Devotional of the week: Smoke (13 in Hosea series)

Photo: Jason Bolonski, flickr

Photo: Jason Bolonski, flickr

Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window. (Hosea 13)

CS Lewis’s imagination was rich and deep. I love his allegory The Great Divorce, in which he pictures hell’s inhabitants as ghosts – wispy, oily, unsubstantial creatures. Whereas those who dwell with God in heaven are the Solid People, for through their devotion to God they have thickened up and been made real. Perhaps Lewis found some of his inspiration from today’s text (or elsewhere in the Old Testament, such as in the Psalms and Isaiah), for we see God likening Ephraim to mist, dew, chaff and smoke (v.3). All things that disappear easily, whether through a breeze or the morning sun. So too would the nation of Ephraim vanish.

The images in Hosea 13 are disturbing, where God compares himself to a crazed mother bear robbed of her cubs or as a lion waiting to devour its prey. Or that the people’s rebellion causes their children to be dashed to the ground and the wombs of their pregnant women ripped open. We could easily bypass these statements of judgment, skipping ahead to the good news of Jesus. But perhaps we could hold the promise of Jesus in one hand, as it were, alongside God’s pronouncements of rebellion and its consequences in the other. For when we let our imaginations be touched by God’s anger and grief over sin, we start to realize more profoundly just how amazing is his gift of his Son as a sacrifice to satisfy his law.

For God’s Holy Spirit living in us helps to keep us from descending into pride, rebellion and destruction. As we relinquish our rights and our desire to have things our way, we draw closer to God. And without even realizing it, we lose our ephemeral ghost-like nature and become real. Solidly real.

Prayer: Father God, baptize my imagination, that I may more deeply grasp your truth and grace. Flow through me by your living water.

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