I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the LORD.
~ Hosea 2:20
Grace is not simply getting what you do not deserve, rather, it is getting the good you do not deserve instead of the bad that you do deserve. It is receiving honour and favour when you deserve shame and disdain. It is receiving freedom and life when you deserve bondage and death. Countless times in the history of God’s people we see this definition of grace being unpacked and put on display. The opening chapters of the prophet Hosea are just one example of this.
In the first chapter of Hosea, the Lord gives his prophet a shocking set of instructions.
Go and marry a woman of promiscuity and have children of promiscuity
Some might wonder why God would ever give such a command, but this is not the first time a prophet of God receives shocking and outrageous instructions. There are times when the sin of God’s people is even more shocking. Repeated sin deadens the conscious and blinds one to the horrific nature of our offense against God. And so God takes drastic action to shock us back to reality and repentance.
The shocking nature of Israel’s sin is described throughout the book of Hosea. Their sin is gross; in both senses of the word. In sum, they have left the true and living God who has provided for their every need and lavished blessings upon them. Not only have they abandoned the living God, but they have given their life, love, and worship to false gods. They have whored after the gods of this world. This sin is not a one-time event in a long history of faithfulness, but it is a constant and dominant theme in the story of Israel. God’s people are rightly deserving of the wages of their sin: death.
But after a confrontation with the ugliness of Israel’s sin and the grave punishment it deserves, grace takes center stage. Instead of exile and death stealing the show, grace enters in and steps into the spotlight. Beginning in verse fourteen of chapter two, the Lord promises to show favour to his people, his bride:
He will speak tenderly to her
He will give her fruitful land
He will remove falsehood from her lips
He will win peace for her
He will commit himself to her forever
He will show righteousness, justice, love, and compassion to her
He will be for her and she will belong to him.
This is grace! Come and see. Taste and see. The Lord is good. God is grace.