Seems that every year lately, in late spring and summer, TV weather forecasters are telling us about drought conditions. This year seems no different. So, Hosea’s metaphor of God’s return to his people saying, “He will come like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth” (v3) is one we can relate to. It describes God as bringing life and abundance.
And the weather analogies continue when Hosea describes Israel’s attempts to love God as being “like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early” (v4). What an indictment of Israel—and us. God’s love is a constant like the spring rains that renew the world but our efforts to love God disappear like the mist.
For those who have been paying at least some attention to what Hosea has had to say so far, the above paragraph is a fair summation of his message. God does not punish to destroy Israel and Judah. God’s punishment is a call to repentance. If you start your reading of chapter 6 with verse 15 of chapter 5, you will see the first three verses are Hosea telling Israel exactly what repentance that God is looking for. God wants the people to “press on to know the Lord” (v3). This knowledge of the Lord is more than “book learning.” It is more than a series of facts or rote recital of a creed. This knowledge of a loving God impels itself to action. It is seen in how we treat each other, especially the least among us and how we treat God’s creation.
In Hosea, God’s pronouncements of judgement seem harsh. No wait, they ARE harsh. They indicate how seriously God holds the covenant he made with his people. Turning away from the covenant leads away from the full life we have in God. God’s call to judgement, the Law as we Lutherans refer to it, is a loving act. It is loving because it does not come from a petulant deity who is upset that his special rules are not being followed. It comes from a God of overflowing and constant love who desires nothing more that our welfare, even when we are bone-headedly obstinate in our desire to follow our own will in the other direction.
Dan Voelkert, a fairly new resident of Catawba county, is a member of Macedonia Lutheran, Burlington NC who thanks God for the internet and Zoom and the ability to stay connected. He asks for prayers as he begins his search for a new church home. He offers this life hack: Don’t move during a pandemic if you can help it.
1. We are all, as Luther reminds us, saints and sinners. When the sinner side seems to have the upper hand in your life, what brings you back to remember God’s constant love?
2. As Lutherans, we often struggle with the role of the Law in our faith lives, emphasizing God’s grace. Hosea and other prophets remind us of God’s judgement. Can God’s word of judgement be considered loving?
Lord of life, you are both righteous in your judgements and overflowing in your love. Our attempts to love you and our neighbor are like the dew that goes away early. Open our hearts to your Holy Spirit, that your love may inform all that we do as we press to know the Lord. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.