“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the Lord. (Jer 3:1)
The Lord said to me, “Go. Show your love to your wife again. She is loved by another man. And she has committed adultery. But I want you to love her just as I love the people of Israel. They turn to other gods. And they love to offer raisin cakes to Baal and eat them. In spite of that, I love my people.” (Hosea 3:1)
Jeremiah seems to be a contradiction to the Torah in Deuteronomy 24. In the Torah text, it is prohibited that a twice-married woman may return to the first husband when rejected by the second husband. For our purposes, the three essential phrases in Deut. 24:4 are:
- “may not take her again,”
- “she has been defiled,”
- “bring guilt upon the land.”
Now I have a problem with the patriarchal, strong prejudiced language used here against women. But, that being said, in Jeremiah, and Hosea, the love for the unfaithful wife (Israel) is so strong, that the husband (God) wants her back.
We often focus on the judgment God inflicted upon Israel. Still, if we read the prophetic scripture thoroughly, we will see, time and time again, a God that is portrayed as a lover calling the people of God to repentance.
Sometimes we don’t want to see God as an unconditional lover because of our own prejudices. We want to judge others that don’t fit into our image of what God should be like, and yet, we expect grace and mercy ourselves.
God is loving and giving to an undeserving world (Jn 3:16), running to greet and hug a smelly, wayward son (Lk 15). So, it should no surprise to see God, the lover, crying and calling back his unfaithful wife.