Altars And Allies

Altars And Allies

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Israel had made political and religious decisions, all of which showed they had left God for the world. Hosea addresses these in Hosea 8. Their national and spiritual interests were to make treaties “among the nations” (10) and make “idols for their own destruction” (4). God did not recognize Israel’s kings and princes (4). 

As irrational as Gomer’s decision to leave the love and provision of Hosea for lovers who used and abused her, Israel’s apostasy was self-defeating. On the surface and at the moment, it may have seemed alluring and promised satisfaction. But they were setting themselves up for hurt and failure. Look at how the inspired prophet evaluates their decisions:

  • They were carrion for the vulture (1).
  • They were incapable of innocence (5).
  • They sowed the wind, and they were going to reap the whirlwind (7).
  • They were swallowed up (8).
  • They were a useless vessel (8).
  • They were a wild donkey wandering alone (9).
  • They were going to writhe in oppression (10).
  • They had erected multiplied altars for sinning (11).
  • They regarded God’s laws as a strange thing (12).
  • They were going to return to a state of bondage (13).
  • They were going to be devoured by fire (14).

It must have pained Hosea to write those words. No doubt, it pained God to have to say them. But, Israel persisted in her unfaithfulness. What was it like for God to look down, day after day, only to see that His chosen people paid no attention to Him. He never entered their thoughts. They pursued a path He knew would only lead them to hurt and destruction. They sought protection from fallible, wicked people. They offered praise to vain, lifeless idols. All the while, their Creator and caregiver was there wanting to be their shield and salvation! 

The application may be obvious. We have the same choices today. We can put our trust in our country and we can make something (work, relationships, pleasure, etc.) the object of our affection in place of God. We may, like Israel, still come to worship (13), but spend our lives with something else laying upon the altar of our heart. That was the condition addressed by Hosea. That was what God illustrates through spiritual adultery. God is belaboring the point, but it’s an eternally important one. He wants us to get it because He loves us so much! 

Ancient altar discovered at Manoah (via Biblewalks.com)
Hosea and the Harlot

Hosea and the Harlot

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

The book of Hosea is like no other book in the Bible. It even stands out from the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded to prophecy to the nation of Israel just like other men during this time period, but unlike other prophets Hosea’s message was directly tied to his personal life. He spoke to Israel and was motivated by the personal experiences that were happening to him in his life. 

Hosea was commanded by God to marry the harlot Gomer (1:2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea served as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. As the account unfolds, Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are used to send Israel a very specific message. While this book may seem harsh and almost cruel, let’s notice the main idea of Hosea. 

Hosea reveals to us the depth of God’s unending love for His children, a love that is never failing but also a love that tolerates no rivals. The people that God has chosen as His own must recognize that His love must come first above anyone and everything else. This fact is seen in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. In chapter 1:2-11, we are introduced to Hosea’s family. He has a wife and three kids, but Gomer doesn’t stick around long. She leaves Hosea and goes back to her life of harlotry. There’s a symbolic message that Hosea uses in his prophecy. He compares Israel’s actions to what his wife did to him. They left their union with God to live a life of sin. 

While most of us would find it hard to love someone if they did these things to us, God still continued to love Israel. Hosea 3:1 says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” God’s love is truly unending towards His children. The book of Hosea clearly illustrates this point. 

By reading this book we can know that God’s forgiveness is available to everyone at any point. Not only do we get a glimpse of God’s attitude towards those who have left Him, we also see a personal example of how much God is willing to do in order to restore His relationship with us. 

Hosea truly is a unique book. The prophet married a woman that he knew would eventually betray his trust. He knew the pain and heartache that would come from her unfaithfulness to him, but it was all done so that we could better understand God’s love and dedication towards imperfect and sinful man.