Hosea

Part I

Chapter 1-3

 

Hosea, poor Hosea,

He wed a prostitute,

Who wasn’t rushing off to join

The Women’s Institute!

 

He was a faithful prophet,

Serving only God—

And this was where his Master led,

So this the path he trod.

 

And so he married Gomer,

Which must have cost him dear—

But he’d obeyed the voice of God

Speaking loud and clear.

 

Now Gomer was a roamer—

A Lady of the Nights—

And such a potent symbol of

The errant Israelites.

 

God’s people had forsaken him,

And sacrificed to Baal:

Their worship of the pagan gods

Was such a sorry tale…

 

(Have we not also done the same,

And turned our backs on God?

Worshipping at other altars,

Thinking nothing odd?)

 

When Gomer had her babies,

God appointed names—

Living symbols to the tribes

Of Israel and its shame.

 

He named the first one Jezreël,

Whose meaning is ‘God Sows’,

The promise of a distant hope,

In spite of Israel’s woes.

 

‘Not Loved’ He called the second child—

A label for a nation:

How could they turn their backs on Him,

The Lord of all creation?

 

Then ‘Not My People’ was the next,

Again a living proof—

Since Israel had rejected God,

Then He would keep aloof.

 

But God could not forsake them,

He loves, in spite of all,

And urged them to repentance

By stern Hosea’s call.

 

Part II

Chapter 4-14

 

No faithfulness or kindness,

Or knowledge of their God—

But swearing, lying, killing,

Adultery and fraud.

 

And so the land is mourning,

All living things decline,

Because the people have ignored

The Word of the Divine.

 

The priests forget their duty—

Neglect the law of God,

And Israel a stubborn heifer,

Fundamentally flawed!

 

But if they have a change of heart

And turn back to the Lord,

Then He will heal and bind them up,

And all will be restored.

 

He will come down like showers

In gentleness and love,

Like welcome rain in springtime

Falling from above.

 

He does not want your offerings,

Or any sacrifice:

For you to love and know him well—

That will suffice.

 

‘I feel Israel’s rejection

Repaying all my care;

Their worshipping of other gods

Is hard for me to bear.

 

‘I led them with compassion,

And showed them tenderness—

Their very yokes I softened,

Bending down to bless.

 

‘How can I give up Ephraim?

Or Israel, my child?

You fill me with compassion

That you are so defiled.

 

‘Return, O Israel, return—

My anger will not last;

I will heal up your faithlessness—

I will forgive your past.

 

‘Then I will love you freely,

And nurture you with care,

The fragrance of your blossoming

Will scent the evening air.

 

‘Then Israel will flourish—

His beauty like the lime—

And dwell beneath my shadow

Until the end of time.’

 

Helen Long