I will espouse you to me forever.

The Book of Hosea opens with a shocking request: God asks the prophet to find a “woman of prostitution” and marry her (1:2). Hosea then marries Gomer, whose infidelity makes her a symbol of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Through Hosea’s faithfulness to Gomer, God shows that he will be like a faithful spouse who will not abandon his people, even when they are unfaithful and turn to other gods.

During the time when Hosea was prophesying, God’s people had already fractured into the northern and southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel, in particular, had given in to the many sinful practices of their neighbors, including the worship of the foreign god Baal (Hosea 2:18). The prophet makes it clear just how divided the hearts of God’s people are and how far they have fallen. But even more striking is how God reacts. No matter how unfaithful the people are, he promises that he will always love them: “I will espouse you to me forever” (2:21).

Today’s reading is an invitation for us to grapple with the reality that we are all, in some way or other, like Gomer and the people she represents. We all too often struggle with letting other “loves” come between us and our love and worship of the Lord. Our hearts are so easily divided! But God wants our whole heart, one that mirrors his own faithfulness to us.

Today in prayer, ask the Spirit whether there are other gods in your life—something that is interfering with your relationship with God and leading you away from him. If something comes to mind, remember that God doesn’t want you to wallow in guilt and shame. Instead, he is inviting you to return to him and be healed and restored by his mercy and grace.

It’s sometimes difficult to conceive how the Lord’s love for each one of us could be so steadfast and passionate. We might even find ourselves doubting it at times. If that happens, remember the marriage of Hosea and Gomer. God pursues us even when we have turned away from him. He seeks out the lost; he is faithful to the unfaithful. May we always have the grace and humility to return to him!

“Lord, I praise you for your never-ending love for me!”

Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22
Psalm 145:2-9
Matthew 9:18-26


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