Applying the scriptures: Allegory illustrative of merciful Lord

Using the similitude of a faithful husband and his adulterous wife, the Book of Hosea illustrates the relationship between the loving and merciful Lord and errant Israel.

In his April 1982 general conference address, Elder Ronald E. Poelman of the Seventy retold the allegory in Hosea, using a modern-day setting and giving the names John and Gayle to the couple in the story."In the early years of their marriage, John and Gayle were blessed with children, first a boy and then a girl; but Gayle seemed uninterested in her domestic responsibilities," he recounted. "She longed for glamour and excitement in her life and was frequently away from home at parties and entertainments, not always with her husband. In her vanity, Gayle encouraged and responded to the attentions of other men until she was unfaithful to her marriage vows."

Shortly after the birth of their third child, a son, Gayle abandoned the family for her worldly lifestyle, Elder Poelman said. Soon her so-called friends tired of her and abandoned her. Later, John recognized her on the street and observed the effect of her recent life. He had compassion for her, paid her substantial debts and then took her home.

"Out of his love for her and her willingness to change and begin anew, there grew in John's heart a feeling of merciful forgiveness, a desire to help Gayle overcome her past and to accept her again fully as his wife.

" . . . Though I have taken some literary license in telling this story, it is the account, perhaps allegorical, of Hosea, prophet of the Old Testament, and his wife, Gomer.

"Portraying God to ancient Israel as a loving, forgiving father, Hosea foreshadowed, more than most Old Testament prophets, the spirit and message of the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and modern revelation.

" . . . When we disobey the laws of God, justice requires that compensation be made - a requirement which we are incapable of fulfilling. But out of His divine love for us, our Father has provided a plan and a Savior, Jesus Christ, whose redeeming sacrifice satisfies the demands of justice for us and makes possible repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation with our Father. For indeed, `God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' (John 3:16.)"

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