Questions: Are we God’s people? Has He shown us Mercy? Will He judge us for being unfaithful? What are we truly seeking? Who gives it to us? Whom do we call Master? Should we? Will we?
“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Hosea
Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
That is, drop the “not” from your brother “Not My People” and your sister “No Mercy” — implying he’s talking to Hosea’s firstborn, Jezreel. Well, not quite — the nouns appear to be plural, so maybe God is actually talking to Hosea about his fellow Israelites.
It sounds like a positive development, but it is offset by concerns about Mother Israel:
Plead with your mother, plead: for she [is] not my wife, neither [am] I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
Uh-oh. The Message translates the first part of this verse as “
Haul your mother into court. Accuse her!
” Far less sympathetic, but it does flow a bit better. Either way, she has clearly been living like she wasn’t married, and this is her last chance to repent; lest her lie become reality:
Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
I wonder if that was a traditional penalty for adultery, to be stripped naked and sent out into the desert.
And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they [be] the children of whoredoms.
Ouch. Is that merely a punishment, or a recognition/fear that they aren’t really his children.
For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully:
And the shame is not merely infidelity:
for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give [me] my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
Oops; Hosea’s left preachin’ and gone to meddlin
‘! It was easy to tut-tut
Gomer when her sins seemed so far from mine. But here we see that the root of her sin was a belief that they were the one who truly provided her what she needed.
I never understood idolatry until I realized my own addictive, compulsive behaviors. One of the teachers at our church defines “folly” as “denial of the true God”, which is manifest in addiction: that is, we seek something else to play the role of God in our lives, even though it is destructive. Addiction is the idol we return to — even though we know better — when we grow frustrated with what we’re getting from the real God, our real husband.
Been there, done that. So I’m actually grateful that God is taking strong measures to rein her (me!) in:
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]:
God in His mercy does often frustrate my foolish desires, so that I realize how empty they are.
then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, [which] they prepared for Baal.
Ah, the tragedy of it all. Everything she sought from them she already had in Him — if she (I) had but the sense to recognize/seek it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like he’s going to let her pick up where they left off:
Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax [given] to cover her nakedness.
Uh oh. This sounds awfully harsh, even unfair. Isn’t she trying to come back to Him?
Alas, no; she’s recognized the emptiness of her false lovers, but she’s still seeking the same things that drew her to them. In other words, she’s still a slave to her appetites — not a good basis for a happy marriage! Therefore, he’s determined to teach her a lesson, presumably in the hope of breaking her addiction. Though it is an excruciating cure:
* And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
* I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
* And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These [are] my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
* And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
Harsh — but just. Husbandly jealousy, even anger, is in fact an appropriate response to this kind of betrayal; it is the flip side of love, that — when submitted to God’s character! — motivates us to take the extraordinary steps necessary to restore a relationship.
Which, in fact, is what happens here:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
Not only does he turn a loving face to her, but he also restores what he has taken away — now that she (presumably) is able to appreciate the giver amidst the gift.
And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
In fact, the very nature of the relationship is change:
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, [that] thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.
That is, “my man” or “husband” instead of “master” — a word noted both for its emotional distance as well as its idolatrous connotations:
For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
Then, dropping the marital metaphor for a martial one:
And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and [with] the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
In other words, God is not just reconciling Himself to His people, He is reconciling them to all creation, and their neighbors. And even all that is just a love-gift during courtship:
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.
The message translates “hear” as “answer”, in the sense of “heeding.” And how does God answer?
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.
Yow! What a promise. In fact, pretty much the same promise that began this chapter.
O, to know that we are God’s beloved people; but even more to know that He is our God!
God, thank you for your never-ending faithfulness to us — even if expressed harshly! Thank you that we are not left alone on a wild and desert place, but that if we repent and turn to you we can be restored. Forgive us seeking after the empty and transitory pleasures of this world — and giving credit for them to lesser gods, rather than to you. Teach what it means to be Your People, and receive Your Mercy. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
About the Title:
Today’s title is short for “Desert Education”, as well as a play on “deserted.”