Bible Experiment Hosea

Bible Experiment Hosea

Dang. Are you guys ready for me to lay the heavy on you? Because Hosea is full tilt. Oh yeah, standard intro. A year and a half ago I thought, heck, what would happen if I read each book of the Bible and wrote at least 1,000 words about it? I’d gotten the idea from an Anonymous Atheist that attempted the feat, but eventually abandoned the exercise. I figured, if he could do it, I should be able to pull it off. After doing my year end review I realized that there were more of you reading these things than I thought. I had expected my mother and my father to read them. But that was about it. Hi mom. But there are a couple thousand of you – so that’s cool. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

But today, it’s getting all kinds of changed up in here. Normally I sort of go exegetically (fancy word for piece by piece… in order, maybe “piece by piece, in order” would have worked better there? Note to self.) but today I’m going to tell you a story. It’s going to be a modern telling of the main point of the book of Hosea. And it’s going to rip your heart out. So yeah, good luck with that.

A Modern Retelling of Hosea

The man walked in off the street, neon lights and the spray of rain followed him from the streets, as he headed towards the front of the empty room. He stared at the floor, obviously lost in thought, completely oblivious to his surroundings. Eventually he managed to make it to the bar. He looked up long enough to do two things, sit down on a stool and order, “two of the strongest drinks you’ve got.” The bartender, fifteen minutes from closing up, thought twice about sending the guy packing… but there was a story there, and he was now curious. He pulled a bottle of vodka out of the well, and wandered over to the fellow.

“Here you go, a bone dry martini… otherwise known as, a bottle of vodka.” The bartender began to pour as he continued, “We’re closing up soon, but I figured I had to hear your story before I closed the doors. You doing ok?”

The man on the stool flipped off his Yankees baseball cap and laid it on the bar and mussed with his disheveled hair a bit as he thought about what he could possibly say to make sense of what’d he’d just seen and heard. “I sold a woman tonight.” He looked up at that, and met the bartender with his gaze. “Yeah, you heard me right.” He took a pull from the first of his vodkas and continued. “And the man who bought her had 15 pieces of silver in his hand. After I looked up what the silver was worth I figured it was a hell of a lot more than I was originally planning to get for her, so I took the money. And after unchaining her from the radiator, I picked her up, put a robe on her, and handed her off to the man.”

He paused, reliving the moment over again in his eyes… then he looked up and noticed that the bartender had a rage and an anger in his eyes. But he continued on anyway.

“The man with the silver put her in a car, where she promptly fell asleep. And then he came back to me and said, ‘that is my wife.’ And at this point, I just assumed I was about to die. The husband? But instead he gave me more money to cover any ‘expenses’ I had had while taking care of her. And then he began to tell me his story.”

“‘I was hoping to become a pastor some day. And during one particularly fateful day, while I was praying, God spoke to me. I heard him in my chest and in the walls. It was really something. And He asked me if I wanted to marry someday. Well, sure, not being a Catholic priest, I say, of course I do.’ We step together under an awning so we both won’t continue getting wet from the incessant rain. But he doesn’t pause the story. ‘And the walls say, you will marry Gomer. I laughed at the name at first, but then I connected the name with a face from my memory. She was a gorgeous blonde in the church I was interning at. Like stop cars sort of beautiful. And the voice then said, you two will have three children. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more so I responded to the walls, and I said, ‘definitely! I’m in.’ But the walls answered back with the scariest thing I’ve ever heard. “But here’s the catch”, the walls rumbled, “she will not be faithful to you. She will not be faithful.”‘

At this the man took another drink, grimaced, and finished the first glass.

“‘So we had our three children, just as the walls had promised. And I hadn’t heard the walls speak for a while, until it was time to name each one. And the names!? Being a names guy – I looked them each up and their meanings? They were terrible names. Names that told of despair, and pain, and chaos. They were names that told of gut-filled loss. I had no idea what God was doing… but I had really enjoyed the last few years with Gomer, the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. They were filled with happiness, and laughter. But those names did not bode well at all…

“‘Soon after our third child, I began to notice inconsistencies in Gomer’s story. She’d say she went grocery shopping today, but I didn’t notice anything new in the fridge. She’d say she was out running errands, picking up the dry cleaning, what have you… but the dry cleaning wasn’t in the closet. And then I began to her rumblings and rumors from my friends and family in the community. Something was going on with Gomer. Something wasn’t right.

“‘And sure enough. She was sleeping with a guy who’d just sold his IPO for 2.4 billion. The town was really proud of this guy. He was a catch. She must have liked that he took care of her. Because, even though I confronted her about it, she vowed to leave me if I got in the way. And so I just backed off. I took our kids and had my parents watch over them until I could get this figured out. It was two days later that she moved out. I continued paying attention to her though, it wasn’t too hard to do, seeing as though the rumor mill was lit up about these two, the town’s ‘power couple’. But eventually, Mr. IPO bored of her. Or he stopped treating her as nicely as he had at first, and she got tired of the way she was being treated and left? I don’t know.

“‘But then she moved on to the next guy. I didn’t know him myself, but everyone told me he was nice enough. Steady job. Widower. That lasted a month maybe. In between I went to see her, she was staying at a mutual friends’ house. But she wouldn’t see me. Wouldn’t even open the door. I didn’t stop hoping though that maybe she would see me, listen to reason. Come back.’ I was confused at this and wanted to ask why would he ever still want this woman after she’d made him a laughing stock. But the answer was right there in his eyes.This pastor fellow was still smitten with her. He was still madly and deeply in love. Well, he told of affair after affair. It got so bad, and she reached so low, that these men she was now sleeping with couldn’t even pay for her food. So you know what he did? He pulled these men aside, and gave them money, to feed her. HE PAID HER LOVERS TO FEED HER.”

Rivers of tears were gushing out of the man’s face at this point. Like, uncontrollably. He pulled the second drink to his lips and I watched as his tears crashed into the surface of his vodka. After pulling himself together a second, he continued. “I just can’t get over that. So, the man continued telling me her story, standing there in the rain. He told of worse and worse conditions for the woman. He told of drugs, alcohol and eventually meth. And then, one day, he told of the day when one of the men she was hiding out with, sold her to a pimp on the street. It wasn’t me. I got her later, I didn’t even have to pay for her. I just took her off of Danny’s hands figuring I might be able to clean her up a bit and maybe, eventually she’d be able to turn a few tricks a night, and I’d recoup the cost of her food and drugs? But that was when this man showed up… with the silver in his hand.”

Hosea – Part 2

Yeah, so I made all that up. But the actual description of what happened is even more confounding than what I fictionally wrote out for you. Hosea is called by God. “Yeah God?”, “Wanna get married?” “Sure God, I do.” “Marry Gomer. Have three kids.” “Awesome!!” “But I want to name them… and oh by the way, she will not be faithful to you. Ever. She will wander off with other men, time and time again.” And then God tells Hosea to go and be restored to her… here is what it literally says:

“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels[a] of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.”

Love her. Like the Lord. Loves the Israelites. But I thought the God of the Old Testament was an old cranky Bastage, hell bent on fire, and death. I thought the Old Testament knew nothing of grace or forgiveness… Only judgement. Well, apparently, God is capable of forgiveness from enormous grievances. Enormous. Your spouse goes off like this… Are forgiving? And seeking to have them restored? Well that is exactly what Hosea is doing here.

Can I tell you that, man, how I love the “sacred raisin cakes” here. I have NO idea what that means. Sacred raison cakes. But I get it. I understand it deep down. Maybe it’s a reference to cakes offered to idols, that they eat afterwards? But it’s succulent… right? Sacred raisin cakes. It’s like C.S. Lewis’ Turkish Delight. Man I have a pile of my own sacred raisin cakes that I have a hard time letting go of. My own idols. My own selfish desires that I put ahead of God.

Which is put more succinctly here in Hosea, by the prophecy given to him by God,

“Israel is like a vine
that grows plenty of fruit.
But as Israel got more and more things,
he built more and more altars to honor false gods.
His land became better and better,
so he put up better and better stones to honor false gods.
The people of Israel tried to trick God,
but now they must accept their guilt.
He will break down their altars
and destroy their memorial stones.”

We love our Turkish Delight! We want our plenty! We congratulate ourselves for our cleverness, and we even have gone so far as to try and trick God. We have tried to trick God. “God is dead, and we have killed him.” We have tried to trick God. But now? We must accept our failure. We must accept our pride and our failings, our desires for those sacred raisin cakes. Our penchant for turning from Him and chasing after stuff that is nothing. Stuff that doesn’t satisfy.

Hosea Conclusions

I am Gomer. I have run from my first love. I have sought after things that will never satisfy. Think of the last time you had an AMAZING meal. Maybe it was Thanksgiving? Or a night out at a five star restaurant with your wife, or boyfriend… or whatever. How long did that last? (And truth be told, did you feel well even immediately after?!?) Not long. You are hungry now just thinking about it. It didn’t last. But what if I told you that there was food that would satisfy you forever? Or drink… when was the last time you had an amazing wine? How long did it satisfy? Not long. But what if I told you there was water you could drink that would never fail you… and would cause you to never be thirsty again? Read John 4 if you have a moment. It’s a conversation between you and God. It’s a conversation between a fallen person, and someone who could offer her so much more – including water that would satisfy eternally. Don’t you want to stop hunting for the next thing that will satisfy you? Don’t you want to rest? Gomer needed someone to come after her and save her from herself. She needed a savior. And I needed a savior. And you need a savior. This story blows my mind.