Hosea 1:2 “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.’”

Observation: Hosea’s family life is to be used as an illustration of God’s relationship with His beloved, Israel. At the beginning of Hosea’s prophetic ministry God’s first command was that Hosea marry an adulteress as a way of illustrating Israel’s greatest sin: unfaithfulness to God.

Application: Generations of rebellion were about to come home to roost. Israel had repeatedly turned from God to worship pagan idols. She had made unrighteous alliances and repeatedly spurned God’s proffered mercies.

It is noteworthy to consider that God uses marriage as the metaphor for Hosea’s story. To have called Israel’s sin the “vilest adultery” suggests the depth and permanence of relationship God intended with Israel. And to command Hosea to enter into marriage with an adulterous wife further reinforces the way God viewed His commitment to His people. The essence of the term “adultery” contains the idea of illegitimate union with another. In Hosea’s language (vilest adultery) we have the strongest possible expression of God’s anger at Israel’s rebelliousness as He condemns her with words reflecting the sundering of the most intimate of relationships.

As I read through much of the Old Testament preceding Hosea, it is tempting to shake my head in disbelief over Israel’s patterns of unfaithfulness. But tongue-clucking too hastily can obscure the fact that God’s object lesson to Israel can have uncomfortable application to modern followers of Christ, as well.

The two testaments reinforce one another. The Old illustrates that there has always been a Father passionately pursuing relationship with His chosen ones, requiring of them nothing less than perfect, wholehearted obedience. The New shows the lengths to which God has gone to win my heart. Yet vilest adultery is what I too often have handed Him in return. Relegating Him to the edges of commitment, I struggle with pursuits that give lie to the idea that this earth is not my home.

Paul calls me, in Hebrews 12:1, to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles…”  It is to Christ alone that I must be wed. He remains a jealous lover, content with nothing less than my wholehearted devotion to Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You have not been deterred by even my vilest adulteries. I am grateful for new mercies each morning, and I commit myself afresh to pursue You above all else.