Over the last few weeks I’ve been studying the book of Hosea which I’ve likened to a world-class expedition up Mount Everest. As I’ve read and thought, it’s been as though the air has been getting thinner and basic, cognitive movement noticeably harder.
Up Mount Hosea, previous points of reference in the Christians’ walk are easily covered in deep snow with a sense of disorientation lurking in the knowledge that this book is a big deal – though we’re not quite sure why – and a prophetic one that may function to unlock new aspects of the nature of God to us…if we will only let it.
I think there is a danger in reading Hosea: that you might fall in love with God so deeply and helplessly that you find yourself surrendering the entirety of your life for the sake of Another. Not the way humanity tends to default within Christianity: “this far God…but, please, no further.”
As though rising as the highest peak within the Himalayan roof, I absolutely believe that Hosea’s life is the highest prophetic summit we have to climb (depth to plumb) as the ferociously beating centre of the heart of God remains, waits and even longs to be discovered.
You can read my previous posts in the Hosea series STARTING HERE as I fumble around at base camp like a Bear Grylls wannabe trying to set up my tent in hurricane winds.
Facing Our Adultery
The previous posts have their own particular focus as I’ve made my way up some initial ascents of chapters 1 and 2 and started to peer over towards chapter 3 and now beyond.
Today, I want to put on a superhuman cape like some kind of otherworldly scribe and survey the whole of chapters 3/4 through to 10, all at once…and quickly. Yes, it’s a big task but I aim to write succinctly and with one major thought in mind:
In coming to know God as Hosea knew Him, in climbing high enough to throw our own flag into the Everest summit, of taking a three-thousand-like selfie on Instagram from the top of the world, we must both acknowledge our own Gomer-esque adultery and yet receive still our own adopted identity from the heart of Jesus: of perfect, holy loveliness.
>>READ HOSEA 3-10. 20 minutes<<
Like me, you’ll notice that there is a gargantuan ‘struggle’ in the heart of God in these chapters: the struggle for Him to love Israel as a Husband should love a wife, considering the heinous extent of their spiritual adultery and their flagrant disregard of the holy covenant with Yahweh.
God struggles because He is both infinitely loving and eternally righteous and one was not possible for Israel without the other. Indeed, there could be no new life without death.
In chapter 8, God pronounces punishment and Israel are pictured as ‘reaping the whirlwind’ of their unfaithfulness as a consequence.
Along with the tender picture of the particularly painful tragedy of a corrupted Ephraim as the youngest, frailest, most vulnerable of all Israeli tribes, this whirlwind punishment from the heart of God is the main motif of judgment running through these 7 chapters.
We must highlight and ponder the heart of God as it churns in response to His bride’s promiscuity, as it oscillates like an indecisive wave sequence through both loving compassion and enraged justice.
I think this is the point
Before we move on to the heady heights of chapter 11 next week – of God’s unbelievable love, grace and restorative justice – I think it’s vital to acclimatise to this struggle in the heart God while we climb.
Doesn’t the biblical, prophetic book of Hosea invite us to spend some time reflecting and thinking about the kind of God who would not only return to His repeatedly unfaithful wife but Who would do so time and time again in such a way as to heal their prostitution and adultery and to finally woo us into whole-hearted love?
If you’ve read this with me, if you’re reading Hosea, why don’t you join me in spending the next 7 days in silently reflecting every day for 30 minutes on the God who would be perfectly justified in walking away from each of us every time we have ever turned to our own sinful way, but who instead personifies forgiving faithfulness in the midst of such betrayal by standing by our side and tenderly holding our hand.
This is our wooing God.
This is our difficult-to-take-in-God.
This is our surely-too-good-to-be-true-God.
This is the only God.
Chapter 11 is coming.