By Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director and Editor of BaptistLIFE
In the Old Testament book of Hosea there is the story of a man by that name who demonstrated great tenacity in maintaining his love for a wayward wife. In Hosea 1:2-3 it says, “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take yourself an adulteress wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.’ So he married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”
Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea paints a very tragic but vivid picture of the relationship between a loving God and His own sinful people. But in chapter 3, verse 1, it says, “The Lord said to me (Hosea), ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’”
(Note: These cakes were used in idolatry and denote the sweetness and lusciousness, yet still the dryness, of any gratification not of God). Israel ultimately despised and rejected Jesus Christ, the true source of all the works of grace and righteousness, and “loved the dried cakes,” (i.e. the strict observances of the law, which, apart from Jesus, are dry and worthless).
It is obvious that the Lord is the ultimate long-suffering one as it pertains to us. He never gives up, never rests, and never ceases to demonstrate His great love for us no matter what depths of sin and straying we fall into. Even as I write these words, I am amazed and humbled by this truth. It reminds me of the poem written by English poet Francis Thompson. The poem became famous and was the source of much of Thompson’s posthumous reputation. The poem was first published in Thompson’s first volume of poems in 1893. Called “The Hound of Heaven,” a small portion of the poem says,
“Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above
their beat –
Naught shelters thee,
who wilt not shelter Me.”
Just as the hound pursues the rabbit and draws nearer and nearer in its steady and unrelenting pace, in the same way, God pursues us by His grace.
Finally we give up and give in to His loving pursuit. Be grateful that His love never stops. And, like Him, we must never stop sharing His love with those with whom we come into contact!