Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
The minor prophets, though minor in airtime, are all very interesting characters, aren’t they? We may know little about them compared to Biblical heroes like Joseph or David or Moses, whose life stories were detailed in the Bible. However, we give the prophets labels – Jeremiah (major prophet yes, but still) was the Weeping Prophet, Amos was the Country Prophet (Farmer Prophet), Jonah was the Prophet who ran away, and Hosea… the prophet who married a harlot. In his own amazing way, God used Hosea’s one-sided relationship with his wife as a high-level analogy of his relationship with the Israelites. While in Hosea 1:2 we were already told that the Lord had commanded Hosea to take himself an adulterous wife, we don’t really see her committing the acts of adultery – we will have to infer it directly from Hosea 2, which makes for a hard read as the Lord lists the drastic punishment waiting in store for the adulterous wife – or the adulterous, spiritual Israel. Yet, as we see so often from the book of prophecies, not long after every ‘punishment’, God’s compassion enters the fold. In verse Hosea 2:14, still shell-shocked after reading the extreme punishment that God has promised is for the adulterous wife, we see a complete 180 change in tone. In today’s study, we will examine the extents and the depths that our Lord will go just to reach us and to get through to us.
Therefore – this is our greatest indication that the punishment must first be meted out. God is just, and in his justice there is discipline. Yet on top of this discipline, God has compassion and love for us. This word draws a link to this verse to the preceding 13 verses as a whole. Because there were the first 13 verses of punishment, the good actions of this verse can be done.
I am now going to allure her – what is allure? Few other renditions render this differently – NLT tells us to win her back again. Some other versions may use the word, ‘entice’, and yet others, ‘persuade’. Still, allure is not a difficult word – it means to attract, to charm, to fascinate and appeal to somebody. How do you usually allure somebody? By being nice, very nice to them; by being charismatic and charming. God will do that and more to us, so as to appeal to us. This is a great divide from what the Lord was to do in the last 13 verses. There is a reminder of the change in time to ‘now’. Since the rough disciplinarian way of the past 13 verses do not work, God has changed a tune – he will be gentle, and exceedingly so.
I will lead her into the desert – the desert, or the wilderness, is a place of great spiritual connotations – of spiritual barrenness. It is a difficult place, where Jesus was tempted, where the Israelites wandered for 40 years. Yet it is a place God will intentionally lead us into, when we’re at that stage. It is a place where we are divided away from the world, and isolated from others. A place where the Lord can reach us personally. A place of spiritual temptations and need, yet it is also a place of great revival and breakthrough.
and speak tenderly to her – going on with the theme of being nice and gentle – the soft approach, we’re now told that the Lord won’t just lead her into the wilderness, but once she is there, he will speak tenderly to her. She is stubborn, refusing to bend even after the punishment meted out for her, and hence now the Lord has to use an amazingly soft approach. Yet God is willing to do so. He is willing to speak slowly and tenderly to her. He is willing to go that far for her, even in the face of the sins that she has committed against him.
This isn’t an easy verse – somebody sent me this verse a while ago (Hosea 2:14-15), and it was the first time I really had to check and study and meditate upon it for some time before I was able to come to peace with it. The analogy is high level, but the real implication is simple – the wife has committed adultery against the husband, and he rages, inflicting against her a harsh punishment – not just for the sake of what she has done against him, but also in an attempt to stop her from further sins and adultery. Yet, it failed. The wife was still stubborn, and fails to change. That’s where he changes his approach to an exceedingly soft and gentle one. You have been charmed and bewitched by your lover, whom you commit adultery with? No problem, I will be even more charming than he is, I will speak to you even more tenderly; and I will allure you, and win you back into my good graces.
Many times, when we are confronted with our own sins, immense guilt and a sense of unworthiness overwhelm us, and we don’t feel like we should come before the Lord again. Yet let us be reminded that our Lord is a faithful God, even if we are faithless, and his faithfulness is such that he will go to great lengths if we would only just turn back to him.