“When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him: Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been asked to do something you knew from the get-go was crazy? Not only was it not going to work, you were going to be hurt in the process. But, the one asking was in a position of authority over you and so you didn’t really have much choice but to do it. If you have experienced that, you know just a bit about what it would have been like to be Hosea. Starting this morning, I want to spend some time with you looking at Hosea, and in turn, all the other Minor Prophets (called “Minor” because their books tended to be shorter than Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel’s). I’ll talk more about why in just a minute—and stick around for that because it’ll be important. For now, let’s look at this crazy thing God asked Hosea to do.
Hosea was a prophet to kingdom’s of Israel and Judah in the waning days of the former, before they were destroyed by the Assyrians. The two kingdoms used to be one nation, but the northern tribes rebelled against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, after he foolishly promised to be even harder on them than his dad had been with all his major building projects and the taxes to fund them.
God’s call to him to take up this rough line of work came like we see here. Imagine yourself in his shoes for a minute: You are a young man looking forward to getting your life off to a good start by marrying the girl of your dreams and having a big family together.
Instead, God comes and says, “I want you to marry this other girl who is going to sleep around on you to the point that she gets all entangled with a pimp and you’re actually going to have to buy her back with money you’ve scraped and saved during the emotionally hard years of your life together. Then, I want you to go and do that. I want you to do this because I’m going to use your life to give you the ability to very convincingly offer the people of Israel a powerful object lesson. Ready…go!”
Yeah…being a prophet in those days was never an easy gig. My question is this: Would you do it? I don’t know that I would. Who would want to sign up for that kind of an emotional roller coaster? Yet God called him to it and if there’s one thing the prophets all had in common, it was that when God called them to something weird, they weren’t going to be able to get out of it.
That’s nice and all, but what does it have to do with us? Well, I think the timeless truth gives us a bit of perspective on our own stories, especially when they’ve been filled with a lot of turmoil that has come as a result of the choices we’ve made. The difference between Hosea’s hard story and our hard stories is that God directed him into his and told him he was doing that ahead of time. Now, God gave us plenty of warning in the Scriptures to not go that particular way because it was going to lead to pain, but we chose to ignore Him and make sinful choices anyway. But, like Hosea, he let us wade into the mess and even linger in that mess for a long time.
Why? I think the timeless truth here is that sometimes God allows people to make hard choices and live with the consequences of those choices because He is planning to use them to be able to offer an object lesson to others and by their own redemption offer redemption to people who have walked similar paths but haven’t yet made it out.
Consider how many lives have been changed by the conversion story of Paul. Consider how many have been transformed because of the transformation of John Newton. If your life has taken some twists and turns because of the choices you made and it has left you wondering what on earth God could be up to, this could be your answer. Turn to Him and experience the wonder of how He uses your hard story to draw others into His kingdom.
It will not be an easy road—it hasn’t been an easy road perhaps—but when Paul talks about God’s ability to work in all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, this is exactly the kind of thing he’s talking about. God’s got some good planned not only for you, but for others through you. Turn to Him no matter what the current shape of your circumstances and experience it.
Hosea’s story helps us see this in ways we wouldn’t be able to see it without him. That’s the wonder of the Scriptures. It’s the wonder of the Minor Prophets generally as well. The Minor Prophets were not written directly to us. They were written to a different people and culture. They had a different kind of relationship with God than we do. But, those people were dealing with many of the same kinds of issues we face. As we work through them, some of the journey will be difficult, but as we make the applicational leap, we will find a great deal of encouragement and necessary challenge. We’ll also find a remarkable amount of radically relevant ideas and themes. I hope you’ll come with me as we go. Transformation is waiting for you.