The black pearl anklet slipped delicately over her smooth skin, glittering in the torchlight. Sapphires dangled seductively from her neck. Golden bracelets adorned both wrists. One solid silver band encircled her left arm just below the shoulder. Slowly, she pulled on the black garb of a temple harlot.
Staring out at the bleak Samaritan desert, tears rolled down her cheeks soaking her black veil. Sighing, Gomer slipped out from her dwelling, careful not to awaken her three children. Staggering down the street, she moved on, driven by her demons; torn by her unfaithful heart.
Stealthily, she hugged the shadows through the murky streets. In her mind, she saw the familiar pentagram; inhaled the noxious potions; heard the mesmerizing incantations; enjoyed the lustful interludes: all “part and parcel” of a priestess in service to Baal.
Approaching her beloved shrine, she recognized several temple prostitutes gesturing to passersby. In the shadows, a male prostitute draped his arm around a well-known merchant.
Rapidly, darkness covered her soul, suffocating all memory of her pious husband. Hesitating at the threshold, a tiny light flickered through the blackness in her mind. Cruelly, it was snuffed out and with it the graceful heart of a man’s forgiving love…which she didn’t deserve.
***The Samaritan Desert
“Lord, I cannot be Your seer. What you ask of me is too great. Hear me, O Ancient of Days. I cannot drink the dregs of filth again. My Lord, I obeyed You. I went to that abominable shrine, despising the shame as the elders watched me pull her from Baal’s lair. I knew she couldn’t be faithful, my God, yet I brought her home and made her my bride, as you required.”
Hosea paused. The cold desert air blew against his face.
He remembered the night Gomer gored his heart explaining why she was pregnant by another man. Washing her bed in tears, she sought his forgiveness, promising her faithfulness forever…again. Slowly, the prophet’s heart caved. Holding her again, his spirit cried out to a God requiring his obedience.
Gently stroking her black hair, he softly kissed her cheek whispering tenderly into her ear. Momentarily, she fell in his embrace, passion flowing, her heart overwhelmed by Hosea’s sacrificial love. Darkness called again though, so quietly, she arose, dark harlotry coursing through veins.
A holy prophet wept from his depths calling to a Master who still called for obedience.
***Three years later-The town of Sidon
“Who is this love-slave, Hamor,” asked his companion.
“I bought her three years ago from an Egyptian slave trader. She has served me well as an offering to frequent visitors from the east. Now though, she is “damaged goods”. You can see the sunken eyes and how the lips curl inward, resonating her pain. If she isn’t sold today, I’ll just leave her on the streets; somebody may find some use for her,” rambled Hamor. “Or maybe I’ll just slit her throat behind the marketplace. It’ll be days before anyone finds her.”
***A Sidonian Marketplace
“Lord, must I wear this garment of shame again?” called the holy prophet.
Hosea closed his eyes, momentarily. The clamor in the Sidonian marketplace was deafening as rugs, tapestries, furniture and food supplies were offloaded from the docks. He listened to the scraping of broken-wheeled carts and shouts from sellers calling to customers. In his spirit, he heard a still small voice, “Go, for I too, have often drawn My loved one, but the more I called, the more unfaithful Israel has become”.
“She will slay my heart, my Lord. Harlotry is in her blood,” answered the weary prophet.
“This time, I have allured her into the valley of Achor (trouble). There, I have given her a door of hope. In her shame, she is broken.”
Reluctantly, an exhausted seer staggered toward the slave trader’s tent, pierced through with memories of disgrace. Worst of all, he still loved this filthy, dark traitor. His heart pulsated with love while his mind raged with disgust.
Moments later a haggard, abused, wraith-like shadow of the woman he craved was back in the tender caress of her savior. Repulsive in appearance, Gomer rested peacefully in the lap of her husband, who again, painfully obeyed his enigmatic Lord.
“A man ordered his two sons to work in the vineyard. The first said, ‘I will not’, but later changed his mind. The second said, ‘I will’, but did not go. Who do you think obeyed the will of his Master?” (Matt. 21:28)
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