Signposts, 18th Ordinary Sunday: Hosea 11:1-11; Col. 3:1-11; Lk. 12:13-21; Ps. 107:1-9, 43
Hosea lived in troubled times in the northern kingdom (Israel) of the group of tribes who identified themselves as descendents of Abraham and Jacob, and by worshipping only one God, the creator of every thing that existed. How troubled the time was is recorded in 2 Kings, and a quick look at 2 Kings 15:8-10 will give you an idea. If you’re interested you’ll find plenty of fodder in the next two chapters, (leaving out the records of the kings of Judah). Kings of Israel were coming to the throne and were knocked off like ten-pins. This was the background against which Hosea was working. Some editor seems to have added a second wife, (Chap.3) but both were unfaithful, and Hosea had to learn to put up with it.
Now look at verses 7-9 of our reading, and see what God had to put up with, and what his reaction is. It reminded me about Peter asking Jesus how many times he must forgive his brother, and found that magic number, seventy-seven, turns up. Matthew adds the parable of the king’s servant who owes him more than sixty million dollars. Luke has the same story, but the debtor has to say “sorry”, up to seven times every day. But here we have a prophet teaching how God has to do it more than seven hundred years before.
When you are reading stories of Jesus and his friends, do you sometimes wonder how the Samaritans pop into the picture? It has always caused me to think it odd for a nation plonked down in the middle of the land of the Jews, whose people knew the same God, but were treated by the true followers of God as pagan ignorant dirt. If you read the rest of 2 Kings 17, starting at verse 24 (and the key-word is in verse 33), you’ll know how it happened. It was more than seven hundred years before the time of Jesus. If that happened in English history it would take us back to the time of Edward the Second (and he was 200 years before Henry the Eighth!).
Well now, in spite of what Hosea had said, the Israelites were taken away, and the key as to how it happened you can find in chapter 17, starting at verse 7. Verse 18 says exactly the opposite to Hosea. It was the writing of an historian scribe working on the records that the Judaeans carried to Babylon about a hundred and twenty years later.
That’s what I like about the Bible. You can prove anything, or the complete opposite, if you know the right references!
P.S. Both Paul (the Signposter, not the saint) and I have, in the course of time, found pointers to a road that we think leads us towards the mystery that is the cause of the universe as we see it, God, for short. We came from quite different directions, I think Paul would agree. The Bible is an amazing collection of ancient writings by ordinary humans who have also found different routes onwards. Because every human (even identical twins) is different from every other, no two roads are identical also. We don’t expect our signposts lead to God, but to a possible road towards God, as seen and lived by Jesus. We hope that sometimes our readers find one or more that point to the entry to a road that is real for you. May God bless your journey. Brye.