RESPONDING TO HOLINESS

Opening Prayer

I come to your Word today, Lord God, with gratitude, humility, and a desire to learn more of you.

Read HOSEA 8:1–9:9

Israel to Reap the Whirlwind

8 “Put the trumpet to your lips!
    An eagle is over the house of the Lord
because the people have broken my covenant
    and rebelled against my law.
Israel cries out to me,
    ‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’
But Israel has rejected what is good;
    an enemy will pursue him.
They set up kings without my consent;
    they choose princes without my approval.
With their silver and gold
    they make idols for themselves
    to their own destruction.
Samaria, throw out your calf-idol!
    My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of purity?
    They are from Israel!
This calf—a metalworker has made it;
    it is not God.
It will be broken in pieces,
    that calf of Samaria.

“They sow the wind
    and reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no head;
    it will produce no flour.
Were it to yield grain,
    foreigners would swallow it up.
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.
10 Although they have sold themselves among the nations,
    I will now gather them together.
They will begin to waste away
    under the oppression of the mighty king.

11 “Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,
    these have become altars for sinning.
12 I wrote for them the many things of my law,
    but they regarded them as something foreign.
13 Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me,
    and though they eat the meat,
    the Lord is not pleased with them.
Now he will remember their wickedness
    and punish their sins:
    They will return to Egypt.
14 Israel has forgotten their Maker
    and built palaces;
    Judah has fortified many towns.
But I will send fire on their cities
    that will consume their fortresses.”

Punishment for Israel

9 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.
Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people;
    the new wine will fail them.
They will not remain in the Lord’s land;
    Ephraim will return to Egypt
    and eat unclean food in Assyria.
They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord,
    nor will their sacrifices please him.
Such sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners;
    all who eat them will be unclean.
This food will be for themselves;
    it will not come into the temple of the Lord.

What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals,
    on the feast days of the Lord?
Even if they escape from destruction,
    Egypt will gather them,
    and Memphis will bury them.
Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers,
    and thorns will overrun their tents.
The days of punishment are coming,
    the days of reckoning are at hand.
    Let Israel know this.
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,[a]
yet snares await him on all his paths,
    and hostility in the house of his God.
They have sunk deep into corruption,
    as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness
    and punish them for their sins.

Footnotes

  1. Hosea 9:8 Or The prophet is the watchman over Ephraim, / the people of my God

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

May God’s holiness inspire us to turn away from anything that is contrary to God’s plan. Welcome the light of the Holy Spirit into the depths of our hearts.

Think Further

Today’s passage must have been deeply troubling to hear. At best, those in Hosea’s audience were offering sacrifices and offerings, but these were devoid of the all-important right attitude. At worst, they were rebelling and rejecting all that is good, all that is from God. The people had chosen their own path: they made idols and appointed leaders without God’s consent. All these sins would lead them into exile; Hosea’s warnings would fall, largely, on deaf ears.

It’s not easy to be told that you are wrong, nor that your lifestyle is wrong. As a pastor, some of the most challenging conversations I have ever had were with people in my congregation who were making sinful choices. It is a desperately hard thing to talk about. Jesus reminds us to take a good look at ourselves first, because it is always far easier to find fault in others. The choice to walk away from church and God can offer itself as an easier option than to admit fault and repent. However, it is often through the more challenging things that we grow.

Hosea’s message did not lead to widespread repentance. That was not the fault of the messenger, nor of the message. Today we are able to point people to Jesus who, having given himself, forgives all who come with faith and repentance. Pointing people to Jesus is a fruitful way in which lives can be changed. It is far less my job to point out someone’s fault; rather, the Holy Spirit, who lets me know when I need to repent, is able to guide others. Our lives should emulate the grace of Jesus, while acknowledging the incredible holiness of God. Let our words be salted with the healing and fragrance of the grace we have received.

Apply

Pray for those who have walked away from church and God.

Closing prayer

You first, you only, Lord God Almighty; there is no one like you. Help me to turn from anything or anyone that would take me away from my walk with you.

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by kingstar

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