Love That Captivates: Part 2 - Radical

Love That Captivates: Part 2

In this message on John 3, David Platt continues to explain the connection between Christ and Hosea. In this two-part series, David Platt shows the church parallels between Hosea’s love for Gomer and Christ’s love for his people. Like Gomer, God’s people continue to display their unfaithfulness while Christ, like Hosea, shows his consistent faithfulness.

Watch “Love that Captivates: Part 1

If you have the Bible, and I hope you do do. The beauty of the gospel is that God has saved us. He’s freed us from the power and the penalty of sin. He’s put us in Christ who’s now our life. So we’ve gathered together to surrender our lives. Our lives are yours and we’re your servants. It’s not radical version of Christianity. This is biblical Christianity. It’s what it means to be a follower of Christ. We don’t call the shots, he calls the shots.

The Radical Together Podcast with teaching from David Platt. Welcome back to another episode of the Radical Together Podcast. If you’re new to the podcast, you can listen to all the previous episodes at or by subscribing on iTunes. Today, we conclude a two-part message from John 3 entitled, Love That Captivates.

John 3 Discusses Spiritual Idolatry

This is the picture, ladies and gentlemen, spiritual idolatry is enjoying the gifts while completely ignoring the giver of those gifts, and while it is not worshiping Canaanite rain gods in American culture today, it is pervasive across the church. It is enjoying the stuff and the success, and the things and the people while ignoring the one who gives.

Now, you hear that, ignoring the one who gives and you think, “Well, of course, I wouldn’t ignore him,” but you’ve got to realize these people had not blocked God out completely. There was still a place for God. You see, she was adulterous and she was idolatrous, but third, she was hypocritical. Look at verse 11, “I will stop all her celebrations, her yearly festivals, her new moons, her Sabbath days, all her appointed faith.” Did you hear that? They’re still having religious festivals and they’re still celebrating the things that they would celebrate all throughout the Old Testament.

They’re still going to their Sabbath observances week after week after week, i.e, they are still going to worship on Sundays. What is so tragic in the Book of Hosea is not just that the people were living in idolatry. What’s so tragic is that their idolatry was being masked by spiritual devotion. Please don’t miss this. It is possible to live a life in idolatry and give religious devotion to God and miss the entire point. I’m convinced the adversary was doing that in that day and he’s doing it in our day today.

Based on this text, I would say with complete confidence that there are scores of people in this room, scores of us today who are worshiping God, claiming to worship God, but we are so far from true worship of God, but the danger is we have no clue that we are. She was hypocritical. Religion, attendance in church is the biggest coverup for spiritual idolatry. She was adulterous, idolatrous, hypocritical, and the climax, she was forgetful. Not forgetful, that doesn’t sound like much of an indictment. We all get forgetful.

But I’m not just talking about a mental lapse where you forget something you should remember. You get to the end of verse 13, God says, “I would punish her for the days she burned incense to the bales. She decked herself with rings and jewelry and went after lovers but me, she forgot. Let me share with you the words of Deuteronomy 8. You don’t have to turn there for the sake of time. Listen to what the people of God had heard from the law.

In Deuteronomy 8, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful though that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and decrees that I am giving you this day. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship, and bow down to them, I testify against you today…”

The Dangers of Worshipping Idols

This is God speaking to his people way back in Deuteronomy, “I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed like the nations the Lord destroyed before you so you’ll be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.” You don’t forget God and it’s not an easy thing to forget your creator. In order to do that, it has to be willful. This is not just, “Oh, I forgot what he did.” This is living a life that says, “I can do things on my own without God. I can get these things on my own without God.”

It is ladies and gentlemen, the American dream. “I can achieve success and I can have a great family and have a nice house and a nice car, and I can do it all by working hard, and I don’t need my creator to do it.” She was forgetful, and God says, “I will punish her.” Now, this is what’s so difficult about this text and preaching this text in the 21st century because I know that across this room and across our culture today, toleration is the word of our day.

The thought of God saying he punishes sin does not jive with our review of God. A loving God tolerates sin, a loving God does not punish sin. A loving God would not punish his people. “We would not follow a God who says these things,” some might say, or at least think. Here’s the deal, ladies and gentlemen, if you can prove to me that God does not punish sin, then I can prove to you that God does not love you.

If you can prove to me that God does not punish sin, then I can prove to you that God does not love you, and here’s why. Because sin hurts, and sin causes deep pain, and sin damns us for all of eternity. And if God did not care about that and he let us continue in sin, then it would show that he is indifferent toward us altogether and he is okay with hurt and pain for us. Praise God, he loves us, that is why he punishes sin.

It is a principle that every parent in this room knows and I am quickly learning. There are some times when you have to give a look or raise the voice just a little bit, or do whatever it takes to say, “This is not good for you, this is not good for you.” That’s love of a parent for a child, isn’t it? Mom or dad, do you not tolerate? Don’t you love your kids? Why would you punish?

Absolutely not. You love your kids that’s why you punish. How much more the infinite love of God wants to keep us there from that which would damn us for all of eternity. It makes complete sense that he would say, “I will punish her for her sins.” Now, what we’ve got to realize at this point is that the indictment so to speak, has climaxed, “But me, she forgot,” says the Lord.

John 3 Reminds Christians of the Goodness of God

And the very next word, don’t look down at it yet. Everybody looking up here, we’ll all look down together in just a second. Just following with me. The very next word in verse 14 is, therefore. Now, we’re not looking down yet. Follow with me here. Whenever you see therefore in the Bible, you know that what’s about to come is based on what has just preceded this. And so what we’ve got is leading up to the therefore of Isaiah 2:14, we’ve got verse two to verse 13 that has said, “My people are unfaithful, adulterous, idolatrous, hypocritical and forgetful.

They have committed complete and total adultery to the point where they’re running around with the things of this world and they don’t even think about me. Not once do they think about it, they’ve forgotten about me all together.” And you need to know, I need to know when we come to this text that the punishment for adultery, not just in that day, but even in parts of the Middle East today, the punishment for adultery is death.

There are parts of the world today, and I’m not saying this is right, but there are parts of the world today where a wife commits adultery against her husband. She wouldn’t even go to law and be legally killed, they would be killed by her family and there would be no problem with that. But even if not death, at least divorce right or separation, you’ve got the stinging indictment of a holy God of the universe saying to his people that, “You have been unfaithful, idolatrous, adulterous, hypocritical, and you don’t even think about me.

Therefore,” now what are you waiting for here? We’re ready for at least separation. If not divorce, death is really what we expect, and it says… Now, you can look at it with me. Listen to this, these are the words of God, “Therefore,” verse 14, “I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” Wow, this makes no sense.

We’ll return to David’s message in just a minute, but I want to take a moment to give you an update on the next Secret Church gathering with David Platt on Friday, April 29th, 2016. Now, we recently announced that the live gathering of Secret Church will take place at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. And you can purchase tickets for the live gathering of Secret Church on Monday, January 11th at 10:00 AM Eastern, 9:00 AM central at

And we hope you’ll plan to join David for the live gathering or through the Secret Church simulcast. For more information about Secret Church tickets or to register for the live simulcast, go to Now, here’s David with the rest of today’s message.

John 3 Emphasizes the Importance of Repentance

Nothing has happened. Gomer has not come back. The people of Israel have not repented one slight bit. They still aren’t even thinking, and the God of the universe takes the ultimate reason for infinite judgment and he turns it into the ultimate reason for in infinite grace and he says to his people, “I am going to allure you back to myself. I’m going to woo you. I’m going to draw you back to me with my great love.”

This is a story of an unfaithful people and it is a story of an unreasonable God. This defies all logic. This makes no sense that this verse would come out of nowhere to this point and God would say these words, “I’m going to allure her or lead her into the desert,” and the initiative is all his.

And the rest of this chapter, you don’t see Gomer or the people of Israel do one thing, not one thing do they do. It’s God doing it all. It says over and over again, “I will do this, I will do this, I will do this,” and you’ve got a list that are there in your notes and I want you to run down them with me, and I want you to hear these words, God saying to his people, the first one is, “I will allure her.” That is an incredible word her. “Woo her,” this is not a forcing of God’s love on his people. It is a drawing to himself. It is, “I will attract her.” This is what I did when I wanted a date with Heather. I tried to woo her. I tried to say really cool things when I’m around her.

I’ll write her little notes here and there, and I know she’s going to be walking this certain place at this certain time, and so I just happened to be there, “Oh yes, it’s… Who would’ve thought, it’s good to see you.” It’s when I wanted to date her and we were in a weekend, it was a church retreat weekend type thing and we were having pizza to eat, and we were sitting around and I can’t remember how it happened, but somehow she dared me to eat a whole Papa Johns Pizza and I thought, “I’ll do anything she says.”

And so I said, “You’re on,” and so I ate a whole Papa Johns Pizza. I’m like, “That would prove my love for her,” but I did it. I would get dressed, I would look at myself in the mirror and I’d say, “What will she think of this shirt?” Like she cared, “What will she think of this shirt? What will she think of these pants? What will she think of how I look?” And this is the word the God of the universe uses to describe how he draws you to himself.

Don’t miss it. We reverse this completely. Every religious system in the world is doing exactly that, “What can I dress for my God? What can I do for God? How can I earn my way to God? How can I woo God?” And Christianity comes on the scene and God says, “I pursue you.” Ladies and gentlemen, it is not about how you get dressed up, come into this room, do this or that in your life in order to woo God to love you and accept you. The God of the universe is already pursuing you. He is radically pursuing you and he is wooing you to himself like a teenage guy would woo a potential date to himself.

These are strange words to hear from the mouth of God, “I will allure her, I will lead her.” I love this. “I’ll lead her into the desert.” Earlier in this chapter, the desert was a place of danger, a place you don’t want to go now it’s the place where God will take her so it’s just the two of them together, just Hosea and Gomer together where she is alone with him to receive all of his advances.

It’s the picture here in the language and it’s the picture of God saying, “I’m going to take you as my people so that you see my goodness. And when we’re alone together, I will speak tenderly to her.” It literally means, speak to your heart. This is a Hebrew idiom, which is basically means it’s a phrase that would be used in that day when a man is proposing to his wife and speak tenderly to her. That’s the word that God uses here, “I will speak tenderly to her. I will give her back her vineyards. I will give her these things, make the Valley of Achor,” that means the valley of trouble.

This is a picture way back in Joshua 7, where a major sin had been committed among the Israelites to jeopardize them going into the promised land and they called that place the valley of trouble and he says, “I’m going to take even your sin and I’m going to turn it into a door of hope.”

God’s Ability to Bring Hope

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no magnitude of sin that God is not ready to turn into a door of hope. No magnitude of sin in this room that God is not ready this day to turn into a door of hope. “I will give her these things. I will restore her and that day,” declares the Lord, “You will call me my husband. You will no longer call me my master.” I love this. This is not her coming back to him and saying, “Yes, sir. Okay, what do I need to do to make things better?” It’s not the picture.

It’s not coming back and saying, “My master,” it’s coming back and saying, “My husband.” It’s bringing her aside so she can gaze into his eyes and say, “My husband.”

“I will restore her. I will protect her.” I love this, verse 18, “And that day I’ll make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and the creatures to move along the ground.” He’s going to have a talk with the animals and he’s going to tell them, “You don’t hurt these people, they’re mine. Bow and sword in battle, I will abolish from the land so that all may lie down in safety. I will protect her. I will betroth her.”

I know that’s not a word we use very much, betroth. It uses it three times here, and the reason I can’t think of a better word that we might use today is because betroth, that’s something they would do there. It’s different than engagement. When you were betrothed to somebody, it is like engagement, but you were legally married at that point.

You would pay a price to be betroth somebody and he says, “I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, and love and compassion.” This is God saying to this unfaithful people, “I will betroth you in faithfulness,” and I love this phrase, “and you will acknowledge the Lord. You’d forgotten about me. When I show you my great love, you will know me. You will not be able to forget it. I will betroth you. I will respond to her.” I love this, “And that day I’ll respond to,” declares the Lord, “I will respond to the skies and they will respond to the earth, and the earth will respond to the grain. New wine and oil, they’ll respond to Jezreel.”

The picture is God’s going to have a talk with the skies and he’s going to say, “I want you to give rain to them,” and when the rain goes, he’s just going to say to the land, “I want you to produce fruit for them.” He is moving heaven and earth to provide for her. This is an incredible picture, “I’ll respond to her. I will establish her.” This word, Jezreel, is another word for Israel, but it literally means to plant. Then he says, “I will plant her for myself in the land. I will show my love to the one I called, not my loved one. I will say to those called not my people, you are my people. I will establish her.”

John 3 Praises the Love of the Lord

Now, here’s the deal. How does this start? God says, “I’m going to do all these things,” but remember Gomer, the people of Israel have done nothing to come back. They still don’t even know, and God says all these things that he’s going to do.

Then you get to what is one of the most incredible chapters in all the Bible in chapter three, and listen to what it says, “The Lord said to me, Hosea, go show your love to your wife again though she is loved by another and is an adulterous. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turned to other gods and loved the sacred raisin cakes,” that was something that was used in idol worship. “So I bought her for 15 shekels of silver and about a homer and lithic of barley.

Then I told her, you are to live with me many days. You must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man and I will live with you.” We don’t know all the details here. We don’t know if Gomer was living with one particular person or she was a temple prostitute, or she was a slave to one particular person, but we do know that somehow she was in a position where she literally belonged to someone else.

And God says to Hosea, “Hosea, I want you to go and whatever it costs, I want you to buy Gomer back,” and he goes. And earlier in Exodus we hear that price for a female slave was about 30 shekels. Hosea doesn’t even have that much. So we’ve got this picture of 15 shekels and then some other stuff, and he goes, whether it is to that place of temple prostitutes or the man who owned his wife and he says, “I’ll pay whatever it costs to get her back.” This is the God of the universe saying, “I’ll allure her. I’ll lead her. I will speak to her. I will restore her. I will protect her. I will respond to her, I will establish her and I will do it by paying the price for her.”

That’s what God said in the Old Testament. “I’ll pay the price for you.” Now, that’s the picture of God’s love for his people. It sets the foundation for the picture in John 3 in a conversation with a Jewish religious leader.

Undeserved Love

And I know that there are many in this world who would hear this description of God alluring, loving, leading and would almost be tempted to say, and some would say, “That’s too weak of God.” My friends sitting around that table in the Middle East, no doubt would say that this is too weak of a picture of God.

We might even be tempted to think it’s a little out of the bounds of what we might think of, but listen to these words from an old pastor named Donald Gray Barnhouse. He said this, “When we see this love at work to the heart of Hosea, we may wonder if God is really like that. But everything in the word and in experience shows us that he is. He will give man the trees of the forest and the iron in the ground.”

“Then he will give to man the brains to make an ax from the iron to cut down a tree and fashion it into a cross. He will give man the ability to make a hammer and nails, and when man has the cross and the hammer and the nails, the Lord will allow man to take hold of himself and bring him to that cross, and in so doing will take the sins of man upon himself and make it possible for those who have despised and rejected him to come unto him and know the joy of sins removed and forgiven, to know the assurance of pardon and eternal life, and to enter into the prospect of the hope of glory with him forever.

This is our God and there is none like unto him.” Gomer’s only hope was in a love she never deserved. Ladies and gentlemen, your only hope is in a love you do not deserve. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will never perish, but have everlasting life.

That’s all for today’s message. We want to take a moment to thank you for listening and for supporting the Radical Together Podcast. It is through your financial support that we are able to produce free resources like the Radical Together Podcast. And if you’re a regular listener, we would be honored if you would consider making a one-time or recurring donation to Radical. You can do that through our website at For additional resources by David Platt, visit And if you’d like more information on the International Mission Board, visit And as always, we hope you’ll join us next time for more teaching from David right here on the Radical Together Podcast.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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