This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #36.
Reference: Hosea 14:1-10
This final chapter of the book of Hosea is beautiful. Finally, a section titled “Sincere Conversion.”
While at this point in Hosea’s life the conversion of Israel hadn’t happened yet (or he would have no need to write the book), this chapter wraps up the book in wonderful hope.
Before it does, however, there is one verse that comes before it, standing in stark contrast to the prophesy of redemption that is about to follow:
“Samaria shale expiate her guilt,
For se has rebelled against her God.
They shall fall by the sword,
their little ones shall be dashed to pieces,
Their expectant mothers shall be ripped open.”
Yeah. I’ll just leave that there.
Anyway, it gets way happier after that.
Basically, for the remainder of the book (so 9 verses), God (through Hosea) carries on and on about the lavish future that awaits Israel.
There are lots of great lines in this section—mostly wonderful because they’re such a relief from the pain Israel will have to endure until she gets her act together—but I’ll pick my favorite to go into:
Verse 5: “I will love them freely.”
That seems simple, but the theology behind it is really cool. If you really want to dig into the working of it (that is, workings insofar as humans can understand), check out this thing called “Theology of the Body.” Not all of it directly pertains to this verse, but understanding TOB greatly enhances its significance. I’m not going to go into everything here, so instead I’ll skim the surface.
God, first of all, is pumped to be able to love them without needing to hold back his affections. Much like a parent loving a child, sometimes when the kid misbehaves it’s best not to shower him in hugs and kisses and tenderness. Sometimes you need to communicate to the child that his or her actions are not okay. But the whole time, the parent desires to hold the child and hug away the pain. When the punishment is finally over, the parents can! They can love freely again!
The same is true for God. He doesn’t like seeing Israel in pain, even though he knows it’s best for her. So he patiently waits, doing what he needs to be a good shepherd, a good parent.
But there is a deeper level to the freedom as well. The first understanding implied that loving them freely is something he had been prevented from doing before. On this deeper level, however, the emphasis is that he has ALWAYS loved them deeply, and will continue to. God is nothing but love, and he will do nothing but love. His love is SO pure that it is completely free of any obstacles to authenticity like pride. He. Will. (he DOES) Love. FREELY. He has the pure love that we can only hope for. May we strive to follow in his example, recognizing that our love can only become authentic as we get closer to Authentic Love Itself.