It’s Valentine’s day. There’s a part of me that hates it and a part of me that needs it! I hate being told by the marketing world that I need to buy my wife a card or a present or flowers. But if they didn’t tell me, would I actually buy a card, presents or flowers?? Probably not, I have to admit. Fortunately for me, my wife feels most loved when we sit down and talk together, when I take care of her dodgy back and when I do the chores! I’m getting better at all of that…mostly.
In the book of Hosea, God is responding to the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. She has chased after other lovers – namely the god called Baal. in 1:13 God says, “I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,’ declares the Lord.” What follows is truly remarkable and yes, romantic. You don’t think we invented the concept do you!
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and I will make the Valley of Achor (means trouble) a door of hope. there she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
‘In that day’, declares the Lord, ‘you will call me my husband; you will no longer call me my master…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord…I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ (Hosea 1:14-23)”
To be romantic is to woo someone into an intimate relationship with yourself. This is what God is up to in Hosea and what he’s up to today through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He is wooing you into an intimate relationship with himself! This may make you feel somewhat uncomfortable. It certainly makes me feel that way! But how could I freely offer my heart to God if he wasn’t pursuing that same heart?
Hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that God is ‘mushy” or sentimental or your boyfriend/girlfriend. What I am saying is that our hearts are being pursued by a fierce, jealous, devoted lover who wants to have a heart-to-heart relationship with us, so that we may be transformed into his likeness, take on his character, and become people who share in his mission of wooing people into an intimate relationship with him! He does this by conquering Satan, evil and death. He does this by coming down from heaven and taking on flesh. He does this by healing the sick, raising the dead, expelling demons and confronting injustice and corruption. He does this by dying for the world on a cross. The God of romance is also the God of mission and the God of transformation. You can change the language, but you can’t change the facts: God is after our hearts and the proof is Jesus. At the end of all things, we are described as “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:2; see also 19:6-9). It’s a metaphor for intimacy…forever…as one community…with God.
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).”
Happy Valentines Day!
P.S If you want to explore this theme further read A Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge and Desire by John Eldredge