“They cast lots for my people; they bartered a boy for a prostitute and sold a girl for wine to drink.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
The God revealed in the pages of the Scriptures is a God of justice. Justice is one of a small group of characteristics that are primary for Him. That is, they are the qualities from which His various other character traits can be derived. When it comes to the judgment announced in the prophets, most often they are connected to violations of one of these primary characteristics. This is a perfect example. And when it comes to matters of justice involving children, God takes these particularly seriously.
This verse is frankly shocking to read. Think about what you see here. Hosea here is talking about Israel’s pagan neighbors, offering reasons they are going to face God’s destroying judgment. As I talked about recently with my own congregation, when we see God’s judgment in the Scriptures, we cannot let ourselves think it is there for no reason.
In this case, the people who were harassing Israel were doing things like selling them into slavery. And if that was the only thing happening, it would be bad, but it quickly gets much worse. It wasn’t just adults who were being mistreated and abused. These people were trading “a boy for a prostitute,” and selling “a girl for wine to drink.” Let that sit on you for a minute. They were actively selling children into slavery—likely sex slavery—in order to pleasure themselves with a prostitute or to get drunk. That level of depravity is hard to imagine.
Or is it?
We live today in a culture where there is a great deal of political and cultural energy spent to safeguard the legality of abortion absolutely on demand. The loud and aggressive argument from the modern political left is that a woman should be able to abort her baby (fathers don’t get a voice in this conversation) whenever she wants to and for any reason she wants to right up until moments before birth happens. One presidential candidate who likes to wave the banner of his professedly Christian faith made the argument that the Scriptures somehow justify the position that human life doesn’t begin until a baby draws her first breath. Before that very moment, abortion is okay.
And why should this barbaric practice be guarded so diligently against those who would seek to restrict it? Because babies are complicated and restricting and keep us from living the life we would rather be living. We may not be selling children for sex and alcohol, but given the kind of party lifestyle that some abortion supporters would prefer to live and which having children prevents, we kind of are.
There’s more. A mother in New York has been in the news recently because she is supporting her son’s desire to be a drag queen. She regularly takes him to shows where he dresses the part and struts his stuff before the kind of crowds who would attend a drag show and doesn’t see anything wrong with this at all. The boy is 9.
Then you consider the number of embryos sitting on ice in storage rooms around the country. These were created as part of the efforts of many to have children of their own when that process was not easy or smooth (an unfailingly difficult state of affairs that is unquestionably deserving of our support, compassion, and prayer). That’s not so problematic in and of itself, but these same couples don’t want four or five or six kids, they want one. Maybe two. So you have medical warehouses filled with human beings who are all too often forgotten and abandoned; created but unwanted.
And as if this weren’t all enough by itself, there’s the whole sex trade industry which thrives on the exploitation of children. The simple fact is that this exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable among us is just as alive and well today as it was in Joel’s day. And we can rest assured of this: The same God who was disgusted enough by it then to pronounce terrible judgments on those who were the chief perpetrators is just as much disgusted by it now.
What should we do with this? We can start with repentance. Even if we have had no hand in this at all—as the vast majority of us have not—nonetheless, we live in a culture where it is happening. Let us repent for our nation and submit ourselves to the God who is just and who will bring justice to all those who deserve it.
We can also pray. We can pray for those who are being persecuted as victims of injustice. We can pray against those who are the ones actively committing it. We can pray for God’s wisdom for how we can play a more active role than we currently are in bringing the relief of the Gospel into these awful situations where He calls us to join Him in doing so. And then, when He speaks, we can move.
We serve the God who is just. Let us be sure we are reflecting His justice in our lives and our culture to the fullest extent possible. Nothing less will do.