The book of Hosea doesn't have a "3:16", so I chose a verse that pretty well sums up the story. Written by the prophet, Hosea, the purpose of the book is to express God's message that there is always hope of reconciliation with God - for those willing to repent and come back to Him. No matter how far off the path of righteousness we have strayed, God's love remains steady. Like the Father in Jesus' story of the prodigal son (found in Luke 15:11-32), God is standing with open arms , willing to take us back when we repent. It is a love story.
In the story of Hosea, he is married to an unfaithful wife. God ordered Hosea to take her back, to honor the marriage, to forgive her, to care for her as if nothing had happened. At the same time, Israel was being unfaithful to God - spiritual adultery. "Eating the sacred raisin cakes" referred to offering certain cakes to fertility gods. God's chosen people had rebelled against Him, spurning God's love, worshiping false idols. But God was willing to take them back, honor His sacred covenant with them, and care for them - just as He had instructed Hosea to do. When God forgives, He REALLY forgives. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12)
|photo of Death Valley|
Sometimes before we can experience the joy of this true relationship with the LORD, we first have to spend time in the desert of despair. The desert of despair is, of course, of our own making, but it usually doesn't seem like it while we are going through... We wonder, "Why me?", or "Why now?", or, just "WHY?" But, upon honest examination, we find that we were the cause of our own misery all along. When we let God down, we bring ourselves down. Often, because we are so human, we don't listen very well until we are in the desert, down in a well, or lost in a valley...
|photo - Valley of the Dry Bones|
God speaks of this in Hosea 2:14, 15: "Therefore I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt." (NIV) The word "Achor" means "trouble". So, to paraphrase, God is saying that He will speak tenderly to us while we are in the desert of despair and that He will turn the valleys of trouble into doors of hope.
Romans 15:13 expounds on this idea: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Christ's wedding gift to us is His constant love, hope, and commitment to us, His Bride.
|painting by mrschertin9, photobucket,com|
Now, THAT'S a love story!