“I will love them freely.” (Hosea 14:5)

In Hosea’s time, more than seven centuries before Christ, the north­ern kingdom of Israel was locked in a power struggle with the Assyrian empire. For long years, Israel repeat­edly put its trust in political solutions and military alliances instead of trust­ing in God. Making matters worse, they also began to worship false gods, hoping that these idols would make them more prosperous. Thus, they broke their covenant with God and removed themselves from his protec­tion. Finally, Israel was attacked and its capital, Samaria, was destroyed in 721 b.c., after a three-year siege. Against the background of the grow­ing Assyrian threat, the prophet Hosea called Israel to repentance.

At the same time, Hosea himself was married to an unfaithful spouse, Gomer. Yet instead of choosing to divorce her, he sought her out, for­gave her, and in time, won her back. Hosea understood that the drama that was playing out in his personal life—that of a spurned husband woo­ing back a wayward wife—mirrored God’s relationship with fickle Israel: He would chastise his people and woo them back, ultimately forgiving all their sins.

Just as God promised to heal Israel’s faithlessness (Hosea 14:5), he is always ready to restore our rela­tionship with him when we have broken it by our sin. He is faith­ful even when we are unfaithful! He loves us unconditionally and freely! God never gives up on a single one of his people. He never withholds his love from the undeserving. He never thinks anyone is beyond his power to heal and save.

Hosea didn’t give up hope that his wife would return to him, or that the Lord would lead his people back to himself. Despite both Israel’s and Gomer’s unfaithfulness, Hosea dared to pray with confidence, trust­ing in God’s compassion and mercy. Hosea’s example encourages us to pray confidently for the people and situations God has put on our hearts. Let’s take up the call to be ministers of God’s love in our inter­cession. It’s amazing what God can do through our prayers, especially when we place radical faith in him!

“How faithful you are to us, Father! Your compassion is limitless. No sin is too great for you to forgive, no relationship so broken that you cannot heal. Lord, I praise you for your mercy!”

Psalm 81:6-11,14,17; Mark 12:28-34