Today’s Chocolate: Chocolove Dark Chocolate Coffee Crunch
Today’s Passage: Hosea 2
The second chapter of Hosea hits the same notes as the first: Israel has prostituted herself to the nations around her; there will be consequences for her infidelity to the Lord; but the Lord will forgive her and bring her back to him. This time, however, there are also Baals.
What is a Baal? It’s a lord or an owner. In the Old Testament, it often referred to the gods of foreign nations, as we see when Gideon obeys God’s command to tear down his father’s altar to a Baal (Judges 6:25-27). The Hebrew word for “god” is “el,” but think about what a nation emphasizes when it calls its deity a “Baal” rather than an “el.” Its people consider that deity its master; they’re slaves of that deity. And if that deity isn’t the omnipotent and omnibenevolent creator of the universe, the people are enslaving themselves to a non-entity made of gold and silver at best, a malicious deceiver at worst.
Throughout its history, Israel got its wires crossed in the Baal-worship of its neighbors. In her prostitution, Hosea declares, Israel has enslaved herself to the slaves of the Baals. She relies on them to fill her needs and wants: “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink” (5). But these gifts don’t come from her lovers, as she’s been deceived into thinking; they come from the Lord. God tells us through Hosea: “For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal” (8). I can’t help thinking of a comic by Anthony Clark about blatant and willful misattribution, which I will doctor for my own purposes here:
Israel has given herself to other nations and to their gods. She’s either forgotten or ignored that it was God who gave her all her wealth, and as a consequence, God will take it away.
But God also promises to restore her. Hosea delivers his message of reconciliation: “‘It will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘That you will call Me Ishi (i.e. “my husband, my man“) and will no longer call Me Baali (“my lord”)'” (16). Israel has traded marriage for slavery, love for subjugation, but even as God strips away the gifts and accoutrements that Israel has misattributed to her so-called “lovers,” he offers his best gift: himself.
Yesterday we talked about Hosea’s younger children, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi, and the meaning of their names. But before he had those children, Hosea had a son named Jezreel, which means “God sows.” We give God all kinds of crap, but crap makes the best fertilizer. And God can use our crap in time to grow the grain of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.