by David Groendyk
The dominating metaphor used throughout all of Hosea is that Israel has been an unfaithful bride to the Lord. Israel acts like a prostitute, constantly seeking out other lovers to give her nice things. And yet, God is a faithful husband who continues to pursue his bride despite all of her unfaithfulness. Chapter 1 is a unique chapter in this book because it describes Hosea’s family life. He actually had a wife and three children that God used as object lessons to show Israel what they were like. Chapter 2 begins the message that Hosea would have spoken to Israel.
If I could give this chapter a title, I would call it “Unexpected Choices”. The unfaithful woman/mother/wife in this chapter is Israel. The husband is the Lord. Here’s the first unexpected choice: Israel chooses other lovers besides the Lord (v. 5b). These “lovers” and the adultery Israel commits is a metaphor for Israel worshiping other gods besides the one true God. This is such an unexpected choice for Israel because it was the Lord who had given Israel so many gifts (v. 8)! Israel had been nothing (v. 3), and the Lord had turned them into a powerful nation with an abundance of food and drink and money and material possessions. Why in the world would Israel turn their back on God and go looking for wealth from other gods? It makes no sense. And yet, each one of us Christians makes the same unexpected choice when we sin. We despise the good and wise commands God gives us, and we go to find some other pleasure and happiness and satisfaction outside of him. How foolish we are to willingly turn our backs on God when he has done so much for us! It’s no wonder that if we insist on continuing to live in our sin that God will eventually intervene and chastise us (vv. 3–4, 6, 9–13).
The second unexpected choice is that, despite the constant unfaithfulness, the Lord continues to pursue Israel. God has every right, as a spurned spouse, to forget about his wife forever. He has every right to pour out his wrath on his people as an act of justice. But he doesn’t. Instead, he allures us back to him (v. 14). He wins us back from our other lovers. He chooses to continue loving us and showing mercy to us despite all of our sin. Here’s an important point to remember: the Lord is attractive. The Lord is beautiful. When we have the eyes to see it and the heart to believe it, there is nothing so beautiful and attractive as the love, forgiveness, and mercy that God extends to us. It should crowd everything else out of our vision, so that we only have eyes for our Savior. And to top it all off, he will cause us even to forget all the old sins and idols that once held a piece of our hearts (vv. 16–20)! What a grace of God that sin loses its attractiveness when we are betrothed to him. No sin has mastery over you. It might not always feel like you have power over that one besetting sin, but go back to God. Plead to him, based on his mercy and righteousness, that your mind and body would forget your sinful habits and that you would only have eyes for the Lord. One of the themes we’ll see in this book is that holiness is a necessary result of being saved by God, and God himself is powerful to make us holy.
Although you deserved “No Mercy”, God has shown you mercy in Christ. Although you deserved to be called “Not My People”, God has made you part of his family in Christ. It’s an amazing act of love that caused God to send Christ to die in our places on the cross and save us. Now stop going back to your old sins! Love God, and commit yourself to him.