Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unattended

“Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples.  Ephraim is a cake not turned.  Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not;  gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.  The pride of Israel testifies to his face, yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all of this,” Hosea 7:8-10.
Hosea speaks in the metaphorical terms of an agricultural farmer and a baker (Hosea 7) and perhaps this is what he was.  A man who tilled soil and turned bread in the oven.  Perhaps there were olive groves or wheat fields.  Maybe barley?  Sunkissed grapes may have lined his fields in viney rows awaiting removal by patient hands to lay out their ripeness underneath the governor of the afternoon sky until parched and dried, sweetened and shriveled and tucked into well kneaded dough prepared for the heat of an oven.  There, this delectable commodity rose into a raisin cake.  Buyers did not always enjoy Hosea’s bakery labors but toted them off to feed the fires of the baals (Hosea 3:1).  And the fires of their consumption…
Hosea comprehended the heat of Israelite passions in the cultic spheres of influence.  They were mesmerized and carried off.  “Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense, calling to Egypt, going to Assyria…” Hosea 7:11.
Wait, cries the prophet, Yahweh has good counsel; Yahweh has good sense!  And then he watches the cake bake only half way… .the senseless dove squawk and flap about.  Israel is only partly able.  Only partly wise.  Israel desperately needs tending…
A wise farmer tills his soil and inspects his produce.  A good baker watches and turns his cake.  The human heart needs tending.  And Yahweh is sufficiently attentive.  Moreso than we usually perceive.  “…that the members may have the same care for one another,” 1 Corinthians 12:25.  
I have pulled this half verse out of its context in 1 Corinthians and planted it in Hosea.  Something strikes me as absolutely necessary about this.  God has invested the full power of attentiveness in the hearts of His people so that mutual care will exist among them.  The cake is baked on both sides.  Good counsel and good sense are shed abroad in our communal hearts.  Indulge my thought for a moment…
Equity florishes in Divinity’s Constitution.  The human situation will never express its fullness.  We will never reach, on social, national or global levels, the degree of equity that God personally entertains.  In His world, the captives are freed from their unjust captivity, the poor are well fed and the lame always leap.  Yahweh is fully attentive.  He runs His own fingers through the soil and lingers over the produce to inspect with His own perceptive eyes.  He passes by the oven at regular intervals and carefully turns the cake; it is evenly baked.  God is attentive.
Yet, the “same care” is quoted within the context of “members” and “one another”.  This senseless dove known as Us is supposed to manifest Divinities watchful eye and careful hand.  We are to be attentive.  And attentive so that the cake is not half baked.  We are to pay attention to His thoughts on communal equity.  
Perhaps the term equity only inspires our capitalistic culture to think in terms of dollars and cents, therefore, I will use some other words: mutuality, equality and respect.  I will put a couple together to create the phrase “mutual respect”.  And we will end with this word construction.  While God was attentively pursuing the proper balance of Israelite society; while He was watching over it with faith and patience to be certain that none gathered more commodity than they needed and none suffered any lack, Israel was individualistically looking to puff up their side of the cake.  A silly dove sought his or her own direction.  Ephraim (another title for Israel) was thrown to the East Wind in all directions seeking security and advancement.  There was no concern for mutual care or respect.  There was no equity.  God and man suffered with lack of mutual concern for the others welfare.
But there was equity between Yahweh and His prophet of pathos.  These two fellowshipped within the other’s cause… .they painfully lingered in mutual care and sympathy…
God, teach us to be equally attentive…  
“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.  The standing grain has no head; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.  Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.  For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey wandering alone…” Hosea 3:7-9.

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