“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”
Given everything that comes prior to that verse it is an unexpected plot twist. After everything Israel has done to her husband, you’d anticipate rejection. Or perhaps, if you are banking on the Lord being merciful you’d except a bit of mercy. Perhaps he’ll let her grovel back. Maybe he’ll even accept her with open arms when she comes back to him. But that’s best case scenario—that she’ll be like the prodigal son and come back begging to just be a servant but instead she’ll be thrown a party. After all, what bargaining chip does an undesirable whore bring to the table? Mercy is her only hope.
But she doesn’t have to come groveling back. This story goes even further than the story of the Prodigal Son. In that parable the rejected father waits for his son to return home so he can throw him a party. But in Hosea the jilted lover actually goes out into the wilderness and pursues his wayward wife as if she actually is desirable. He allures her. And that’s absolutely shocking.
You know, it’d be one thing if the jilted lover in this story was The Offspring’s “sucker with no self-esteem,” but this is the God of the Universe we are talking about. There is nothing with which He gains from pursuing her. All that is tying him to her is a binding covenant that he made centuries before, and one he made fully knowing what type of woman she’d be. There is nothing which motivates Him but his own purpose to love. Again that is why this verse is so shocking. When I think about God loving because He has decided to love and not because we are desirable, I tend to picture an old married couple who wouldn’t consider getting a divorce, but the husband is more interested in golf and the wife is more interested in her hummingbird feeder. You don’t use a word like “allure” or “speak tenderly” in such a relationship.
All of this is why I said what I did as we administered the Lord’s Supper. I reminded the congregation of everything we had just read in Hosea and proclaimed that as the bread touches our lips it is a reminder that we are wanted. There is a body which was broken for us. A man who emptied his bank account (Philippians 2) to pursue a foolish and rebellious idolatrous whore, like me. A God who became man (who went to the wilderness) in order to speak tenderly to the treacherous. The Christ undone for the undesirable.
You are wanted. That’s one thing that the Lord’s Supper is communicating.
This article originally appeared here.