An epic journey of intimacy, rejection, betrayal . . . and hope
God gives Hosea a difficult command-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 the Lord’s message, the woman God directs 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 means of escape, Gomer does what she’s good at-she survives. Can Hosea’s love for God and God’s love for Israel restore Gomer’s broken spirit?
With her powerful combination of in-depth research and masterful storytelling, Mesu Andrews brings to life one of the most complex and fascinating stories of love and forgiveness in the face of utter betrayal.
“I never gave you a chance to love me because I couldn’t risk that you’d choose not to.”
How many of us have felt like this? We may not have been harlots, but perhaps we’re insecure enough to believe that we’re just not good enough to be loved or even liked. Maybe it was because of the hurtful words of a parent, or someone we once knew. Or maybe it’s because we’ve seen so much in modern culture to make us believe it. We’re not externally beautiful, or an amazing business woman, or the perfect homemaker. We’re failures and it’s no wonder we’re not loved/liked/popular. No wonder people keep leaving. As a result, over a slow period of time, we throw up walls to protect ourselves and that means no one gets a chance to know us and love us.
This is Gomer. Her best friend left when she was six and her abusive father sold her into ritualized prostitution a few years later. Since then she has known nothing but men getting what they want from her and then leaving. She has been taught to worship Asherah, one of the gods and goddesses worshipped by the people of Israel. The Israelites depend upon these idols for everything in their lives, from rains for the harvest to children and good health. They have turned their back on Yaweh, the god who threatens to destroy them for their behavior. Gomer hates Yaweh; He might have given her an escape from prostitution, but He then constantly takes her husband away from home in order to prophesy in His name. Gomer wants someone to love her, but this is one more proof that she is unlovable. She’ll need an income if she is to survive on her own, but she knows only one way of doing that. She knows she’s committing adultery but these men will pay her attention, even if only for a short time. After all, as Gomer says, “Men always leave.” There are people in the camp where she lives that will be her friends, but Gomer doesn’t know how to be a friend. She doesn’t understand how anyone would want to be her friend given her lifestyle. It will take many moons before she accepts that Hosea truly does love her, and understands that there is One who will never leave her.
I don’t know much about the minor prophets of the Bible. In truth, I’ve often found these books hard to understand. Biblical scholars believe that the relationship between Hosea and Gomer is a metaphor for the relationship between God and Israel. As Hosea never gives up on Gomer, so Yaweh never gave up on Israel. But this incredible novel has taught me something else: no matter what the world may say, no matter what the people around us say and do, we are never alone. Just because we cannot feel Him, it doesn’t mean He isn’t there. When we cry out that we’re alone, the truth is that we aren’t. Furthermore, He accepts us as we are. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, or what we do. We might be broken vessels, but He can mend us and use us.
Yes, this is a religious novel and there are overtly religious themes it. This isn’t a happy romance, and it isn’t a book that can be read in a couple of hours. At times, it isn’t pretty. Mesu Andrews doesn’t shy away from the truths of prostitution and some of the more horrendous forms of pagan worship. At the end, however, we are given the promise of His unconditional love and, further, that none of us are so broken that He cannot mend and use us.
Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Publication Date: March 2013
Page Count: 448
Thank you to Revell for my free copy of Love in a Broken Vessel, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
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