From Praying the Names of God Week Eighteen, Day Three
Ish is the Hebrew word for "husband" in Hosea 2:16 The word baal in the Hebrew Scriptures can also be translated "husband" (as well as "lord," "owner," or "master"), though it usually refers to the Canaanite fertility god Baal (baal does occur in Hosea 2:16, "master").
Remarkably, in Isaiah and Jeremiah, this is also used to describe God as the husband of his people Israel. Though we never pray to baal, we do pray to the God who is the ideal husband, the one who provides for and protects his people and who refuses to divorce us no matter how unfaithful we may be. In the New Testament Jesus is presented as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.
"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." (Hosea 2:16, 19-20)
PRAYING THE NAME
The LORD said to me,"Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods." (Hosea 3:1)
Praise God: Because his love does not blow hot and cold but is constant.
Offer Thanks: For the times God has pursued you despite your own unfaithfulness or lack of interest.
Confess: Any tendency to take your relationship with God for granted.
Ask God: To give you a heart of obedience to express your love for him.
Most of us realize that our choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions we will ever make. We may even expect God's help with such a critical decision. But few of us would expect or welcome the kind of help Hosea received when it came time for him to marry. A prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel, Hosea started his ministry by obeying these surprising instructions from the Lord regarding his future spouse: "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife." What?! Why would God tell Hosea to marry a woman who would break his heart and make a fool of him?
To make a point. To paint a picture. To get his people's attention. Hosea's life became a lived-out prophecy—a picture of God's own experience of faithless Israel. Hosea's wife proved wayward just as Israel had. She provoked him, just as Israel had provoked God. But, incredibly, instead of abandoning the wife who had abandoned him, Hosea ran after her, pursued her, and brought her home again. And that's the message! God running after his people, showing his love to us again and again, and calling us back to a faithful and fulfilling relationship.
Let Hosea's constant love for his wayward wife reveal God's unfailing love for you and for his people. Ask him to forgive your unfaithfulness and to increase your longing so that you can fully enter into the relationship he intends for you.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.