Hosea provides us God’s “lovers complaint” against the nation of Israel in the form of Hebrew poetry. This is how God describes His people:
“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst. I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery.” Hosea 2:2-4
Poetry does a fantastic job capturing the depth of emotion. You can feel the resonance of God’s emotions in the words expressed. His first complaint was Israel’s “adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.” As a nation, Israel had developed a wandering adulterous eye. They incessantly looked around to every other god but the one true God to satisfy themselves with what the life they wanted for themselves. And they were more than willing to “show as much skin” as necessary to get their sources (gods and goddesses) to give them what they wanted. Israel had in fact given themselves away in political alliances that produced big benefits now, but would cost them dearly later. At this time in their history, the majority of the families in Israel were involving themselves in sex acts and giving over their children to sex acts in the Baal fertility cult. They lived their lives “giving out” whatever they could leverage so that they could grab more, more, more – now, now, now. You see God’s honest complaint was simply this – “My people are willing to do just about anything to get what they want for themselves!” And right alongside of this legitimate complaint, God communicated the consequences of this rampant disregard. If Israel insisted on looking for a better deal than the one He had covenanted to give them, it would lead them to be “stripped naked,” “become like a desert,” and no longer experience the benefits of God’s blessings.
So what does God honestly desire from the people He loves? I think God is saying, “Please stop looking for a better deal than the one you already have in me!” Of course it would be easy to tune out here and say, “I’m not doing the things the Israelites were doing 2,700 years ago, and I’m certainly not involved in temple prostitution so as to gain greater fertility from the god Baal.” I’m genuinely glad these things aren’t true of you, but don’t you spend just as much energy hoping to find an even better blessing than the one God’s willing to give you? For instance, isn’t it all to easy to live as if, “It’s just not enough to be loved by God. I must have a man/woman in my life, and I’ll settle for anyone willing to be that person?” Isn’t it all too easy to live as if, “It’s just not enough to be in the top 5% of worldwide wealth as a gift from God. I need to have even more, and I’m willing for God, my wife, and my kids to be crowded out in order to get even more?” God is an intimate lover. He seeking a loyal people who believe, “there is no better deal in the universe than the one God’s given to me!”