We're talking this week about God's goodness as written in the so-called minor prophets, and today, we turn our attention to Hosea.
Hosea is an interesting story because he is the prophet who God called to marry a prostitute as a witness to the Lord's relationship with His wayward people. When we read the Old Testament, this makes perfect sense. We watch Israel wander again and again, always seeming to turn away from God, never able to just do what He tells them is best for them and what He wants them to do. Those silly Israelites. Don't they get it? We can see why God called them prostitutes.
It's a bit harder when we start to think about ourselves. (This isn't even the point of today's post - so keep reading.) On one hand, we're generally ready to admit that we're not perfect and we're probably not doing everything that God wants us to do, but on the other hand, most of us would consider ourselves pretty faithful Christians. We go to church on Sunday. We read our Bible. We tithe. We worship. We serve. We do the things we're supposed to be doing, and we do them with some measure of regularity. If you ask us if we're faithful Christians, the answer is...yeah. We're a pretty faithful people.
This is, by the way, the same frame of self-reference that leads a majority of us to think we are more 'good' than the average human being. Mathematically, half of us are not, but that doesn't stop us from thinking that we are.
So anyway, Hosea marries a prostitute because God's people are pretty easy when it comes to the world, and something interesting happens in Hosea 3. If you're reading too fast, you'll miss it, so slow down. God tells Hosea to go and sleep with his wife and have children. And Hosea does.
But he has to pay her wages to do it.
Hosea has to pay the prostitute's price to his wife in order to sleep with her and have children. Even though he's her husband. Even though he's shown his faithfulness. Even though they made a commitment to one another. Even though they are in a covenantal relationship. Hosea pays his wife for the privilege of sleeping with her.
And here we are, a people who are constantly demanding a sign from God. Constantly asking Him to prove Himself. Constantly begging Him to reveal Himself. Always holding back a little bit of our faithfulness until He proves - again - that He's worthy of it.
That's where the goodness of God comes in...because He does it. He keeps doing it. He keeps paying the price for our relationship. He keeps showing us how good He is. He keeps showing us how committed He is. We're in a covenantal relationship with Him, and He's proven Himself, but He keeps paying our price for the chance to love us.
He sent His Son to the Cross for us. Not because we're faithful, but because He is.
And He's coming back again. Not because we're faithful, but because He is.
That's His goodness. He shows us that through a prophet that marries a prostitute.