I’ve crossed paths with the book of Hosea three times in the past two weeks. The third time I said to myself, “Hey, maybe God is trying to teach me something.” I’m pretty astute that way.
My previous knowledge of this short Old Testament book comes from two sources. The first source – Francine Rivers‘ fictionalization of Hosea in her novel, Redeeming Love. I don’t read fiction, but I can still confidently say this is one of the best Christian fiction books ever written. So… post that on an Amazon review, and see if it doesn’t sell a few copies.
The rest of my Hosea education comes from a Third Day song called “Gomer’s Theme“. It’s off their second album, “Conspiracy No. 5“, which was phenomenal, by the way. Check it out – you’ll hardly believe your ears.
Anyway, taking the book and the song and mixing them together, I pretty much understood the book of Hosea to be a comparison of two relationships – a man and his adulterous wife, and God and His idolatrous people.
And as I read through the entire book yesterday, I discovered that my understanding of the book was right, but it was also incomplete. Turns out there is a third relationship being discussed between the lines of Hosea.
The book is talking about God and me.
Despite what you may have heard, my husband is not a prophet. And I have never had an affair. I am not Jewish nationally nor religiously. Also, I don’t worship golden calves.
So how can this book be about me?
Hosea 5:4-5 says it all, “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord. Israel’s arrogance testifies against them.”
While I may not engage in the physical acts of adultery or idol worship, too often I have a spirit of prostitution and my arrogance testifies against me.
How’s that for a quiet time pick-me-up?
The Holy Spirit, through Hosea, quite bluntly points out that I live my life how I want to live it, unconvinced that God deserves to be my number one priority or that His “advice” is better than my own ideas.
And when God isn’t number one all the time, that is spiritual prostitution. When my logic and my intuition and my education and my experience make my opinions more important than God’s opinions, that is arrogance.
(Side note: I struggle saying God has “opinions”. Opinions are preferences and points of view that are neither inherently right nor wrong. But God’s preferences and points of view are always right, aren’t they? So they aren’t really “opinions” by the definition above. Imagine if you were talking to God about something, and He said, “I think that is sin,” and you said, “Well, that’s your opinion,” proceeding to slough Him off and go your own way, just like you do with your friends and family when you tell them, “Well, that’s your opinion.” Or what if you were mouthy enough to say to God, “You know what the great thing about opinions are? Everybody’s got one.” How ludicrous do these scenarios sound? All that to say, I am considering subscribing to the notion that God doesn’t have opinions; He only has truths.)
The Hosea verse says “arrogance testifies against them”. I take that to mean it will come back to haunt them. Or it will never work in their favor. In a court of law, arrogance gets on the witness stand and throws you, the defendant, under the bus. When push comes to shove, it will always betray what is actually in your heart. Wherever arrogance is, there also are selfishness and hubris.
Hosea exposes that and demands repentance. The verses convey how we believers are prone to wander, and how our waywardness makes God angry. He doesn’t just smile and ask us to do better.
He. gets. ticked.
Hosea 6:1 says, “He has torn us to pieces…he has injured us.”
In other words, God disciplines spiritual prostitutes and arrogant believers. He doesn’t turn a blind eye or sugar coat His disdain for sin.
But, if we “return to the Lord…he will heal us…he will bind up our wounds…he will revive us…he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).
And isn’t that all we really want in the first place? to live in His presence?
We spend so much time trying to find that which will give us life – a relationship, an activity, a career, money, success of any kind, purpose. We prostitute ourselves to these things, offering our allegiance to them because we think they will make us feel whole. In actuality, these things will all fail us. And the only Thing that won’t has been calling to us all along.
“Come, let us return to the Lord…he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”