Hosea’s wife did not respond to his love. She left him for a life of prostitution. But then as Hosea chapter 3 begins, God calls Hosea to go love his wife as God loves his people. When Hosea finally found his wife, she had sunk as low as she could go. She was being sold in the slave market, where quite literally, she would be stripped naked as she was offered for sale. Imagine her surprise as the husband whose love she had spurned, whose children she had abandoned, stepped forward to purchase her and to take her home with him. Legally, he could have demanded that she be stoned to death. But in his love, he kept pursuing her, seeking her redemption, even when she rejected and humiliated him.
Hosea, the husband but also the prophet, told Israel that his love for his wife was not unique. God loves his people with the same fierceness and protectiveness as Hosea had for Gomer. The story of Hosea and Gomer was the story of God and Israel. Hosea says in Hosea 3:4-5, “the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.” As Hosea foreshadowed at the end of chapter two, God would take them out of the valley of trouble and open the door of hope.
The story of Hosea’s relationship with his wife has been called “the second greatest story ever told.” The greatest story ever told is much like Hosea’s: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The relationship of Hosea and his wife Gomer is like that between Christ and his Church.
The Apostle Peter used words that echo Hosea when he wrote to Christians, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). When Paul calls the church “the bride of Christ” in Eph. 5, he underlines the analogy. Like Hosea’s wife and like Israel, we must be faithful to the one who really provides for us. We sometimes attribute our blessings to other sources: luck, hard work, shrewd investing. But even when we push God out of our lives, when we invest our time, our money, and our emotion in focusing on other loves, he pursues us with his love. How is our relationship with God? How should God respond to our behavior? Have we committed ourselves fully to serving God or is his provision something we take for granted? Is being part of God’s people, Christ’s church and bride, who we are or are we confused about our spiritual identity? Are we running away from God as Hosea’s wife did from him? Do we question whether we are worthy of his love? We run but God still seeks us. He seeks to love, to forgive, to renew.
- Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.
O God, we push you away. We deny your love with our actions if not with our words. We struggle first with the idea that we need forgiveness, then with how you could forgive such incorrigible rebels. We have trouble trusting. Your relentless pursuit sometimes seems like harassment, or even stalking. Yet your kindness and your forgiving spirit, your fierce protection of us reveal to us that you are not our enemy. Help us to remember. Help us to recognize those who seek to tear us away from you. Hold us in the embrace of your love. Remind us that we are your people and that you love us. In Jesus’ name, amen.