In the previous passage we saw God’s holiness on display. When God’s holiness encounters Israel’s unfaithfulness the relationship between God and His people is broken and the consequences are serious. This is not what God desires.
“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. ‘ (Hosea 2:16 NIV)
In today’s passage God describes His plan for the future. God describes a restored relationship based on love and faithfulness. God is love. His love for us is so great that He allows us to choose the consequences we want to experience. We can reject His love and eventually encounter God’s holiness, or we can accept His love and receive the provision, protection, and pleasure that He wants us to experience.
God contrasts the choices by pointing to two different relationships possible between a man and a woman. The way Israel saw God in their current situation was as their master. A slave is not free. The relationship is enforced by some form of bondage and the most typical desire is for escape and freedom. The Israelites demonstrated what they thought about God when they chose to worship idols and show contempt for the laws that God provided to bless them. They chose bondage to another master over faithfulness to God.
God’s plan is for Israel to see Him as their loving husband. Without Hosea’s living this out in front of the Israelites I wonder if they could have begun to understand what God is saying. In addition to all their idolatry the relationship between husband and wife looked much more like the relationship between master and slave. Women were considered property and their husbands had the right to treat them as things, not people. This was not God’s idea at creation, but it is certainly what had evolved.
In the process the people’s understanding of God had become distorted. Boys grew up with fathers who were masters rather than loving dads. They probably couldn’t wait until it was their turn to be the master rather than the slave. Girls grew up with little to nothing to look forward to. They knew they wouldn’t be able to survive without a man and hoped that their future husband would at least be a kind master. All these imperfect and sinful relationships made it almost impossible to understand a God who loved them.
God illustrated His plan in the relationship between Hosea and Gomer. Jesus makes the plan a reality. He demonstrates His love for us by becoming one of us and then giving His life for us. Paul describes what this relationship looks like in Ephesians.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV)
What could be better than to be the bride of a husband who already demonstrated His love by giving His life for you? What could be better than to be the bride of a husband who desires to make you pure and radiant? Is there anything more romantic than the cross?
To my grandchildren:
You don’t get to choose your parents, but you will get to choose your husband or wife. Choose Jesus first and all other decisions will be much simpler.