In the movie Fireproof, firefighter Caleb Holt fights to save his failing marriage by following advice found in The Love Dare. The book challenges spouses to make one concrete overture of love each day for 40 days. Ultimately, Fireproof is a story of hope, and by the end of the film, Holt’s wife has softened toward him, and they are on their way toward healing.
In today’s passage, we see God’s plan to win back His wayward people. God uses a more aggressive approach. Three “therefore” clauses describe His specific strategy. First, God would “block her path with thornbushes” (v. 6). He would hedge in His wife, or His people, to prevent her from straying further. This comparison may trouble us, but God uses this as an act of grace, rather than anger. It is for her good, to direct her back to Himself. And verses 7–8 seem to indicate that restoration is possible when they describe the errant wife’s potential change of heart.
Second, God would “take away [His] grain when it ripens” (v. 9) and “ruin her vines and her fig trees” (v. 12). This is a demonstration of His true sovereignty over the land and its fertility, and it would reveal the impotence of Baal. Third, God would “allure” Israel by taking her away to the desert and speaking tender words of love. He would restore her vineyards, and the Valley of Achor would become “a door of hope” (v. 15).
Here, the redemptive character of God is on full display. He still uses these same techniques to bring us back to Himself. He erects roadblocks so we will turn around. He withholds His favor to evoke in us a longing for Himself. And He reveals Himself in acts of love.
>> Do you have a wayward heart? It is easy to turn our desires toward things that are not pleasing to God. Pray for the wayward heart of your community and country, that we would turn back to Him.
Righteous Father, sin thrives when unacknowledged. Give us the wisdom not only to recognize the Holy Spirit’s conviction, but to confess our sins and intentionally seek accountability with other believers.