My thoughts keep returning to the book of Hosea this morning. Have you read it? It starts with a bang:
When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” – Hosea 1:2
Backstory: Hosea was a prophet in the Old Testament after the time of King David. David’s grandson, Rehoboam, did not listen to the wisdom of his advisors and levied high taxes, causing the northern tribes to split and form the Kingdom of Israel (northern kingdom), while the southern tribes became the Kingdom of Judah (southern kingdom) under Rehoboam. With Jerusalem, the home of God’s Temple, in the south, the northern kingdom fell away from proper worship of God. First, they set up their own place of worship outside of Jerusalem, which began their slippery slope from man-made religion to worshipping the false gods of the surrounding nations. Hosea was called as a prophet to the northern kingdom, Israel, to turn them back to proper worship. (They didn’t listen).
The book of Hosea is pretty straightforward. Hosea (can I call him poor Hosea?) was tasked by God to marry a prostitute as a powerful metaphor for Israel’s relationship with God. His wife, Gomer, had children by other men, and left him and went back to prostitution. Then God told Hosea to buy her back as his wife. What happened to Gomer? The Bible doesn’t say, but the book of Hosea provides Israel with a choice. Either continue in prostitution and face judgment, or repent and turn back to God. I wonder which Gomer chose?
So why all the thoughts this morning about Hosea? Because I’m reading a book based on Hosea: UnEmbraceable by Precarious Yates. It’s hard reading a book based on Hosea. Why? Because it’s hard to watch someone you care about (and the author has gone a good job getting me to care about her characters) make the wrong decisions. It’s hard to watch someone turn their back on what is good for them and choose a miserable existence because they think they’re not worth the price that Christ paid for them. In UnEmbraceable, the girl is forced into prostitution through circumstance and sex trafficking. At her core, she doesn’t believe that anyone can love her after what she’s done, not God and not her darling husband. Both seem too good to be true, so it’s easier to believe the lie because that is what society teaches us: if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.
Hosea is still a powerful metaphor, now for us instead of Israel. We know Christ and what he’s done for us, yet how often do we turn our back on what Jesus did for us on the cross and prostitute ourselves to other “gods”? The church is Christ’s bride, yet does the church, and do we as the church, exhibit the purity of a bride worthy of Christ? Only through His blood shed for us.
So, I’m both looking forward to the end of the book but dreading the ride there. I don’t enjoy watching train wrecks, no matter how captivating the story.
If you’re interested in other books based on Hosea, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, is an excellent historical romance set in the Wild West (1800’s). Nancy Kimball has done a great review of this book here.
Have you read Hosea? Are you like me, do you think it’s one of the odder books of the Bible? Have you read UnEmbraceable or Reedeming Love? What were your thoughts on these books?