Richard L. Floyd
"You have ploughed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your power and in the multitude of your warriors." - Hosea 10:13
The prophets of ancient Israel functioned as the public conscience of the nation, not predictors of the future, as they are so often depicted, but more like "canaries in the coal mine," warning of danger ahead if not avoided.
Their perennial concern was for the nation's spiritual health (as we might put it), and the diagnostic index they employed was how the last, the least and the lost were being treated. In their society, as in ours, these were the people without social status. In ancient Israel these were widows, orphans and foreigners.
Hosea uses an agrarian image in today's reading. The nation has focused on the quantity of its warriors and not on the quality of its national life.
"You have ploughed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies."
Tough words, but the prophets often remind us that the Word of God is frequently bad news before it is good news.
Their warnings have an eerily contemporary sense about them, as our nation debates issues such as immigration, income inequality, and the implications of our national security.
Still, the whole book of Hosea is a testament to God's steadfast love even in the face of the nation's unfaithfulness. God wants better from us, but always loves us.
God of the prophets, incline our hearts toward justice and righteousness, and save us from the folly of our ways, in Jesus' name.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.