“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
(Read the rest of the chapter here!)
This is the last book of Hosea, and my 101st post! Yay! I bounce around a lot in my readings, so it’s rare that I finish a book consecutively. Since that is the case with this book, I wanted to do a summary post on what I’ve learned from it.
The major lesson, for me, is that different isn’t bad, and that no matter what, we are still required to be decent human beings. Remember Hosea’s wife, Gomer, from way back in the early chapters? She was way outside the norms of society back then. She was either a prostitute – perhaps a cultic prostitute – or, possibly even worse by the day’s standards, a promiscuous woman. Yet God ordered Hosea to marry her, possibly twice. And, as I discussed in this blog post, I think they really did love each other, despite any raised eyebrows they may have encountered.
I continue to be intrigued by the fluidity of pronouns and metaphors in this book as an example of “different isn’t bad.” Just in this chapter, Ephraim is described as a lily, and as having fruitfulness – both of which are metaphors traditionally reserved for female characters, yet Hosea uses male pronouns within them. Again, I’m not saying that 7th century Israel was a place that everyone on the gender spectrum could walk around freely, but I do find it interesting that the language of a man of God is so inclusive, even before there was general language for gender inclusivity. Perhaps, just perhaps, we have some internal foundation for inclusivity that is slowly trained out of us by society?
Finally, many of the sins Hosea lists against Israel are sins against other people. Murder, dishonesty in trade, stealing, lying and deceit, adultery – these are all sins that effect others. Hosea also talks a lot about false idols and pride. While these are mainly sins committed directly against God, Hosea also talks about them in the context of how they effect others. In chapter four Hosea spends a long time berating priests that lead their flocks astray, and the pride of princes and kings is listed as the downfall of entire nations throughout the book.
So, once more, to summarize: Hosea teaches us that we are never above caring for each other. Even if you are a chosen child of God, even if that other person is a temple prostitute, or whatever fringe position is equitable in today’s society, since one does not often come across temple prostitutes these days. If your heart is truly open to God, your heart will be open to all of mankind.