A few weeks ago, someone posed a terrifying question to me: What if Austin cheated on you?
First of all, what a conversation starter, right? But it really did make me consider how that might feel. You see, when we entered this covenant relationship, we swore to remain faithful. There is something about that promise in front of the people we love most in this world that just makes the thought of an affair sting more than I ever considered it might. The book of Hosea explores this reality–both in a worldly relationship and a relationship with God.
Hosea is one of those books that, if read out of context, it could seem a little weird and confusing. However, with the correct context, it is one of the most beautiful stories in the Word of God:
Author: Hosea was a prophet to Israel for around forty years by the time he wrote the words of this book.
Setting: Hosea lived in the last days of the Northern Kingdom. For years, Israel turned against God and placed their hope in earthly kings and pleasures. The chasing of their desires would eventually result in the falling of their kingdom.
Who we really are
The book of Hosea begins with God’s command to Hosea to take a wife of harlotry, a prostitute. When God asks this of Hosea, He fully understands that this wife will not stay faithful to Hosea. Yet He commands it anyway. Sound familiar?
When God entered a covenant relationship with Abraham’s line, He knew they would not be faithful. His sovereign nature would not be deceived by the sinful nature of human beings. From Adam and Eve’s choice to go against The Lord’s commands to the entire earth’s disobedience in the time of Noah, even Abraham’s own distrust in God’s promise to grant him a son, God would not be surprised that His people turn their backs on Him. Yet he chose to enter that most sacred relationship with us regardless.
That is what He is exemplifying through Hosea. He demonstrates the beauty of His choice to pursue us no matter how unfaithful he knows we will be.
What we really deserve
He further tells us what we deserve through the names of Hosea’s children. Jezreel demonstrates that God will put an end to the Kingdom of Israel. Hosea’s daughter would be called “No Mercy,” because God would not show mercy on the Israelites. He also commands Hosea to call his son, “Not my People.”
He gave the people over to their desires. He allowed them their desire to reject Yahweh as their God. Their love was for kings who were tainted with the love of sin, pleasures that only last a moment, and relationships that were sure to disappoint.
The truth is that the names given to these children exemplify what we all deserve. No matter how often we show our face in church on Sunday morning, no matter how much scripture we can pull out at a given time, no matter the size of the Bible we carry in our bags, we reject our God daily. We spit in His face when our pride billows into our conversation. We reject His blood when we use works to somehow promote our own holiness. And we deserve every punishment those Israelites got. Our kingdoms deserve to be destroyed, our souls deserve no mercy, and we surely do not deserve to be called God’s people.
How God responds to us
Yet our Savior reminds us of his beautiful faithfulness. While their Kingdom was destroyed, He promptly states that He will redeem them. In the same place that they were told they could no longer be His people, he reveals that they will be called children of God. “God may replace pity with wrath for a season. He may disinherit some generations of Israel. But he will not give up Israel forever. He will, at some future time, overcome the alienation of ‘Not pitied’ and ‘Not my people,’ and great will be the day of Jezreel” John Piper explains in his sermon, Call me Husband, Not Baal.
The end of our story, the last word, is the promise that He will have his wife, no matter how hard she tries to flee from Him. Not as a slave or even something to be owned. But as a wife loved beyond measure. Friends, if we are in a covenant relationship with God, we are that bride. We reject our Seeker daily. That is the amazing thing about our God. He will allow us our desires. If and when we decide we want something else, He allows it. Yet His love overflows and He pursues us anyway. Praise God that that pursuit is stronger and faster than our ability to run.
If you are being pursued by God today, you know it. You may be thinking that you are too far gone, or that you aren’t good enough to be part of His kingdom. You may be viciously rejecting what your heart knows is true because you don’t feel worthy. You may not feel that you know how to begin. You may be in a covenant relationship with God, but pursuing something or someone else.
This story demonstrates the simplicity of the answer you are looking for. He is beckoning you. Respond. That is it. You respond and he washes you. He purifies the messy life you may be ashamed of. He did it for me and so many others. He can do it for you too.
Over the next few weeks of going through Hosea, I am going to share bits of His pursuit of me. It is not a crazy story. There are very few twists and turns. Yet any story of pursuit from God is a miracle. Let’s explore the beauty of that miracle together by starting conversation with one another. Answer these questions in the comment section and read others. Our stories are all part of the one He is writing, and I can’t wait to hear yours.
- When and how did you first feel the Lord pursuing your heart?
- How does it make you feel to know that no matter how hard you try to run, He will continue to beckon you?