Through the prophet Hosea, God compared Israel to a whore that has cheated on her husband. With all the bitterness and spite of a scorned husband, God threatens to expose her shame. Is there anything more vulnerably shameful than being naked and exposed for the world to see? Clearly God is angry and hurt and Israel will suffer for her indiscretion.
This is probably one of the texts that leads people to say that the God of the Old Testament is angry and mean, while the God of the New Testament is gentle and loving. But maybe there’s another way to look at it. The God of the Old Testament is passionate, loyal, committed, and loving. God exposes God’s vulnerability by loving Israel fiercely. Anyone who has had a broken heart knows that loving someone is both amazing and terrifying. Because if the one we love betrays us, the pain can be unbearable. This is God – vulnerable, heartbroken, and irrevocably wounded. It’s no wonder God sounds angry and hurt – God dared to love deeply and people betrayed God. Even so, God never stopped loving with passion and ferocity.
Say to your brother, Ammi, and to your sister, Ruhamah. 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, or I will strip her naked and expose her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and turn her into a parched land, and kill her with thirst. Upon her children also I will have no pity, 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; they give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns; and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers, but not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them. Then she shall say, “I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now.” She did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal. Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season; and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. I will put an end to all her mirth, her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her appointed festivals. I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, “These are my pay, which my lovers have given me.” I will make them a forest, and the wild animals shall devour them. I will punish her for the festival days of the Baals, when she offered incense to them and decked herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers, and forgot me, says the Lord.