THE NATURE OF dishonor and consequence are what these passages teach. For the average Bible reader, the front matter of the book of Hosea—specifically the first three chapters—disturbs the conscience. At the time of Hosea’s calling, God’s first words are: “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (1:2). Wow!
The writer of Hebrews proposes an alternate reality: Any reality worth seeing comes into view through faith in the unseen (see Hebrews 11:1). Prophet Isaiah sees what God sees through another portrait. Like believers today, empty rituals and defiled worship strain Isaiah’s eyes. Do we have eyes to see what the prophet saw in our context of racial intolerance and religious bigotry? Harsh judgment meted out in scripture is generally in response to an act of rebellion or for defaulting on a covenantal agreement. An aggrieved God enters our contemporary global vineyard asking Christians today, “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” (see Isaiah 5:1-4).
The essential work of the guardian is to protect the investments. While we are not permitted to “psychologize” the prophet Jeremiah, we can still say that shame is evident. To say, “Why me, God?” rather than “Why not me?” is to be imprisoned by a faulty internal transcript.