So, you really believe in something, how far are you willing to go to prove a point? Hosea writes about Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and uses the theme of an unfaithful wife as a metaphor. Well, maybe metaphor isn’t quite the right phrase… because to prove his point, Hosea goes and marries Gomer, who is unfaithful to him.
You don’t tend to read Hosea to get that warm fuzzy feeling. He names his kids with harsh names that mean “not pitied” and “not my people.”
In our reading today you can feel the jagged edge of a broken relationship. It almost hurts to read these passages.
If you have lived any span of time at all, you have experienced these feelings. Shortly after college, two folks I worked with cheated on their spouses, both of whom I knew and liked both couples very much. I found out about this early on my shift one day and as the whole thing unfolded, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and felt physically ill. The effects of this broken relationship didn’t not just encompass the parties involved, but a much broader community.
Likewise as Hosea speaks of Israel’s unfaithfulness, the repercussions go beyond individual dalliances with other gods. Maybe you have never thought about it this wy before, but when we place other things, before our relationship with God, breaking the first commandment, we are being unfaithful. The cost of this ruptured relationship isn’t just about us either, it breaks God’s heart, and it effects our relationships with others, and all of creation.
This metaphor of unfaithfulness is deeply ugly, and it can be hard to read, and hard to take to heart. While Hosea’s words are often harsh, there is an underlying message of love that is still very much present. God remains faithful, God continues to love, and that love will enable healing. Ultimately God’s love opens the door for reconciliation, and new possibilities even in the midst of our unfaithfulness.