I opened my Bible for probably the first time this year, aside from church and stuff. Oddly, it opened to Hosea… Actually what happened was I had underlined a passage in Hosea 2 and wrote beside it (in girly, pink bubbly handwriting, of course) “There is HOPE!” and decided to park on that passage.
There is hope? I started wondering to myself what I could possibly mean by that. I seem to constantly fall flat on my face, get hit o’er the head by a 2×4 etc… yet today, there is hope….
Hosea is one of those “thinker” books in the Bible. The prophet Hosea is called, by God, to marry a whore. Particularly one named Gomer. He is to love her unconditionally and fight for her. And, of course, not realizing how good she has it, Gomer constantly leaves Hosea for her old job, her old escorts, once again becoming a “lady of the night,” and Hosea constantly remains faithful. I don’t know how he could do it. That is a lot of hurt and heartbreak to keep up with only to constantly fight for her. Wouldn’t he eventually give up, and just let her leave, and raise their kids himself? The punishment for adultery in that day and age was stoning, so wouldn’t he either divorce her or stone her? He doesn’t though. There is hope.
God uses the story of Gomer and Hosea to symbolize His love for Israel. Israel keeps leaving God to worship Baal and other idols, and eventually returns to God, and it’s a cycle. It keeps happening where God fights for and eventually wins back the love of Israel, only to have lost it again to the idols they choose to worship, but there is hope.
“All we, like sheep, have gone astray.”1
But there is hope. “I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”2 God takes us to a place where all we can do is depend on Him to provide for us. He takes us to a desert. We must depend on Him to meet our needs, whether we are hungry, thirsty, or in need of affirmation. And I think I understand Hosea differently now that I am married. There’s a lot more to a relationship than the physical touch of my husband. Sometimes, all I need is for him to speak tenderly to me… And for most of our relationship tender words were all we had. We spent over a year with a great gap between us in physical distances so we learned to communicate through words, almost like God with Israel. For so long there was a physical distance, of sorts, between Him and His children. His words, through His prophets, met the needs of Israel, but they still left Him because they emotionally distance themselves from Him.
But God, in His beauty, power, love, chose to romance them, to bring them back. I love being romanced by God. “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”3 “No longer will the call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah’; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.”4
There is hope. God is here, romancing us. At the risk of sounding “uber Christiany,” He has diminished the distance between Himself and His people by sending Jesus to romance us. I challenge you (and myself) to read the red letters, the words of Jesus. He calls you to Himself because He wants to romance you, to bring you back, so that you are no longer a Gomer, but a Mary Magdalene. MM followed Christ closely and was one of the first to see Him after He rose from the grave. I know many are disillusioned with today’s church. We all fail, including the church. Fortunately, not all church’s are Westboros, and I thank God for that. You are loved, no matter what your race, creed, or sexual preference is. There is hope for you yet. I would love to have you journey with me to find that hope.
-Karen, A Sojourner
1 Isaiah 53:6
2 Hosea 2:14
3 Zephaniah 3:17
4 Isaiah 62:4 Hephzibah means “My delight is in her.” Beulah means “married.”