Hosea and an impossibly patient God

Have you ever watched as someone you loved—a friend, a child, a spouse—made choices you knew were foolish and wrong? From your perspective, you could clearly see that their decisions would end in disaster, but they refused to listen and insisted on doing it their way?

If you’ve ever been heartbroken by a wayward loved one, you’ll find a lot to relate to in the book of Hosea. It’s a short book—easily readable in a single sitting—but Hosea is packed with insight into God’s character and love for us. It tells the story of a man stung by his wife’s repeated adultery and betrayal, but who actively seeks her out and forgives her long after even the most patient person would’ve given up on her.

Hosea’s life, and relationship with his straying wife, is a living metaphor for God and his love for his people. Hosea’s story is interspersed with poetic statements of alternating anger and love from God to Israel. The mingled anger at Israel’s rejection and promises of forgiveness if they would repent make for an emotionally powerful reading.

If you’ve never read Hosea, take a look—you might be surprised how interesting it is. In it, we learn all sorts of things about God’s love for us, like:

  • God is hurt when we choose to reject Him and follow our own ways. His love for us is like a father’s for his children—our actions may hurt and anger Him, but he never stops loving us.
  • God uses the natural consequences of sinful behavior to point people back to Him. He doesn’t force us to obey Him—He wants us to see the error of our ways and come back to him of our own accord.
  • God stands ready to welcome you back no matter how far you’ve strayed from Him.

Hosea closes with a beautiful call to repentance and promise of forgiveness:

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!

Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.

See also an excellent short devotional that draws from the book of Hosea.

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