III. Purpose

III. Purpose

The purpose of the book is to show a complacent Israel the true nature of their relationship with God and to call them back to the only One who truly loves them. He is the only One who can supply the very things for which they are petitioning their idols. The book is set up as a court case in which God, the aggrieved husband, brings charges against his faithless wife, Israel (see 4:1-3). The charges include idolatry, sorcery, empty ritualism, corruption, faithlessness, brutality, and injustice. Nor are these merely the aberrations of a few; these conditions extend from the highest political and religious leaders right down to the dregs of society.

It would seem plain that nothing but divorce proceedings could issue from such horrendous failures. However, to the reader's surprise, that is not the case. Although the situation is dire, with all-but-inevitable consequences just ahead, still God does not want to dissolve his relationship with his beloved. Moreover, with prompt action, even those awful consequences could be averted. But if they are not, the coming disasters are not to be interpreted as expressions of God's abandonment of his people. Rather, they should be taken as spurs to return to the only One who ever really loved them.