We are closing out our look at Hosea today and I want to take a look at a verse that outlines another thing that can cause us to stray from God. This time it’s wealth and money.
Hosea 10:1 How prosperous Israel is— a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars.
I once tried to explain to someone why I believe wealth and riches are such a danger to your spiritual health. I wish I’d known about this verse at the time, because I believe it puts it in a way that is easy to understand, especially if you can translate the examples into modern situations. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars. Here’s what that means to me as a person alive in 2018.
If I was rich, I would be loaded down with toys. I’d get bored with playing the xbox and I’d move to the playstation and then I’d go outside and fly my drone and then I’d ride my motorcycle and then I’d go see a concert and then I’d go eat at a nice restaurant and then me and some friends would take an impromptu trip up to the casino and by the time my head hit the pillow at 4am I would’ve made zero time for God. And I would do that most every day. My sacred pillars would be incredible. I’d have a movie theater in my house and every night I’d host a themed movie night for friends and family. The gadgets, the games, the toys, they would fill my minutes and my hours, and my time with God would slip and slip and slip and eventually fade.
That’s why wealth is a danger to spiritual health. It’s a truth I’ve never been able to really bring to life before I studied Hosea, but now it is undeniable to me. I’m so thankful that I’m not rich. As much as I’d love to say that I’d give it all away or start these amazing ministries with it or bless thousands of people with it, can I really trust that it would go that way? Am I one of the faithful and disciplined few that could have riches and not let it negatively affect me as a person and as a follower of God? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that God and I are in a great place at my current level of wealth, and God’s using me to help plenty of people despite the fact that I don’t have a ton of money. That’s good enough for me. I take the warnings of the Bible seriously, especially the repeated warnings, and having a lot of money is something that the Bible warns against in multiple places. Here in Hosea it’s teaching us why.
Hosea 13:5-6 I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. 6 But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.
We need him when there’s trouble and forget him once it’s passed. In sickness we turn to God, in health we’re just fine without Him. In poverty we cry out to God for provision, in times of wealth He’s far from our mind. What we are perilously ignoring with this behavior is the fact that He’s the God of the low time and of the high, God of the healing and of the healed. One of the most beautiful things about God is the way you can use your reliance on Him in the low times to deepen your relationship in the other times. That’s real relationship. It’s not just about needing someone when they can do something for you, but wanting them even when everything is okay. But when we use Him as our magic genie, our get out of jail free card, and then forget about Him once the tough time is over, we cheapen who He is. We insult His character, we deny Him the thing He wants all along, which is a real relationship with us.
The unfaithful ones I mention in the title of this series are us. God’s people are the unfaithful ones, as evidenced all throughout the Bible and all throughout our own lives and the lives around us. I don’t say this to condemn anyone, but the fact is that a big portion of the Bible is spent showing just how bad humanity is at staying faithful to God. It was a reality in Bible times, and unfortunately it is absolutely a reality in modern times. Why does God need us to be aware of this? Because you have to know what is wrong before you can begin to fix it. The Old Testament is dangerously ignored by a lot of Christians, and the minor prophets at the end of the Old Testament are probably more ignored than any other part. Yet here sits a vitally important book of the Bible that gives us an intimate glimpse into the major issue that plagues humanity. Most of us have spent the majority of our lives ignoring God, or worse, hearing what He has to say and then refusing to do it. God laid it out for us here and it’s not a pretty picture. He’s the loving husband who gives us more than we ever deserved, we’re the prostitutes that cheat on Him anyways. If those words hurt you our upset you I say two things. First, God put them in the Bible for a reason. Second, good, they should hurt and upset you.
Hosea challenges us in a way few other books of the Bible do. It paints a sobering picture not just of our unfaithfulness, but of how that unfaithfulness makes God feel. This book of the Bible hurts my heart, and anyone who loves God probably feels the same way about it. Hosea’s strong message leaves you with only one real direction to go. Search your life for times and ways you are being unfaithful to God, repent of them, and work as hard as you possibly can to stop being unfaithful. God’s never done anything wrong to us, not even once, and if you disagree with that statement I lovingly challenge you to email me and tell me why you think I’m wrong, I would love to discuss it. The Bible reveals His character, and that revelation reads a bit like this.
2 Timothy 2:13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.
Hosea challenges us in the best of ways. It challenges us to be better, to treat God in the manner He deserves. It clearly shows us that in a relationship with us, God is a loving and faithful partner who never falters. What kind of a partner do you want to be to Him in return?
I love all of you. I hope you got as much out of this study as I did. God’s been so unbelievably good to me and I want to respond to that in the manner that He deserves. Hosea is such a beautiful and tough book and I look forward to studying it again sometime in the future. I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I will be back on Thursday with more musings on the Bible. I hope you’ll join me. In the meantime, if you have any prayer needs or just wanna talk about faith, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.