The Prodigal Bride and Ever-loving Groom

Hosea is the story of a good God’s undeserved, unchanging, and unfathomable love for his prodigal bride. It is Good News for all of us who wander from our Divine Lover, dance with the devil, taste his poison, experience his horrific consequences, and find ourselves dissatisfied, disreputable, and damaged. In this story, we will see Jesus — our Ever-Loving Groom — never changes in his affection for and towards us. He is the faithful spouse of all his prodigal brides.

The story begins as follows:

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea … “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer … (Hosea 1:2-3)

Hosea obeys God. He intentionally selects Gomer to be his wedded bride, and he does so knowing her sinful inclinations. As the story progresses, show proves to be perpetually unfaithful. She gleefully plays the part of the prodigal bride. She breaks her vows. She does so pridefully and publicly. Over and over again she hurts Hosea, hurts their children, and harms herself by playing the part of the town whore.

Hosea’s heart is filled with righteousness indignation. He is angry over her sin. He hates her lusty infidelity.

Hosea’s heart is crushed with husbandly compassion. He is grief-stricken over her pain, and it breaks him to see how his children are affected. Therefore, based out of his ever-loving mercy and grace, he springs into action:

Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.” “Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her 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.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. “And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ” (Hosea 2)

Hosea pleaded for her repentance and reunion.

Hosea promised to allow her to see the painful consequences of her chosen trek. She would reap some of what she sowed. She would play with fire and feel the burn.

Hosea promised she would come to an end of herself. The satisfaction she longed for would never be realized. Her lascivious party would be shut down.

Hosea promised she would again long for her true husband. She would remember her younger love. Her affections would be renewed.

Hosea promised he would pursue her.

Hosea promised to redeem her. He would pay the price necessary for her freedom and restoration. (This story of redemption would play out in chapter three. There, one can see how Gomer’s sin would take her to depths unimaginable. Ultimately, she became a used and abused woman being sold for pennies at an auction. It was then that Hosea purchased his beloved wife who was enslaved to another.)

Hosea promised to allure her to himself and guide her away from her sin. Filled with undying love, he would not sit idly by. He would help her flee temptation and kill the practice of sin.

Hosea promised he would speak tender words of mercy to her.

Hosea promised gracious gifts. He would shower upon her blessings neither earned nor deserved.

Hosea promised to grace her children. Their names or identities would be transformed. Her children would be “God’s people.”

Hosea promised to transform her song. From her memory, sin would be removed. From her mouth would pour forth praises of her faithful, merciful, gracious, and compassionate lover.

So, where do we find ourselves in this story?

We are Christ’s predestined bride. He knows who we are, what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will do. He walks into the relationship with eyes wide open. And despite his foreknowledge of our depravity, he chooses to marry us. What love! What grace! What a privilege! Daily, we should walk in wedded bliss with Jesus — the greatest lover possible.

We are Christ’s whorish bride. Despite his love, wisdom, and blessings, we prove to be relentlessly unfaithful. We pant for and pursue other lovers. We commit heinous sin in his face. And when our forbidden lovers fail to satisfy, instead of running back to Christ, we go looking for another lover. Yes, sadly, we prove to be like alcoholics on Skid Row hitting a different bottle. We are like dogs returning to their vomit. Our betrayal is horrific. Our sins are gross, and great are their consequences.

We are Christ’s beloved bride. His love knows no limits. His affection is not fickle. He never responds in accordance with our affection. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” Spiritual divorce or excommunication are not an option. Jesus Christ …

  • Pays the redemption price for all our sins — past, present, and future.
  • Pleads for us to come home.
  • Promises to remove his restraining grace so we will become dissatisfied with our chosen trek.
  • Promises to bring us to an end of ourselves.
  • Promises to renew the fire of our first love.
  • Promises to pursue us.
  • Promises to guide us towards himself, his ways, and away from our sinful affections and practices.
  • Promises to restore our hearts with words of tender mercy.
  • Promises to bless us and our children.
  • Promises to transform our song.

Therefore, let us now respond. Let us not doubt Christ’s affection. His love has never diminished.

Let us not listen to the lies of the devil. He would have us disbelieve our Groom’s unwavering passion.

Let us not be bashful in our return. Let us approach the throne of grace of mercy with confidence knowing it is Christ who is drawing us there.

Let us hate our sin and confess it whole-heartedly.

Let us not minimize the price paid. Jesus paid it all. He needs no penance or restitution. There is no paying him back. There is no need to offend by offering to pay or perform.

Let us hug, cry, dance, and sing, “Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus. All I need and trust, is the deep, deep love of Jesus.” Instant intimacy is what he longs for. Instant intimacy is what he paid for. There is no timeout in his house of love. We are his sanctified children. We are his priestly saints. We are his radiant bride. To wallow in shame is ridiculous. Let’s give him credit for the great things he has done. It really is well with our souls.

Let us relate, love, and worship differently based upon our his grace and our renewed affections. Let us please his heart. Let us read his mind. Let us follow his revealed will and enjoy his path of blessing.

Finally, let us find our errant brothers and sisters, our sinful sons and daughters, other whorish worshipers, and plead with them to run with us back to our Ever-Loving Groom — the one who is already running towards us.

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