"A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God." Hosea 4:12
"Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord." Hosea 5:4
In the book of Hosea, God calls a man into a troubling life of sorrow in order to mirror the heartache of God. Hosea is called by God to marry a known adulterous woman, a prostitute, who no more loves Hosea than Israel regards God.
As the spirit of prostitution is explored in Hosea, we, with our modern assumptions often miss the point. Most of us would agree that very few girls when asked what they want to do when they grow up would say, "I want to be a prostitute; I want to live a life of whoredom."
Prostitution seems to be a lifestyle that is fallen into. A young woman running from problems at home finds herself on the street with no way to live. When left with nothing, what is left to barter?
In the book, Les Miserables, Fantine, a woman who finds herself trying to feed her illegitimate daughter, ends up on the streets after being kicked out of the factory. She sells her hair, she looks for work, and soon realizes the only way she can earn money is to prostitute herself. She has no provider. She has no protector.
In scripture, the Hebrew word for prostitution alludes to a slightly different twist. The word itself, zawnoon, has its roots in a word that implies a desire to be highly fed; to long for more than what one has been given. This use of the word prostitution thus points to a dissatisfaction, a greediness for more than what one has received, a wanton, roving spirit which gluttonously grabs what does not belong to it.
With this understanding, it is easier to determine the "case" God is bringing against Israel. God is saying, "I have given you myself and still you are not satisfied. You chase after that which you think will make you happy, when I know you will never be filled with what you desire."
God is both humiliated and disappointed. But even moreso, God's heart is torn, just as a parent's heart is torn when his or her child makes destructive decisions.
God says, "You want grain? You want wine? You want wool clothing? Well, then, go and find it, for I will now remove from you my gifts. See if you can find out there what you need! I will no longer provide for you."
God understands the heart of the prodigal who thinks something greater is "out there." God gives the wandering heart free reign. God allows the Spirit of Prostitution to lead its victim all the way to the pig sty, for sometimes, it is only in the pig's pen that the realization of one's poverty is realized.
But unlike many who would turn away from a returning ruined soul, God stands waiting, longing, with ring in hand, robe draped over arm and fatted calf bawling.
"Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in his arms.
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O, there are ten thousand charms!