From Seeds of Trust
Therefore, I will not allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15)
“All God can do is love.” Few believers have understood this as well as the prophet Hosea, even though he lived eight centuries before Christ. Hosea discovered this truth and expressed it in his life as a prophet. Although several prophets made use of symbols, the symbol Hosea found was quite dramatic and intense. To express God’s relationship with the people, Hosea was asked to take a prostitute for his wife and to love her. He had to put up with her unfaithfulness. What was the prophet thinking about? Political alliances with other nations? Perhaps even more than that, the fact that Israel continually turned to other gods to ensure the fertility of the land, of their flocks, and of their families.
There is also anger in Hosea. It explodes in chapter 2. God can take it no more. He has done all he can for this nation, and yet they always turn to others. The reasons for this anger are mentioned three times, in the form of a lawsuit. And each time the appropriate punishment is expressed by the formula: “That is why….” For the third and final summing up of Israel’s unfaithfulness, the reader expects that the punishment mentioned will be even greater. And instead we find these words: “Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. She shall respond as in the days of her youth.” And in the following chapter, we see Hosea take back his unfaithful wife and love her as she is.
Jesus, whom the gospels refer to as the “Bridegroom,” liked to quote Hosea. During a meal with sinners, a celebration where there was no fasting because the Bridegroom was present, Jesus justified his behavior by recalling God’s words in Hosea: “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,” (6:6). He did not come to accuse his people. In him there is “more than a prophet” – someone who can give a brand-new love to all.
- What does the symbolism of marriage, which Hosea is the first to use, tell us about God?
- Why does Hosea announce a promise when we would expect to find a punishment? What has he understood about God?
Risen Christ, when we have the simple desire to welcome your love, little by little a flame is kindled in the depths of our being. Fueled by the Holy Spirit, it may be quite faint. But it keeps on burning. And when we realize that you love us, the trust of faith becomes our own song.