For the Love of God, Volume 2/November 3
From Gospel Translations
2 Kings 16; Titus 2; Hosea 9; Psalms 126—128
“THE DAYS OF PUNISHMENT ARE COMING, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this” (9:7). This chapter (Hosea 9) spells out some of the connections between sin and judgment.
(1) The language of prostitution continues: “For you have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor” (9:1). Both politically and religiously, Israel flirted continuously with alien gods and foreign powers. All the ceremony of religion she dearly loved. But the days are coming when she will be scattered, forced to abandon “the LORD ’s land” (9:3, 17). Israel will return to “Egypt” (9:3); some Israelites did end up there, but Egypt is also a cipher for any alien, oppressive country. Ephraim (= Israel) will “eat unclean food in Assyria” (9:3). Not just the ceremonial uncleanness of the food is in view, but the prospect of forced exile. All the offerings for her much loved festivals and ceremonies will dry up (9:5); the punishments are tied to the sins.
(2) Systematic denigration of the prophets means that the people cannot hear God’s warnings—and so their cynicism ensures that they stumble into the judgments against which the prophets warn. “Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac. The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God” (9:7-8). How well does this apply today?
(3) The history of Israel swings from really wonderful connections with the living God—from God’s perspective it was “like finding grapes in the desert” (9:10)—to abominable degradation. The incident of Baal Peor (9:10; cf. Num. 25) is telling, for it combines both physical and spiritual unchastity: the Moabite women seduced the men of Israel, and the local Moabite Baal attracted their worship. Our culture follows sex as avidly and sometimes connects it with the selffulfillment of new age spirituality. The result with us will be what it was at Baal Peor: the people “became as vile as the thing they loved” (9:10). What you worship you soon resemble (Ps. 115:8); more, you identify with it, defend it, make common cause with it—and if it is an abomination to God, soon you are an abomination to him. So the “glory” departs (9:11), whether in the sense of reputation, or self-respect, or moral leadership, or, finally, the very presence of God (Ezek. 8:6; 11:23).
To defend a king or a president because of his economic policies when the moral core has evaporated means we have become as vile as the things we love.