Years ago, a dear friend shared a book with me that touched my heart forever. It was a Christian fiction novel about a couple with a very challenging marriage. In this marriage, the husband was faithful and loving, while the wife was an adulterous prostitute with a broken past. I didn’t know it at the time, but this story was based on the book of Hosea.
Hosea was a prophet during the time in history when Israel was divided into northern and southern kingdoms. In the book of Hosea we see that God’s people messed up in a terrible way. Both Israel and Judea rejected God’s instruction and worshiped false gods. They were wicked and unfaithful. God’s anger burned and He turned away from them.
Ouch! They got what they deserved. God judged them and punished them according to their sin.
“Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me.” ~Hosea 7:13
Using the metaphor of marriage, Hosea represented God as a loving, faithful husband, while Gomer was the adulterous wife, Israel. Time and time again, Gomer was unfaithful, fell into prostitution, and sinned. Each time she did, Hosea forgave and was willing to restore the relationship. This is exactly who our God is.
“The people’s sacrifices had become mere ritual, and God refused to accept them. We have rituals too—attending church, observing a regular quiet time, celebrating Christian holidays, praying before meals. Rituals give us security in a changing world. Because they are repeated often, they can drive God’s lessons deep within us. But rituals can be abused. We should not reject the rituals of our worship, but we must be careful with them. Think about why you do them. Focus on God, and perform every act with sincere devotion.” (p. 1406, Life Application Study Bible, NIV)
“They offer sacrifices given to me and they eat the meat, but the Lord is not pleased with them. Now he will remember their wickedness and punish their sins.” ~Hosea 8:13
Despite their wrongdoing, God loved his people so much he didn’t give up on them. He was faithful to them even when they were not faithful to him. He forgave them. He wished to restore them to himself.
The book of Hosea focuses on God’s loyal love for his people despite their sin. Christians today are God’s people. Like Israel, we sin, but just as He forgave Israel He will forgive us. He offers us redeeming, forgiving love through his Son, Jesus Christ. Isn’t it comforting to know He loves us even when we mess up? It’s never too late to come to Him. His arms are always open and ready to restore our broken hearts.
By the way, if you are interested in reading the book I mentioned, it is called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The story depicts a marriage mirroring God’s unfailing, never ending love for his people. I highly recommend it!