A Heart that Strays

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 26

“Like Adam, they have broken covenant—they were unfaithful to me there” (Hosea 6:7, HCSB).

imagesThe LORD creates the garden of Eden, places man in it, and gives man one prohibition—”Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). The serpent enters the garden and casts doubt on God’s goodness and the veracity of His word. Man believes him instead of God. Ever since then all humanity has struggled with unfaithfulness to God.

God chooses Israel from all the people of the earth and brings them into the land of His promise. They too struggle with unfaithfulness to God. Instead of destroying the people and the gods of Canaan, they begin worshiping the gods of the nations. Seven hundred years or more later, Israel still struggles with idolatry, what Hosea defined as prostitution, “The spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray” (4:12), “The spirit of harlotry is in their midst” (5:4), and “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled” (6:10). Instead of faithfulness to her covenant partner, Israel sells herself continually to serve the gods of the nations around her.

The LORD longs to redeem Israel, but, like the serpent of old, they speak lies against Him (7:13), break covenant with Him, rebel against His law (8:1), and love the wages of a prostitute (9:1). Their unfaithfulness will lead to wandering among the nations (9:17).

Just as God was better to Adam and Eve than they deserved, so He proclaims captivity to His people rather than total destruction, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek my face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek me” (5:14-15).

The nation of Israel pictures the plight of all humanity. Israel needs what all men need—a new heart, one that acknowledges God’s goodness, believes His Word, and remains faithful to Him.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Hosea 2:14-8:14):
Review 1 Kings 12:25-33. What indictment does the LORD make against the priests of Israel in Hosea’s message?
What has continual idolatry produced in Israel?
Review Judges 19-21. Hosea’s message includes two references to this event at Gibeah (19:9; 20:9). What does this reveal about sexual sin and idolatry (spiritual harlotry)?