“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7 NIV)
Our choices do have consequences, although we work very hard to avoid them. Today we’ll look at three more of the charges that Hosea makes against Israel.
“Samaria, throw out your calf-idol!” (Hosea 8:5 NIV)
“Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning.” (Hosea 8:11 NIV)
I think these two charges are related. When the Israelites were led out of Egypt they came to the base of Mt. Sinai. Moses went up on the mountain to receive the law from God. While he was on the mountain the people became convinced that they needed a physical image to worship and created a golden calf. The worship of this calf involved the same immoral sexual practices they had learned in Egypt. God’s response to worship of the calf was immediate punishment of the sinners and still calf worship became more and more popular over time.
It was bad enough that Israel was worshiping a calf sculpture. What made this worse is that the people convinced themselves that their worship of this idol provided the same relief from sin that would be expected by an animal sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. They created a religious system that encouraged them to pursue the evil they desired and convinced themselves that God was honored in the process.
It is easy to point fingers at Israel, but aren’t we guilty of the same thing? We pick and choose where we will gather and who we will gather with based on what pleases us. Unfortunately, the impact of our Sunday gathering choices follow us into the week. If I’m “me” focused on Sunday morning what makes me think that I will be “God and other” focused through the rest of the week?
For they have gone up to Assyria like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has sold herself to lovers. (Hosea 8:9 NIV)
A wild donkey wandering alone is isolated and uncommitted. On the surface this might sound appealing to some. The donkey is free to go wherever it likes, but also lacks the protection and security that come from the herd. Ephraim is another name that Hosea uses for Israel. She claims to be free, but her desperation and insecurity show in her willingness to buy love by selling herself.
This morning I read through a lengthy list of statements from the New Testament regarding our identity in Christ. As I read through the list I quickly realized that my anxiety and insecurity are not consistent with who God says I am. No matter what I sold I could never buy the peace and security that God has already given to me. I pray that my choices will reflect who God says I am rather than who Satan wants to convince me I am.
For my grandchildren:
Worship only God. He thinks you’re incredible.