God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21 - Hosea 8-14: Religious Highs vs. Wholeness with God

Today’s Reading: Hosea 8-14

The Message

English Standard Version

Moving along! We're now at 21 books and counting!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Israel is reaping what they sowed.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God through Hosea continues:
"Israel ignores God in everything. Ephraim even built altars to worship bad acts. Someday you will wish you could worship God.
"At harvest time your wild oats are not acceptable.
"Israel always had a short attention span. Now they pray to imaginary gods. I should destroy my child, but I cannot—it's too painful! So I offer reconciliation.
"They once stopped worshiping gods but now are twice as bad! I, your god, am still here!"
Hosea concludes, "Israel! It's not too late! Repent and return to God—He will heal you! God's Way sets things right."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Israel acknowledges God—when they need Him.

Hosea is not an easy book to read. For centuries Israel has taken advantage of God and now their relationship is being threatened. Israel thinks by calling out God, their father, He must protect them, His Children. Once He saves them, the cycle will repeat. Unfortunately, this time God is the cause of their calamity. The way to be protected now is to throw out their idols and fall in line with God's Law. The proper response to punishment is to ask God for salvation after your heart has returned to Him.

Israel worships these gods because they provide a greater high than worshiping God. Soon they will realize the high will not last.

I believe what God is fighting against when contending for Israel's heart is not these other gods. In the end, the gods are not what Israel wants to keep. Israel wants to live without the moral restrictions God's Law requires. That is why in The Message Eugene Peterson writes "sex-and-religion shrines" throughout the Old Testament. The gods provide an excuse for them to feel their actions are legitimate. Israel wanted to keep their sexual pleasures more than they wanted to keep their God. And they paid for it dearly. They learned in captivity what it was like to not have their high and the true God. Beware highs that do not come from holiness. Not only will they eventually end, they may alienate you from the One who is Holy.

As Israel forsakes God, their cities become less and less safe.

When religion becomes more about a high than holiness people focus more on getting high than getting holy. This leads to social breakdowns. Ephraim and Israel suffer high murder rates because they seek religious highs instead of religious holiness. When we seek highs apart from holiness our society falls apart.

Even the thought of destroying Israel completely is detestable to God.

God has destroyed nations in the past for lesser things than Israel has done. Israel's was called, chosen, and gifted to be one with God and a light for the nations. Instead, they became one with the nations and fell into the darkness of sex-and-religion worship. However, God would not destroy them,
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?
   How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
   devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.
   My insides churn in protest.
And so I’m not going to act on my anger.
   I’m not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
   I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst. (11:8-9, The Message)
God will not completely destroy His Chosen People because He loves us!

If you want to live well, learn from Israel's mistakes.

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