Want to be humbled? Read Hosea… it’s what I’m studying right now, and it’s a good way to suck the air right out of your lungs.
It’s about Israel’s unrepetence… they’re compared to a harlot who continues to leave her husband, her true love, to sell herself for something cheap and tawdry.
The people of Israel forget God, are punished, and then repent… only they’re full of hot air.
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
Ouch. God (through Hosea) is saying here that His people claim to love him… but they love with an A.D.D. mindset. It’s convenient today. Popular today. The church is super cool today, so they’re on board. A dynamic preacher. Awesome music. Cool audio/visual stunts.
And then the preacher leaves. The music changes. The stunts are passé. The singles group is no longer cool. That warm fuzzy feeling is gone. And like the morning mist… the believer’s commitment disappears. Actually… the commitment doesn’t disappear, it’s just redirected. To a boy. Or a girl. Or a job. Or a new hobby. Maybe another “it” church down the street offering a new brand of warm fuzzies.
Or how about this one?
Ephraim mixes with the nations;
Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over.
Foreigners sap his strength,’but he does not realize it.
His hair is sprinkled with gray,
but he does not notice.
A flat cake not turned over is a cake that is burned on one side, raw on the other. It’s uneatable. No longer useful for the purpose it was created for. I am quite familiar with this concept as much of my cooking ends up this way… burned on one side, raw on the other… maybe God is trying to bring His word alive through my cooking… or maybe I have issues with my oven (at least this is what I will tell my dinner guests).
Basically, the people of Israel had intermarrried with foreign people who didn’t have the same beliefs in them. They didn’t worship Israel’s one true God. And little by little, His people forgot Him. Not all at once, but inch by inch, they backed away from their God and picked up the habits and beliefs of those around them. And when that happened, the people were useless… not a Jew, not a Gentile, not fully believing in God, not fully believing in the other Gods. Like a flat cake not turned over.
Don’t get me wrong… I would marry a foreign man in an instant… with some thick, sultry accent (preferably Australian, or British, or Spanish, or Italian, or Greek… or just about any for that matter–feel free to join me in praying that God will bring me a dark-haired foreign Baptist boy… and soon!!). The deal wasn’t marrying the foreigner, it’s that they were marrying someone of a different faith. Fast forward to present day – this could mean marrying someone of a different faith (oh man, if I just could have dated some of the beautiful non-Christian boys who have asked me out over the past few years… but it’s NOT worth it… don’t even dip your toe in that water, my friend).
Dating or just regular “friends,” we act like those closest to us. It’s just the way life goes… we pick up their gestures, their speech, their attitudes. The quickest way to make me materialistic and self-conscious is to put me in a room of materialistic, judgmental girls, and it takes me about 30 seconds to absorb that mindset. Want to make alcohol a struggle? Hang out with only folks who drink. Have an attitude problem? There’s probably a best friend with one too. We think like those we’re closest to, we talk like those we’re closest to. We start to comingle values, beliefs, attitudes.
Change can be subtle… slow… and then one day you wake up and realize that you’ve become one of “them.” Whoever “them” is.
Hopefully your “them” don’t have a faith like the morning mist.
And so as I read Hosea, I pray that I can have a faith that’s steady, tested, steadfast. That my “thems” will be people who model a faith stronger than mine, with pure hearts and sweet spirits (and remember… pray for that cute foreign Baptist boy… I’m not joking on this one).
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.