God Demands Change (Hosea 1:1-9, Micah 2:1-5)
God puts the blame for Israel’s corruption on the people as a whole. They have abandoned God’s covenant, which both breaks their connection with God and breaks the just social structures of God’s law, leading directly to corruption and economic decline. “Whoredom” is the term the prophets often used to describe Israel’s breaking of the covenant (e.g., Jeremiah 3:2, Ezekiel 23:7). To dramatize the situation, God takes the metaphor literally and commands the prophet Hosea to “take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). Hosea obeys God’s command, marries a woman named Gomer, who apparently fit the requirement, and has three children with her (Hosea 1:3). We are left to imagine what making a household and raising children with a “wife of whoredom” must have been like.
Although the prophets use the imagery of prostitution and adultery, God is accusing Israel of economic and social corruption, not sexual immorality.
Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance. (Micah 2:1–2)
This makes Hosea’s family situation a dramatic example for those who work in corrupt or imperfect workplaces today. God deliberately put Hosea in a corrupt and difficult family situation. Could it be that God deliberately puts people in corrupt and difficult workplaces today? While we may seek a comfortable job with a reputable employer in a respectable profession, perhaps we can accomplish far more for God’s kingdom by working in morally compromised places. If you abhor corruption, can you do more to fight it by working as a lawyer in a prestigious firm or as a building inspector in a mafia-dominated city? There are no easy answers, but God’s call to Hosea suggests that making a difference in the world is more important to God than keeping our hands clean. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in the midst of Nazi control of Germany, “The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask, is not how to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Updated. (Touchstone, 1997), 7.