OT: Hosea 4:1-5:15
Today, Hosea makes explicit the metaphor from yesterday. Israel is the prostitute, and God is the husband. Since the image of prostitution figures so prominently throughout today's reading, it got me wondering why God chose that metaphor, and why He used is so often. To me, the two characteristics most conveyed by the metaphor of prostitution are degradation and betrayal. Prostitution is, first and foremost, just so degrading to everyone involved. The Bible's view of sexuality is that it is a deeply sacred gift from God, meant only to be used in a very specific way. In the NT, Paul often links sexual immorality to a denial of God. When you take that inherent gift and trample it with prostitution, you are degrading something at the very core of your identity. In denying that inherent sacredness, you are denying God. And with your actions, you are denying that you are a sacred, precious creation of His.
Secondly, prostitution in the context of marriage is such a betrayal. God portrays Himself as the husband in this metaphor, and He continues that portrayal in the NT, where He is the husband of the church. When the church turns from God to worship other things, they betray God in the way a prostitute betrays her husband.
NT: 2 John 1:1-13
I was interested in the 2 John's greeting of "the elder," so I looked it up in my Writings of the New Testament. Interestingly, after some introduction material on the context of the three letters, the author discusses them in reverse. According to Johnson, 2 John is essentially a cover letter for 1 John, "a note from the elder to Gaius's community--the introduction of the longer letter of 1 John." We'll see Gaius in 3 John, by the way. And the reference to the audience as "the chosen lady and her children" (2) is "a honorific title for the community."
This "cover letter" introduces (I guess that's the right word) themes that will be seen in 1 John, such as the importance of love (5-6) and the importance of acknowledging Christ (7-8). I thought the wording in verse 9 was interesting: "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." I found the idea of "running ahead" past the Scriptures to be fascinating. I think that sometimes I am guilty of "running ahead" of God: I see a little part of His plan for me, and then I fill in the rest and think I know the next steps. Which of course, causes me to run ahead in the wrong direction. I also think that there is a constant temptation to "run ahead" of the boundaries of Scripture, to move past concepts that seem outdated and irrelevant to us. As the church, we should always seek to be relevant to the lost in our culture, but we can't do that by compromising essential beliefs. Of course, what constitutes an essential belief is always up for debate...
Psalm 125: 1-5
"As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people..."
I love that.
Prov. 29: 9-11
Wise men v. fools, bloodthirsty men v. those of integrity, and fool v. wise man. My favorite was,
"A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control" (11).