Lessons from Pig Farmers

Some parts of the Bible have always bugged me.  And I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers or even have these portions figured out.  But I’m trying to process them.  Because they are there.  And I can’t believe one part of the Bible but not others.

In Matthew 8:28-32 it says this:

28 When he {Jesus} arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

Now, on one hand, we see Jesus’ compassion and love to heal these men who were possessed.  They were tortured every minute of every day, people couldn’t be around them, it was NO way to live!  And Jesus freed them from that life!  How wonderful is that?

BUT…..

What about the poor people who owned those pigs??  In this time people were farmers and that is how the fed their families, made money, etc.  And Jesus just destroyed their whole herd of pigs!  The demons, who were cast into the pigs by Jesus, ran off a cliff!  I don’t think there was any way of making bacon out of them anymore!

So, why is that ok?  Why is ok to destroy a man’s livelihood?

Now, I am NOT saying Jesus should have left the demon possessed men to live like that forever.  But couldn’t he have found a less destructive way to get rid of the demons?  There just had to be a less painful way.

And then you read Hosea.  This story is messed up!  My heart breaks for Hosea!

Hosea 1:2

2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:

“Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”

Wait….WHAT?!?!?!

God just told a man who loves Him and follows Him to marry a prostitute.  FULL KNOWING that she was going to continue to prostitute.  Let this woman have your children.  Continue to sleep with her as her husband knowing that that very day she will or will have just slept with another man.  Repeatedly.

All because the whole nation of Israel had turned their back on God.

Here, Hosea, you be the example, the metaphor for how the nation of Israel is treating God.

And after Hosea has finally had enough and sends her away, this is what God tells him:

Hosea 3

1 Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife.

Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”

2-3 I did it. I paid good money to get her back.
It cost me the price of a slave.

Again, I understand the beauty of God showing His undying love for us.  I understand He wants SO PASSIONATELY for us to follow Him, love Him, obey Him because He has our BEST at heart.

But Hosea had to suffer this way to show that?

This one, of course, hits me hardest.  Now, please know that Tim did NOT prostitute himself!  But there was infidelity there.  For a long period of time.  And the pain is indescribable.

I was talking with my counselor recently and sharing some struggles I’ve been having.  She commented that these things could be to try to bring Tim closer to God.  That the path we are on can be good for him.

And I just burst into tears.  I told her I don’t want to pay for his choices anymore.

I’m selfish.

I don’t want to be the collateral damage for his choices anymore.

I don’t want God to use me like that anymore.

I’m selfish.

I want to be more un-selfish.

I want to be able to see what Jesus did for the demon possessed men and not become angry for the farmers who lost their pigs.  I want to be able to see God’s love for these men that He was willing to sacrifice temporary discomfort (of the farmers) for the lasting peace and healing of the demon possessed men.  And that even though the farmers lost all their pigs, God still LOVED them too!

I want to look at the story of Hosea and see the strength and courage in Hosea to obey God, to follow His commands no matter what that meant for him, because He knew that God was not trying to hurt Hosea, but show His love to SO MANY people.  It’s because of this greater good that Hosea could stand up under the pain and keep fighting for his wife, keep obeying his God.

Hosea ends like this:

Hosea 14

1-3 O Israel, come back! Return to your God! You’re down but you’re not out.                                               Prepare your confession and come back to God.                                                                                                           Pray to him, “Take away our sin, accept our confession.                                                                                     Receive as restitution our repentant prayers.

4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”

So, even though God compared Israel to a married prostitute, He promises so much beauty and bounty!  He doesn’t hold back because of what “she” has done.  He loves her and wants to give her all that He has.

I need to be stronger.

I need to be less selfish and self-preserving.

I need God to make me stronger.

Because there are many times I just want to pound my fists and cry and scream, “Enough is ENOUGH!”

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from Pig Farmers

  1. Sorry for the anonymous comment. My e-mail address is real.

    Your post made me think of this song by Pedro the Lion “Of Minor Prophets and Their Prostitute Wives”:

    I’ve read your blog for about two years now.

    Thanks.

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