Because I am an English teacher, sometimes I find myself reading the Bible as if it is just a regular narrative. I look at writers style or approach, pick out themes, analyze characters. And I’m here to tell you, as my friend and I discussed Hosea is a story that any $1 paperback Harlequin romance would blush at. Prostitutes, slavery, ….. this is not your peace, love, and redemption story preached from the pulpit….or is it?
Based on what I understand, Hosea has been told by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer. Okay….total side note. When I read this name, I immediately get a mental image of Jim Nabors saying, “Well, gaw-lee.” Hosea’s prostitute wife with a goofy faux Southern accent…..try to get that out of your head now.
Anyway….so the story of Gomer and her philandering, scandalous ways stepping out on her husband Hosea is a metaphor for God’s people. In the OT, I think we understand that to be Israel, but now…..it’s me and other Christians. God’s people are no longer identified by citizenship and nationality, but on faith. Hosea married Gomer — not because he loved her, but because God told him to. So Hosea’s relationship with his wife is mimicking God’s relationship with Israel. It’s on-again, off-again. Eventually, Gomer is enslaved and Hosea buys her back so she can be his wife and they can be together again. Hosea is foretelling that God will allow Israel to be defeated because Israel has chosen to abandon God. Then God will welcome Israel back when the time is right and He will favor them again. Hosea was faithful to his wife despite her choices and God was faithful to Israel (and now us) despite its choices.
Back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes Israel prospers. Sometimes it is defeated and is in misery. God doesn’t really seem to do this to Israel, but he gives them — and us — free will. Sometimes that free will means we make bad choices. Sometimes the bad choices aren’t just small choices, but sometimes they have huge, monumental, lasting effects. Regardless, God is always there. Ready to pick us back up and brush us off again and again. I wrestle with the fact that it feels like God is a vengeful God in these passages. Certainly, he is a judge, but I can’t quite reconcile the whole idea of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” yet. Instead, I choose to believe it’s not God causing the suffering, but rather stepping back and allowing us (humans) to make our own choices which sometimes result in suffering — like war and slavery as was often in Israel’s case.
Faith and all relationships are really like a seesaw. One moment you’re pulling. One moment you’re pushing. One moment you’re rising. One moment you’re falling. But God is always there. Ready to catch you when you fall. I think more than anything, He just doesn’t want you to get off the seesaw and walk away from Him.