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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 22, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Hosea 1:2–10

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of prostitution, for the land commits great prostitution by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel, for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered, and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” (NRSV)

At first glance, this passage is a simple introduction of the prophet Hosea and his family. It is not, however, a pretty picture or an easy message. I am fairly certain that it has never been the basis of a VBS curriculum, nor has it ever been the topic of a children’s message.

Hosea was a prophet who lived and prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. After the twelve tribes of Israel split into two different kingdoms, the ten tribes in the north did not choose to follow the teachings of God. Many prophets in the Old Testament deliver warnings to this kingdom about their bad behavior. 

Before Hosea conveys any message of reprimand to Israel, God instructed him to marry someone known to the community as an unfaithful and promiscuous person and to name his children names that conveyed horribly uncomfortable events and sentiments. Loosely translated, the names are equivalent to “Genocide,” “I-never-loved-you,” and “I-want-out-of-this-relationship.” (“Nice to meet you, Hosea! Gee, now what are we going to talk about?”)

Everyone who knew Hosea, or knew about him, would be confronted with the uncomfortable consequences of their society’s horrific actions. God was forcing the Israelites to face the results of their unfaithfulness through a living representation of this message, not through the prophet’s words.

As I read this passage, I get stuck thinking this is too absurd—too awkward and blatant an example. However, if the message of an Old Testament prophet applies to my life today, how much that is blatant and awkward am I choosing not to see? Am I ignoring the warning signs around me? . . . Nice to see you again, Hosea!

God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for the message of prophets that can still startle us today. Help us to look at our actions and to take responsibility for them. Guide us to change our behavior and to turn toward you. Amen.

Written by Katy Sinclair, Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth 

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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