There wasn't much else to it. 

When we broke up, it felt like a thousand bee stings. Even though the pain was emotional, I could feel it physically. I convinced myself that I was never going to find a significant other. Sprawled across my bedroom floor that night, I thought that I was going to die. Then -- I didn't. I moved on.

Life was back to normal in a matter of days. 

Materials:
Leader

I knew nothing about true love back then. Things got even more complicated in my teenage years.

Ruined relationships and unexpected breakups taught me that I was only scratching the surface of real love.

Real love is so much more than dates, text threads, gifts, slow dancing, and winning a stuffed animal at the carnival. Real love—authentic love—consists of commitment, sacrifice, serving, forgiveness, and a relentless commitment to the relationship.

To learn about true love, we must go to the source.

This is why we must see love through the lens of God’s love.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be unpacking one of the weirdest love stories in the entire Bible.

Now, we will all have to be mature during this conversation. We are going to talk about some relatively PG-13 concepts, but I am confident in your maturity. I know you can handle it.

I do ask that you fully refrain from inappropriate jokes and snickering when we talk about some tense topics. In all things, we will keep our conversations glorifying to God and edifying to each other.

Let’s dive into our bizarre story.

The Minor Prophet Hosea tells us a love story like no other.

It’s about a preacher who marries a prostitute.

It’s also about a faithful God and His unfaithful people.

Weirdly enough, that means this story is about me and you.

Materials:
Leader
  • Contextualize This Passage

Like your school library, the Bible is a diverse collection of stories.

Sometimes the Bible is whimsical. Sometimes the Bible is confusing. Sometimes the Bible blows your mind. God’s word is powerful and it’s always full of wonder and wisdom. Sometimes, the Bible is a little weird. This is evident in the minor prophet book of Hosea.

Hosea was a prophet to the nation of Israel during the reign of King Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam was a wicked king who encouraged the nation to disgrace God by embracing idol worship.

This spiraled the country into conflict with God and each other. They were stealing, abusing, cheating, lying, murdering, and suffering at the hands of their fellow citizens.

This lawlessness made them vulnerable to attack. Since they were losing the battle of the mind, they were also about to lose the battle in their land.

The Assyrians were getting ready to attack, and Israel's poor choices made them as vulnerable as wounded antelope surrounded by lions.

Hosea rose up to warn the people of Israel. He was commanded to help them see the flaws in their ways and encourage them to turn back to God. Hosea was a powerful man of God. He was a bold leader with a big heart and a bizarre calling. Things got really weird when God called him to do the unthinkable.

A voice from heaven proclaimed, "Hosea, I want you to marry a promiscuous woman" (Hosea 1:3). 

Can you imagine what went through his mind when God's message came to him? I assume he rebutted, "You want me to do WHAT?"

God confirmed the bizarre calling and Hosea moved forward in obedience. He knew that she would cheat on him, but he sent out the wedding invitations anyway. He knew that sorrow was inevitable, but he picked out a ring. As he was courting his new fiancé, I’m sure people asked curious questions like, "What does Gomer do again, Hosea?" “She's in the entertainment industry," he would respond with red cheeks.

Hosea was certainly full of doubt and disagreement with God's calling. His marriage shattered all cultural norms, especially for a professional prophet. Beyond the embarrassment, this marriage was just plain difficult. Gomer was already set in her ways.

Thus, she struggled to remain faithful to her new husband. This caused them to enter into a long and vicious cycle of cheating and heartbreak.

  • Transition

Hosea was commanded to live his life as a parable.

He was called to paint a picture of God's relationship with His people by marrying an unfaithful bride.

Hosea represents God, while we represent the unfaithful spouse. I know it's not an ideal characterization, but it's true.

This love story is our love story. It's about the divine, but sometimes dysfunctional relationship we have with God.

We are prone to wander, but God pursues us.

We become irrational, but God stays steady.

We try to run from God, but his grace always catches up.

This powerful story of relentless love teaches us three lessons about life.

Materials:
Leader

The Israelites that Hosea was speaking to were prone to wandering, literally.

As a nation, they were nomadic for most of their history -- moving from place to place.

They didn't just wander through the wilderness; they also wandered away from God. Whenever things got hard, they turned to another god. This created a cycle of restlessness and unfaithfulness.

We tend to restlessly turn away from God during difficult times. Restlessness often makes us cling to the wrong things.

You have seen this play out all over your life.

We may turn to unhealthy relationships to help us cope with our feelings of loneliness.

We may turn to perfectionism to help us cope with our feelings of insecurity.

We may turn to mindless distractions to help us cope with our deep desperation.

When we feel restless, our default reaction is to cling to anything that will give us a sense of security and control.

However, that sense of control is temporary. Eventually, it becomes too much to handle, and we fumble.

These restless behaviors are false idols that will inevitably fail you.

I love a really old quote by an ancient Christian philosopher. Augustine of Hippo famously explained, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

  • Prop: Take Out a Compass

Just like the Israelites, you will find yourself wondering at some point. You are running towards all the wrong things while simultaneously moving away from God.

Walk and move around stage with each point.

We wander back into that destructive relationship. We feel stressed, so we chase that dangerous addiction. We move towards a whole list of quick fixes and vices to give us a sense of control. A sense of belonging. A sense of being loved. A sense of fleeting happiness. All of these wanderings will leave you lost. llow your restlessness to lead you towards rest in God instead. Just like Augustine said, your soul is restless until it rests in God. If you have been wondering, it’s time to take out your compass in order to return home. The peace that comes from God is the cure to our restlessness. When your heart wanders, let God be your compass.

Gomer, Hosea's wife, allowed her restlessness to become recklessness. After leaving the altar with her newlywed husband, a wave of complex emotions swept over her. She likely felt unworthy, insecure, and ashamed. Gomer returned to living life the only way she knew how. As the anniversaries passed, she cheated on her husband over and over again. Everywhere he went, Hosea was haunted by rumors of Gomer's unfaithfulness. When he walked through the market, he probably heard whispers behind his back. He'd overhear comments like, "That's the pastor who married a prostitute." “Did you know that their son isn't actually his?" After restlessness comes recklessness.

We make dangerous choices as a result of our complex emotions. Our exhaustion creates an argument. Our shame leads to abandoning church attendance. Our emptiness triggers an addition. Jesus teaches that every reckless action starts in our hearts before it even takes place. Essentially, sin starts from within. This is why it is crucial to turn back to God when we begin to feel reckless. He's not going to judge you or punish you. He just wants to love you and protect you.

Hosea's dysfunctional relationship illustrates God’s enduring desire to be connected to his people.

When Gomer failed, Hosea forgave. When Gomer fell, Hosea picked her up. Allow your restlessness to lead you towards rest in God instead. Just like Augustine said, your soul is restless until it rests in God. If you have been wandering, it’s time to take out your compass in order to return home.

When Gomer was unfaithful, Hosea was faithful. Hosea was asked to paint a picture of God's relationship with His people by marrying an unfaithful bride. Ultimately, His life was a metaphor. Hosea represented God, while Israel represented the unfaithful spouse. They had broken their vows by turning to false gods. Their idolatry was like adultery. It wasn't just wrong, it was heartbreaking. It wasn't just casual, it had serious consequences. Hosea invited Israel to see that there was a way to come home despite their wayward rebellion. Their story doesn't have to have a tragic ending. Your story doesn't have to have a tragic ending either. This love story is our love story. Unfortunately, our character is the cheater. Every scene speaks of the divine, but sometimes dysfunctional relationship we have with God. We are prone to wander, but God pursues us. We become irrational, but God stays steady. We try to run from God, but His grace always catches up. Our idolatry is like adultery, but wants to renew our vows. The first few chapters of this powerful book symbolize God's desire to have a relationship with you. Despite what you’ve done, despite how far you've fallen, God wants you. When you run away from God, he will continue running towards you. Not to discipline you, but to embrace you. Not to abandon you, but to accept you. Even when you are restless, God is relentless. Even when you are reckless, God is relentless. God's love remains constant and unending.

Materials:
Leader

God wants to break down every barrier that comes between you and Him.

You don't need to look for any further proof than the cross of Christ. Sin had separated you from God, but He didn't sit back and wait for you to figure it out.

He fought for you. He went to the cross for you.

  • Give the gospel message.

We need the relentless love of God in order to experience “Happily Ever After.”

It’s not complicated to experience salvation. All you need to do is: Jesus died for you.

The cross is proof that God will go to great lengths for those He loves.

That’s the power of God’s relentless love. We cannot work our way to heaven. We cannot serve our way to salvation. We cannot buy it, manufacture it, or stumble upon it.

Have you ever truly experienced the life-changing miracle of salvation? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

ADMIT that you’ve fallen short — that you are a sinner who needs salvation. (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23).

BELIEVE in Jesus (John 6:40).

CONFESS your trust in Jesus (Romans 10:9).

There is nothing special about any particular prayer of confession. It’s all about the heart behind the words. If you don’t know what to pray, it can sound a little like this,

"Jesus, I admit that I’ve made mistakes. I’ve sinned and need your forgiveness. I believe that You came to Earth, died, and rose again so that I could be reunited with God. I declare you as my Lord and commit my life to You. I give you my past, present, and future. Please use my life to bring you glory. I give it to You. Amen."



Small Group

Small Group Instructions

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
Materials:
Small Group Leader
  • TALK IT OUT Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.

Q1: Introduce yourself and share this week’s highs and lows (the best part of your week so far and the lowest part of your week so far).

Q2: What does it mean to wander away from God? What does this look like for students our age?

Q3: When you go through something difficult, what do you try to control to feel better? How would drawing near to God look different?

Q4: We learned that Hosea’s love for Gomer represents God’s love for us. So, what did today’s message teach us about God’s love for us?

Q5: When we wander away from God, what can we do to turn back to Him?

Q6: What’s one thing from today’s message that stuck out to you about God’s love that you want to remember in future moments of hardship?

Materials:
Student
  • This reading plan includes:

    Isaiah 40:31 Amos 3:7 Joel 2:32 Isaiah 53:5 Hosea 14:9 Isaiah 14:12 Micah 7:8

    Do the following with each passage:

    ASK– God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down and inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you today.

    READ– the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

    REFLECT– on what grabs you. How does this passage personally relate to your own life and experiences?

    RESPOND– to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered.

About For Ministry Resources Youth Series

FMR develops a monthly youth ministry curriculum that is free to all local churches. Each monthly release includes a sermon series, small group series, Bible devotional, and supporting graphics packs that are original, practical, and ready to use.