“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7 NIV)
Today we look at the final two charges that Hosea makes against Israel.
“I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something foreign.” (Hosea 8:12 NIV)
Israel existed in an oral culture. Writing things down required significant effort and expense. People would only write down those things that were of greatest importance that needed to be accurately preserved. God makes the effort to communicate His law to men who are instructed to write it down so that it can be shared and preserved. Many think this was one of Joshua’s roles during the wandering in the wilderness. Moses heard from God and then Joshua wrote down what Moses heard.
The law was important, and it was God’s special communication to Israel and Judah. Israel’s response was to treat the law as if it was written in a foreign language and belonged to a different people. God says they were treating His law as we would treat a Koran written in Arabic. It isn’t relevant for us unless we have a desire to better understand the people of the Middle East. This would require extensive effort on our part because we don’t understand the language or the culture of Muslims.
We do the same thing that Israel did any time we choose to be selective with what God has caused to be written down for us. When we choose the parts of scripture that support our practices and lifestyle while ignoring others we are at risk of becoming like Israel. There are parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand. When anyone begins a plan to read through all the Bible we joke about how difficult it is to get through Leviticus. Leviticus contains the material that the Israelites were considering alien. It tells us about what God cares about and is worth the effort to read and understand, as is all the rest of the word that God has had written for us.
“Israel has forgotten their Maker and built palaces; Judah has fortified many towns.” (Hosea 8:14 NIV)
Palaces were the power center of a nation with a king. The grander the palace the wealthier and more powerful the king. The wealth and power of the king were perceived to be the security of the nation. The same was true of walls. The only way to defeat a walled city was by siege and this required a large army and patience as sieges often lasted for years. With a strong wall and a source of water a city could feel secure. Where is God in this picture? Israel and Judah had determined that God was unreliable, and they placed their security in things they could create. They put their faith in the work of their hands.
It should be easy to see how we repeat the same mistake. As Americans we rely on the might of our military, the wonder of our technology, and our unending wealth. Any of these can make God seem unnecessary and become an idol for us. Together they make it challenging for us to be a people who are totally dependent on God. While it is important to be grateful for our country, technology, and wealth we must never forget that all these things are temporary and in no way compare to the might, wonder, and splendor of our God.
For my grandchildren:
God can never be a foreigner to you because you are His child. Trust God because He never fails.