I heard a story once about a fellow named Hosea, who moved here from South of the Border. After he’d been here for only a short while, someone asked how he liked his new country, “They are so polite. So considerate,” he answered. “I went to a ball game just a couple days ago, and the place was packed. So packed, in fact, that I had to sit out on the flagpole in the center field. Just before the game everyone stood up, looked at me and actually sang:
“HOSEA, CAN YOU SEE?”
( Oh, well. You know me by now. “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”*)
But, seriously speaking of Hosea, let’s think a minute about him and the book which wears his name: The story is very plain, painful and simple: Hosea is married to a hooker. A woman who is habitually unfaithful to him. I’ve lately been considering Hosea, the story of a prophet who’s married to a prostitute! How would you like to see that statistic on the resume of the man your pulpit committee is considering for the vacancy in your Church?
In the book which is entitled Hosea (one of the “minor prophets”), after a while, somehow after all the heartache, humiliation and heartbreak he experiences, the prophet comes to grips with a lesson Yahweh wants an entire country to know. It is, in fact, a message which will be repeated in many places for all time. Hosea appears to recognize and understand that God will always view any form of idolatry as spiritual adultery. As a betrayal of the Creator and the highest and best and noblest standards He’s erected for peopl. The message is larger than the messenger. It teaches a truth which is never outdated or irrelevant. Hosea concludes that Israel is like his unfaithful wife. They are just like the hooker. They’ve been as promiscuous and fickle as Gomer. The Great God of the Universe will always view our dalliances with ancient or modern idols as a betrayal of the highest, best ideals.
It is not intended as a compliment to a selfish, sinful nation.
But that is the great clear and central truth underlying the entire book of Hosea: God is faithful to an unfaithful people. They need to understand the wrong they do and the hurt they cause to the only One who really loves them and the only One truly deserving of their worship.
But, for a bit, can you step back from that obvious, lofty lesson and just think like a man? Not like God. But like an ordinary human locked in what appears to be a hopeless, senseless situation. Can you imagine how Hosea must have felt when she left at night, not knowing where she was going or with whom? Not really wanting to know. How do you think Hosea must have felt on the rare occasions when Gomer whispered: “I love you.” in his ear? Do you have an idea of how his neighbors must have gossiped and how that hurt Hosea? You know they knew. Can you even begin to imagine the burning shame, the pain the frustration he must have felt? Why didn’t he just throw up his hands and throw her out? Or just leave?
How did he handle it? What enabled him to make any sense of an insane situation? How could he remain faithful to someone who was nothing but unfaithful to him? Why should he even try?
What’s your ‘take’ on the story? How do you think Hosea felt before he came to his conclusion and learned the lesson which has endured through the centuries? We know the lesson God was trying to get across to His people, but how did it feel to Hosea before he ever thought about that larger application? What made him continue? What would you have done?
I’m continuing my effort to understand how real people dealt with real life situations in Scripture. How could they face such difficulties and retain or regain spiritual equilibrium? What lessons can I learn?
This is an introduction to my examination of the life and book of Hosea, another whom I consider to be an example worth following. May I challenge you to just read the story and think? Set aside your prejudices and humanize the account. Hear the throbbing beat of a broken heart. Listen to the sobbing of someone who loves so deeply and faithfully, only to have that beautiful ideal wadded up, spat upon, and shoved in his face. Can you try for even a brief time to place yourself in his position and then just listen (as Hosea did) to what God might be trying to tell you?
God’s son and servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student ~donkimrey
*Roald Dahl wrote this.