Hosea’s Whore

A friend was talking about Hosea last night, so when I retreated to my porch swing this morning, the book was on my mind. If you’ve never read it, it’s sad and glorious all at the same time. It is a book about God’s faithfulness, and His people’s unfaithfulness. It’s about how wayward we are, in our perpetual quest for satisfaction in things that don’t have any eternal value.

In the opening chapter, God tells His prophet, Hosea, to marry a whore. I know, right? I might have second-guessed whether I was really hearing from Him. Even though Hosea’s wife, Gomer marries a good man, she just keeps running after her illegitimate lovers. It’s not long before the reader of the text begins to understand that God is drawing parallel between Hosea/Gomer, and God/His people.

In chapter 2, the Lord, in His mercy, strips His people of all their prized possessions, then brings her/us out into the wilderness (into solitude) and speaks kindly to us, wooing us with His affection, the affection of a Bridegroom.

Chapter 2 sounds a little like 2020, doesn’t it? Like all of the stuff we’ve been trusting in suddenly gave out beneath our feet. The economy crashed, and with it our security and identity. Our entertainment industries (restaurants, sports, movie theaters, etc.) very suddenly dissipated, and we were left in quietness and contemplation. Hosea 2:11 even says “I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.” And I am reminded that every, single music festival and craft fair was canceled this year.

But all of this is for the purpose that we would know God. That we wouldn’t put a displaced hope in things that don’t matter.

God offers Himself as a Husband to this wayward bride. He strips her of her treasured baggage to present Himself to her, as the One who ought to have been her deepest desire already.

Now, here’s where my heart breaks wide… she goes right back to it. To her whoring, ungratifying ways. And I am so afraid that we are, too.

I keep reading Hosea and I keep seeing us in the story. It speaks of God’s people being destroyed for lack of knowledge (4:6) and of them cherishing things that numb, rather than heal (4:10). It speaks of rioting and thieving and forgetting God (7:1).

And it speaks of God’s people crying out to get their stuff back, rather that to know Him (Hosea 7:14-16).

I am honestly afraid for where we will end up, at the end of this year. I think many are hoping that all will be well, and assuming that this really was just about a virus. Once the virus clears, or there’s a vaccine. Once so-and-so gets elected or re-elected. Once all the angry mob releases their aggression. There is all of this hope in false things. And there is hardly any seeking of God. If we don’t turn from our wickedness and our security blanket facades, we are toast!

But there is one hopeful verse wedged in there, that will only be hopeful to those who know the surpassing worth of Christ already. It says, at the end of chapter 3, “they shall come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days.” (ESV). The NASB words it like this “they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.”

Here’s why this is hopeful: Because those of us who are already seeking Him know that knowing Christ is far better than any of the false securities the world could offer. There is no amount of blessing this world could ever give that would even compete with His unparalleled splendor and beauty and worth!

If we must be stripped off all our gaieties, all our music festivals and restauranteering, all our economic stability and job security, our freedom and liberty, in order to know God intimately, then we are gaining more than we are losing!

My concern is that we are too much like Gomer, and like Israel… that if we get our stuff back, we will immediately put our hope in and displaced affection upon those things. So, I am not sure we are going to get our stuff back. I’m not sure we’re going to come out of this pandemic. Because I’m not sure that’s what’s in our eternally best interest. My hope is not in deliverance from this virus/rioting/political pandemic, but rather from our pandemic of idolatry. I’m hoping that, should our circumstances take a turn for the worst (or even for the better), that it would produce repentance towards God. I hope that many will “come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness”, because boy, is He good! But sometimes we have to come trembling to see it.

Here is the glorious promise towards God’s people, in the day that she is stripped of her idolatry… “I will betroth you to Me forever, Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19-20), and as the Psalmist once penned “Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live.” (Psalm 63: 3-4).

God’s goodness is better than life, folks! If the ax falls, and the earth gives way, and all around us turns into a trash heap of pain and clutter, but we find God and fall in-love with our Maker, then we will have gained something vastly more wonderful than all we have lost! May this stripping give birth to revival and intimacy with our God!

Space 8/26/20

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