Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Raisin Cakes

God says the darnedest things sometimes. Example? Hosea 3:

The the Lord told me, 'Love your wife again, even though she is loved by others and has committed adultery. Love her as I, the Lord, love the Israelites, even though they have turned to other gods and love to eat raisin cakes.'

Be honest - how many of you have had the "raisin cakes" talk with your husband or your wife? Clearly, it's fairly common.... And I read something like this and I can't help but laugh because it's one of those moments when God is saying something very powerful and yet, the language...the language is kind of slang. It's rooted deeply in culture and unless you look beyond what God has said, you miss out on what He is saying.

It's not about raisin cakes. (And thankfully not because we're coming up on fruitcake season and, well, who doesn't love fruitcake? Or raisins?) Raisin cakes, in the cultural context of Hosea, were closely associated with a person's fertility. It was believe that you could increase your chances of conceiving by consuming raisin cakes. It would be like today when we give advice to men about choosing boxers or briefs to...assist their little swimmers. It was one of those old wives' tales, perhaps with a bit of a religious component but manifested more as superstition than anything else, to help a woman in her longing for life. 

What God is opposed to in all of this is not the desire to bring forth life but the belief that life can come apart from Him. What He says when He says that He still loves Israel even though they eat raisin cakes is that He continues to love His people even when they look for life outside of Him.

Most of us don't eat a lot of raisin cakes, but we do look for life outside of God. We look for life in all sorts of things - in our work, in our families, in our social status, in our churches, even. We look for life defined in life's terms and have stopped listening to the Giver of Life and the language of love through which He speaks to us. We believe in life's definitions by superstition, trusting that the right series of moves or the right arrangement of pieces or the things that we do or don't do in correct or incorrect ways will bring us life to the fullest. 

But Jesus says it is He who brings life to the fullest. He, and only He.

What is life to the fullest? If we take God at His word in Hosea, it is life in the covenant of Love. It is life wrapped in faithfulness. It is a life graced by forgiveness. It is a passionate pursuit that cannot be turned away. It is the love of a God who loves even the prostitute, because she is beautiful to Him even while she's breaking His heart. It is life in the love of a God who is lovestruck and lovesick. But it's not pathetic; it's pure. God is lovesick over you.

Think about where you find life, about where you go looking for it. Think about what it means to be living and loved, and living loved. Are you feasting at the table God has prepared for you, the wedding banquet of the bridgegroom and His church?

Or are you content to eat raisin cakes?

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