The Prophet’s Scandalous Call
Several years ago I was teaching the Moldovan staff for Campus Crusade, now called CRU. Living in a country dominated for fifty-one years by Russian communism, they had hardly been raised on standard children’s Bible stories. My assignment was to give them a master’s level course—An Introduction to the Old Testament—and reading the text was a top priority.
About the second day of the crash course they came to me, “Why are you having us read all these dirty stories about such morally corrupt characters?” Reading many of these Bible stories for the first time as adults, without being exposed to anesthetized versions that leave out the tough parts, caused them to face the fact that the Old Testament is hardly a moralistic book giving good examples of how to build upright character. Instead, it’s a realistic, honest account that tells the truth about what all of us are actually like. And the most amazing thing is that the holy LORD has chosen to enter into relationship with us.
One of the most scandalous commands in the entire Old Testament is God’s command for Hosea to begin his ministry by marrying a promiscuous woman and then have children by her.
“The Beginning of the LORD speaking to Hosea.
Now the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself an immoral woman and bear children characterized by this same immorality because the land has certainly acted immorally in that they are not seeking after the LORD.’
So Hosea went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. And she conceived and gave birth to a son, Hosea’s son.” Hosea 1:2-3
Though preachers and novelists like to embellish the story of Hosea and Gomer, especially giving a lot of background details of Gomer’s life before she married Hosea, the text actually tells us little except the name of her father. One thing we can’t miss is her character. She’s promiscuous and her children are going to be shaped by this same sexual immorality. We also need to begin to think about the reason God gave for commanding his man to enter into this marriage.
What does it mean that “the land has certainly acted immorally in that they are not seeking after the LORD?” Why does the text speak of the “land?” And how is sexually promiscuous behavior related to not seeking after the LORD? We’ll have to wait and let the text answer these questions as Hosea tells us the Story.
One hint I will give about this strange command to a man of God when he is first called to become God’s mouthpiece is that the LORD didn’t command Hosea to do anything that He had not already done.
LORD, help me not to decide beforehand what I think you can do and what you can’t do. Use this strange command for Hosea to enter into a marriage with an immoral woman to convict me not to turn your Redemptive Story of Grace into a moralistic, false story of human goodness.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!