Date: July 31, 2011, 10:01:36 AM
Hosea - The Prophet Who Redeemed His Wife
"Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife ... because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." - Hosea 1:2
Sometimes God asks people to do difficult things.
Answering God's call to be a prophet was hard enough. Hosea prophesied in Israel during some of the worst years of its decline - the final four decades of its wretched existence. His message: Because of Israel's unfaithfulness, God would send the Assyrian armies to besiege, destroy, and carry off people and plunder. Prophets were not exactly everyone's favorite celebrity. A doomsday prophet in Israel was about as popular as a butcher at a vegan rally. But after a hard day of facing hatred and ridicule on the job, a faithful prophet could limp back home to a devoted wife. Surely a faithful wife was not too much to ask, right?
God wanted Hosea to feel what God felt when the nation He loved was unfaithful to Him. In spite of God's continual love and faithfulness, Israel had disobeyed, rebelled, and chased after other gods. It broke God's heart, but he had to let Israel leave Him, and let them slip into bondage in Assyria. But God already had in mind a way to buy back his people - to redeem them from their slavery to sin.
By divine design, Hosea's marriage was tragically similar. Hosea married a woman named Gomer. Gomer was unfaithful, and chased after other men. It broke Hosea's heart, but he had to let Gomer go, and she became attached to another man.
Hosea heartbreak is evident in the card's artwork, but what happened next in Hosea's story is the basis for his special ability in Redemption. God told Hosea to buy Gomer back - to redeem her - so that she could once again be with Hosea. He paid the price of her freedom with money and grain, and brought Gomer home.
In Redemption, there are four primary "roles" that are played by the characters: Evil Character, Captured Character (treated as a Lost Soul), Rescued Character (treated as a Redeemed Soul), and Hero. Many Redemption cards convert evil characters directly from Evil Character to Hero. While this type of instant, radical transformation did happen a few times in the Bible (think the Apostle Paul), more often than not, the change from active enemy of God to participant in God's redemptive work took (and still takes today) a series of steps.
First, an enemy of God realizes that he has been wrong. At that point, he stops actively trying to thwart the rescue of souls. In fact, he recognizes he is a lost soul himself. Then, through faith, he can become a Redeemed (rescued) Soul. As he grows and matures in the faith, the Redeemed Soul learns to use the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), and becomes a Hero. This is a very simplistic example, and does not take into account the fact that sometimes Captured Characters are simply captured physically, not spiritually. Still, the important thing to notice is that when an evil character is captured, it actually brings that character closer to redemption, which is the name of the game.
Heroes have been capturing evil characters since 1996, when Baggage appeared in the Prophets expansion. Another good enhancement that captured evil characters was Joseph Before Pharaoh, which was especially helpful because it placed that captured evil character into your opponent's Land of Bondage, which gave you another lost soul to rescue.
When we designed Hosea, we decided to give him an ability that would enable him to capture an evil character like Gomer, and place it in opponent's land of bondage, where Hosea could then immediately attempt to rescue that captured character. I did get to see Hosea rescue Gomer in playtesting, and I hope we'll see it happen in the coming year. We may also see players capturing their own banding evil characters such as Lot's Wife (as a Canaanite she will probably see more play this year), or King Manasseh (already a top-tier evil character that is used quite often).
NOTE: "Capture ___ to opponent's Land of Bondage" is the new, shorter way to say "Capture ___ and place it in opponent's Land of Bondage." This terminology appears on a few new cards this year.
Seeking Lost Souls
When the first nine Rock of Ages tins were printed, new lost souls were included. This year, none of the tins contain new lost souls. However, all six of the new tins contain a card or two that can help you generate a lost soul to rescue. Here's a list of those cards, with their special abilities:
Tin 20: Hosea, who can capture your own King Belshazzar "You may search a discard pile for a Temple Artifact and/or Belshazzar’s Banquet. May band to a Babylonian (except a King)."
Tin 21: Assyrian Survivor "Protected from discard abilities on opponent’s cards. If defeated, capture to opponent's Land of Bondage. Cannot be interrupted."
Tin 22: Pharaoh's Cupbearer "You may capture this character to opponent's Land of Bondage to search your discard pile for a Genesis character (or a Genesis Artifact) and add your Genesis character to the battle. Cannot be negated."
and Joseph Before Pharaoh "If used by a son of Jacob, negate opponent’s evil or neutral card. If it’s a human, capture it to opponent’s Land of Bondage. Otherwise put it beneath deck."
Tin 23: Gibeonite Delegates "Protected from discard abilities. If defeated, capture this card to opponent's Land of Bondage. May band to Gibeonite Delegates. Cannot be prevented."
Tin 24: King Amaziah "Once per game, you may choose an evil King of Israel to block. If this hero is captured, you may add your O.T. Hero to the battle."
with King Jehoash (King of Israel) "Capture King Amaziah to take a Temple Artifact. First Strike. Cannot be negated if a Samaria Site is in play."
Tin 25: Shechem (Canaanite) "If another Canaanite is in play, you may capture a female Hero or transfer a captured character to opponent's Land of Bondage. Cannot be prevented."
Generating a lost soul to rescue can be a big help in booster draft, where Lost Soul availability often determines the outcome of a game. In Open categories, lost soul generation can be helpful against site decks, Heretic defenses, and decks that shuffle souls with cards like Death of Unrighteous.
Hosea is not the best hero to release in 2011 (he's in the bottom third, probably), but he is one of the better ways to find a lost soul to rescue. How helpful that is for you will depend on what players are using in your area. But if your prophet deck is losing games because you spend a turn or two twiddling your thumbs with no lost soul to rescue, consider adding Hosea to that deck. It could keep you a turn ahead of your opponent, which is all you need for victory.
Like Gomer, we all have been unfaithful to God. Like Gomer, we've hurt the heart of the One who loves us most. Like Gomer, we all have needed a redeemer to buy us out of our mess and give us a second chance. Gomer had Hosea. We have Jesus. Jesus came "to seek and save the lost." He redeemed us (bought us back) out of our slavery to sin and death.
Each time I look at the Hosea card, I see Hosea holding his breaking heart because of his love for Gomer. It reminds me that my Redeemer loves me. He loved me enough to pay so much more than money and grain to buy me back. He paid with his life so that he could take me home.
Rating: by 9 members.