Today’s Chocolate: Chocolove Dark Chocolate Coffee Crunch
Today’s Passage: Hosea 14
Here we are at the end of Hosea, and once again I’m feeling inadequate to the task of wrapping it up. There are still unanswered questions, there are things I didn’t get to say, there are almost certainly points I missed from my own limited perspective and obtuseness. But you gotta finish things and move on, you know? We live long enough, and we’ll come back around to Hosea, you and I. We’ll take another pass.
But for now, it’s time to close this book out. For Chocolate Book, I try to dig into Biblical history on a need-to-know basis, and I could look up what happened to Israel following Hosea’s life and ministry, but the book doesn’t end on that note. It ends with a call to repent: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity” (1). God asks Israel to ask him to take away their sins and acknowledge the inadequacy of their foreign allies to save them. It’s an invitation with open arms.
It’s also a promise. God vows, “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely” (4). You might expect the line to read, “I will forgive their apostasy,” or “I will redeem them from their apostasy,” but Hosea chooses to talk about Israel’s abandonment of God as if it were a bodily affliction in need of a medic. Faithlessness is a self-inflicted wound. But the good news is that the only doctor who can heal it loves you, and to those who repent, he promises his skill and compassion as a healer.
Idolatry is a symptom of Israel’s apostasy; it’s one we’ve seen throughout the book, and Hosea addresses it again in his closing words. He speaks for God, saying, “O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you” (8). He delivers a message of responsive protection: God is the one who keeps watch over his people, not statues with shiny, blank stares.
Idols perfectly represent the so-called gods they depict in stone, wood, and gold. The statues are the physical creation of craftsmen, and the gods are the mental creation of human priests. And for help, the people are looking to something necessarily less powerful than themselves, an unmoving amalgamation of matter and an idea in their heads. They need help beyond themselves; they need their uncreated Creator.
And that’s not just true for 8th-century-BC Israelites. That goes for all human beings.