Would you agree to marry someone you knew would be unfaithful to you? I think most of us would answer that question with a resounding “No!” But that is exactly what God did when he established his covenant relationship with Israel. We see this demonstrated beautifully through the prophet Hosea. God commissioned Hosea to marry a woman named Gomer who would be unfaithful to Hosea. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer acted as a living parable for God and his covenantal relationship with his unfaithful bride, Israel. And in Hosea’s commitment to Gomer, we are given a picture of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to his people despite their unfaithfulness.
We might be inclined to judge Israel for her unfaithfulness. After all, how can you witness the miraculous wonders that God performed on your behalf to save you over and over again and still turn away from him? The New Testament helps us to understand Israel’s continuous rebellion. Drawing from various passages in Psalms, Paul wrote to the church at Rome that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. . . . no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10–12).
You see, Israel’s unfaithfulness was a result of our human condition: we are incapable of living up to God’s perfect moral standard. And the law is incapable of making us good. Later in that same chapter, Paul said, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (v. 20). The law reveals our sin like a spotlight on a dark night. It makes us aware of the ugliness inside of us and how we are helpless to purge it from ourselves.
At this point, you might be tempted to despair. You might wonder what the point of seeking righteousness or trying to be good is if you’re incapable of actually doing it. And that’s how we should feel when we look at ourselves rightly through the lens of God’s perfection and see how we don’t measure up, because that brings us to the place of realizing that we need help. We need someone outside of ourselves to remove our sin and to bring us into a right relationship with God.
God knew that, too. And he had a plan.