This short and beautiful reflection comes from Andrew Pearson.

And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”  So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.  And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days.  You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so I will also be to you.”  For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.  Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their kin, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

Hosea the prophet was called to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Though you might be willing to understand your lover’s love for “cakes of raisins,” no one really plans or wishes to marry someone who had proven to be unfaithful, and certainly no one would want to marry someone who once had been unfaithful, and continued to be so.

Hosea’s marriage to Gomer illustrates God’s relationship to an unfaithful Israel.  In spite of the fact that Gomer is an adulteress, she is ransomed by Hosea, showing God’s love for his people in the face of their unfaithfulness.  The Lord’s love for Israel remains untethered to any sinful behavior breaking its bonds.  God is faithful despite the ongoing reality that they are still unfaithful.

This message is often lost in churches today.  Often we hear, “If you behave yourself, then God, who loves you, will bless you.  He chose you because he sees great potential in who you could be.”  And why shouldn’t we believe this?  This is how many of our relationships work.  We often say to our spouses or family members, “If you loved me, then you would….”

But this is not how God operates.  God knows you are a conditionally bought-and-sold human being, and still Jesus’ death on the cross is the final declarative statement that God’s love for you is unconditional.  As it is said, “There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.”  It is not a love that forgives once or any number of times, but is timeless and unremitting.  This is the love that brings redemption, even to those of us who often feel like Gomer.