First, let me invite you to the newly rescheduled podcast. This month, for the recap of Hosea, join us at 7 CST on April 23rd. I have a scheduling conflict, so we’re shooting for the 23rd this month, which is actually the fourth Tuesday of April. Hope you can participate.
As we study this book, I hope you are highlighting the sins of Israel and making applications for women of our day. Today, let’s take a look at Gomer’s attitude in chapter two as she left Hosea for the life of a prostitute. Notice verse five:
“For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
Representative of Israel, which went whoring after idols of wood and stone, Gomer credits her lovers with providing the material necessities and pleasures of her life. It is interesting to notice a couple of things about this appraisal.
First notice that none of the things Gomer listed that she was enjoying were sinful things. Obviously, her adultery was sinful, but this list of provisions are all things either needed or enjoyed as part of the basics of life. They are not sinful things.
They only became sinful to Gomer when enjoyed, either as a result of or alongside praise of a lover other than her husband, Hosea. Similarly, Israel’s material blessings were given by Jehovah. Their crediting idols with those mercies was extremely offensive to Jehovah. In His holy eyes, this was spiritual adultery.
So, in our lives, if we give the glory for our blessings to another, exclusive of Jehovah, we have personally replaced Jehovah with an idol. While there are many people around us through whom Jehovah blesses us, as Christians, we should never fail to give Him the glory for the blessings and for the people through whom His blessings may flow. God’s blessings have flowed in my life through godly parents, wonderful siblings, a loving husband, faithful children, an amazing family in the Lord, government, educational mentors and friends. But I must be careful that I do not fail to praise Him for giving me all of these channels of blessing.
Further, if I turn from God’s plan for my life in expectation that an alternate plan will yield greater physical blessings, is there a sense in which I am carving an idol? I believe so. For instance, what if I choose (keyword is “choose”) to place my children in the care of others while I pursue a lucrative career, so that I might have better “bread, water, wool, flax, oil, and drink”? Each woman must examine her motives and situation, but I believe a career, in some cases, can become an idol.
What if a man chooses (notice that keyword again) to remain indolent and let his family just live off of the government? Again, selfishness and ease may be his idol.
In the old Jimmy Stewart movie “Shenandoah,” Charlie prays the following prayer:
“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.”
Now I don’t think we ever say prayers like this, but sometimes we live as though we believe this. We choose to take those Sunday overtime hours instead of trusting God to provide for those who are seeking his kingdom first. We encourage our kids to play sports for scholarships at secular universities where we know those sports will tempt them to be unfaithful in their worship and service to God. Maybe we choose to live in areas that provide great salaries but poor prospects of spiritual growth. Perhaps we play the lottery or go to the casinos–violating the Golden Rule– in attempts to strike it rich. We just decide that, if we work “dog-bone hard” ourselves, apart from the parameters of His will, we can come out better than if we abide in His will. We create idols and we begin to credit our own decisions with blessings that are all ultimately from His hand.
As Christians, I firmly believe we should refrain from using the term “self-made man/woman.” When we come to Christ initially, it must be with the full understanding of our total dependence on Him, both physically and spiritually. Nothing about us is self-made. We look to the Father, as did the prodigal son in Luke 15 and say “Father, make me.” Our bread, water, wool, flax, oil and drink is all from the hand of the Father and our thanksgiving is ever directed heavenward.
Sometimes it is the mercy of God that takes away our riches, for a season, to show us our need for piety and submission. I pray that if I become dependent on material things, He will take them from me, so that I might fall at His feet once again.
I appreciate what Matthew Henry said in commenting on this passage and the following verses in Hosea:
“When men forget, or consider not that their comforts come from God, he will in mercy take them away, to bring them to think upon their folly and danger. Sin and mirth can never hold long together; but if men will not take away the sin from their mirth, God will take away mirth from their sin. And if men destroy God’s word and ordinances, it is just with him to destroy their vines and fig-trees. This shall be the ruin of their mirth. Taking away the solemn seasons and the Sabbaths will not do it, they will readily part with them, and think it no loss; but he will take away their sensual pleasures. Days of sinful mirth must be visited with days of mourning.”
I know he’s right. Days of sinful mirth will be visited with mourning; if not in this life, then certainly on the other side. He is so good to us, but He is just and holy.