From Praying the Names of God Week Eighteen, Day Five
Ish is the Hebrew word for “husband” in Hosea 2:16. The word baal in the Hebrew Scriptures can also be translated “husband” (as well as “lord,” “owner,” or “master”), though it usually refers to the Canaanite fertility god Baal (baal does occur in Hosea 2:16, “master”).
Remarkably, in Isaiah and Jeremiah, this is also used to describe God as the husband of his people Israel. Though we never pray to baal, we do pray to the God who is the ideal husband, the one who provides for and protects his people and who refuses to divorce us no matter how unfaithful we may be. In the New Testament Jesus is presented as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.
“In that day,” declares the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’. . .
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 2:16, 19-20)
PROMISES ASSOCIATED WITH GOD’S NAME
“For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, ’til death us do part.” This traditional wedding vow sounds impressive, solid, unbreakable. Yet it is still only a temporary promise, one that dissolves the moment a spouse dies. In truth only God has the power to promise us undying love. Remember this the next time you are tempted to think he has abandoned you, the next time you are on the verge of believing he’s turned his back on you.
Remember, too, the words of Paul, who assures us that nothing in all creation (and nothing means nothing) “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Promises in Scripture
“For your Maker is your husband—
the LORD Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
The LORD will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:5-8)
No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah [meaning “my delight is in her”],
and your land Beulah [meaning “married”];
for the LORD will take delight in you
and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a maiden
so will your sons marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:4-5)
Continued Prayer and Praise
Pray for yourself and for the church to remain faithful to God. (Jeremiah 3:14, 20)
Remember that God is jealous for you. (Exodus 5:8-10 and 34:14)
Be glad of God’s fierce love for you. (Song of Songs 8:6-7)
Reflect on Christ’s love for you as a member of his church. (Ephesians 5:25-30)
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.