by Sarah Stravitsch
So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. (Hosea 2:16)
Through the prophet Hosea, God speaks these words about Israel. How personal are the words—God wants to lead–allure–Israel so He can speak intimately to her heart. Israel had forgotten the God who led them out of Egypt and forgot the covenant with Him. They had become unfaithful and turned to idolatry and oppressed the poor. In the book of Hosea, God is described as a jealous, yet ever faithful, lover who seeks to take back His bride. In order to do this, God would have to strip Israel of the rich ornaments assumingly bestowed by her false lovers and thus bring her back to Himself. In doing so, He allures her to the desert where she has nothing. There she remembers His goodness and turns back to Him. The Israelites didn’t stay faithful to the covenants made through Moses and David, but Jesus came to restore the relationship. Through the everlasting Covenant sealed with His blood on the cross, these words from Hosea were fulfilled: “I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:21).
God isn’t just speaking to Israel in the Old Testament; these words are true for each one of us today as well. Sometimes it seems like God has stripped everything away in our lives and led us into the desert. Why a desert? A desert is desolate and hot, and if you have nothing with you then you must rely on someone else to survive. So it is that when we have turned away from God and become seduced by the world, we need to allow ourselves to be allured to a desert. There He can speak to our hearts.
Lent is a yearly reminder of the desert–of how desperate we are for God. It is a time of conversion: to examine how we have been unfaithful to God and turned away from Him, to repent, and then most importantly to turn around and follow God. It is a time to rely solely on Him. This Lent, how can you turn back to God and rely on Him? What is holding you back from giving Him everything?
For another reflection, read Hosea 11:1-7. In what ways has God provided for you and you didn’t recognize that it was Him or you didn’t thank Him?