August 26, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love, Theology | Leave a comment

At various times in my life, I’ve heard people make reference to the god of the Old Testament as a god of holiness and wrath in comparison with the god of the New Testament, who is a god of love and mercy, as though there were two different gods.  Apparently the people who make that comparison have never read the scores of times the one God is praised for his love and mercy in Psalms, and apparently they’ve never read Hosea.  In this book, God expresses his incredible love for his people by using the wedding metaphor.  In chapter one God tells Hosea to marry an adulterous woman because the people are guilty of spiritual adultery – going after other gods.  As Hosea tries to love his wayward wife, so God loves his wayward people.  “Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress.  Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites.” (3:1)

And though this book has numerous references to God’s wrath on unfaithfulness, still his heart of love rings through loud and clear.  Hosea’s child was to be named “Not my people,” because, as God says, “You are not my people, and I am not your God.” (1:8-9) That quote is a reference to the ancient Jewish wedding vows, where a groom would say, “You are my wife and I am your husband.”  But God doesn’t end the story there; he goes on to say, “Where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”  And again in the end of chapter two, he says, “I will say to those called “Not my people,’ ‘You are my people;’ and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

In that second chapter, where God continually refers to the unfaithfulness and adultery of Israel, he also says he will “allure her”  and “will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (2:14)  Then to Israel he says, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” (2:19)  

Finally chapter eleven is a great testament of God’s love.  God pours out his heart with expressions like “How can I give you up?” and “My compassion is aroused.” All of this is the language of love.  God has a great love for his people.  It is expressed in the Old Testament as well as in the New.  Of course, in the New Testament, the picture of that love is fulfilled in God sending his Son to a world that has rejected him, yet a world he so dearly loves.

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