And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. — Hosea 2:19-20
In recent months there have been several weddings of family and friends which I wasn’t able to attend, but thanks to Facebook I was able to see photos and even livestream video of the blessed events. I must confess to logging on more often than perhaps I should, just to look for these as they gradually filled my newsfeed. Isn’t it fun to see selfies of beloved faces and pictures of wedding cakes, bountiful food, and dancing at receptions? Weddings are such glorious occasions for reunions and joyful feasts. My favorite view, though, is always that of the bride and the groom with the pastor (or priest), standing before their assembled loved ones while saying their vows. If the wedding is taking place inside a church, there will inevitably be a cross in the background of the shot.
It would be bizarre to have a guillotine or a gallows adorning our houses of worship, much less being the backdrop to an occasion as joyous as a wedding. Having grown accustomed to the cross, we often forget that it was once nothing more than a hideous instrument of torture. And on one day in particular, on a hill outside of Jerusalem, it was also an instrument of the most heinous act of injustice in the cosmos. For it was on the cross that the Lord of life was put to death. It was a day not only of great injustice, but of anguish, fear, grief, and confusion.
Hosea looks forward to that day with a different view, seeing a picture painted by the words of the Lord. A picture of a glorious wedding.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband.’” — Hosea 2:16
That day refers to the day when the LORD will “make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (2:15). As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, the Valley of Achor referred backward to a particular day when the Lord delivered swift and severe justice upon his people for their idolatrous disobedience, making it the Valley of Trouble. And it also looked forward to the cross, when Jesus would take our troubles upon himself and suffer God’s wrath in our place, making the cross a door of hope. In that troublesome, hopeful day of the cross, we will be betrothed to the LORD forever.
In the 9 verses from Hosea 2:14-23 the refrain, “I will,” is repeated 14 times. The LORD is declaring what he will do “in that day.” On that day, because of the cross, God will lovingly and tenderly draw his bride to himself, reversing every curse for her disobedience and lavishing on her the blessings of obedience. These blessings weren’t earned by the bride, as Hosea has already made clear. What difference did that day make? How do the curses revert to blessings at the cross? Hear the apostle Paul’s explanation:
For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21
God promises that because of the cross, his people will be betrothed to himself forever in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. . . [and] in faithfulness.” God is faithful to keep his covenant promises, and his steadfast love and mercy are the reason he pledged to save his people and why he keeps his promise. But for the whore to become a bride her sins must be dealt with justly. At the cross, God’s wrath against all our sins is spent upon his righteous Son and his justice is satisfied. In mercy, Jesus took the curses so that we could become righteous and reap God’s promised blessings. In steadfast love, Jesus took our whoredom so that we could become his faithful bride.
Over two thousand years have passed since That Day when our Bridegroom took our sins upon himself on the cross. We recently observed once again the grief of Good Friday and the joy of Easter morning. Though we are his, we still at times suffer anguish, fear, grief, and confusion as we live in this fallen and troublesome world. Nevertheless, we who are his bride don’t only look back to the cross, and this world is not where all his promises will be fulfilled. We look forward to one final, glorious wedding. On That Day it won’t be possible for our joy to be captured in selfies and snapshots of mere moments in time; our joy will overflow throughout eternity in undimmed radiance and glory. Listen and watch, as the apostle John shares a foretaste of That Day:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
- Revelation 19:6-8
Pray With Me
Lord God Almighty, by your righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness you have put away my sins and called me to be your bride. May I never forget your mercy in my salvation. Because of your mercy, grant me the help of your Holy Spirit today to make myself ready and to clothe myself in righteous deeds out of my deep gratitude and love for you, to the praise of your glorious grace. Amen.