"And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."
This is so interesting. I have come across this deal several times today... God says several times that if we will be his people, that he will be our God. I think the original deal was that if we would obey his voice, that he would be our God and we would be his people. The children of Israel (or the early church, our spiritual and sometimes literal ancestors) kind of broke that deal, and so they got punished... but you see, the punishment here isn't some horrible raining fire from the sky type punishment. It's only... if we choose not to be his people, then he isn't our God. That is a pretty hefty punishment in actuality... since living life without God is a very difficult and painful thing to do. This chapter uses a powerful analogy of a woman (Israel) that left her first husband (the Lord) to seek other relationships... and finally, in the end, realizes that her life was much better with her husband, and wants to go back... and mercifully, the Lord takes her back, and renews the marriage. ... basically the same deal. If we choose not to honor our commitments to the Lord, then he isn't bound to the agreement either. And, we are much better off having God as our God then we are anywhere else... and in the end, when we do realize this, and are serious about our commitments, then God will take us back... but the road is hard, and there is a lot of humility involved in asking the Lord to take us back after we have so thoroughly rejected him. No matter how hard, however... having God in our lives is *so* much better than not having him... being the Lord's people is so much better than any alternative... it is good work for us to be doing.