Hosea, the prophet imitating life (@darrenrhill)

modern artWhen Plato and the Greeks said that art imitates life, they were making a statement about the very nature of things. A belief that was questioned, none more so, by Oscar Wilde, when he suggested that life, more often, imitates art. As always I like to take a middle ground. I believe that good art imitates life, yet it also says something about us, our environment, and perhaps leads us to change. Art can be a reflection of what has been, what is there, or what is to come. Art imitates life, but life also imitates art.

Prophecy is traditionally seen as predicting life. Quite simply it refers to what will be; this is what will happen. Although there is usually an ‘if’ clause thrown in for good measure.

‘life imitates art; prophet imitates life’

Hosea, brings the life / art imitation discussion, to the world of prophecy. The whole book is a living illustration of how God feels. Hosea isn’t just about what will happen. It is a living, breathing, moving example of what has, is and will be.

The betrayal, unfaithfulness, forgiveness and punishment of God’s people, are all vividly brought to life. This is illustrated through the relationship between Hosea and his wife. We can’t be sure if Hosea’s wife was a prostitute or not, whether she was a fully paid-up member of the oldest profession or just on a zero hour contract.  It doesn’t matter. The illustration is clear. The relationship of God’s people toward God, was like an unfaithful wife.

Being written at such a time means that it is the wife who is unfaithful. The patriarchal nature of the Old Testament means that Hosea, the man, is seen as the one betrayed. However, it is the whole nation who prostitute themselves to other gods, faiths and beliefs. There is no escape for the male of the species in the point being made through Hosea.

In a world where being unfaithful in relationships is frowned upon, but so common in the art forms so many of us watch everyday (and perchance imitate?), I wonder if God would illustrate the point in the same way today? What would God ask Hosea to do if the prophet lived in the 21st century?

What is being unfaithful in the digital age? Leaving Apple and buying a Google Chromebook? Giving up Facebook and using only Twitter? Switching your faithful broadband provider of several years, for a six-month free period with another?

Of course none of those really get to the heart of the matter that Hosea illustrates. Whether being unfaithful with a man, woman, boy or girlfriend is common, doesn’t make it any less painful to those involved. Relationships are torn apart by unfaithfulness, in whatever way and at whatever level.

Hosea is a timely reminder that we shouldn’t always let our lives imitate art. As Paul points out, there is something better for us to imitate.

About Darren Hill