Redemptive Love (Hosea Part 3)
So the last post was pretty tough in a that we saw a wife (Gomer and/or Israel by way of allegory) running back to her sin in spite of her husband’s faithfulness and protection. Her husband then pursued her in a quite unusual way – he gave her over to her sin and let her run herself down but didn’t let her be satisfied apart from him. We see that God’s jealousy sent his wife to her humiliation, despair, and pain – ultimately leading her to repentance and began the process of their reconciliation.
Today I’d like to finish out chapter two, which is, as we’ll see, quite different from yesterday. We’re still in the middle of a section of heavy prophecies from the Lord to his prophet Hosea. These prophecies have two aspects – one is an immediate message for Hosea with his wife Gomer and the second is a message for his people as a whole. In the first part of chapter two we saw how he will discipline his people and hand them over to their sin; today we’ll see how he plans to redeem her from the rough place she’s taken herself, and we’ll see his covenant love expressed in his restoration of his bride. It’s a precious text, so let’s dive in to Hosea 2:14-23.
The tone of chapter two shifts dramatically from the first thirteen verses to the last ten – God goes from expressing judgment and his bride’s future despair to working her out of her muck, expressing his faithful covenant love, and redeeming her to her former place of favor that she so willfully rejected. He says in verse 14 that he will ‘allure her,’ that is, he will woo her and reclaim her affections by speaking tenderly to her in the wilderness, showing her his love in light of her disobedience.
He goes on to say that he will restore her vineyards and make her Valley of Achor a door of hope. At first glance, this phrase seems a bit odd, but let’s backtrack to Joshua chapter 7 see exactly what the Valley of Achor was, and why it’s significant. Honestly, this one verse is probably one of the most beautiful parts of Hosea to me. Let’s dig into why. Back when Israel was beginning the conquest of Canaan, they defeated Jericho (… ‘and the walls came tumbling down…’), and the Lord commanded that they destroy everything, including the pagan temple items. One man named Achan didn’t obey – he kept several things for himself and hid them in his tent – nobody knew about it. When Israel went out to their next battle at Ai, they were beaten soundly because the Lord wasn’t with them – he had withdrawn because of Achan’s sin. So Joshua eventually finds out what happened, and everyone in Israel stoned Achan and his family for their sin and disobedience. The place where he was buried under those stones was called the Valley of Achor – it was a blight on the history of Israel, and a reminder that secret sin was not to be tolerated. Joshua then leads Israel to defeat Ai with the Lord’s blessing and the conquest continued. So fast-forwarding into Hosea, when God says that he will make his bride’s Valley of Achor a door of hope, he means that Israel’s past sins will be redeemed and become a source of hope for her, that they will no longer be a reminder of shame, disobedience and punishment. He will gain glory in spite of our sin because he will redeem it.
And this is where we sinners have much hope and peace – God will redeem and restore. If we are God’s in Christ Jesus, we cannot out-sin his grace, and we cannot sin in such a way that he cannot redeem it. Nothing is outside of his sovereignty. This is definitely not a license to sin, but a precious hope in the midst of the message of condemnation from Satan that would lead us to despair in our sin. I would remind you that “there is now NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).
Has God ever done this with/for you? Has he redeemed your sin and made it a part of your story of redemption for his glory? This is the hope that we have in Christ Jesus… our scars, like the death of Christ, though shameful, will be beautiful in light of God’s redemptive love.
So God will restore the sexually promiscuous and give them fruitful intimacy. He will restore the disobedient and give them the perfect obedience of Christ. He will redeem our idolatry and show us that our greatest treasure is in him because it is him. This concept directly mirrors Christ – his scars are our victory, his shame is our boasting, and his death is our hope and life.
Do you believe this? Do you have faith in the future grace and redemptive purposes of God?
What does this look like for you in your sin? What does it look like to be redeemed? Not just sin-free, but redeemed and Christ-focused?
The Lord goes on to give a prophecy of the restoration of his bride’s purity in verses 16-17. He says that he will purify her theology and religious practices by removing her Baals (idols, false gods), and the memory of those idols. He is essentially saying that the knowledge of past sins will stay, but the shame and pain are gone in light of the peace and joy in his redemption. This comes with having the right perspective – that we will see our idols for the false gods that they are, and not our providers. It also involves a realigning of our affections both toward God and away from our idols.
In verse 18 we see that God restores their relationship and brings ‘shalom’ (a holistic peace) between them to where everything is returned to the way it should be. And in verses 19-20 we see that God will marry his whore; he will accept the unacceptable, redeem the unredeemable, and resurrect the dead (see also Ephesians 2). This redemptive love is everlasting, displays his righteousness, justice, hesed (that faithful covenant love), and mercy. He truly redeems every aspect of their covenant because his love is long-suffering, and it is perfect. It also shows God’s faithfulness in light of his bride’s unfaithfulness. He has never broken a covenant, but Israel has never kept one.
Another note of significance is that God is making the covenant for both of them – he acts, Israel receives. Israel is incapable of making a covenant that she will stick to, so God steps in and takes on the weight of making their marital covenant and then empowers Israel, by his grace, to accomplish and fulfill it. He restores Israel/us for his glory, for our good, and for our intimacy with him (see verse 20) so that we can and will glorify him in our daily lives.
And this isn’t just a redemption of his bride. Remember the last post when God said his judgment would pass to Gomer’s children as well? We now see that God’s redemptive love is expressed toward her whole family – her children are reconciled as well. God will restore and reverse the judgment and curse that he placed on them (their names). The heavens and earth are reconciled, and God will sow the seed of Israel for himself as an expression of his love and for his glory. This is the gospel in our lives. You see, just as Israel’s redemption wasn’t an end in and of itself – it was meant to show God’s infinite love and glory – our salvation and reconciliation as Christians is also not an end in and of itself. To be sure, we do benefit very directly, but ultimately we are redeemed for God’s glory and to spread the gospel in this world. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 talks about how we as Christians participate in the ministry of reconciliation because we were reconciled. So because we have been given grace, we give grace to others; because we’ve been saved, we help bring others to faith; because we have been given peace, we help spread peace in as much as we are able to. We are indeed for God, for worship, to bear his image – he bought us with a price, and we are his. But that isn’t the end goal. His glory is.
Now, in a historical context, this passage foretells Israel’s exile and return. In a contemporary context, this tells us about our own rebellion, discipline, and reconciliation (propitiation – turning from wrath to favor) to God. This immediate context is for Hosea and Gomer – Hosea is redeeming and cultivating his wife for himself. This is a beautiful biblical concept – a man’s wife is the barometer of his leadership, and in this God gives us the capability and the role of helping to reconcile and lead our wives to deeper walks with God.
Men, how are you cultivating your wife for yourself and for God’s glory? Is your marriage righteous, just, full of faithful covenant love, merciful, compassionate, and understanding? How might you prepare yourself to lead this way, and how might you steward your marriage to reflect God’s glorious redemptive covenant in your own context?