From Whorehouse to Holy Place
In this week’s study we will venture along deeper pathways, moving on from “the elementary principles of Christ … not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” (Heb. 6:1) We have discussed foundational issues of repentance and purity in recent weeks, only as a prerequisite for building higher. A vessel is purified and washed only so that it can hold a thing, and so we are created to be carriers of the very substance of God Himself.
Of course, repentance is a lifelong work, and by no means a one-stop experience at the point of conversion. The Lord is constantly drawing us toward “truth in the inmost parts” (Ps. 51:6). Our half-converted hearts must continue to be renewed, transformed and sanctified, and in the process, there is no room for compromise. This is the outer court washing process, necessary to encounter the intimate union of the most holy place. Picking up where we left off in James, the apostle tells us bluntly:
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? (Jas. 4:4-5)
We must break past the roadblock of our adulterous hearts, in order to be wholly devoted to our Lover. The Lord is jealous for our devotion, which we are so prone to hand over to idols. I believe there is a tangible element of divine adoration foreshadowed through Hosea the prophet, which can literally break us through and break us free in this area.
:: the hosea anointing ::
Marry a prostitute? Um …thanks God … I guess.
I doubt you will hear many people asking for “the Hosea anointing.” Few want to follow in the footsteps of this prophet. Imagine Hosea: he is literally told by God to hook up with a harlot. In the process, she continues to sleep around, giving birth to other men’s bastard children. Hosea even gets to name them catchy things like “Not Loved” and “Not My People.” Does this family sound a bit dysfunctional?
This is not something we would reasonably ask the Lord for, but Hosea demonstrates the heart of the Lord in a way that no one else does in scripture. The crux of Hosea’s story is about God’s relentless love, even toward a most spiritually adulterous people. Hosea and his wife are a prophetic symbol of God’s relationship with us.
I firmly believe that God equates all sin as spiritual adultery. We are so prone to forget Him and turn our pursuits elsewhere. Does Hosea warn of punishment for these sins? Yes. All sin has consequences. But the heart of our Lover – His deepest desire – is not to punish, and never to condemn. His heart is for redemption and union with His bride.
Hosea is full of grieving over the bride’s unfaithful actions, but he earnestly wants to see her restored to relationship with him. We see Hosea going so far as to search out his wife in the pit of her filth, and buy her life back from the adulterous lovers that sold her as a slave.
Amidst Hosea’s warnings to God’s people for their spirit of prostitution, the underlying heart of the message is simply this:
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. … "In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me ‘husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’” (Hos. 2:14-16).
The spirit of prostitution can only be broken through the allure of true love.
:: allure ::
The Bridegroom wants to allure us. He will often bring us to the end of our circumstances, stripping us bare of our false comforts in the desert of purification. But it is always to woo us, and awaken us to love.
We often associate God with the emotion of anger and wrath. We consider him distant, perhaps moody. But the truth could not be further. We must understand that His thoughts are always toward us and that God longs to pour out his gladness and pleasure upon us. Micah 7:18 says:
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
To understand the Hosea heart of God, is to understand that before we can ever love Him, He first loves us. I am unable to cultivate hunger for God until I can grasp His passion for me. This is a core message of the Canticles. Our study will be launching into the Song of Solomon over the next few weeks, and it is interesting to see how this book begins:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine (Song 1:1)
It is God’s intoxicating kiss toward me that begins this holy love affair. One of the Greek words for “worship” is proskuneo, which literally means to “kiss toward.” There is something within man that consumes the heart of God. Of course, God does not worship man – but I guarantee that His devotion toward you and I far exceeds anything we have ever given Him. Interesting huh? The Worshipped One loves the worshipper far more than the contrary.
:: preparing for the bedchamber ::
As we go deeper, we must take a right perspective on the love of God. It is not a fluffy, sentimental thing that overlooks our adultery. And an adequate assessment of our sins is necessary to grasp it, but only as a prerequisite to prepare us for the King’s bedchamber.
Is it true that have been an adulterous? Yes. Have I ever been a hypocrite? Yes. Denial gets us nowhere. If we fully judge ourselves against the law, as we should (not against one another), we soon see that we have fallen utterly and completely short of its demands. But the presence of our sinful nature never diminished God’s utter delight in us. He loved us while we were still in those sins, choosing to eradicate the sinful nature with the finished work of the cross and recreating us as a spotless bride.
To truly encounter the fiery love of Jesus is not to linger in an apathetic acknowledgment of sin, doing nothing about it. His breathtaking presence shatters us. We cannot help but repent – the word being metanoia, or literally, a change of mind. That is, our consciousness is turned toward God, and in surveying His goodness, we are transformed.
There is much preparation and groundwork we do to prepare for the bridal love to which we are called. But a basic element is to begin identifying ourselves the way God does. How does God truly perceive us?
He does not think of us as adulterers. He does not think of us as hypocrites – not even as worship machines. He thinks of us as His bride. There is something God took out of Himself and put into us that attracts Him to us. God will not be whole, until that element is returned to Him. Even as a rib was taken out of Adam to create Eve, his bride, so is the ruah breath of God breathed into us, and a deposit of Himself was given to mankind as we were created in His image. How much more do we carry the substance of His worth with the blood of Christ covering and eradicating our transgressions?
Another translation of James 4:5, which we read above, says that “God jealously longs for the spirit that he made to live in us.” He placed Himself within us, and that attracts Him to us all the more.
We struggle to grow. We struggle to mature. But in the process, the pleasure of God is still toward us, because He has already perfected us. We cannot think that God will take pleasure in us only after we have somehow perfected ourselves. We will never fully comprehend this perfection this side of heaven. The key is this: Knowing that God enjoys me, even in the midst of my immaturity, is the very thing that enables me to overcome.
The Beloved notes in Song of Solomon 1:5, “Dark am I, but lovely.” Despite my perceptions of my own darkness, despite the evidence of my sins and failure, I have still captured the heart of God. There is still an intrinsic beauty about myself that literally inebriates God.
Let us begin to prophetically identify ourselves with the worth Christ has placed on us. Let us understand His desperation to be with us, to draw us closer, even though we haven’t arrived yet. When the Lord first called out to Gideon, He called him a “mighty warrior,” even though Gideon was hiding in a winepress from his enemies. God sees you in a future tense. He knows the plans and purposes He has for you.
Despite our perceived impurities, it is time we identify ourselves as the Spotless Bride. Let us step forward into the confidence that allows us to draw near to the throne of grace. Let us risk stepping forward into the King’s presence. We will be surprised to find that He extends His golden scepter in our direction.