[Note: the following post was first published on 16th March 2019 under the heading – God’s faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness]
Read: Hosea 2:1-23
Consider: The book of Hosea is written using the language of betrothal and marriage. It uses the story of Hosea and his marriage to Gomer, to illustrate the point that the northern kingdom of Israel was continually unfaithful to God and how God sought to restore his relationship with them again and again. The book of Hosea is unusual in terms of the fact that it is Hosea’s life that is being used as a picture of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.
You might find Hosea uncomfortable reading if you’ve ever been hurt in a relationship with someone, or your marriage has broken down because of a partner’s unfaithfulness. While this book is not about the difficulties of marriage, there is much to learn from it about persistence and the place of forgiveness in the marriage relationship.
In Hosea 1:2 it says: When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.’ The point here is not to make us think of the weakness of human nature in personal relationships, but that the kingdom of Israel was guilty of unfaithfulness to God.
Despite the provocation of the continual unfaithfulness of Gomer, we are told in Hosea 3:1 – The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods …’ Notice that Hosea is not just told to show his love to his wife again, but to Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites. This might cause you to raise the question – How does God show his love to the Israelites? Look again at the verses quoted above from Hosea 2:19-20 where God says: I will betroth you to me for ever (v19). This is a picture of God’s persistence in showing love to Israel in the face of continued waywardness and unfaithfulness.
Towards the end of the book, we read: Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips’ (Hosea 14:1-2). God’s response to genuine repentance is this: I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them (Hosea 14:4).
What are we to get from the book of Hosea? Is it just about Hosea and Gomer, or even God and the Israelites? It would be possible to read this book and fail to be moved by the implications for us. What we are presented with in this book is a picture of our own waywardness and unfaithfulness to God and, most importantly, God’s persistence in offering us forgiveness in calling us to return to him.
Pray: Father, thank you that you call us again and again to return to you. Your desire is to forgive us when we return to you with repentant hearts. Thank you that you loved us so much that you were prepared to sacrifice your Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. Amen