Wednesday Reflection – October 23, 2019
The Jacob-Like Return
Return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.
The book of Hosea is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and even unbelievable books in the Bible. It is filled with drama akin to a love affair with many challenges and heartaches. The faithfulness of the man and the unfaithfulness of the woman is the central theme of this book. However, this love affair is not between two humans. Rather, it is a love affair between God (the man) and Israel (the woman). It plays out in a dramatic form as the prophet Hosea is summoned by God to marry Gomer, a woman of whoredom, to graphically and practically depict the message of the faithful God to a faithless Israel.
In chapter 12, God points out sins of Ephraim and Judah. Verses 1-6 says, “Ephraim herds the wind, and pursues the east wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence; they make a treaty with Assyria… The Lord has an indictment against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways, and repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he tried to supplant his brother, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed, he wept and sought his favor; he met him at Bethel, and there he spoke with him… But as for you, return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
God looks back at the patriarch Jacob and how Israel in Hosea’s day was just like their forefather Jacob in the days of Genesis. In ancient Israel, a “heel-catcher” was a double-dealer, someone who achieved their goals through crafty and dishonest means. Israel had become a deceiver and trickster. Hosea recalls the struggle between Jacob and the angel. Jacob refused to submit to God, so God demanded submission from him in a literal wrestling match. He notes that Jacob wept in the struggle. Jacob prevailed in the only way anyone can when they struggle against God. We prevail when we lose ourselves, surrendering to God. Jacob wept demonstrating how desperate and broken he was as he hung on to the Lord, pleading only for a blessing. Hosea now calls on Israel to return to God the same way, by surrendering to him.
Like Israel, we have failed God many times. We have been outright idolatrous and adulterous. Hosea points us to the way back to God – surrendering ourselves to God and clinging to him. In this process he will break us and shape us into his own image. We may walk away limping, but it is for our own good. This transformation will enable us to hold fast to love and justice, and be patient for the Lord. Such transformation will lead us to “…rid ourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save our souls” James 1:21.