I guess this is what happens when you go on vacation. Even with the best of intentions you end up two days late on your posts!! So here it is. Chapter 8, two days late.
As has been with Hosea the text is talking about judgement and retribution. But, as I have so far, I’m going to ask that we look past the surface of the text and see the meaning imbedded in the poetic language. God used the great talents of language that He had given Hosea to give us a masterpiece of prophetic inference to see the love, jealousy, and strength of God.
For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind. v 7
This is the most popular text from this chapter of Hosea. And for good reason! How much more clear could this be as to what the expectation is when you make the choices that sow discord, and a vile future for yourself and those around you?
My husband and I just finished watching “Fences,” a movie based off a play by the same name. I was seriously disappointed at the end, I must admit. The main character ends up being a sort of antihero even though you are rooting for him to reform and figure out he is his own worst enemy through the whole thing. The conclusions drawn by the end never elude to the fact that the main character has sown the wind into his life and spends the rest of it reaping the whirlwind. And his wife and children for that matter.
And yet, I get ahead of myself. Obviously the personal application for this single text is great. Yet, we will take a little time to understand it in its full context.
Set the Trumpet
God begins his proclamation in this chapter in a big way. Asking that it be shouted aloud that the vulture of their decay is circling. They cry to the Lord that they know Him, but the evidence of their lack of knowledge is stronger.
They have created their situation. They say the calf of Samaria is an evidence of God, but this cannot be. For it has come out of Israel. They have made it. God is not a thing created.
How long will they be incapable of innocence? This is the cry of our God.
Primarily this chapter is looking forward as an explaination to the pronouncement of what their judgement will be in the next chapter. The analogy of the whore is strong here again as he preps the reader for what is coming in the next chapter.
Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations
as a useless vessel. v 8
Already they are what they are afraid of becoming. What looks like a rash act of judgement from God of taking them out of their place is really just the next step reprocusion of their sin. They have gone to Assyria and “Ephraim has hired lovers.”
They rejoice in their own beauty and build palaces, yet forget their God.
Building our Fences
In the movie they suggest that sometimes people build fences to keep people out, and sometimes to keep people in. I think the most remarkable take away is that sometimes people build fences because they don’t know what else to do. The fences the main charecter builds are around himself, his family, his friends, in his work place. Ultimately, these fences aren’t a help to him or his family, but a hinderence that they all need to figure out how to overcome. He becomes the very thing he loathes in his life because he doesn’t know another way. He never learns a better way.
When we read a scripture like Hosea it’s so easy to see the vileness of sin in the lives of the Israelites and compartmentalize the message far away from us. But this is the message if Hosea. Gods answer for the complications of the Fences in our lives. The Israelites ruined their lives by doing what they thought was best because they didn’t know any better. They had forgotten how to let God inform their decisions by activily practicing turning away from Him with every choice. They didn’t even know that their God could not be a golden calf any more.
The advice of Hosea is this practical for all of our lives. Advice to keep us from the life of futility and exile from what God has for us in our every day.
Love God, and cling to a knowledge of His truth. Even from chapter 1 we see the strong message of a lost people that he wanted brought back to Himself. And in the words of Paul:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15
There are answers in His word. It’s not enough to say that “this is the best I know from how I was raised.” There is a knowledge of the truth of who God is that empowers us to a love beyond what we can comprehend in our humanness. A hope for our future, and the future of those we have the opportunity to teach it to.
The real hero of Fences is the wife and mother, who finds a greater purpose for her life than what she’s been trained to hope in. She can look beyond their circumstances to a greater message of life for her and her family. One advised by a knowledge of God and greater purpose.
What now do we do?
Being immersed in the word of God is the answer to all these questions that we ask. Will it tell us what choices to make? Not always. But if we have a knowledge of God to go off from we will know how to chose what He has for us in each situation. Does it make life easy? Not at all. But we will have an unknown peace in the hope that He has for us.
Where are we lacking in our knowledge of God? In what ways are we chosing to do what makes the most sense to us, over what we know God is asking of us? These are the hard questions. But they are worth asking. In the end we will have a life worth living instead of one fearing the next turn. Praise God for his good faithfulness!