Tag Archives: Hosea

A tender God

Hosea is a prophet who calls the people to repentance. Yet Hosea 11: 3-4 presents us with an image of a tender God who loves the people.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
who took them by the arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with the cords of human kindness,
with leading strings of love;
I fostered them like those who raise an infant to their cheeks
and stoop down to feed them.

 The next to the last line can also be translated as “ I became for them as one who eases the yoke upon their neck.”

What is the image of God we project with our lives?

Do we project a harsh and severe God who delights in the punishment of evildoers? Do we present a God who secures our position and gives us security by his powerful hand, though usually accompanied by our weapons of mass destruction? Do we seek a God who our ratifies our prejudices and is “on our side”?

Or do we live as children of the tender God – raising infants to our cheeks,  stooping down and feeding them.

The fate of ten of thousands of unaccompanied minors from northern Central America in the US is heavy on my heart. Will people in the US raise them to their cheeks and stop down and feed them – or will they reject them?

May the example of our tender God guide the people and leaders of the US.


Idols and orphans

We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.
Hosea 14: 4

 What do orphans have to do with idolatry?

Yet Hosea has the people giving up idolatry in the light of the Lord’s compassion on orphans.

In Israel, the care of orphans and widows was an essential part of keeping the Covenant with God.

In a male-dominated society, a woman without a man to care for her and a child without a male protector were helpless, since they without connection to any support system. Thus the community had the obligation to see to their needs. Failure to care for them was a failure to live as the People of God.

Idolatry means placing our hopes in something which is not God, but is of our own making. Idolatry is often a response to insecurity or to the need to have something that gives us power or protection.

Pope Francis has talked of the fetishism of money, how we give money a magical power to control us, thinking it will save us.

Hosea also sees reliance on horses – that is war alliances with Egypt – as idolatry, thinking we can save ourselves by weapons, the work of our hands.

But our God is a God who cares for the orphans, who identifies with them. There is security when we follow our God in our love and care for the orphan.

I think that President Eisenhower’s remarks in a April 16, 1953 speech also reflects the problem of choosing between idols and orphans

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Lenten conversion means turning away from idols and turning to the care of those in need – not just in our personal lives but in our nations.