“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’” – Hosea 14-16
Hosea 2:14-23 is the sweetness of the Gospel. The Lord sets out to allure and draw to himself a bride that has nothing in her worth alluring. By nature she is an outcast, running after the dregs of idols to satisfy a longing deep in her but soon finds murky water at a broken fountain. But the Lord, a sweet overflowing spring of fresh water calls her out from these dregs and calls her into a wilderness. This wilderness is desolate, reflecting the state of her condition; he draws her away from the distractions of the world to stand before Him. It is easy to assume that the Lords tone of voice towards the unfaithful bride would be that of anger and jealousy. This would seem fitting and at times we have seen the Lord be angry towards his bride for the way she has deserted Him and played the whore with other lovers. But in this passage the Lord speaks tenderly to his bride, it seems so soft and dripping with forgiveness. The sweetness of the Gospel is illuminated at this point, the Gospel is unveiled to show a great mercy and love from the Lord towards a wretched prostitute. Not only does the Lord speak tenderly to the bride, but he gives her vineyards and he makes the valley of trouble into a door of hope. He brings life and hope to a place that should be trouble and he gives it to her as a gift for she cannot earn such love. But with this gift he also gives her the most treasured gift of all – himself. He is no longer seen as a master or a ruler but she shall call him her husband. The wretched prostitute is spoken to with love and mercy, given hope and life and has been given a husband who loves and cherishes her, she shall not see him as a slave driver, master or dictator – but as a husband who will make her lie down in safety, who will never leave her, who will die for her and will give her his righteousness.
This Lord draws me and you to himself and speaks a great tenderness over us. I love this because it goes against what I expect the Lord to do and the way I hear people talk about the Lord. Often we hear how God hates us and hates the things we do. At this point in Hosea I don’t see a Lord who hates, but a Lord who loves very deeply for his people and his bride. This Lord speaks tenderly to capture her heart away from idols and shows her that the fullness of life is in Him alone. Despite times before where the Lord is jealous and angry with his people, it is always due to the overflowing of his love because it pains him to see his people drink from the maggot invested pits where next to it is beautiful spring water. So the question I ask myself is – do I preach this? To myself and to others? Or is it far easier to preach a God that is full of wrath and anger? It seems more affective, especially if it motivates people to live better lives. Many times I have heard – “we speak much of the love of God, but not enough of his wrath”.
Yet if we just speak of wrath it will only frighten and dull hearts. The love of Christ is the one that frees us, the Love that speaks tenderly, allures, gives himself, dies for us on the cross and gives us a new identity – brothers, sons, and bride. I want that to captivate my heart and the heart of my friends so that they may be drawn to Christ in awe and a burning love, rather than out of fear and duty.
The Gospel cannot be sweeter than this,we are that bride, we played the whore and gone after other lovers and yet he allures us and speaks tenderly over us. It’s a relief to know that in Jesus my desires and longings are fulfilled where as in idols I am left wanting with a broken heart and a deep hunger. And as a wretch myself to know that the Lord has called me out of slavery and into an adoring relationship with him where he is my husband and will never leave me is very good news!