By Sydney Gautier
Scripture | Hosea 2:14-19
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 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. And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 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.
Hosea has become one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. There’s something incredible about the steadfast love and complete mercy that are portrayed throughout the story, along with the radical pursuit Hosea shows towards Gomer and that God shows towards His people. The Hebrew word that means, “loving-kindness, mercy, or steadfast love” is chesed, and shows up in Hosea 2:19, “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.”
The story of Hosea is one of incredible mercy and love. Hosea 1:1 starts out by telling us, “The word of the Lord comes upon Hosea.” So Hosea is set apart to deliver a difficult truth to the people of Israel. But before He sends Hosea to speak to Israel about how they do not love Him as they should and are not faithful, God wants Hosea to understand how He feels. So this is what we find in Hosea 1:2, “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom”. This would be a hard instruction to take from God, to willingly take someone as your spouse, knowing they will not be faithful to you… I think a lot of us would be less than thrilled about this.
Hosea was obedient and took a prostitute, Gomer, as his wife. They had three children, two of which are speculated by some to have not been Hosea’s children, but another man’s instead. In that case, I’m sure most of our friends would be telling us to leave this person, that they’re not good enough for you, you can do way better. But this is what God says to Hosea, “And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”(Hosea 3:1) Oh….It makes no sense, it’s illogical and totally goes against our natural instinct in this sort of circumstance. But Hosea was obedient again and went back and got his wife and continued to love her. This is a picture of God’s relationship with Israel. The Israelites were unfaithful, they had no relationship with God, but continually God showed them mercy and steadfast love, the chesed love of God.
In this story, we see that this type of mercy and love pursues. I always think of my sweet, patient, persistent husband when I think of this. If you know Joe and I well, you might know that he pursued me for quite a long time. He was very persistent and I was very stubborn. He would pursue me and I would ignore him and no matter how many times this would happen he was always there. And once I finally realized how silly I was for being so stubborn for so long, Joe didn’t hold it against me for making him wait so long or make me earn his love. Instead, he just loved me and then proposed to me, to be committed to each other for the rest of our lives. This is what God called Hosea to and this is just a tiny glimpse of how God feels about us. In chapter 3 of Hosea we see him pursuing Gomer in her complete wickedness and literally buys her back, most likely out of slavery, and Hosea says, “And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” (Hosea 3:3) God proclaims that same thing about us, He wants our hearts and our affection and for us to have a relationship with Him. This buying back is our way of being protected and loved, it’s mercy pursued.
After Hosea bought Gomer back and told her that she can’t be with another man again, she was different. She was no longer the women who went around with other men, but was Hosea’s faithful wife and he was her faithful husband. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Just like Gomer was transformed, we too are transformed. God not only bought us back, but changed our identity, we are now in Christ, brought into a new family and given a new role and new life. The mercy of God transforms us; who we are, the way we interact with people and our relationships with others and the chesed love of God changes everything.