Love hurts: Sowing and reaping

Hosea 8

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows…” (Galatians 6:7,8) This is true of unbelievers as well as believers, and of nations as well as individuals.

Sowing (verses 1-6)

Israel’s motto could well have been, “I did it my way” – in politics and in religion. They still claimed to be Yahweh’s people – but this profession was completely contradicted by their behaviour. And sometimes Christians are no better (I John 2:4). Of all Israel’s kings, only Jeroboam I (I Kings 11:26-40) and Jehu (II Kings 9) had been appointed by God. After the fall of Jehu’s dynasty, the succession was decided by civil war.

And in the religious arena, instead of submitting to the true God, they made their own gods. Idolatry had been at the very centre of Israel’s social and political structure ever since Jeroboam I had made his two calf-idols (I Kings 12:25-33); and their relationship with God could not be restored unless those idols were repudiated. There is no sense in worshipping a man-made object – for something that has been made can also be destroyed (verse 6).

Reaping (verses 7-14)

Israel was investing in God’s wrath – at compound interest!
“They sow the wind
and reap the whirlwind.” (verse 7)
Her people had abandoned any attempt to maintain their distinctiveness from the rest of the world. They had sought – and bought – the friendship of the pagan world; but that kind of friendship is worthless, and their foreign ‘allies’ actually despised them. And because they preferred the lordship of Assyria to the lordship of Yahweh, by Assyria they would eventually be enslaved.

Jesus also warns us against absorbing the beliefs and attitudes of those around us (Matthew 5:13). For the Church, identification with secular culture often leads to assimilation by that culture (I John 2:15-17).

God had stipulated that He should be worshipped at one place only; any sacrifice offered elsewhere would be an act of apostasy. Thus worship can actually become an insult to the God we profess to be worshipping. Because the Israelites were breaking the Law, their worship called down the very judgement they were hoping to avert. The end result would be an undoing of all that God had ever done for them, and a return to the slavery from which He had originally rescued them.

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