Thursday, April 25, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Hosea
Scratching the Surface of Hosea
I'll never forget hearing a debate between Episcopalian Bishop Spong and Chuck Colson.
Spong expressed outrage over people who claim HIV is God's punishment on indiscriminate, promiscuous, adulterous, and otherwise extra-Biblical sexual behaviors; asserting, "I know God has not used HIV to punish sinners!"
Colson asked, "How do you know?"
Some people look in the mirror and see God.
Talk about blasphemy.
Be that as it is, Colson's question leads to another question that is very, very, very unsettling: "If we really believe God is Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, does that no mean He, at the very least, allows things to happen to us - good, bad, and otherwise?"
Let's keep asking: "Does God punish people for their sins against Him here and now as well as hereafter?"
Was Billy Graham's wife on to something when she said, "If God does not bring judgment on America soon, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!"?
Biblically, we cannot escape the truth of God acting in history to punish people who insult His holiness by behaviors antithetical to His revealed will in Holy Scripture as enfleshed in Jesus.
Biblically, God's indulgence of our insults is not limitless.
Hosea illustrates His sense of justice.
Israel was a mess at the time and Hosea prophesied about God's patience running out: "Hear the word of the Lord...for the Lord has filed a lawsuit against the people...There is no truth, no faithful love, no knowledge of God in the land...Cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery are rampant; one act of bloodshed follows another...And so the land mourns and everyone who lives in it are affected...My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...lack of covenant love...the decision not to make God first in their lives..."
Hosea fingered the culprit: "But let no one dispute and let none confuse...because with you is my contention, O priest."
Everything was messed up and falling apart because God's people - priests and pastors and churches - weren't telling people to stop insulting God's holiness by their bad behaviors; and Hosea was reporting God as being as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Hosea's life became a metaphor for the whole mess - taking a whore as a wife as a metaphor for God's people whoring around and away from Him as husband.
Fortunately, like Hosea wanting his wife back, God always wants us back.
God still wants heaven not hell for us; and so He's always inviting and welcoming back.
God never gives up, goes away, lets go, or stops loving us.
Just like the story of the prodigal son, He never turns His back on us or closes the door to us if we'll just go back to Him.
Hosea's story is the good news of our Father who is constantly hurt by us; yet refuses to disown us or divorce Himself from us.
Another favorite story comes to mind.
It's about a little boy who loved to build model sailboats.
Well, he built an especially beautiful one; and spent hours sailing it on a nearby lake.
The wind came up furiously one day and swept the sailboat out of his reach, out of sight, and it was lost.
Several weeks later, he saw it in the window of a pawn shop.
Even after explaining his sorrowful plight to the storekeeper, the storekeeper would not give the boat to the boy; insisting he pay the price now attached to it.
The boy's beautiful sailboat was now very expensive.
But the boy loved the sailboat; so he went home and waited for weeks until he had saved enough money to buy it back.
As he was leaving the shop with his sailboat, the boy said, "You're mine twice. You're mine once because I made you. You're mine twice because when you were lost, I bought you back."
That's what Hosea tried to tell us.
God is our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
He still chooses us even after we cheat on Him.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!