Unreciprocated Love

Hosea 3:1-5


It is very heartbreaking to love someone dearly and not be loved in return,  but the theme love unreciprocated is a tragedy that runs through the history of man upon earth. In many of the popular songs we hear the theme is unfaithfulness or unreciprocated love . Many of our folk songs that have stood the test of time have this theme, and is especially prevalent in country music.


But it is not exclusively reflected in music, but  we read of it in our histories.  For instance, it is observed in the lives of noted leaders like Napoleon. History reveals that he put away the wife of his earlier years to enter into a marriage that is more politically expedient.  Napoleon was certainly not the only one who ever married someone because it would mean military or economic strength. It has been done in royal families almost from time immemorial.


Unrequited love is a part of the story of Tom Mooney who was a militant and socialist who was convicted of a San Francisco bombing in 1916, being sentenced to hang, but his sentence was changed to live imprisonment  in 1918. Several people believed he was innocent, among whom was his wife,  and she  began what finally amounted to a 22 year battle for his release. During those years she worked to support herself, at times even as a scrub woman. She secured his release and in 1939 Mooney was pardoned. Within a year, he had left her behind, found and married another woman.


Unrequited love is not always a romantic love between some young man and woman, it  can be a parent’s love given to a child.  A story I heard, told of a widowed mother who sacrificed by taking in washing and house cleaning to send her boy to college.  Finally the day of graduation came, she came down to see him receive his diploma. As he walked to receive it, he was unwilling to speak to or acknowledge his mother because she was dressed poorly and was an embarrassment to him.  He failed to introduce her to his friends as the other students were doing. After the graduation ceremony was over, he slipped out to celebrate with his classmates.  

Unrequited Love.


These examples suggest a theme that one finds repeatedly in the Word of God. One of the most impressive stories in the Bible is found in the book of Hosea.  Hosea was one of the minor prophets, I hasten to point out that the “minor prophets”,  and their writings are not minor in that they are of less importance, but are shorter in content. Hosea consists of 14 chapters, whereas Isaiah for instance has 66 chapter.


 Hosea  lived from 755 to 712BC approximately and during this time there unfolded this story: God commanded Hosea : Hosea 1:2


2Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom; for the land doth commit great whoredom, departing from Jehovah. 3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim;


Evidently Gomer’s “whoredom” which is a word mentioned 16 times in the book, did not begin immediately for she conceived and bare him two children.  But coming from this questionable background and environment she became a  harlot,  going after many lovers,  degradation  set in so that after a time she was sold in the market as a common slave.


The impressive part of our story is: The man who redeemed her and bought was her husband.  It is from out text Hosea 3:2-3  that we read:


2So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a half-homer of barley; 3and I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be any man’s wife: so will I also be toward thee.   


In the book of Hosea, the prophet was not telling his own story so much as he was telling God’s story with unfaithful Israel.  Hosea’s wife turning to harlotry and then his taking steps to redeem her from slavery, typified God’s people turning from Him to serve idols and God’s great love in their redemption.   God used Hosea and his circumstance as a parallel to say to the house of Israel, “this is the way you my people have been”.



There are fourteen chapters in this book, chapters 1-3 are used to tell Hosea’s own story with Gomer. Beginning in chapter 4 there unfolds the parallel that God draws. Immorality prevailed and like Gomer, Israel had not been faithful to her espoused husband Jehovah.  Hosea 4:1-2


1Hear the word of Jehovah, ye children of Israel; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2There is naught but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  


Then a very familiar passage found in Hosea 4:6    

6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”


To understand the impact of this statement remember the time of the judges where we read this sad, sad statement:  Joshua 2:10-11


   10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel. 11And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and served the Baalim  .

6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

We read in 1 Corinthians 10:11

11Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come

Again in Romans 15:4

4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.  

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”


It was not that the knowledge of God was unavailable,  but that they had rejected God’s knowledge, and God saw it as a rejection of Himself.  We are immediately reminded of Jesus’ words to the Jewish leadership of His own day  29 Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29


Nothing is more of an indictment against the Lord’s church today before “It’s Great Head” Jesus Christ, than the ignorance that abounds among the saints.


Another passage indicating how Israel and Ephraim had turned from God, is Hosea 7:8-11


8Ephraim, he mixeth himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 9Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, and he knoweth it not. 10And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: yet they have not returned unto Jehovah their God, nor sought him, for all this. 11And Ephraim is like a silly dove, without understanding: they call unto Egypt, they go to Assyria.


 He goes on to say, “They do not call upon me”. What a sorry  picture of a people turned from God to idols.


The beauty of this story is, God loved Israel just as Hosea, loved Gomer though she was unworthy of his love. It is in Hosea 11:1ff that we read these tender words of God   


1When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them: they sacrificed unto the BāVǎlǐm, and burned incense to graven images. 3Yet I taught Ē·phrǎ·ĭm to walk; I took them on my arms; but they knew not that I healed them……..     7And my people are bent on backsliding from me: though they call them to him that is on high, none at all will exalt him. 8How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I cast thee off, Israel? how shall I make thee as ĀdVmäh? how shall I set thee as Zē·bôiVĭm? my heart is turned within me, my compassions are kindled together”  


 In the final chapter we find:   Hosea 14:1-7


1O Israel, return unto Jehovah thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips. 4I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him. 5I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as LěbVǎ·non. 6His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as LěbVǎ·non. 7They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the grain, and blossom as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.


I have chosen this theme for our lesson because it seems that in our age, there is a great deal of love unreciprocated. I speak not of the love of a husband who fails to return to a faithful wife, or the love that a wife fails to return to a faithful husband, I do not speak of the disappointment when children fail to love their parents,,. Rather, I speak of the love that you and I fail to return to our God.


The history of God’s dealings with man has been a one way street. The love of God which has been poured out without measure has not been returned by mankind to any great degree.


In the garden of Eden, after God had created that paradise for man, giving him a lovely place to live and to provide for his livelihood without effort, man failed to love God as he ought to have loved Him.  That was the beginning of man’s degradation.  Down through the Old Testament this theme is repeated over and over again.  

It is the story of wayward Israel and the wilderness wanderings which followed. Israel rebelled in the land of Canaan and finally was so wayward that she was carried off into Babylonia captivity.


This is the story of the Jew’s rejection of Christ. The Son of God loved man enough to die for him, but man is unthankful and unholy toward Jesus Christ and the salvation He brought down from heaven.


The story of unrequited love is greatest tragedy in the history of the world. 

Isaiah tells our story this way::  Isaiah 53:4-6


4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.


It was unrequited love speaking at the  crucifixion;  but that is not the end of the story. The story continues  on down to our present time.  It comes down to people like you and me who do not live the kind of life God desires of us, When it comes to something we ought to be doing for our Lord, we go our on willful way.  We return only meager love and devotion to God. 


When I think of God’s  grace and great love, I think of some lines in a song we sing:    

                                                     His Grace Reaches Me


Deeper than the ocean, and wider than the sea

Is the grace of the Savior for sinners like me.

Sent from the Father, and it thrills my soul,

Just to feel and to know that His blood makes me whole


 If you have  seen the ocean, you know the wideness of the seas. That is the wideness of God’s mercy to people like me and you!


On this particular Lord’s Day I would appeal to both myself and to all of you, to make our commitment deeper and more sincere that it has often appeared in the past. Worship  is not something that we do only on Sundays morning for an hour, it is not something that we do a few Sundays out of the year. Our relationship to God is something that we need to be concerned about every hour, every day of the week, and particularly every Lord’s Day.


There are many good Christian people who, by the pressures of their busy daily lives, and by the other concerns that crowd into their lives,  have crowded God into the background.

Sunday evening services find many missing that which God would have the get. Wednesday evening services, rich in meaning to so many, are missed by so many others.


 May we not let the world and its baubles, the cares and concerns for this life rob us of the privilege of turning back to the Lord the love that He has shown to us. May the tragedy of unrequited love lead us to be more faithful in our love to God.


A story in the fifteenth chapter of Luke fits this theme perfectly and completely. In the story I speak of is a loving generous father, and a wayward son. It is the story of the prodigal son,  but this story of unrequited love had a good ending. After some time the son cam to himself, turned and came back.


My prayer is that each of us, us may some day feel the power and warmth of God’s love and return to Him who has infinitely love us. 1 John 4:10


10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins