February 22, 2024 Devotional

“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 2:19-20

Whenever I read the word betrothed, I automatically think of Jesus’ mother Mary and earthly father Joseph. Their story of hearing the revelation of the incarnation of God in human flesh by way of angels and divine proclamations is ingrained in our collective memories during Advent and Christmas. The whole point of a betrothal is a promise for something to come. Yet, it’s also a declaration of faithfulness in the here and now, as the parties wait for what’s to come. In the case of Mary and Joseph, their betrothal was the time before they were officially ‘married’, yet also while Mary was expectant with the child who was and is the Son of God, the Jewish Messiah. and Savior of the world. That period of betrothal was filled with hope, fear, anticipation, and promises for the future.

When God asked Hosea to speak the words in our verse for today to the people of Israel, God wanted the people to know, with certainty, that He still loved them, desired for them to be in relationship to Him, and that the relationship was to be as close as that between husband and wife. Yet, in this period of betrothal, there was also a future hope and promise for things to come. There are other places in the Old and New Testaments that use this metaphor of a marriage relationship to describe God’s hope for the world. For the people of Israel, after repeated disobedience and worshiping other gods, turning away from their Creator and creating their own images of gods that had no power, Yahweh still loved them. It’s because of that love, that God continued to call out to them through the prophets. Some of the disobedience He needed to address was their breaking of the Commandments and Laws, seeking after false gods, and their infidelity. Yet, God spoke a word of betrothal to them. While they were still sinners, God called to them with a promise for the future.

That season of betrothal was leading somewhere: to Jesus. God’s promise to the people was not just to restore their relationship with Him through the Law and Prophets. God did want that. But God was pointing to a time in the future when He would send the Messiah (the bridegroom) to then be permanently married to the church (the bride). The period before Jesus is the final betrothal of the people of God, waiting for the wedding to come. And, just like Mary and Joseph waiting in anticipation for the coming of the Christ child, the people of Israel were waiting for their Savior.

In this season of Lent, it’s time for us to examine our relationship with the bridegroom, as the bride, the church. Are we responding to the bridegroom with the same love and compassion He has for us? Are we standing in His justice and righteousness, forgiven and set free, to then love and witness to a world that is in need of the same invitation to come to Jesus? We are called to obediently acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, and then follow him obediently into the world to worship, love, and witness to Him! May we anticipate the Savior in all we do for Him. May we be like Mary and Joseph, ready and willing to welcome Jesus into every circumstance in our lives.