Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.
Once again, the prophet Hosea is instructed to enact an “action sermon” where he marries a professional prostitute. Having paid the bride price, he brings her home and gives her restrictive conditions which, when followed, will ensure the longevity and happiness of their marriage. Similarly, in His efforts to restore Israel back to Him, God put restrictive conditions by depriving them of their evil kings and priests who had become stumbling blocks to true worship.
Neuroscientists speak of a concept known as “neuroplasticity,” the capacity of the brain to establish new neural pathways and thus reorient itself. People who are struggling with addictive behaviors are encouraged to avoid, and sometimes completely cut off, people, places and things which feed their addiction. In this path to recovery, the brain is thus able to reorient itself and allow for the formation of new behavior patterns.
As God did with Israel, He identifies and then deprives us of those things which are a hindrance to our continued growth in Him. Though the process is painful at first as the comfortable, but spiritually dangerous, things are taken away, the end result is good. At the end of the depriving process, Israel returned and sought God (3:5).
In what ways is God cutting off stumbling blocks from your life and how can you thank Him for that?
Pastor, Allegheny East Conference, USA