After countless recommendations and encouragement to read Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers, I finally decided to pick it up for a summer read. This Christian novel is about a faithless prostitute who is fiercely pursued by a young Christian farmer, based on the book of Hosea in the Bible. While I love a good tear-jerking romance, what really brought tears to my eyes was the Lord transformation of this woman’s heart and her long anticipated salvation. As I lay in bed finishing the last chapter, I was awestruck at the picture of the Gospel displayed. This kind of radical love reminded me of God’s unending grace, and his fulfillment of covenant.
Those who choose prostitution live in complete separation from God. And by “prostitution” I don’t only mean the selling of yourself for sex: when we choose to live in sin we are choosing prostitution. Sins of idolatry, lack of trust, or self-reliance separate us from God and make us like a prostitute who is saved from her trade, but runs back to her sin any chance she gets.
In the book of Hosea, God uses a prophet’s pursuit of a prostitute, named Gomer, to display his covenant promise to his people:
“And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods’ … So I bought her …. And I said her, ‘You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you’” (Hosea 3:1–4).
Though Gomer returns to prostitution, God instructs Hosea to go get his bride back. As Hosea retrieves his unfaithful bride, Yahweh explains that wrath will come to Israel, but so will redemption through the coming Messiah: “Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5).
This powerful image is also used by another prophet, named Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s prophetic task is to explain to the Israelites why they are in Babylonian exile; he is instructed by God to share a graphic story of sin to remind them of their past destruction, continued pain, and future glorification.
God uses this metaphor in Ezekiel 16 as he describes Israel as a bloodied baby rescued by God: “Live! I said to you in your blood, Live!” (Ezekiel 16:6). God breathes life into the child and makes a covenant promise to her, “‘I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you,’ declares the Lord God, ‘and you became mine’” (16:8).
As time passes, Israel grows into a beautiful young woman (16:14). But just like Gomer, who returned to her former life of sexual sin, Israel turns to false gods and wicked ways—selling her body to other nations wanting no payment in return: “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his” (16:15). God then promises wrath to the people of Israel because of their wicked ways. Israel forgets the days of her youth, where the Lord saved her from death in the desert. She chooses to live in her sin, rather than the new life God granted her.
Have you ever chosen your sin over God? Sin has a way of blinding us to God’s light and keeping us from remembering his covenant promise. And while prostitution may seem distant and removed from your personal life, think of all the things that God has pulled you out of: Sexual sin, self-hatred, lying, gossip, or even just evil thoughts towards another. We are all dirty sinners in need of a holy God.
God came in human form and fulfilled the covenant. Scripture articulates this clearly in Ephesians 2 with two short and powerful words: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4–5, emphasis added).
Here is the good news, ladies:
We are on the redemptive side of history! We are living in the fulfilled covenant God made to this destitute woman. Our God is holy and just, yes—and he is always a promise fulfiller. He has taken away any trace of sin or blemish from you when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.
So I encourage you to believe and live in these truths: