Monday, July 26, 2010

Living object lesson

by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hosea 1:1-2:13

TO CHEW ON: "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
'Go take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
by departing from the Lord." Hosea 1:2

Of all the incredible things God asked the Old Testament prophets to do, His assignment for Hosea was among the most shocking. He was to marry a prostitute. His children were called "children of harlotry," either because they were children of a known prostitute or because they weren't even necessarily Hosea's biological kids.

God asked other prophets to be object lessons of His message too. Isaiah was to name his children names that foretold coming events. For example, one of his kids was to be named Maher-shalal-hashbaz, meaning "speed the spoil, hasten the booty," which referred to impending international events (Isaiah 8:3-4). He was also told to go around partially clothed for a while as a picture of how destitute the people of Egypt and Ethiopia would be when they were led away captive (Isaiah 20:2-4). God instructed Ezekiel to lie on his left side, and then his right a required number of days and in this way picture the siege of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 4:1-6).

God was clear in what He was trying to communicate through Hosea's choice of Gomer for a wife. He was picturing the way His people had let themselves be lured away by other religions. He portrayed then as fickle and making fools of themselves by pursuing other lovers (gods). When their search came to nothing, they returned to their "first husband" (2:7) as Gomer left then returned to Hosea.

If God sent a prophet among us today, I wonder what kind of object lesson he would be asked to live out. Perhaps God would draw attention to our obsession with technology by having His prophet make a home with a demanding robot.

Or perhaps he would open our eyes to see how things are often not as they look by choosing as His messenger a person who seemed healthy but was actually full of deadly cancer.

Or would He be able to point to what we all aspire to be -- pure, beautiful and waiting for His return -- by using a woman prophet, glowing and radiant in gorgeous bride-wear (Revelation 21:2,9)?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to learn about myself and my tendency to stray from you pictured in these prophetic object lessons. May I align my life with the highest ideals in Your word. Amen.

MORE: A modern Hosea story

Redeeming Love is a fictional portrayal of the Hosea / Gomer story by Francine Rivers. Set in California's gold country in the 1850s, the book tells the story of the prostitute Angel and Michael Hosea, who loves her with a love that never gives up. Since the book first came out in 1997 it has sold over 1 million copies.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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