I Will Betroth You in Righteousness and Justice, In Love and Compassion, I Will Betroth You in Faithfulness

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HOSEA 1:1-3:5 | 1 JOHN 5:1-21 | PSALM 124:1-8 | PROVERBS 29:5-8

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The prophet Hosea must have been quite an interesting man — a fascinating character, if you will. We learn about this man today in the book that bears his name.

Hosea falls in love with a woman who is a self-professed prostitute; pays good money to make her his bride; loves and provides for her even while she takes her love elsewhere; and then takes her back with arms outstretched when she decides to return.

Who does that?! 

Well, you don’t, and you can’t — and if you do, you must be endowed with a divine love and grace that would allow you to overlook the sin and shame that your loved one comes clothed to you in, and you would take her back simply because she asks for your forgiveness.  It must be some supernatural quality within you that would cause you to say:

19 I will betroth you to me forever;
   I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
   in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
   and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Which is exactly what God does to Israel, His bride.  She turns away from him — time and time again, and each time, he takes her back. 

What manner of love is this? It is rooted in the love-covenant that was made with Abraham, the father of the people of Israel.  A covenant based on love and love alone. 

Like Gomer, the whoring bride who leaves the side of Hosea for a season, so does Israel.  And as Hosea laments the loss of his love, and feels the pain of betrayal, so does God.  But what rejoicing when she comes back… the imagery of the prodigal son comes to mind even as we see Gopher running into the arms of Hosea.

Forgiveness offered without compunction.  And a love-covenant renewed.  This is definitely beyond the realm of human possibility.  Which is why it can only come from God.

Turning next to our reading in the first book of John, we find that John continues to offer an exhortation concerning exercising faith in the incarnate Son of God, i.e., Jesus Christ.  He says: 

10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 

There is  no ambiguity here; no mincing of words, no beating around the bush.  Do you believe, or do you not believe?

In conclusion, John reaffirms faith in Christ as the basis for life eternal, and urges his readers to exhibit confidence in approaching God to ask for whatever it is one might need.  He says: 

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find an example of an unabashed adulation by David, the psalmist, toward the Lord Almighty.  May it be that like David, we might also lift our voices to say, just like he says:

1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
   let Israel say—
2 if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
   would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the LORD,
   who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
   from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
   and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

Finally, a few choice proverbs, authored by none other than Solomon, wise king of Israel:

5 Those who flatter their neighbors
   are spreading nets for their feet.

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
   but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
   but the wicked have no such concern.

8 Mockers stir up a city,
   but the wise turn away anger.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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