Day 21 – Hosea 14
I love this last beautiful chapter in Hosea. God’s ultimate desire for His people is that they return so He can bless them. His yearning for them is great. His desire for them is for abundant goodness. His forgiveness for them is complete. And if we have gone to Jesus and asked for His Presence in our lives, and been born anew into His family? This chapter is for us. Yes, it is. Paul tells us in Romans 11:17, “But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.” We who are Gentile believers have been grafted in to God’s family and we belong.
Even in this glorious chapter, where the focus is on all the good things God wants to do for His people, we get one more warning about idols. Let’s define idol as we finish up Hosea. It’s so much more than a hand-carved statue that some people bow down to and worship. An idol is “ … something or someone that we put before God. One passage in the Bible, Colossians 3:5 – 6, answers the question of what is an idol. Colossians 3:5-6 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Christian.net). So, in light of that definition, these are the questions we need to ask ourselves:
- is there a person that I am putting ahead of God in my affections?
- is there a cause for which I am passionate that I’ve put ahead of God in my heart and actions?
- is there a material possession – my home, my yard, my antique – that I value more highly than Him?
- is there a product that promises me youth and vitality or health or wealth that I obsess about more than I ought to in light of God being my first love?
- Do I choose sexual immorality or impurity or lust or evil desires or greed for selfish reasons instead of putting those things to death and focusing on what is of God?
- When I wake up in the morning, is He in my thoughts and heart or am I always thinking of something else – a product, an issue, another person, a cause?
- Is God first with me?
These are hard questions. And they make me waaaay more tender-hearted toward the Israelites and their penchant for idolatry because I see how easily we can allow other things and people to creep into first place in our own lives. God is First. He is the One and Only. He satisfies as no other thing or person can. He’s jealous for us in a holy, yearning, loving way because He knows we will not find rest or peace outside of Him. For He is our rest. He is our peace. He is our joy.
As we end Week Three, let’s treasure all we have learned about God’s love for us through Ruth’s story and Hosea’s marriage. I look forward to our last week together where we will dive deeply into some marvelous passages of scripture that continue to teach us of His steadfast love.
My verse: Hosea 14:8 ”O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.”
My response: Let me remember, dear Lord, that all my fruit comes from You. There is no other source. You answer when I cry out to You. You alone care for me and hear me. You are the One. You alone. And Your love for me and all Your children is astounding!