The story of Hosea has long been a powerful analogy in my walk of faith. I have often found great comfort in seeing Hosea’s life as a living parable better explaining how God reacts to his people. Hosea is called to love a promiscuous woman, to bring her into his house and to marry her. And even though she continues her promiscuous life, chasing after other lovers thinking that they will somehow provide for her needs, Hosea is still called to love her and to bring her back into his home. Hosea actually goes out and buys his own wife back and brings her back into his home to love her and care for her just as if she had been faithful all along. It is a powerful analogy, reminding both Israel at the time and even us today of how loving and forgiving God is. God is Hosea, we are the promiscuous woman. God has been faithful to us, but we continue to chase after other lovers, other gods, other sources of security, other sins. Our sins have pulled us away from God and in many ways we have been playing the whore, and deserve to be treated as such. But the most beautiful picture is that God still loves us, God still cares for us, and God wants us back. Even though we have cheated on God, even though we have chased after other loves, even though we have been unfaithful, God will continue to be faithful and he will love us again, just as Hosea loves his promiscuous wife.
It’s a powerful metaphor, a powerful analogy, that God would still love us even in the midst of all of our sin. It reminds us of the story of the Prodigal Son when the Father runs to his son as he is on his way home, and embraces him and kills the fatted calf and throws a party because his son is home. But it’s interesting because the story of Hosea actually goes one step further. In Hosea 2 the writer describes the horrible situation that we find ourselves in and it describes it through the lens of the promiscuous woman. The woman, because of her promiscuity, is stripped naked and thrown out into the streets. God withholds the grain and the oil and the wine from her because she has chased after other loves. God exposes her nakedness and uncovers her shame in the sight of all of her lovers and she is ridiculed and rejected and left to fend for herself. But the language changes in verse 14. God goes from exposing her sin to pursuing her as a lover again.
“Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her back 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…On that day, says the Lord, you will call me ‘my husband’.” (Hosea 2:14-16)
Here, God is not just a father waiting for us to come home, waiting for us to take the first step. Instead, God is in love and is pursuing his lover even when she wants nothing to do with him. God is reaching out to his promiscuous wife and alluring her, and speaking romantically to her, and winning back her love and her faithfulness. The God displayed in Hosea is not just waiting for us to return but is actively pursuing us and alluring us back into his grasp. He is pursuing us while we are mired in sin and doing everything he can to win our affection back to him. God is a romantic lover winning back his bride.
It’s a beautiful analogy because it’s true. God is not just waiting for us to get things right, or even waiting for us to want to get things right. God is pursuing us and alluring us even when we want nothing to do with him. God is longing for our lives even when we are with our other lovers. God is actively chasing after us, even when we don’t know it, because he loves us and he longs to be in relationship with us. And personally, that’s enough to make me want to love him in return.