“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” ESV Hosea 2:14
In my message prep for this coming weekend, I came across this verse where God “allures” the nation of Israel. The word means to entice, win over or persuade and is used in the context of marriage and illicit relationships. One of the commentaries noted this is odd since the Bible very rarely uses sexual imagery in depicting God. However, in the context of Hosea, God expresses His love for Israel as a man in love with his wayward wife. God demonstrates compassionate love and gently persuades and allures Israel to follow Him.
All of this applies strongly to our marriages. If God gently persuades/allures/entices sinful Israel to follow Him, shouldn’t we do the same with our spouses? Our spouses will sin and hurt us. Often, they won’t even be aware of it. Generally we will want to lash out in anger, or perhaps go silent in hurt. However, God shows us that gentle alluring is perhaps the way to go. Talk about spiritual formation! I would never think to operate that way. However, the nature of spiritual formation compels me to look to the gospel and respond accordingly. While I sinned against Christ, He died for me. While I worshiped idols, He won my heart. While I am faithless, He remains faithful. Shouldn’t I do the same for my wife?
While this will be challenging, by focusing on what Christ has done for me, I can respond in like manner to my wife. You can as well. Thirteen times in the second half of Hosea 2, God determines to act in a loving way toward Israel. It’s not easy to do that, but that’s the essence of spiritual formation…allowing God to use the sins of our spouse to shape our hearts and teach us to respond as He does. Let’s learn from how God responded to His bride, the nation of Israel, and respond accordingly. We may find that it’s more effective than we thought!