It’s impossible to journey through the book of Hosea in a casual way. You would never slip into your favourite flip flops to start an ascent of Arthur’s Seat and neither can we receive from this book what we’re meant to receive without the serious footwear of meditation and prayer.
There are many lows in this book. Imagine the lows from Hosea’s perspective as he discovers that his wife, Gomer, has been unfaithful to him yet again. Imagine his heart sickness.
But God has also been on display as the One moving behind the scenes and also the One moving the scenes He’s behind. He’s in the grandeur and He’s in the infinitesimal.
Hosea and Ezekiel
If you asked me to point you to the part of the Bible that I was sure was the most powerful, it would be Ezekiel chapter 16. If you’re not sure why, all you need to do is to read the chapter and you’ll see what I mean.
The picture is of an abandoned new born baby girl being adopted by a wise loving Father. The Father lavishes love, care, praise, protection and beauty upon the infant as she grows into maturity. Similarly, what we see here in Hosea chapter 11 is God’s adopting love for Israel, demonstrated faithful despite the chronic betrayal of Israel’s shocking adultery, the ravishing of God’s heart and the parable played out in the story of a showcase husband hewn from the rock of Hosea’s life.
Of our lives.
A Visual Aid In Closing
Imagine a man and woman stood before each other, looking adoringly into each other’s eyes.
Both are dressed in expensive clothes:– the man in a suit, sharp, buffed shoes, shaven, physically strong, with a crisp white shirt and tie. The woman is wearing a stunning ball gown and pretty shoes – a dress that shows off her beauty modestly but in a breath-taking way. Her hair and make-up are like an irreplaceable work of art, her jewellery sparkling. With their masculine and feminine fragrances lingering before them, they laugh excitedly, talking, dreaming and enjoying – their desire for each other strong.
There is a glory and mystery about the moment.
But then the woman slowly folds her arms and tension rises. She raises an eye brow and a loveless, condescending spirit begins to spoil the scene, a dark atmosphere clouding the glory. It’s awkward and anxious and the man’s heart begins to race out of all rhythm as he wonders what’s wrong, fear gripping his exposed soul as he imagines the worst.
The man is still looking at her with adoring eyes, admiring her beauty, all her beautiful qualities racing through his mind, faster than his heart can manage as he feels her slipping away like a vapour.
Now the woman looks stern and selfish, her smile has disappeared, almost disinterested as an absence of love crescendos. And she says to him,
“What is it that you want from me – what’s the first, most important, the greatest, the most sacred thing to you?”
The man inhales deeply as he looks at her with all the love of His life invested, no real thought needed, and says,
“Why, that’s easy…for you to love me with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength – that’s the first and most important thing to me and it always will be”
Inexplicably, the woman’s expression in response conveys awkwardness. She bites her bottom lip glancing around furtively; she pauses then leaves hurriedly without finding the courage to honour the man’s answer with a dignified response.
Her fragrance gradually fades.
And the man remains alone in the scene now with a half heart beating violently inside of his chest, naked and exposed and vulnerable.
But He keeps going, He keeps loving the woman on whom His affection is set – tears in His eyes, his heart churning, memories swirling…loving still…loving on…unrelenting.
This, my friends, is our God.
This is Hosea chapter 11.
© 2016, Nick Franks. All Rights Reserved.