Yes, that title is the best I can do this morning! Hey, it's Monday for sure. I hope you are having a good day. Today, we will begin looking at what are known as the minor prophets. Why are they considered "minor?" Well, not because of their lack of importance, but their lack of length. Yes, they are shorter than the works of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. In fact, there has been a little poem written about them:
The prophets Habakkuk and Amos
are considerably less famous
than Isaiah or Jeremiah,
It's not that they lack fire.
But, when they exhort
they do keep it short.
-Jeanne Steig (1990)
Well, today we will look at the Book of Hosea. Hosea is a very interesting book to say the least. In fact, it gets off to an interesting start.
"When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, 'Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.' So he married Gomer daughter of Biblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son." (Hosea 1:2-3)
Umm...Most parents would say to their sons, "Now, when the time comes we want you to marry a fine young girl..." And to the daughter, "a fine young man." Not, in this case. Excuse the language, but is God not saying to Hosea, "Go and marry a whore?" Now, what in the world is happening here? Some, may of course argue that I'm reading this all wrong because God would not say such a thing. My friend, you can read this frontwards and backwards and which ever way...it says what it says...God says, "Go marry an adulterous woman." Then, if that's not bad enough he marries a girl by the name of Gomer. Now, I don't know about you but when I think of Gomer I think of...Gomer Pyle (You remember, the television character played by Jim Nabors.
What in the world is going on in this book? The book falls into two parts. The first part deals with Hosea marrying a prostitute. This functions as a living parable of husband Yahweh's relationship to his wife Israel. You may recall that we have discovered that the prophets often lived out their message. Gomer has a child by Hosea. (We're pretty certain he is the father here) This son is named Jezreel "because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre of Jezreel." (Hosea 1:4) But then Gomer has two more children. However, due to the wording we are left to wonder who these children belong to. The third child's name (Lo-Ammi) means "you are not my people, and I am not your God" (Hosea 1:9)
Hosea's marriage to Gomer was a mirror of Yahweh's relationship with Israel. God's relationship with the people is often seen as being a marriage. If you recall, I said that when God gave the Ten Commandments it was in response to a marriage covenant made between God and the Israelites. Of, course, the Israelites have often done what? Followed after other gods. Just like a spouse who would leave the one she/he married for another (therefore breaking the wedding vows) Israel forsook Yahweh for other gods (therefore breaking the vow they made in Exodus 19-the chapter before the Ten Commandments were given)
"The Lord said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulterous. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes." (Hosea 3:1)
No, I don't know why they would love raisin cakes either. But, if there was a good lemon pie at stake...just kidding. The story pictures God continuously going after his wife, in spite of the countless times she leaves him for another. Yes, he is angry and vows to no longer be Israel's God (kind of like saying, "that's it! I'm filling for divorce) but then he still loves her. So, Hosea acts out God's love and faithfulness to Israel.
Whenever I think of this book and this story I can not help but think of the movie Forrest Gump. In spite of what my father in law had to say about the movie (he had a lot to say about everything, including me) I thought this was one of the best movies ever made. But, enough of the film critiques. In the movie Forrest loved a girl by the name of Jenny. He loved her from the first time they met. (as children) He referred to her throughout the movie as "My Jenny." Well, if you watched the movie you will recall that the script followed Forrest from his boyhood to middle age. He never stopped loving Jenny. Jenny came and went. She would show up in Forrest's life and in his own words, "and just like that, Jenny was gone again." Jenny would go off with this guy and then another, but over and over again show up on Forrest's doorstep. He would take her in and then she would be gone again. But, he never stopped loving "my Jenny." Nor, did he ever stop waiting for her. Finally, she invited him to her place and introduced Forrest to his son. It was one of those movie moments that stick with you. Then, Jenny told Forrest that she was dying of AIDS. He never stopped loving her. This is how Hosea plays out.
The second part of the book consists of statements of disaster and salvation. Hosea is speaking in the North (Israel) and he is a northerner. God, in spite of loving Israel, is angry with Israel. God' hope is that Israel repent of her sins and be healed. This is God's hope even today, for all people.
Tomorrow we will move right along into the Book of Joel. Join me tomorrow. -Pastor Rick