“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.’” ~ Hosea 1:2
I have a friend who is a real feast or famine friend. Do you know the type? Weeks go by and I get phone calls, emails, text messages. And then suddenly, BAM – nothing. What was a balanced friendship suddenly turns into communicating with a wall. Phone calls go unreturned, emails aren’t replied to. Total radio silence. If you’ve ever had a friend like this, you know how frustrating it can be. Yet I really am determined to be this person’s friend. It’s like Charlie Brown’s situation with Lucy and the football. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Charlie Brown continues to hope that one day that football is going to be there for him to kick, right where Lucy’s holding it. And until then, he is just going to keep running at it.
All of this pales in comparison to what Hosea went through.
When I read the first chapter of Hosea, I can’t help but think he must have really raised an eyebrow at God’s command to go out and marry a prostitute. Why would anybody intentionally go out and marry someone who, by profession, is guaranteed to be unfaithful? What would possible drive you to subject yourself to that kind of emotional pain? Can you really love someone who hurts you that deeply?
It turns out the answer is yes.
But not because Hosea was successful at it. Because, really, I doubt that he was penning any relationship self-help guides during his marriage. I’m sure that he was just hanging on best he could to God’s promises and faithfully following God’s commands. It’s surprising to me that we don’t study Hosea more than we do, because it shows us so powerfully how God loves us passionately and implores us to return to Him.
Our Heavenly Father has chosen to love people that time and again are intentionally unfaithful. God was not surprised when His creation chose to turn away in disobedience. He is not rendered helpless by our behavior. And even though our sinful nature is in direct opposition to His divine perfection, He offers forgiveness, love, and blessings freely. He rescues His people from captivity – both literal and spiritual. And we still keep wandering off. We seek our own, putting our own desires above His.
God chose to make a living, breathing example out of Hosea’s life for the people in Israel. He judged them and punished them for their sinfulness. If humans were authoring this story, the punishment would be the end of it. However, God is full of abundant grace and chose to end the story of Hosea and Israel by imploring His people to return and promising them beautiful mercy when they do.
“The LORD says, ‘Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.’” ~ Hosea 14:4