I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
The words of Hosea in chapter 11 of the prophecy that bears his name are among some of the most tender in all of Scripture. In a book that focuses upon the covenantal unfaithfulness of Israel and God’s impending judgment upon the northern kingdom, this chapter expressing the LORD’s unfailing love to His people stands in stark contrast. As is so often true, the dark backdrop of Israel’s adulteries makes the love of God shine so much brighter and brings to the book a thread of hope and comfort to a people about to walk through the discipline of a tender, loving Father. Though He will surely judge them for their unfaithfulness, He will at the same time renew His love for them and promise not to utterly destroy them. And there is good reason for this which echoes back to times past and promises made (quoting below from Charles Spurgeon’s Bands of Love)…
The saints were from the beginning joined to Christ by bands of everlasting love. Before He took on Him their nature, or brought them into a conscious enjoyment of Himself, His heart was set upon their persons, and His soul delighted in them. Long ere the worlds were made, His prescient eye beheld His chosen, and viewed them with delight. Strong were the indissoluble bands of love which then united Jesus to the souls whom He determined to redeem. Not bars of brass, or triple steel, could have been more real and effectual bonds. True love, of all things in the universe, has the greatest cementing force, and will bear the greatest strain, and endure the heaviest pressure: who shall tell what trials the Savior’s love has borne; and how well it has sustained them? Never union was more true than this.
This was an everlasting relationship of love rising out of the promises between Father and Son, and became the original template for human marriage from the very beginning. The Father promises the Son a Bride, beautifully adorned; the Son promises that He would be willing to give Himself for that Bride, in order that she might be thus adorned. This is why the prophet was told to take to himself a wife of harlotry—for there was no other way to show what Israel had done by her unfaithfulness. But the bands of love so forged in eternity past cannot be broken by the greatest strains or the heaviest pressures—the Son will have His Bride, declares the Father in Hosea 2: “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”
The course and purpose of history is set by a pen of indelible ink, with lines of love leading to a great wedding feast where the promises of Father and Son will be fully realized as the Bride is adorned for her Husband. No enemy will be able to stop the movement of all of history towards that great Day; and no false lovers, no matter how many and attractive they may be, will be able to steal away even one promised and given to the Son. For all who are so bound to Christ with bands of love can never be severed from Him.
In love He espoused her to Himself, as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection, He toiled like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him, He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen; she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to His heart, precious in His sight, and united with His person.
In love and tenderness, He says to her,–
‘Forget thee I will not, I cannot, thy name
Engraved on My heart doth forever remain:
The palms of My hands whilst I look on I see
The wounds I received when suffering for thee.’
We have the great privilege this Lord’s Day to come to the Table of this great feast, foreshadowed for us in the Lord’s Table. Let us come with rejoicing and with a “Hallelujah!” on our lips and in our hearts. The Table is set for us by the Lord in the presence of our enemies as a testimony that He has won the victory. With eyes of faith we rise to heaven in the Spirit and are seated with Him in glory to share in this glorious wedding feast! Let us come prepared, dressed in robes of righteousness which He grants to us as we are united to Him by grace, through faith. Therefore, we ought to come confessing our sins and unfaithfulness. Here He promises to feed and nourish us with Himself as we travel through this vale of tears. So that we may know His promises are true, He gives us the emblems of His body and blood and calls us to remember that the bands of love with which we are joined to Him can never be severed—not now, nor for all eternity. Hallelujah!
In the bands of love, securely His,
Pastor Ted Trefsgar