I bring this up because our passage is sort of a hall of fame, and the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that you don’t get in without overcoming trials and traumas:
David Lose writes, “Typically, ‘Do not be afraid,’ is the rhetorical prelude to the announcement of God’s mighty and saving deeds. And it is the starting point and anchor for everything else in this passage. It is God’s good pleasure – God’s intention, plan, and delight – to give you the kingdom!”
I don’t know what Hosea thought of God before becoming a prophet. I don’t know if God seemed as distant as an absent father or as demanding as the law or as angry as an enemy. But I expect Hosea’s theology was changed by his marriage to Gomer and by becoming a father to three young children, as well as her later unfaithfulness and his pursuit of her. How could it not?
I want to invite you to use your imaginations – for that is what God does through the prophets. God paints a picture – with a plumb line, or a basket of summer fruit, or an unusual marriage – and invites all those who hear, to really listen, to feel, to imagine.
So imagine what Hosea sets in motion when he does what God asks. Imagine what Gomer might have said in a series of interviews.
Amos looks at that fruit, smells its ripeness, and imagines all the hands that have touched it from tree to table and he does not smile, or reassure, or boast. He is a true prophet, called by God from working among flocks and forests, to speak a word that will make people mad!
Using a plumb line like a children’s sermon prop, God says the same thing to Amos. When you build on a bad foundation, or when your values get out of line, things must be torn down and rebuilt.
Scholars will talk at length about faith development – about how faith is planted and nurtured, about ages and stages, about growing complexity and getting stuck and struggling with contradictions – but I want us to focus on one person’s developing faith: Naaman’s.
Why do we need to transition from Elijah to Elisha?
Do prophets have an expiration date – like milk left too long in the back of your refrigerator or some potato salad left out too long in the sun?
One of the things about the prophets that the Bible doesn’t shy away from – they are human, with all that implies. They resist their calls; they doubt their abilities; they suffer slights and doubts, and fears. They are just like us.
So, it seems fair to ask – have you ever felt like Elijah did, under that broom tree?
But God intervened.
Specifically the story reports God said, “Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
I wonder why.