What a sad thing to live life going through the motions. This type of religion is cold, lifeless, and boring. Worse of all, this type of religion will never experience the presence of God, except the presence of His discipline. In this passage, Hosea is pleading with God’s people to return to a real relationship with God. God has been gracious, and even when He has sent discipline their way, it was giving them the opportunity to turn to Him.
So what was the problem? Basically, the people were still participating in the Jewish religion that was based on the law of God, but it had turned into a cold ritual rather than a relational event. In the book of Exodus, God gave the people the laws and rituals that were to be a part of their worship? These people continued to go to the Temple, offer sacrifices, and participate in the event that was worship, but then when they left their hearts were far from God. They were going through the motions, making sure they did their duty, and then they went off and lived in rebellion to God. Hosea says that their love is like a morning cloud, and the dew that goes away early. Think about the dew, it’s on the grass early in the morning when everything is cool, but as soon as the heat of the day arrives, it’s gone.
I believe this passage connects with the religious experience of so many who claim to follow Jesus. They do the religious rituals that they believe will get God’s attention, but they do those things so they can live as if God didn’t exist the rest of the time. When they are at church, they sing the songs, do Communion, and might even listen to the preacher (not the whole time, but at least the jokes). But they keep God at an arms length, and they go through the motions. When the service is over, they are out the door, to go on with their week, without a second thought to what just took place, or to God who gave His Son for them.
Here’s what I want you to do with this devotion. Think about the last church service you attended. Maybe it was at Genesis this weekend. Think about the songs, prayers, and message. How did God speak? What did He say? Where did you experience grace? Did you repent? Or did you go through the motions so you could check off that you went to church? Take a few minutes to write a few thoughts about what God said in the service and how you can apply that to your life.