Humble yourself, pray, and seek God’s face
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth nor mercy nor knowledge of God in the land.
By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” — Hosea 4:1-2
“For Israel slideth back as to a backsliding heifer: now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place.” — Hosea 4: 16
On the United States (U.S.) Customs and Border Protection form, there are a number of questions to which you have to give a yes or no answer — one of which asks whether a person is carrying currency or monetary instruments over U.S. $10,000 or foreign equivalent. It is known that the Bahamian Treasury has been the recipient of thousands of dollars because “no” was found out to be “yes”.
The Book of Hosea is saturated with the sobbing of a man with a broken heart. His wife deserted him for another man, but yet his love for her remained steadfast and strong. Through this experience, Hosea caught a glimpse of the pain in God’s heart when his people forsook and forgot him.
The language of Hosea is plain, frank and down to earth and one can understand it in any language and circumstance of the day. As it was then, it is now — heartaches and headaches of being rejected and denied, rather than being willing to forgive and forget.
There is no doubt that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Many of us have done some things that we should not have done and said words that were not worthy of praise.
Losing time, ground, strength, opportunities and influence, add up to backsliding. Faith falters, spiritual vision grows dim, love grows cold, fellowship becomes a broken ship and the Holy Spirit is grieved. There is nothing more common among believers than backsliding. It includes a multitude of sins and causes spiritual decline.
Like the U.S. Customs form, it is a personal call to examine one’s life and see what is amiss. The beauty of it all is to fall and rise higher than before. There is danger in being forgetful. The psalmist, David, admonishes us to, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Forgetfulness and ingratitude are really a team and they walk hand in hand. We are being called upon as a people and nation to be mindful of all that God has done for us.
Then there is the lack of knowledge, which does not mean that a people have been left in ignorance of the truth and need to be informed, but that they have refused to accept and follow the truth by not having a personal experience with God. One is not thinking of an intellectual grasp of the facts, but of a “heart knowledge” which bears truth.
Then there is pride. Faith in God involves reliance and dependence upon him. Although Israel was experiencing confusion and chaos, they were too proud to call upon the God of their salvation. Rather, they surrendered to compromise and suffered nationally. However, we are reminded that pride comes before a “Humpty Dumpty” fall.
There was instability within the rank and file of the nation of Israel. No one was sticking to their guns. One would say yes in the morning and no by night time to that which they were committed to. Worldliness separated the people from God. They were more concerned and affixed to the things of the world than to that which was holy, upright and pure.
Corruption led Israel to the downward pit. Every man was for himself and those of his liking and favor. Moral corruption had reached staggering proportion in Israel as a result of the worship of false gods. Hosea’s wife was a victim. Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery were her common sins. God said that he would not punish the wives and daughters who gave way to immorality because the men were the main culprits.
The priests no longer raised their voices in protest, as they too were partakers of the sins of the people.
Today we have the opportunity to confess that we have gone astray, turned to our own agenda, forsaken the God of our forbears and turn to worldly gods.
Jesus declares that he came not for the righteous, but for sinners who are willing to repent. If we castigate the sinners, downplay and deride them, how can we ever win them? Even though Hosea’s wife was as adulterous as she could be, he forgave her and brought dignity to her once again.
I pray to Almighty God today during this holy season, that we do humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways. If we so do, the land will flourish like a mighty stream.