June 18, 2020 – Thursday
Hosea 11:1-4 NIV
1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
Above we read Hosea’s words about God’s great love for Israel. And of Israel’s betrayal of His love with their sacrifices to the Baals and images. The falseness of Ephraim’s love for God is given in verse seven where Hosea writes My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.
This is something we know about. It is in the movies, on TV, in novels, and in our lives. People express great love for one another, but seem determined to destroy that very same love and relationship by turning to someone or something else. You read that correctly someone or something else. Someone is easy to understand, but something else? How about greed or power, always wanting to make or have more money? How about always wanting a higher more powerful position? Or both? Or simply wanting more things, possessions. If it is not one thing, it is another.
The verses above are about God’s people of Israel (and Judah), but they are obviously just as applicable to us and our relationships with each other. Husband and wife, parent and child, one friend to another, employee and employer. All of these relationships can be honored and can be dishonored. The easiest to dishonor seems to be our relationship with God as individuals, a group/people, and even a nation as Israel and Judah did.
God’s love knows no bounds, but there are times when He lets us experience the painful fruit of dishonoring Him. Sometimes this is the only way we learn. Thus it was for Israel in the near term as Hosea prophesied and for Judah only a little while later. All too often we think we are getting away with our sin because we have yet to suffer the consequences for the sin. But the consequences are simply there waiting, just around the corner of the future. Hopefully the consequences will be short term as we return or turn to God, to Jesus our Savior, and not eternal if we do not turn to God.
In chapter 12:8 we read of the foolish pride where Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” Of course this is an empty boast as wealth is no defense and God always knows the condition of our hearts and it is the condition of our hearts He is interested in. He makes this clear in Deuteronomy 30:6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. And again in the New Testament when Paul writes in Romans 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. And finally we determine it is a matter of faith when we read in Galatians 5:6 speaking of physical circumcision For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The question for each of us is the same as it was for Israel and Judah. Are we truly living by faith? Are we truly doing our best to walk with God? Are we truly expressing our faith through love? Or is it all fake? We cannot fool God no matter how hard we try. He knows our hearts. Don’t deceive yourself. Instead accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Let your life reflect your heart as you express your faith through acts of love.