Hosea 13.1-8, 14.1-10 with Luke 17.11-19 (ten lepers) and
Yet, God loves us perfectly. Last
week, we heard from the prophet Hosea, listened in on his personal story, on a
story that is in so many ways God’s story – loving the unfaithful one, his
prostitute wife Gomer. Like Gomer, we
are “prone to wander”. Like Hosea, God
does not give up on us. God keeps the
light on, holds the door open, and actually steps into our worst mess to redeem
idolatry of ancient
and we cringe. Grotesque images of calf
gods and pillars, promiscuity with temple prostitutes, offering human sacrifice
(13.2 – differing translations, but the literal translation). It’s all a bit disturbing, very primitive,
certainly not like us, is it? It is like
a Conan the Barbarian or Serpent King flick. And the prescription of the movies – a
violent revolution – is not much different from God’s prescription of exile to
of idolatry. And what does this have to
do with me?
the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself
an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on
the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them
or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God
gods before me” (lit, “in my face”)
– what we have made
make for yourself an idol”
idol, “peser” from “pasar” for “hew or carve” (making process)
our image”, the soap opera of Greek mythology
– under our control – but we cede it
representation of something greater. Our
God, however, is beyond representation, beyond our comprehension, bigger than
us. God is not some projection of our
ego, projection of our need, expression of our social structures or norms. We do not make God. We are made by God. If there is any similarity between humans and
God – and there is – it is because God made us, we are in God’s image … God
is not made in our image.
sacrifice humans (NIV, Anderson-Freedman)
and human sacrifice are still linked today
what we worship, statement of our values
make them are like them; so are all who trust in them
became detestable like the thing they loved (Hos 9.10)
and Gomer (implied in 2.16)
“sacrifice with temple prostitutes”
The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to
it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my
god!” (Isa 44.17)
– an image of ourselves with powers we do not have
contradiction: we want what we have made to save us!
never known any god but me.
is no deliverer [savior] except me.
13.4, translation by Andersen & Freedman, p 25)
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God
am a jealous God.
faithlessness, to our infidelity, to our idolatry, we are still perfectly loved
and desired. We are called back home: “Return,
O Israel, to the LORD your God” (Hosea 14.1).
We are given God’s gentle promise:
I will heal
I will love
anger has turned from them.
NRSV + Andersen/Freedman, p 27)
When I fed them they became self-satisfied.
When they were self-satisfied, their heart became arrogant.
Therefore they forgot me. (13.6, Andersen/Freedman, p 25)
Francis I. Andersen and David Noel Freedman, Hosea, The
Anchor Bible, vol 24.