Hosea 2:14-16; 19-20.
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’
19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
Usually when we think of great love stories we think of two people who are madly in love and committed to one another. Like Romeo and Juliette, or Jack and Rose (Titanic), or Superman and Lois Lane. But the greatest love story ever written is the story of God’s love for us. But rather than being a story of two people equally in love, it is a story of unfaithfulness and mercy. Of apathy and agony.
God’s great love story is told in miniature in the book of Hosea. Hosea prophesied to the nation of Israel when they were unfaithful to God and to the covenant made at Mount Sinai. They had turned to false gods and played the harlot with the Baals. And now Israel will face the judgment of God. But not without hope. God still unconditionally loves his people, and he will restore them. He will bring them back to their true husband.
God’s love story with Israel is illustrated in Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute named Gomer. God asked Hosea to marry Gomer, knowing that she would cheat on Hosea. Gomer would leave Hosea for another lover, but all the while Hosea would support her, even throughout her unfaithfulness. And when God told Hosea to go get his wife back, Hosea would have to pay for her like every other man. He ransomed his own wife with silver, barley, and wine (3:1-3).
The greatest of loves, and the greatest of love stories, are not the ones where two people fall madly in love with each other and live happily ever after. The greatest love stories are like the ones in Hosea 2. The ones where, in spite of our unfaithfulness and cheating, our husband still loves us, and he never stops pursuing us. He doesn’t force us to come home, he allures us. He speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness. He betroths us in righteousness and justice, steadfast love and mercy. And when it comes time to get us back from that other lover, he buys us back at great cost to himself.
Your union with Christ is this greatest of love stories. Jesus is our faithful husband, our Hosea, and we are his faithless bride, his Gomer. We constantly cheat on Jesus our lover. We constantly run back to the brothels of our comforts, seeking the love and affection of everyone else but him. We declare that his love isn’t enough for us. We need something more, something visible, something safe, something “more exciting.”
But then Jesus, our great husband, allures us back with his grace. He speaks tenderly to us from his cross, reminding us, once again, of his righteousness and justice, his steadfast love and mercy, his faithfulness. He shows us the vineyard of his eternal love. He reminds us that there is day coming when our love and faithfulness for him will match his love and faithfulness for us. A day when we will wholeheartedly call him husband rather than calling him Baal (master).
Look at Hosea 2:20 again. God says it is by this love that we will know the Lord. How do you know the Lord? What is Jesus to you? Your therapist? Your policeman? Your safety net? Is he first and foremost a master? Or is he your heroic husband? Your faithful lover? Do you know that Jesus is the only one who will love you with his whole life, even when you fail to love him back?
“To live is Christ” means that we are living in the greatest love story ever told. Not because we have been so faithful to Christ, but because his great love for us goes beyond our unfaithfulness, our disloyalty, our harlotry. His great love woos us home each time we stray as he speaks tenderly to us of his eternal mercy and grace.
How do you see Jesus? Is he your faithful husband?
You in Christ
In Christ you are unconditionally loved in spite of your unfaithfulness. How does this melt your heart today?
Christ in you
How does Christ’s love in you allow you to trust him today and not run to other “Baals” (masters)?
The Love of God playlist