Monday, October 25, 2010

Mixing your metaphors

Through the Bible in 90 days: Day 64

Read: Daniel 9:1-Hosea 13:6

Verse that stood out:
When God raoars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. "I will settle them in their homes," declares the Lord.

Hosea is a tough book to sort out. The chronology of the book is all messed up. The names of people and countries change about as frequently as the names of streets in San Angelo. The premise is absurd. God commands Hosea, the prophet, to marry a prostitute so he can show the world what it's like to love an unfaithful spouse. This is to serve as a living metaphor of God's love for his people. Add to that, the fact that Hosea loves to mix up his metaphors, and you get a book that's full of imagery and confusion. God gets compared to a hiker, a doctor, a moth, a lion, even dry rot. Israel makes an appearance as a stubborn heifer, as a vein old man, as a half-baked cake, and a foolish, little dove.

For all the confusion, there is one truth that stands out. God loves his people, passionately. Their actions affect God. They cause God to grieve, to become angry, to fret. Like a parent getting ready to discipline a child, God knows Israel needs to be punished for her own good, but he has trouble bringing himself to carry that punishment out (see 11:8-9). He remains faithful to his people even as they are faithless. When their deeds lead to their destruction, he holds out hope for a resurrection and a future season of restoration (see 1:10).

Just like the pleas of a concerned parent or a spurned lover, Hosea doesn't always make complete sense, but it gets its basic message across loud and clear, "I love you; I forgive you; I want you to come home."

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