Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Prophet and The Whore and the Biblical kind of Headship

Sovereignty has its appeal. If someone or something is head over us then we’re not cut adrift. How about the LORD as your head?
Christ the head of the church? Husband the head of his wife?
Longing for that?
Marcus Brigstocke, cut adrift into agnosticism by the death of a friend and destabilized by the rantings of Richard Dawkins longs to believe in god, any god but the god of the Bible – he says. Many consider the god of the Bible is like a phone-hacking, teeth-drilling, expense-fiddling, investment banker who is out to ruin your life.

Yet Bible implies headship is something good, attractive and something to hope for.
Somewhere someone has misread the script. Here's gospel hope:
"they shall appoint for themselves one head" (Hosea 1:11)
Rewind. The Prophet Hosea is give a call that makes Jonah’s call to Nineveh seem one you’d jump at. The prophet Jonah took extreme action to avoid his call to take a message of grace to a people who would receive it, wanting not to have such villains saved. What’s the call on Hosea?

Hosea Chapter 1. Hosea is to marry a whore. Many commentators (even Burroughs) baulk at this and say it’s just a vision or a picture. Too much to say a prophet marries a whore - but the Bible is full of scandal like that. You’re meant to be uneasy about the LORD sending his prophet, a member of his inner ring to such a mission.

The people have committed a great whoredom. The verdict is emphatic, the word repeated three times in the call. When God’s people are unfaithful it’s not just doctrinal deviation it’s heart-deep betrayal of the one who has made himself one with them. It’s spiritual adultery that finds lovers and pays them. In sin we play the harlot.
What sin are you struggling with? Whoredom.

The prophet and the whore have three children. There is fruitfulness in this marriage. The first is Jezreel, a prophetic child of vengeance for evil committed. The second named, No Mercy. The third, Not My People.

Mercy is over – for Israel but not for Judah. The LORD says I will save them by the LORD. A Triune plot for salvation that will not be a military victory. The old commentators (like Burroughs) are right to say this is Jesus Christ, the Saviour who comes from Judah to save them, the Saviour who is the LORD sent by the LORD.

Not My People point to salvation that will make them once more My People, even Children of God. And saved and adopted they’ll appoint their saviour as head, and celebrate the day of Jezreel. Salvation through judgement, salvation through welcome into a family, salvation that unifies those who have previously stood divided. Salvation that appoints Christ as head. Is Ephesians an exposition of Hosea?

The LORD is the head, modeled by the prophet Hosea. A head whose love is such that he’ll give himself to the whore, loving her in faithfulness though she remains unfaithful in the marriage, still whoring after other men and their gods. This is sacrificial headship, modeling saving headship that is not the headship of battlefield Generals but of a loving father and husband.

Here is love, so giving, so free. Love so amazing, so spurned and awaiting the day when it will be received, welcomed – when the whore will receive her husband as her head, believing that he loves her and give himself for her – a love stronger than death, and who gives himself to her to beautify and benefit her.

This is an altogether different kind of headship, an altogether different kind of god. And if this is who he is then maybe, just maybe some of the most apparently difficult material in the Bible isn’t quite as strange and peculiar as we might initially assume, not half as strange and peculiar as this LORD of love.

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