Pitts Theological Library, Atlanta, GA

Hosea urges Gomer and her children to return home, in this woodcut illustration from an early printed Bible, the 16th-century Zurich Bible. “You will live in my house for a long time,” the prophet commands, “and you will not lead an immoral life. You must have relations with no one else, indeed not even with me” (Hosea 3:3). Hosea’s tough love represents the way God will deal with Israel. Though they have betrayed him, and though God initially says, “She [Israel] is not my wife, and I am not her husband” (Hosea 2:2), God will ultimately show forgiveness and bring them back into his house. But they will have to endure a period of religious abstinence, Hosea explains: “So the Israelites will live for a long time without king or leader, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim” (Hosea 3:4). In the end, Hosea’s renewed and purified marriage reflects the promised restoration of God’s marriage covenant with Israel; God will stand by Israel, as the marriage vow says, “for better or for worse.”