When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” (Hosea 1:2)
Relate: Imagine a young Hosea. He just graduated from the most prestigious of schools: The Jewish Institute of Higher Theology with a Masters in Prophesy. It is now time to embark on a career that has been a lifelong dream. He wants to be a prophet like Elijah and Elisha. He has big dreams and goals. He is going to go out there and transform the world for his God. In his final time before exiting that university and stepping into the career world Hosea brings his career dreams as well as his passion for God into the prayer closet.
“God, wherever You send me, whatever You desire of me. I’m all in. I want to change this world for Your glory.”
“Really? Do you really mean that?”
There’s a pregnant pause. Hosea looks around but no one else is near. He opens the door and peeks into the hallway but nobody is to be found. He calls out, “Mordecai, if that’s you, you’re gonna get it!”
“No. I’m not Mordecai. He’s in the library at the moment flirting with Rachel.”
Another pause. Finally, “God, is that You?”
“Sure is. So did you really mean it?”
Hosea has to think back a bit to remember what it was he is asking about. Oh yah, following anywhere. “Yes, Lord, whatever You desire of me. I’m all yours.”
“Great. Well, first thing’s first. We need to get you a wife.”
Hosea starts to get excited but God continues on. “I already have just the woman picked out for you. I want you to go down to the corner of fifth and Main. You’ll find a young lady working the corner there. Her name is Gomer. She will be your wife.”
Hosea searches his memory banks but there’s no face coming up with the name. “God, I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t remember Gomer. What is she selling?”
Another pause. Hosea sticks a finger in his ears to try and clear them up. “I’m sorry, God. I don’t think I heard you right.”
“Yes. You did. She is a prostitute. But I love her and you will too. You said “anything”. Well, this is the anything I ask.”
“But God, can You imagine the scandal?”
React: Can you imagine the scandal? To the Muslim mind, there is no greater scandal than the “blasphemy” of saying that God became a man and then died. I was actually talking about this with an Iranian friend just a few hours ago. For the Christian it is a story we are so familiar with that we lose sight of how right, in a way, our Muslim brothers are. It is a scandal that God would strip aside all His glory and majesty and power and dignity to be born as a common baby in a “barn”. It is a scandal that He would live fully human with all the sweating and burping and farting and daily “emptying himself” that is part and parcel of our undignified existence. It is a scandal that He would then allow Himself to be murdered in a most violent and cruel and degrading matter, and in that way carry our sins to the grave. Most of all, it is a scandal that such a holy and righteous God would do all this out of love for a spiritual prostitute like me. Yes, the incarnation is a scandal. It is the most beautiful of scandals that I can imagine.
God, I am so grateful that You made Yourself of no reputation that I might be redeemed. Help me to follow You in this manner. Whatever it takes, let me be an emissary of Your redemption and a representative of Your love. Let me live out Your love even if doing so cost me my own respectability and reputation. I want to love You and in loving You, love Your world ever more deeply. Help me to walk in Your scandalous grace.