Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


Holy Whore

The other night, as Rev drove Jordan and me back from an evening where we continually shot each other with a joyful exuberance and distinct lack of compassion, a portion of our conversation was turned toward the topic of God's compassion. Ironic, no doubt. We spoke in particular of the prophet Hosea and God's unyielding command to him to marry a "woman of harlotry."

In short, the man of God was commanded to marry a whore.

Biblical language is nothing if it is not blunt. Human instinct demands that we call God into question on this uncouth command; how could the Holy One of Israel deliberately cause His prophet such angst, such pain? No one would have faulted Hosea had he cried out to God, just as Job, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and countless others did. Yet, the prophet's emotional response is not recorded, just the fact that he obeyed. What we are left with is a shocking tale of faithful suffering, one where all the dimensions of human emotion are aroused in crushing, aching hope.

I've heard it said that there's only one way to hurt a man who's already lost everything: give him back something he's lost, but give it to him broken.

No one would wish Hosea's suffering on another; perhaps that is precisely why Hosea's story is all the more grievous, for God commands it to be so. Not just once, but twice, Hosea is told to seek out his unfaithful bride. The second time he seeks her Hosea must purchase her back, for she has been sold into slavery. There's no way to begin to imagine the shame of one who goes to buy back that which is already his, especially when it is his adulterous wife! Nor, for that matter, can we imagine the pain of being thrust into such a crucible of suffering as was God's prophet, a crucible of infidelity, betrayal, crushing vulnerability, and strangely, love and mercy.

Yet imagination is not necessary, for we ourselves are a part Hosea's tale.

To understand properly Hosea's faithful suffering, we must realize something: God, in commanding him to marry his errant bride, allowed Hosea to share but minutely in His own insurmountable suffering. This is an alien thing for us to grasp; yet until we do so, Hosea's tale is merely horrific and filled with tragic woe, instead of becoming unfolded to reveal the most breathtaking and tender of compassions and kindnesses, emotions infinitely more precious and wonderful when they are revealed from the very heart of God. In no other place in the Old Testament Scriptures is God seen as vulnerably as He is seen here, embracing suffering, shame, loss, and pain in the person of His prophet. It is here, in Hosea's tale, that we see a shadow of Christ embracing those same things for us, that we, His adulterous, unfaithful bride, might be redeemed and made whole and faithful.

The human instinct is to cry out at the appalling truth of Hosea's matrimonial mandate. Indeed, it is very instinctive for us to call God to court, demanding an explanation for many of His ways. What I find, however, is that even when I am lovingly reminded of my place in Hosea's tale, of my woeful and tragic history, I still take exception to this most tender tale of redemption. How so? I find that I am still, much like Gomer, prone to wander. I find within myself an adulterous tendency to forget the goodness of my Lord, walking away from all that He has done, presuming arrogantly upon His future graces toward me. I find that until the fullness of heaven, Hosea's tale is not fully told, and I'm still playing my part. The good news? Jesus is still taking His whore and making her whole.

posted by Bolo | 2:10 AM
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