“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD.”
(Hosea 2:19–20 NLT)
Everyone wants to be loved. We want to know that someone accepts us. That we are safe. When people are in love they make promises to each other. Promises of lifelong commitment, loyalty, care… fill in the blank… the problem is that as we live in this world all too often those promises are broken. Often at the moment we are depending on them the most to be true they let us down. Maybe it's a text discovered by accident…a secret uncovered… the list of potential scenarios here is so long I won't even try to give examples; you know them already. In the agony of shattered dreams these promise words are exchanged for new ones, lifelong commitment becomes abandonment, loyalty becomes betrayal, care becomes pain…anger, withdrawal, isolation, bitterness, void…the poison fruits of destroyed hopes ripen in the halls of memory. But what if you're the one who did the betraying? Making large promises to get what you wanted but never counting on fulfilling them. Regardless of which side of the equation you were on, the words of this Bible verse are for you.
Most of the time when we read Bible promises we do not actually know the context in which they come. We take them as isolated beams of light, often unaware of the very deep darkness that surrounded them. Israel was God's people, delivered by Him from slavery, supernaturally provided for and brought victoriously into the land He promised them. They covenanted with Him to be faithful to Him as their God. But the glory of God’s relationship with His people was quickly blackened with betrayal as they added other gods to their lives. Not just once or twice or occasionally; that would have been bad enough, but blatantly, constantly “on every high hill and under every green tree” (Jer 2:20). God, their Creator and Savior, exchanged for gods who promised sex, greed, violence, ambition, power and a host of other things that God saw destroying them from the inside out. God feels it all. Nothing hidden. Nothing avoidable. Betrayal…anger…pain.
The insane part of all of this…God still loves. Not because they are lovable but because He loves. And in the midst of their rebellion and brokenness He calls a prophet to act it out for them. Hosea was commanded by God to marry a prostitute who he knows is going to cheat on him. She is going to run away and get pregnant by other men and leave Hosea the mess. Eventually as her infidelity reaches its height, she winds up on the slave auction…betrayed by her lovers and deprived of all value. What does God tell Hosea? “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel” (Hosea 3:1). Hosea buys her back because God still loves.
Now…leaving the 8th century BC behind and arriving back in February 2019, what does this promise of God mean for you and me? It means that God loves you. It does not matter how far you have left Him behind…how bad you have been…He loves you. With the love that we all desperately need to internalize. We are worth it to Him! The price of our purchase from the slavery of sin? Not money…His own life. Not just promised…actually given to death for you and me. His desire? “I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ” (Hosea 2:23). A restored relationship with Him that will last forever. No broken promises; His are proved by His blood! The only remaining question…will we come to Him? He is waiting for our answer…