Devotion – Hosea 8

In your life, right now, what do you see as the answer to your problems?  Do you believe that a new president and new political leadership might solve our problems.  Maybe you think that a better job or your education will create a better life for you and will make life work?  It might be, that if you are married, your think, “Oh, if I could just get my husband or wife to change,” Or, if you are single, maybe you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and that relationship for you is the thing that you pursue the most?  Or maybe you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you just believe that if you could find a person of the opposite gender it would fill some of the emptiness.  Possibly, for you, it is sports, or music, or art…   Or possibly you believe that if you could just have money, so it is finding a job, owning a car, and being able to buy stuff that makes you tick.  Think about it.  In your life, what do you see as the ultimate answer to your problems, the primary focus of your existence.

OK, so if you are a religious person, you may have chosen the churchy answer… “God”.  That’s great, but what does this really mean?  Hosea contains a series of sermons from God that he shared with God’s people in Israel.  His messages come at a time when Israel is in dire trouble, and they don’t know it at all.  Verse 1 begins with the statement, “Set the trumpet to your lips!  One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord.”  Specifically, this is a message from God warning them that a battle is imminent, and the battle will leave this nation looking like a dying animal in a field with vultures circling overhead.  God’s people had rejected His covenant and His love, and rebelled against Him.  But they did this in a very religious way, they kept going to church, and doing all the religious stuff.  But at the heart of things, they did not exalt God in their hearts and worship Him first.  God was willing to bless them and care for them, but instead, they turned to all sorts of other sources when times got tough.

First, they rejected God as their leader and choose politics as the answer (v.4).  Instead of seeking God’s plan, they exalted kings, but when a king didn’t make them happy, they would assassinate the leader they had installed.  These kings led the nation to alliances and treaties with other nations for protection.  They trusted these kings when they should have trusted God for protection.  Then they began to worship idols (v.5-6).  This is so much more than rubbing the belly of a golden statue and chanting mantras.  Most idols were images of gods that came from the things people worshipped most and feared the most.  A calf was an image of gods and goddesses of agriculture.  In other words, the economy was based on this sort of stuff, so they created a god that would care for their livestock, and prayed to that god, rather than trusting the God of the universe who delivered them and loved them.  To sum it up, rather than trusting God, they kept the form of their Hebrew religion, but they did not seek God as the answer to life.  Instead they believe politics, treaties, and their jobs would deliver them from their distress.

The result, the kings they exalted were evil, vile people who led the people astray.  The nation with whom they had made a treaty (Assyria, v. 9) would come and conquer them and make them slaves, and their agriculture would suffer and fail to keep them prosperous.  God’s plan was to use the very things His people looked to as the answer for their problems to bring judgment and distress.  See, the only answer to this great question is the Gospel.  The emptiness in life, and the struggle of living in the world ought to lead us to look to God and trust in Jesus.  Yet, we find all kinds of answers to the question of meaning.  None of these will work.  We need God, a relationship with Him, and His presence in life.  Nothing else matters, and nothing else will satisfy.

Back to the original question.  In your life, right now, what do you see as the answer to your problems?

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