Christian doctrine and covenantal rhetoric has long leaned on Jeremiah’s address just before the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem. Difficult as the words were, the holy God kept distant from His people on account of their sin and treachery against Him made a beautiful offer of intimacy: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Still more magnificent is the context in which this precious promise is given—a breath after He affirms their adultery against Him: “…My covenant which they broke, though I was a Husband to them.”
Never has this been distant from the heart of the Holy, and never has it rested near the heart of humanity. Yet though restlessness strives, the weight of sin bearing upon us builds barriers too thick for any effort we contrive to break them down and prevail. For this reason, the gift of the prophetic word from heaven carries incredible mercy upon it, and one man giving himself to the righteousness of the Law was invited into even greater righteousness, even greater intimacy, at even greater cost than any could fathom. His name was Hosea.
It would be easy for those familiar with the storyline of the first three chapters of the book of Hosea to dismiss this article and admonition, to their detriment. The life and message of Hosea is a unique glimpse into the personality and character of God. Though the Law prohibited adultery and required stoning death of perpetrators, a mandate was given to this man that he might shatter false theologies built within the walls of iniquity, shame, sin and depravity that would accuse the Lord of being faithless. Uncommitted. A liar.
Surely sleepless nights plagued this prophet, and painful encounters in prayer when heaven would respond rather than release him from the bond would have both rattled him and subjected him to ridicule. Yet the words would resound in his heart and reverberate in his mind— “Go again.” “Go again.” “Go again.”—and unlike Jonah, he would be driven by obedience into an embrace of mercy unlike anything the nation of Israel had seen before. Hosea’s pursuit of Gomer—the prophet’s pursuit of the prostitute—assures us marriage is no mere contract in the sight of heaven; it is a covenant.
Another Man would come, some centuries later, who would Himself be sold for the same price that He might purchase His own bride. Justice would be achieved in the collision of two beams: judgment and mercy. Another adulteress would encounter the juxtaposition between protocol and Personhood, would see mercy’s Eyes look into hers and hear the word “Go” again, this time followed by “…and sin no more.” This grace that has saved the redeemed encourages and empowers us to believe and obey the same, living in the early guarantee of what Jeremiah foretold and Jesus called “abiding.”
A regenerate Gentile believer can absolutely lean on these passages through the grafting of the New Covenant. The relationship offered to us through the binding work of the Spirit and the blood shed at Golgotha allows us incredible fellowship and communion with our Maker. This is no small matter.
The divine intimacy between the holy God and fallen humanity as displayed by Hosea and made possible by Jesus is a beautiful, costly thing. Relationships ravaged by betrayal require far more than thirty silver coins to achieve reconciliation, but “redemption” is a holy word invaluable in heaven’s courts. He has stopped at nothing. He will stop at nothing. Hearts “brought near” and redeemed by the blood of the “only begotten Son” take refuge in the self-disclosure of the LORD in Scripture, drinking deep from the wells of Hosea. The holy pursuit to redeem the profane encourages us; the selflessness of the King to yoke Himself to a whore and make her a queen disarms us. May we learn well from the man who learned to love “just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel.”
This identification is neither convenient nor cheap, but it means and is worth everything.
1. See Jeremiah 31:33-34
2. See Jeremiah 31:31-32
3. See Luke 9:23
4. See Hosea 1-3
5. See Leviticus 20:10
6.Jesus’ betrayer, Judas, sold Him to those who would incite His crucifixion for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Tradition holds that Gomer’s purchase price in Hosea 3, fifteen shekels of silver and one-and-a-half homers of barley is equivalent to the same cost.
7. See Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:11-22; John 8:1-11; 15:5; Hosea 3:1