When I first began reading this chapter, I could feel my teeth clenching and my stomach churning, as the words of the LORD through Hosea were offering condemnation to Israel, represented as a woman—an unfaithful woman—and not just unfaithful, but a whore! Talk about misogynistic, I thought and felt. Then memories from my Old Testament class in seminary all those long years ago came flooding back. And I recalled that, at the instruction of the God of Israel, Hosea himself took a prostitute as a wife and named his children Loruhamah (not accepted) and Loamni (not my people), his family becoming a living metaphor for the relationship between the LORD and Israel.
So…I began to relax my jaw and my stomach, and as I read further, I found that in this chapter, the LORD is not only chastising Israel for their unfaithfulness, but promising to continue to seek them out (verse 14):
Therefore, I will speak coaxingly to her,
and lead her through the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her. (Tanakh-the Jewish Bible)
And not only seek them out, but be as a husband to them, in spite of their unfaithfulness (verses 19 and 20):
And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. (NRSV)
In so doing, the LORD is offering a word of hope, of forgiveness, of acceptance. Not only to ancient Israel but to God’s people throughout the generations. To us here, now, in the twenty-first century, assuring us that ours is a God of love and redemption; a God who will always come to God’s people, reaching out in compassion, no matter what it takes. Even to the length of sending Jesus the Christ to show us the depths of that love. Hosea’s God is our God…always, ever, eternally.
Linda Faltin writes of herself: Mother, grandmother, sort-of-retired pastor, writer, child of God: that pretty much describes who I am. I live and love living in Greensboro, where I am ever finding new things in the community which delight me and draw me in, even in this time of pandemic.
1. Have you ever thought that God could not or would not forgive you for something you have done—or not done? How did that make you feel
2. How does the word of the LORD through Hosea telling you that God will always seek you out offer you the comfort and assurance of God’s never-changing love? Or does it? Why or why not?
God of love and mercy, so often we humans forget that there is nothing we can do which can separate us from your love. Thank you for the reminders which come to us in the words of scripture, in the words and actions of people around us, in the words which can whisper from the depths of our hearts: God loves you…always, ever, eternally. Amen