Falling Prey to False Gods
For the past year, my Sunday School Class has been doing a verse by verse study of the book of Hosea. It’s a short book, only 14 chapters, but there is much for us to learn. Next Sunday, we will begin Chapter 13 and in my opinion, this is the most important chapter. Why you ask? First, because the Gospel is clearly presented. Second, it shows the power and majesty of our Triune God. Third, the poignant fact that help for this doomed northern kingdom of Israel is found in no one else but the Lord their God. And lastly, because of the strong parallel to our nation.
God used Hosea to “act out” His love for His chosen people, the whole house of Israel. Yet since the Cross of Jesus Christ and the other sheep our Lord continues to bring into the fold, the spiritual lessons of Hosea also apply to us.
So, what can we learn? Hosea 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea…” This was Hosea’s calling as a prophet. The name Hosea, taken from the same Hebrew root as Joshua and Jesus, means salvation. No coincidence here.
During Hosea’s prophesy, Israel was in a period of economic growth. Yet, with prosperity, apathy most always follows, quickly leading to idolatry. In chapters 1 - 3, Hosea portrays God’s love for idolatrous Israel. God considered Israel His wife and their idolatry was akin to harlotry and adultery. Therefore, Hosea was to marry a prostitute. He chose Gomer, who bore him three children and then returned to her life as a prostitute.
The Lord said to Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel…” So, Hosea purchased her from her owners and brought her back into his home almost as a captive. This illustrated God’s love, Israel’s future captivity, and eventual return.
In chapters 4 through 12, God brings charges against Israel. They are tried, convicted of adultery, and sentenced to captivity by the Assyrian army. But in chapter 13, God again shows He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He prefers they turn from their evil ways. Yet He knows they will not.
Caught up in idolatry, Israel forgot God. His Word was relegated to suggestions instead of Law. In turn, the world’s philosophy darkened their foolish hearts. Sin increased daily because they did not seek first His kingdom and righteousness.
I see the same in our nation. We’ve discounted the Christian principles on which we were founded and have sought the false gods of self, prosperity, and pleasure. We’ve discarded God’s Holy Word and turned a blind eye to His warnings to Israel. Sadly, America is headed down the same path and we will suffer destruction unless the Lord extends mercy.
Yet, a nation does not fall prey to false gods without it first happening within the individual hardened heart. These rebellious ones foolishly think God’s Word is irrelevant for daily life and that the philosophies of this world have something to offer intellectually. Then, seeking others of like mind, together they evangelize for the god of this world.
Still, in the midst of sentencing Israel, our longsuffering God gives a message of hope and salvation. “Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no Savior besides Me. I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought…O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me…I will be your King…I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…”
He says the same to us. So, shouldn’t we surrender and allow this God to search our heart, to reveal what priority we place on Him and His Word versus the things of this world? When we do, He will forgive our sin and lead us in the Way everlasting.