“Blow the horn in Raleigh, sound the trumpet in Richmond, or Austin, or Columbus, or New York. Sound the alarm in Atlanta, look behind you, people of Houston. Desolation and punishment are coming.” This could be a paraphrase of the prophet’s words in verses 8-9.
Hosea is proclaiming the impending judgment on Israel and Judah, the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The two kingdoms have deliberately gone astray, seeking to find their strength and refuge in places other than God. The prophet accuses both Israel and Judah in the harshest of terms, calling them prostitutes. The word used here, from the Latin prostituere refers not to sexual acts but to the act of devoting one’s talents, gifts, and abilities for base and discredited use, such as prostituting one’s talents and God-given gifts. This is a theological statement, but it is also a political statement. The prophets always spoke from a political and theological perspective. The words of the prophets never become irrelevant.
The prophet’s words are enduring and relevant for those who would hear in these difficult times. We, too, have seen the prostitution of talents, abilities, and gifts all too frequently and all too recently. We have seen the offering up for sale of integrity, honesty, truth, compassion, justice, and even souls. We have seen it among our politicians and their constituents, we have seen it in the highest offices of the land and the smallest of rural townships. We have been witnesses to those who would seek power with total disregard of the pain and suffering it causes just to appease and political base or a would be political demi-god. Everything is for sale, and everything has a price.
Sound the alarm!
But God will not be mocked, and the Lord reminds us, through the prophet Hosea, that the Divine word will endure. The Lord reminds us that “I will return to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.” (vs. 15) The alarm has been sounded. How will we respond?
Peter Brown of Raleigh, is a full time husband, father, grandpa, gardener, guitarist, and lover of coffee. Barbecue and long walks figure into his days.
1. Why have we become a people for which everything we hold dear might be for sale to the highest or most powerful bidder?
2. How do the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-16) speak to us who would resist the sale of sacred truths for power and profit?
Lord God, give us the courage to place our trust in you and you alone, and the strength to hold the most precious of your gifts close to our hearts. Amen.