Friday, March 15, 2013
Hosea has been charged by God with a difficult task--marry a prostitute in order to show God's people the nature and depth of his love for Israel. When Hosea goes to Israel to proclaim God's message, the prostitute God tells him to marry turns out to be his childhood friend Gomer. He finds her broken and abused, unwilling to trust Hosea or his God. But when marrying Hosea becomes her only choice, Gomer does what she's good at--she survives. Can Hosea's love for God and God's love for Israel heal Gomer's broken spirit?
Overall, I got a lot out of this book by the time I finished. It really brings the era of the Biblical prophets to life. The more Hosea and Gomer's marriage suffered because of the hardness of her heart, the more the story felt real to me. The details regarding the pain and suffering Gomer was willing to go through because it scared her less than the feeling of being utterly loved is very real with people who have been abused in childhood. The author did a fantastic job showing why hurt people run from love. It scares them.
The characters also had some great questions and a reason to fear God. They saw how God smote King Uzziah with leprosy because of his pride. Many times I have heard in sermons about God's judgement because of Israel's wickedness before, but I didn't realize just how sick the people were until I read this book. It's one thing to read about pregnant women being ripped open in the Bible, but being in Hosea's head as he sees this makes it feel real as opposed to just a statement of fact. This is just one example, though. The fact that the kings allowed the people to worship in the high places (because they were afraid to go into the temple) resulted in neglect of God's house and compromise when it came to worship. Everything got perverted and twisted around because of fear.
Whenever I read a book I always look for the overall lesson in the story. This one is a great illustration of how God's ways don't often make sense when we are in the midst of things, but in the end we get a clearer picture of what God was doing in our lives because He loves us. If Hosea hadn't married Gomer as God commanded, he would not have suffered so much, yes, but at the same time Gomer never would have been saved from her life of sin and brought into a relationship with the living God. It tore Hosea's heart open many times because of her unfaithfulness, but in the end, their love was stronger. It hurt worse than anything Hosea had ever known, yet God used it to illustrate His commitment to Israel despite the pain resulting from their idolatry. I liked how the author brought that all together.
At first, I found the book amusing, if not a bit corny. It was the same way I felt about some scenes in Love Amid the Ashes. Other than the scenario with the Prince of Shechem in that book, much of the dialog didn't work for me. But after the first 100 pages of Love in a Broken Vessel, I really felt like the novel had engaged my heart. So if for some reason the beginning doesn't pull you in, hang in there because the complete story is worth it.
I loved how Gomer worked with pottery in the story. At the end, there is an illustration of how Israel will never be without scars, just like you'd see when looking at a broken pot glued back together. People who rebel against the Lord will never be completely whole again, but they can still be useful. Brokenness does lead to healing if we let God bind us back together with his healing glue, but we'll always have cracks and scars resulting from our straying. The message, however, is that there no one so damaged that God can't heal them and use them for His glory. Great message. Good book!
I was given a copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review.
“Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”