A Parable of God's Love
Lord, I am grateful for today, for the potentials and the privileges of it. Help me make wise use of each hour.
Read Hosea 1:1-2:1
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God for his faithful love, while being honest about the times when he has seemed distant, or we have been distant from him.
The opening of Hosea is swift, brutal and shocking. The prophet’s preparation for his ministry is not a course at prophets’ college, but a lesson in emotional identification with the heart of God. In the last few years “heart” has entered the lexicon of Christian jargon (as in “having a heart for…”), and, while it introduces welcome warmth into the language of commitment, it can also be a way of dressing up a simple preference. Hosea’s heart, though, is going to be broken. At the command of God, his marriage is to become an allegory of the broken relationship between “the land” of Israel and its God, complete with the ugliness of the insulting “whore” (2, NRSV). And not just his marriage; his children are lumbered with the kind of symbolic names that would not go down well in the playground. Jezreel means “God sowed,” which is harmless enough, but it seems to refer to the city in northern Israel where there was terrible slaughter in the reign of Jehu (2 Kings 9:14–10:11). Lo-ruhamah, the daughter’s name, means “not pitied”; and the second son’s name, Lo-ammi, means “not my people.” The picture of God we get here is more than uncomfortable; it suggests that there might be a limit to God’s compassion.
And then, in verse 10, the prophecy switches suddenly to a picture of restoration. First, poor little “not my people” becomes one of the “children of the living God.” Then in 2:1 (NRSV) Jezreel loses his destructive name to become Ammi, “my people,” and his sister loses the “Lo” prefix to become simply “Pitied.” It’s as if the central theme of Hosea, announced here, is the constant back and forth between God’s desire to love and be loved and his duty to be honest with us about the depth and consequences of our failings.
Using the marriage metaphor, describe your relation to God, now and in the past. Have you ever left or “cheated” on God? Was God faithful anyway?
Faithful One, I wander away from You, but You are always there, patient and loving. I renew my vows before You and desire to be with You today.