Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hosea and Gomer

Hosea is one of those books that most of us know from the song of the books of the Old Testament, but have never really studied. Just a minor prophet whose book comes right after Daniel. But the book is packed with amazing truth. Just the first chapter should be enough to knock you off your feet.

First thing God said to Hosea was to go marry a prostitute. He also said to have kids with this prostitute, for "...the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD." (vs. 2) Regardless of how weird and, quite frankly, confusing this analogy was to Hosea, he obeyed. Went and found Gomer, got hitched, and had a son. God spoke to Hosea and told him to name his son Jezreel. "I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel." (vs. 4-5). Hosea then has a daughter, whom God says to call Lo-ruhama (which means "no mercy"), because God will cease to have mercy on Israel but will have mercy on Judah and save them, though not by horses and swords. Hosea has another son, whom he is to name Lo-ammi (meaning "not my people.") God says that Israel is not his people, nor is He their God.
The next part is so good that I'm not going to try to summarize it, but I'll give it to you raw.

"Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' it shall be said to them, 'Children of the living God.' And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel." (vs. 10-11)

As is made perfectly clear throughout the chapter, this is not a story about divine matchmaking and christenings. The analogy, while simple enough, is absolutely mind-blowing.

Hosea represents God. Gomer, the whoring wife, is Israel (and, by extension, us.) The king of the universe (who, by the way, made us) decided to pour himself into human beings. You have to wonder why. Like Gomer, we're prostitutes by nature. Money, pleasure, other humans, materials, and any number of things seduce us with little to no trouble. We say we want to please God one moment and stab him in the back the next. Here's the fantastic, awesome, unbelievable part. God knew we would do what we do before he chose us, and took us anyway. He hasn't abandoned us since he chose us, despite the constant betrayal and slighting of divine love. And, in the passage above, he makes a promise once again of the Messiah. We, the strayed, who completely deserve to be thrown bodily from the courts of the Almighty, who had sinned so greatly that we could no longer be the people of God, got something even better. Notice that he doesn't tell them they can come back to being his people, but that he will make them his children. That should make you stagger. God loves us, the prostitutes, enough to call us back to him, to let us back in when we come crawling to the door after yet another affair with the world, to shed his blood in order to make us sons and daughters of the Most High King. What hope, what help, what love!