All Will Suffer

for the actions of a few.

Hosea 2:2-5 (ESV)

“Plead with your mother, plead—
    for she is not my wife,
    and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
    and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
    and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
    and make her like a parched land,
     and kill her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
    because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore;
    she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
   who give me my bread and my water,
   my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’”

In Hosea’s day, the children of adultery and prostitution were shunned. “Illegitimate” was the nice term for them.

But if their mother stays married, they live as normal sons and daughters, not as _____s (even if her husband isn’t their father, which seems to be the case for Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi). Needless to say, they’re highly motivated to get their mother to mend her ways.

This sounds like Hosea is writing to Gomer’s children. If she doesn’t straighten up, they will bear dreadful consequences.

But this is prophesy for Israel. So, who’s his audience? Who is analogous to the kids?

It’s the Israelites who have stayed true to the LORD. While many have been led astray into Baal worship, not everyone has abandoned the faith.

But if Israel is conquered, all will suffer.

Holding children accountable for the way they were conceived is unfair and just plain mean. But holding whole nations accountable for the actions of a few, especially if the few are their leaders, is normal, even unavoidable.

That’s why the image of children lecturing their mother about her harlotry—which, come to think of it, is pretty bizarre—is perfectly appropriate here. When Hosea says, “Plead with your mother, plead,” he’s urging the righteous to not stand idly by while evil runs amok.

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” — John Stuart Mill

This point is relevant to us in an especially creepy way. The actions of a few can keep the COVID-19 pandemic going strong for as long as they want.

Just as in ancient Israel, by not doing the right thing a small minority can cause widespread pain.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.