Today’s Reading: Hosea 7-12
Today’s Reflection: Hosea 8:11
Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning, they have become to him altars for sinning.
There are few issues more important to believers than the issue of worship. At the beginning of the Ten Commandments, God’s central law to His covenant people, meant to endure for all time—which is why it was carved in stone—begins with these words:
Exodus 20:2 – “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
There is another dimension to worship we don’t always recognize: when we worship something, we begin to resemble our object of worship. When it comes to worshiping God, He describes this process in many ways: we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27); we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5); we are Jesus disciples, meaning we are to follow the example of Jesus as our rabbi or teacher (John 3:2; John 14:12-14), and we are to manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24), among others.
But this also applies when we choose to worship things other than God. This was the warning Hosea was giving God’s people throughout his book, including in Hosea 8:11. The tribe of Ephraim built altars for idol worship and became like those very altars: deaf, blind, dumb, immobile and powerless. Wood can be burnt and metal can be melted down.
This truth is no different for us now than it was for Israel then. Too often we worship wealth, public figures, spouses and jobs. Now all of these things can all be good when we worship God and get our identity from Him. But if we let our sense of identity be shaped by worshipping other things they become destructive idols: wealth which can’t provide happiness can make us cold, public figures who cannot provide complete wisdom can lead us to poor decisions, spouses who despite the best intentions will at times let us down and jobs that may terminate our employment can make us insecure.
Idols replace the unlimited power of God with an illusion of power that will eventually fail and lead the idolater to destruction. Heed Hosea’s warning and turn your faith to the true God who is mighty to save (Isaiah 63:1) and in whom you will find abundant life (John 10:10).
Psalm 115:4-8 – 4) Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 5) They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. 6) They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. 7) They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. 8) Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.