Wilderness Romance

"I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD." (Hosea 2:19-20)

Speaking the word of the Lord in the days of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Jeroboam, the prophet's message is as relevant today as when it was first revealed, millennia ago.

Hosea revealed that the people of Israel as a nation had become like an unfaithful wife chasing after her lovers, the nations. Endeavouring to maintain an acceptable image among the nations, Israel pursued the more favourable customs of the time. The commandments of the LORD had become outdated, and were considered secondary, as Israel adopted laws and implemented policies, which were relevant and acceptable by the nations. Thus, Israel behaved like an unfaithful wife forgetting her Husband, the LORD.

The messenger of the LORD also revealed that the unfaithful wife (Israel) would be punished in two ways. Firstly, her Husband would take away the gifts which she had misused. This would result in her becoming naked, vulnerable. Secondly, her lovers, the nations would exploit her vulnerability. They would attack and abuse her, humiliating her further.

The prophet reminded Israel that the LORD had made His wife beautiful. He had washed her clean, clothed her with the most exquisite of garments, and adorned her with the rarest of stones. But in their unfaithfulness, Israel, like the unfaithful wife began to adorn herself with His gifts so as to attract other lovers, the nations.

Consequently, her Husband would withdraw the very things that made her beautiful and desirable. "Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time and My new wine in its season, and will take back My wool and My linen, given to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her from My hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts days, her new moons, her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts." (Hosea 2:9-11)

Despite their helplessness, Israel would not receive mercy from the nations. To the contrary, the nations would seize the opportunity to multiply Israel's misery. Moreover, it is the LORD who extends mercy and shows kindness toward His unfaithful wife.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her; will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her." (Hosea 2:14)

Significantly, the LORD does not seek to destroy His people. Neither is He wanting to exchange them for another people or group. Note, the LORD's strategy is for reconciliation and forgiveness. Thus, Israel is portrayed as an estranged wife being wooed by her Faithful Husband, and being brought back to the place where their romance first blossomed.

When the LORD had redeemed the Children of Israel from Egypt, He brought them to Mt Sinai. The image can be likened to that of a husband purchasing his young bride. Egypt was a prosperous kingdom and a fruitful land, and while it potentially offered a luxurious lifestyle, it ultimately, became a land of bondage and slavery. The price of the young bride was her redemption from the kingdom of darkness. Thus, the LORD delivered the young woman and brought her to Sinai, to the wilderness, the land of love and faithfulness. It was here that He entered into marriage covenant with her and promised to be with her always – Tabernacle – and giving her the terms of the contract – the Torah – being her instructions to freedom, and a life of holiness pleasing Him.

Hosea's message is that it would be here, in the wilderness, that the LORD will court His unfaithful wife.

"I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt." (Hosea 2:15)

While the people of Israel had become estranged from the LORD in Hosea's day, their future descendants will return to the LORD and be wooed like the Children of Israel when they were redeemed from Egypt.

"'And it shall be in that day,' says the LORD, 'that you will call Me, "My Husband,"'" (Hosea 2:16)

Far from rejecting the people of Israel, on the contrary, the LORD has purposed to bring them back to Himself. Israel will return and be forgiven. Israel will be married to the LORD.

"I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD." (Hosea 2:19-20)

The LORD has demonstrated His faithfulness toward His ancient people in our own day, with the reestablishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people's return home, to the Land, after being scattered among the nations is an important and necessary step in the process of their return to Him. Clearly, the people of Israel are being wooed by the LORD, and surely they will return to Him. We live in the days when these prophecies are near at hand. May we be blessed to see the great things the LORD has done, and is doing, for His people Israel.