Rev. Dr. B. Kevin Smalls
We are thrilled to welcome the writing of Rev. Dr. B. Kevin Smalls for the Preaching Notes for this worship series. Dr. Smalls is senior pastor of Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, Michigan, and an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. Click here to read more about Dr. Smalls.
Hosea begins his ministry with marriage. He, unlike many prophets before, didn’t get a shot behind a podium. He didn’t get a test run speaking to a king or a nation. Hosea begins his ministry with an assignment. It’s a most unusual assignment at that. God instructs him to get married. Of course, this isn’t anything out of the ordinary for a young man. But what is out of the ordinary is the profession of the one with whom he’ll be betrothed. God wants Hosea to marry a prostitute.
This directive comes on the heels of God being frustrated and fed up with the people of Israel and their rebellious ways. God was the God that delivered, rescued, and redeemed the people, yet they were swayed by idols compromising and placing their relationship with God in harm’s way. This angers God, which means it hurts God to be abandoned by a people who had so quickly forgotten who the only true God is.
God wants Hosea to know of this despair. God wants Hosea to know the bitter sting of love unrequited. God wants Hosea to know the deep pain of what it’s like to see those who once worshiped, praised, and celebrated you abandon you to false gods.
Prostitutes were people who engaged in acts that are reserved for love and marriage—without the love or marriage. Those acts looked seemed like intimacy but they were shallow, cold, and meaningless. This was much like the religion of the people of Israel.
So, Hosea obeys God and marries a woman from Diblaim, a city which meant “two cakes.” Her name was Gomar. Hosea doesn’t resist this woman or the idea of her. In fact, he marries her, and they begin to have children together, building what seems to be a picture-perfect marriage.
God prepares the prophet to receive certain heartbreak that equipped him to serve in the prophetic engagement. It’s hard to speak about something from a place not known and not felt. It is often those who have known poverty intimately; those who have been benefited and, in some cases, saved by being an immigrant; those who lost their business to larger corporations; those who have been called derogatory names; those who have been passed over for promotion because they were women; and those who have been muted by strict voting laws—these are a few who bring to the prophetic ministry a tender, personal, and deep passion because they have had the human experience of suffering and the desire to see the redemptive healing that God can bring.
Now, how have you been prepared for the prophetic ministry? How has God equipped you for the task given to your hands? How can you lead your people to embrace their preparedness as a launchpad for ministry?
To borrow the phrase from another who was connected to someone being prepared to deliver people, “Perhaps, you have been called for such a time as this.” You have been called to do a mighty work. Who better to do it than a prophet from the margins?