16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
(Read the rest of the chapter here!)
Does God need us? As in, need us for Xyr very existence? It certainly seems so at times, and not in a very healthy way. God has very specific requirements about how Xe should be worshipped, especially in the Old Testament, gets pissed to the point of execution (remember Nadab and Abihu a few weeks ago?) when we don’t follow those directions, but then requires more worship. In this chapter, God is once again complaining of Israel’s infidelity, and going into lascivious detail about her punishment. And punish Israel God most certainly shall, but let Israel go? Definitely not. Israel is boxed in by thornbushes – God literally blocks her path away. One might even argue God is like an abusive or controlling husband: using Israel’s children (I will not show love to her children, v. 4) and controlling her social life (I will stop her celebrations, v. 11) to make her stay.
Why not just let us leave if we’re so bad? Why does God not just turn Xyr back on Israel, on humanity? Doesn’t this inability to break ties indicate an unhealthy co-dependency? It sometimes seems like God is waiting on us to grow up a bit so we can be more equal partners. This chapter holds a perfect example in v. 16, talking about Israel’s reconciliation with God: ““In that day,” declares the Lord,“you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” Clearly Israel is being raised up here – if she can change her ways. In that same post about Nadab and Abihu I mentioned above I talked about how it seems God is waiting on some more spiritual maturity on our part, and how that might change our future relationship with God. Maybe even into one that is more equal.
I have not painted God in a very favorable light here, and I’m sure I’ve already turned off some readers in just two paragraphs. Even if you are hanging in there – it’s a bit of scary thought, isn’t it? To think that God might need us, even if it isn’t to the point of toxic relationship like it seems here. If God needs us, that means that God has a need, and is not all-powerful in and of Xyrself. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not ready to come to the conclusion that the rock of my faith is that unstable – and I hope I never am! Like before, some may see it as rationalization, but I’ll share my conclusions with you as to how God may or may not need us:
Do I need my children in order to survive? I can eat, breathe, find work and shelter and tend to my daily needs without their help, find joy in things that do not involve them, and have relationships and hobbies outside of my role as mom. Do I want to live in a world without my children? I have trouble even imagining what that world would look like, and shudder at the thought. Time and time again in the Bible God is called our Holy Father (the masculine language reflecting the culture at the time). I have to imagine that God’s feelings towards us are, in some way, like my feelings towards my own children. Xe may not need us existentially, but even when angry at us, there is still a divine love.
Also, it’s kind of silly to think of us existing so separately from God that we’re even an external force to be needed. If you view God as the ultimate creator, then everything is from God. We are a part of God already. I think God is just waiting on us to fully realize that, and act accordingly. Perhaps that is what is going on when I talk about God waiting for us to grow up a little bit, and assume more of an equal role in our divine relationship. If we are already of God, we have the ability to act more Godly. No, not miracles and moving mountains (though according to Jesus that is possible, too, through faith), but to love better. To be more sensitive, inclusive, and caring. It’s a long road, and a topic for another blog post, which I promise I’ll get to, probably more than once.
But for today, let’s rejoice in the fact that this chapter does not end at v. 13, with God punishing us. Let’s rejoice in the fact that God is not like an abusive or controlling husband, and that this is simply the metaphor through which Hosea could best express his divine message from God. The God that prevails in this chapter, indeed, the whole Bible is the one that abolishes bow and sword and battle, so that all may lay down in safety (v. 18), the one that looks to have the whole earth celebrate with us (vv. 21-22), the one that chooses – does not need to, but chooses anyway – to be with us. We are better than needed, we are adored. That’s some pretty heady shit. We are adored by God. Every single one of us – every color, creed, ability, and station in life – we are adored by God.
Forget God needing us – you are already part of God, there is nothing to be needed. You are loved. I have not been my best self the past few days, and my family has borne the brunt of it. I’m going to try hard to remember that I am dealing with someone adored by God any time I come up against someone difficult (like my kids, who are in a biting each other phase). It’s easy to focus on the bad in life, in religion, in the Bible. Just look at how this chapter starts out. But I truly believe if we keep pushing through with kindness, we’ll get to the good part. Recognizing that God loves us when we’re imperfect and others when they’re imperfect will help us get there. Wish me luck with that, guys, I’m not joking about this biting phase testing the limits of my parenting.. And good luck to you, too!
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