Hosea 8:1-14, Mark 2:15-17, 1 John 3:1
I’m a child of divorce. As a young teenager, my mom left my dad for another man after a year-long affair. One day while my dad was at work, we packed up and moved in with her new boyfriend.
At the time, it seemed like a good thing. My dad was working tons of hours and had become irritable. My mom’s boyfriend was a “cool” guy, who acted more like my friend than a father figure. I was an immature, naïve kid—I thought my immediate happiness was more important than my parents’ marriage. I was just glad to have a new friend.
Long story short, he became abusive toward my mom. He was not a “cool” guy; he was manipulative. He destroyed my parents’ marriage and began to destroy our lives. It turns out that the destruction of marriages is not really good for anyone.
Hosea experienced similar heartache. Gomer was a serial cheater. She denied his covenantal love to chase fleeting happiness. She was more interested in the supposed greener grass that was found somewhere else. She didn’t appreciate or realize what she had at home.
Of course, the story of Hosea and Gomer is the story of God and His people. Israel was no different than we are today. God still says of His people, “They have installed kings, but not through Me. They have appointed leaders, but without My approval. They make their silver and gold into idols for themselves for their own destruction” (Hosea 8:4). Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we trade the unending joy of giving our lives to God for the quick taste of a rotting apple.
Throughout the book of Hosea, we see both the loving-kindness and frustration of God with His people. Like Gomer, they refuse His repeated attempts at reconciliation and continue to ignore His love. Divorce is their only true desire.
But God told Hosea to stay. In today’s reading, God promises to “remember their guilt and punish their sins” (Hosea 8:13). They pay for their sins, of course. However, though breaking a covenant is painful and destructive, it doesn’t have to be the end.
As we see, God didn’t leave Israel to keep chasing that desire. He didn’t sign the divorce papers. He didn’t send His people packing—at least not entirely and not forever. Jesus echoes God’s love for Israel in Matthew 23:37: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing!”
In Jesus, God keeps His promise to both punish us and redeem us. Sin is punished ultimately through Jesus, not God’s people. He’s doesn’t tell Hosea to do something He Himself isn’t willing to do. He stays. He fights for His adulterous bride. God’s faithfulness is embodied in Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming. The Father’s sending of the Son is the definition of grace: unmerited, undeserved, logic-shattering favor.
My parents weren’t able to reconcile. They’re still divorced. But not every story ends that way. Because God’s grace is stronger than any earthly feeling, our story ends the way it should—with a wedding feast and an eternal relationship with the Lover of our souls (Rev. 19-22).
Written By Brandon D. Smith