Read: Hosea 6:4-10:15
This is a rather sad subject to read about this morning. Spoiler alert: this doesn’t end well, the happy ending is not in today’s reading!
The sins of northern kingdom of Israel are summarized in these few chapters:
I long to redeem them
but they speak about me falsely.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts
but wail on their beds.
They slash themselves, appealing to their gods
for grain and new wine,
but they turn away from me.
Searching for answers from gods created by human hands, but systems of worship that are far removed from our Creator.
Israel is swallowed up;
now she is among the nations
like something no one wants.
For they have gone up to Assyria
like a wild donkey wandering alone.
Ephraim has sold herself to lovers.
When we seek pleasure first and forsake the one who loves us deeply, we add sin upon sin, dark to darkness, lost leading to lost.
“Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,
these have become altars for sinning.
They were shown the way, but the way they went was far from that which they were led. The altars that were established as a reminder of sin became the very place they sinned.
Do not rejoice, Israel;
do not be jubilant like the other nations.
For you have been unfaithful to your God;
you love the wages of a prostitute
at every threshing floor.
Hosea understands the darkness of heart that lies within the prostitute. His firsthand knowledge makes these few words poignant, sticky, devastating and far too real.
Reading through the books of the prophets definitely gives me perspective on their lives, the difficulties they faced. Of the gifts of the Spirit, I think I would tend to stay away from prophecy if given the choice!
Because your sins are so many
and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
the inspired person a maniac.
The prophet, along with my God,
is the watchman over Ephraim,
yet snares await him on all his paths,
and hostility in the house of his God.
I believe it’s quite true, one who is given the gift of prophecy, inspired by the Spirit, will look like a maniac to those who are far from God. I can understand Hosea’s frustration to some degree.
We end the reading today on a dark note:
So will it happen to you, Bethel,
because your wickedness is great.
When that day dawns,
the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
Like a song that ends too soon, an unresolved chord, we’re left hanging here is sorrow. Sometimes it’s appropriate to let the thought linger. Perhaps we will have a greater appreciation for the way God loves us when we think for a moment about a world without Jesus.