Hosea 13-14: Return to God
December 5, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
God’s people had begun down their slippery slope towards increasing idolatry “through Baal” (13:1), and “now they sin more and more” (13:2). Untended to, weeds grow and grow, addictions gather power, sin festers, and idols multiply. So it was with God’s people: once they began to turn, they spiraled increasingly out of control, far from the orbit of God’s sovereign love. Apparently, their idolatry involved—of all things—“human sacrifice” (13:2). In the context of this gross rebellion, God now surveys their history. He brought them out of Egypt (13:4), but when they were “filled” they “forgot” God (13:6). Yet God has a plan:
I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? (13:14)
And so, in the midst of this calamity, there is hope, and a call to God’s people to “return” to God (14:1). And God then promises “I will heal their apostasy” (14:4). Once more, lastly, he reminds that he and idols have nothing in common, for “it is I who answer and look after you” (14:8). The book ends with a wisdom saying. Be sure that following God is wise, and rejecting him is foolish:
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them (14:9)
In summary, then, Hosea’s message is simple: God’s people, return to your God, for he loves you, and put aside all idols which are so calamitous and the root cause of all your problems. Idolatry seems such a foreign, strange idea to us, perhaps; but whatever we worship is exposed by our ultimate attachment to it. We “have” to have that thing, that raise, that job, that relationship. Such idols of identity and selfishness can ultimately even lead to human sacrifice, and they always lead to devastation. Idols promise much, but they always fail to deliver. Instead, would you return to God “for the ways of the Lord are right” (14:9).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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