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Lenten Devotion 1 February 26,2020

We begin our Lenten devotional series on the Minor Prophets. In the Jewish tradition, they are called “The Twelve”. They are “minor” prophets not because they are of lesser significance, but because they are short compared to the “major” prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They are not prophets in the way we typically think of “prophecy” proclaimers. They do not predict specific future events. They are not “soothsayers”. They are prophets because they speak truth to power and remind folks that there are consequences to all we do. They made these prophetic statements in poetic sermons that have been preserved by their followers in these books of the Old Testament. These poetic sermons were preached to Israel and Judah in response to the conduct of those peoples that the prophets proclaimed was contrary to God’s will. They described what God would do in response. These were warnings that the people needed to repent in order to remain God’s people. These prophets can be hard to read because they were, and are, reflections of humanity’s inability to live as God would have us live. That is why they are good Lenten devotional material because they demonstrate that even though we cannot live as God would have us live; we are forgiven, nonetheless.
Day 1
Hosea 1: 2
2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.’
Hosea preached for 40 years or so in Israel, primarily, and saw many things. Hosea saw both Israel and Judah at peace and with independence. He also saw Israel decline and fall to Assyria and its people taken into exile. This decline and fall of Israel are the principal focal points of his message.
Hosea opens with God telling him to marry a prostitute. Why would God do such a thing? One of the interesting things about prophets is that God often tells them to do strange things for two reasons. First, so the prophet can get a feel for how God feels. Second to be a living illustration of for God wants the prophet to say. Here are a few examples:
• Isaiah was commanded to walk around naked for three years.
• Jeremiah was told to walk around wearing chains and a wooden yoke.
• Ezekiel was told to cook his food over human (and later cow) waste.
• Here Hosea is told to marry a prostitute, at worst, or a promiscuous woman, at best.
Why is Hosea told to marry such a woman? Because that is what Israel is like to God. God chose Israel to be his people, his “bride”. But the people betray God and run off to be with other “gods”. They go to the ones who seem to offer a bit more than the wife in the marriage. They are promiscuous at best and prostitutes as worst. God wants Hosea to feel the pain God feels at this conduct. God’s feeling of betrayal and humiliation are easier to understand when Hosea lives publicly with such a woman. “This is what God feels like!”
Are we like the people of Israel? Do we betray and humiliate God by running off to be with other “gods”? What are the other gods in our lives that we seek out for a kind of comfort we don’t think we can get from the true God? What do those gods offer? A moment of pleasure or solace. What does the true God offer? Eternal shalom and contentment. Where should our priorities lie? Seems like an easy choice.

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