Hosea / chapter 1 (read the chapter)
Okay, so “strange” is putting it mildly. You did read the opening to this chapter, didn’t you? If you didn’t read it in The Message, here it is: “The first time God spoke to Hosea he said: ‘Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children. And here’s why: This whole country has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.’” (vs 2)
Wow. When we teach our young people that God has a special person He has been preparing for them to marry, Hosea 1:2 might be one key text to steer clear of!
What I immediately thought of when I read this chapter, however, was the sometimes utterly strange requests God makes of His people—especially His prophets. He asked Hosea to marry a prostitute. He asked Abraham to take his son up to a mountaintop for an apparent sacrifice. He asked Noah to build a boat because a flood was imminent (although nobody had ever seen rain).
And what I think of when I recall all these things is how, in these modern times, there are a lot of people—especially Christians—who scoff at people who claim God told them to do something outrageous. They claim that God would never ask someone to do such-and-such. And to that I say, Really? If God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, how do you know He doesn’t still make off-the-wall requests of His people?
In today’s world, there are many different voices competing for our spiritual attention. There are so many different religions and opinions and ideas about God; trying to sort through them all can be confusing, if not totally time-consuming!
But that’s one of the reasons why there is absolutely no substitute for learning to recognize the voice of God for yourself. As we continue on toward the end of the world, the cacophony of voices and opinions is only going to get louder. There will be diametrically-opposed opinions everywhere you turn. The only way to know for sure if God has spoken to you is to know His voice.
And the only way to know His voice is to know Him.
And the only way to know Him is to spend time with Him.
It’s really just that simple, and it’s really just that hard. I don’t know about you, but my life is busy. There are some days (a lot of days, actually) when the time I spend reading the Bible for this blog is all the time I spend with God in the course of the day. In my own heart, I know I need to make more time for Him, because the more the voices of the world try to crowd Him out, the more I need to allow Him time to talk.
Have you heard Him speak lately? I hope you are giving Him time to get through to you. But when you do, look out. Sometimes (as in the case of Daniel), what God says doesn’t always make immediate sense to us. There might be days when you are very confused! And sometimes (as in the case of Hosea), what God says is just downright scandalous.
If you spend enough time with Him, odds are that at some point, He’ll throw in a really strange request. When and if that happens, double-check it with Him to be sure, but don’t let anyone else tell you that God “wouldn’t” say the things He’s said to you. You make sure to learn to hear the voice of God for yourself!