I woke up at like 5 am this morning and pulled out my new Study Bible I just bought, the NLT Study Bible. What a great Bible! I had the hard cover version of this, but haven’t been able to find it since I moved back in October, so I decided to buy a nice one, with a fancy leather cover, which I did the other night. Great Bible! And like I said, this morning I woke up early and decided to open up the Bible. I don’t know why I chose Hosea, other than the fact that I really like the first two chapters. But I had never really read much past that. Well something this morning prompted me to read the whole book, and so I did, highlighter in hand.
Now the first part is when God is talking to Hosea, telling him to marry a prostitute. She may have been a real out and out prostitute, or she may have been a temple prostitute, we aren’t sure. I like to think she was a temple prostitute, but that’s just me. So God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute, which he does, Gomer. (What a name, huh? Yes, that’s her name, GOMER.) And soon after she starts popping babies out, and God tells Hosea to name them this and that, illustrating how God feels about the state of his people, the Israelites. Then we get into the second chapter, my favorite chapter.
In the second chapter God says, through Hosea, “to bring charges against your mother” for “she is not my wife” and “I am not her husband!” Wow, when I first read that, it made me shiver, cuz I had always been taught that even though Israel was “unfaithful”, God was always there, like a loving father. But Hosea shows us a different side to this relationship. In it, God is mad at His people, the Israelites, because they have been acting like prostitutes, and worshipping other deities and idols. Baal was the culprit, the god of the Canaanites. So God is mad, and basically says “Your mother, Israel, has been a whore, worshipping other gods and getting all dressed up and celebrating his festivals and attributing all the grain and new wine and beautiful material blessings to another god, Baal. Not my wifey poo!” Ouch. And just when you think God has had enough and is going to serve Israel a bill of divorce, he does something so tender and so sweet…oh, it touches my heart.
He says, “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return hr vineyards to her…She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.” Astonishing how tender that passage is! The Lord is PISSED, stripping his whore wife naked, taking away all his gifts, exposing her shame to the public, but then what? He calms down and says, “I will win her back once again…speak tenderly to her.” How precious is that! My husband is the most powerful entity the universe has ever known, and He was pissed at me, but still, He loves me, doesn’t want to let me go, will woo and win me again. Wow.
He goes on, “When that day comes…you will call me ‘my husband’ and not ‘my master.'” (The Israelites used to call Baal “my master”. The notes on this passage are beautiful. It says by calling the Lord “my husband” we change the nature of our relationship with him from one of subservience to one of partnership and companionship. I thought that was so beautiful!
So why does Israel whore herself out in the first place? The Study Bible explains this…because they don’t “KNOW God.” To know Him personally and experientially, not just in name, or to know OF Him, but to have a living experience of Him, to be in a personal relationship with Him. Knowledge was centered in personal relationships, not just in hearing of someone or having met them a few times. This is so applicable to us today, in our world! Sure, how many of us read the Bible, go to church, give to charity, say a few prayers throughout the week, but don’t really KNOW God? What are we missing? How do we get that EXPERIENCE of Him, to KNOW Him and His awesome love, His awesome power?
That, folks, is exactly what I’m trying to do. To learn to KNOW Him in that personal way. You know, lots of people talk about having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” that after they accept Him as their Lord and Savior, they begin this personal relationship with him. And that’s exactly what I’m aiming to do with God Himself. To KNOW the experience of being in a relationship with Him, to get to know Him in that way.
Because I am “half Muslim”, I’m not focusing on Jesus Christ, although I do believe, I know for a fact by the testimonies of so many others, that it is possible to have a relationship with Jesus, but that’s not what I’m striving for. I want a relationship with God, the Creator. Sometimes I see Him as Yahweh, sometimes as Allah (glorified may He be,) and other times he is just “God” to me. The Quran says whatever name we choose to call Him, His are the most beautiful names, and I wholeheartedly agree. *I* know Who I’m talking about, and I’m betting HE knows it too. I believe in only ONE CREATOR, and that is Who I’m striving for a relationship with.
The thing that is different about this time reading Hosea, is that I read it all the way through, and even the notes. I’m glad I did, because it mentions a couple points that I’d like to blog about.
In chapter 6, verse 6 it says, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burn offerings.” HE wants us to KNOW HIM! Wow, is that amazing or what? More than burnt offerings, or ritual offerings, more than just going through the motions. He wants us to EXPERIENCE Him. Above, in verse 3 it says, “Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn, or the coming of rains in early spring.” If we “press on to know Him,” He will “respond to us.” We must make the move forward, to open ourselves to Him, to talk to Him and tell Him we desire an experience of Him. Not just lip service, “Oh sure, of course I pray, go to church, tithe, etc.” But “Lord, I want to know you by EXPERIENCE. I want a real and living EXPERIENCE of You. The Scriptures says you will surely respond, therefore I call to You, respond to me so that I may KNOW You. Amen.” And then look for Him. When it’s dark, and we know that it’s morning and it’s going to get light, we ANTICIPATE the dawn. In the same manner let us ANTICIPATE the Lord’s response to us, and look for it. He will respond, as sure as the dawn.
In chapter 9 verse 10 it says, “The Lord says,’O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert.'” Beautiful! We delighted Him! Let us continue to make choices that refresh His love and response to us.
I’ll wrap this up by commenting on Chapter 14, which is so beautiful and ends the book. It’s a call to return to the Lord, to confess our sins and return to Him. Stop settling for knowledge OF Him to being satisfied with EXPERIENCING Him. Chapter 14 says He will heal us of our faithlessness. He will provide the healing, we must simply desire to know Him, to experience His incredible love as a faithful spouse. Return to Him, not tomorrow, not later, but now. “I am here Lord, I desire to confess to you my infidelity. Accept my love and confession and know that I desire to KNOW You. Manifest Your love to me, respond to me, as sure as the dawn. I look for You, everywhere. Amen.”