I find the book of Hosea to be one of the most beautiful but too often overlooked books of the Bible. In it, God is brokenhearted over Israel’s idolatry – so He chooses Hosea to deliver a message for Him. Wanting Hosea to come from the same perspective – He tells Hosea to marry a prostitute to “illustrate how Israel acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshipping other Gods.” (Hosea 1:2) As crazy and scandalous as it may seem to us, Hosea followed God’s calling and married Gomer – who continued to prostitute herself after their marriage. Despite that, God tells Hosea to “go love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea goes and buys his wife back for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley, and a measure of wine.
Can you imagine the shame and humiliation of your wife prostituting herself to other men – and having to go to them to buy her back? Can you imagine loving her, even living with her in your house – knowing what she has done to you? And yet, that’s exactly what God has done for us.
His words in the book of Hosea paint a beautiful love story between God and His people. In Chapter 2 we read, “I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for lovers but forgot all about me,” says the Lord. “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” (2:13-15) “When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’” (2:16)
When we worship other gods – whether that be literal other gods or idols such as money, fame, success, power, or relationships – we are committing adultery against our God. If our hearts are broken when a spouse commits adultery against us – imagine how terribly it shatters God’s heart when we prefer other lovers over Him. He sent His Son to die for us – to buy us back. When one of His lost children is turning away from that gift – either in rebellion or in ignorance – He doesn’t just let them go. He pursues them relentlessly. Like the marriage of Hosea and Gomer – no matter how many times it takes – He keeps attempting to bring His lost children home. In chapter 2 – as God talks about speaking tenderly to Israel and winning her back – as He talks about being called ‘her husband’ – it is clear that this pursuit is the beautiful love story of a God who desires love, passion, and intimacy with every one of His children. It is sometimes uncomfortable for people to think about God as a lover who woos His people to win them back – but that is exactly who He is. His word tells us that we are His beautiful bride. Psalm 45:11 says, “For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.”
As I watch Jahar’s trial begin – it is painful to witness. It is difficult to see how lost and wrapped up in darkness and evil he is. Jahar is essentially prostituting himself to a false god – breaking the heart of the God who has already paid the price for him. But just like with Hosea and Gomer – here is our God, passionately pursuing intimacy with Jahar, despite the horrendous evil he has committed. It already blows me away that God kept him alive that night when he should have died. It already blows me away that He has called so many of His children to intercede on behalf of Jahar and pray for his salvation. And that’s only what I can see. I have no doubt that God is pursuing Jahar in other ways, although I have no idea what those ways might be. Maybe He is using the few people who have access to Jahar to love him with His love and share the Gospel with him. Maybe He is revealing himself to Jahar in dreams and visions as he has done for so many Muslims all over the world. Maybe He is using His word. Maybe He is wooing Jahar with a presence, comfort, and love that he just can’t shake. Maybe He is filling Jahar’s mind with doubts or placing this void in him that won’t be fulfilled by anything but Him. Maybe He hasn’t done any of that yet but is just beginning to plant tiny seeds. I have no way of knowing. But what I do know is that this is by far the most beautiful love story that I have ever had the privilege to witness – and I can’t wait for the ‘happily ever after.’