I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
The prophet Hosea was commanded by the Lord to marry the temple prostitute, Gomer. This "marriage made in heaven" went badly from the get-go. The poor woman, for whatever reason, could not resist the call of the pagan temple.
Hosea loved her anyway and, like any young man in such a predicament, raged against her. His jealousy at her occasional disappearances was as furious as his affection was tender at her inevitable returns. I hear similar stories today in the VA hospital as Veterans and their wives struggle with addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Because he was a prophet, both obedient to God's will and available to God's word, Hosea understood that his troubled marriage was like that of the Lord and his people. He saw how the Israelites, separated from Solomon's temple by the political differences between Samaria and Jerusalem, poisoned their Jewish religion with abhorrent pagan practices. The only resolution would be reunification of David's kingdom, and that was not going to happen.
But Hosea could not stop hoping for that day when Gomer would settle down and forget every urge and impulse to adultery. He waited too for That Day when God's people would return to their roots and their religion. He dreamt of a fulfillment of the words in Deuteronomy, words which because they are God's word must inevitably and certainly be fulfilled, words which Jesus would recite almost a thousand years later:
The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.Even today, long after Hosea's troubled marriage and Jesus' scandalous death, we look for the fulfillment of the prophet's words. We know we can love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It's impossible that Jesus would command something beyond human capability. And so we wait for God's purifying, refining Spirit to draw us into his tender, sacred heart.