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Look down at Hosea 2:14, consider that word


The God of Israel having pronounced judgment upon his adulterous wife says


It is a word which should not be in this place. It is a word of miracle; it is a marvel, a wonderous act of God; a lightning bolt of grace from beyond the creation. It is a word which is inexplicable other than as the descent of grace and mercy, undeserved and unexpected.

We all know how stories work: there is a problem; there is a resolution. In Hosea, there is a problem; the wife is unfaithful. She has had the best of husbands; she can have no complaint.

Her husband found unlovely: she was a miserable slave in Egypt. She had nothing to offer. She was not seeking the Lord. Still her husband, faithful to a promise he had made hundreds of years before, sought out Israel. In an overwhelming display of power and majesty, the Lord rescued Israel from her taskmaster.

To gain Israel, God did what Israel could not do; God did what no force on earth could do. God destroyed the power of Egypt, the Lord broke the arm of the most powerful nation and ruler on the planet. God humiliated the gods of Egypt. Her husband having rescued her from Egypt prepared a place for his new bride. He drove out the nations and gave her a land flowing with milk and honey.

Her husband remained utterly faithful, unchanging in his goodness. He never varied from the least promise. Yet Israel proved herself again and again unfaithful. She showed herself unfaithful before she even entered the land. She danced about a golden calf just after she entered into covenant with the Lord of Heaven and Earth. It is as if she cheated on her husband on their wedding night.

And for hundreds of years she again and again strayed, denying her marriage, denying her covenant and chasing after gods who are no god. All the while, her maker, her creator and husband did her good.

Her adultery was inexplicable; yet a madness gripped Israel. Her children were monsters: she was married to the best of all husbands and yet claimed demons as the source of good.

And so, as we read in Hosea, God finally pronounces judgment upon his wicked bride. God condemns the wife whom he loved – unlovely as she was. A husband with whom she could find no fault.

God says, he will have no mercy upon her children; he will hedge up her way with thorns; he will put an end to her mirth; he will “punish her for the feats days of the Baals”. He will punish her, because she “forgot me, declares the LORD”.

This is the end, the resolution of the problem. The wife has rejected the marriage; the husband has sent her away. This is the end promised by God in the Covenant. If Israel rejects the Covenant, there will be a curse. And now the curse has come.

This is the end of the story: it is a sad end. The marriage which began in a rescue ends in a rejection. This is the end of the movie, the credits role.

But here we read the word


There is no “therefore” at the end. But not just “therefore” – next is the word “behold”. There really is no good English word for the Hebrew. The Hebrew word is used to introduce a marvel, a miracle. But no one says, “Behold”. Maybe if one shouted “Look!” and pointed we could get the idea. The word means the next thing will be something no one could expect.

What wonder is here to observe?