Dear members and friends of IBCZ,
In the times of prophet Hosea, the people of Israel had started to worship the Syrian-Palestinian weather god (or gods), Baal, and were involved in various religious acts according to the worshipping habits “demanded” by this god. This came in strong contradiction with their allegiance to the real God, that of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Whom even Israel’s neighboring nations were aware and Who even they feared. Through the words of the prophet, in his book, the true God of Israel is calling out to His people to return to Him, to renew their commitment to Him and drop any other faith or religion which was not centered on Him.
Whether we are new to the Christian faith, or have been following Christ for many years, the danger of straying away from our beloved Jesus and looking to other gods for help, for fulfilling our desires or goals, is one which is permanently present. Distracted by gods like social status, material possessions or experiences which exclude our Lord, we might have reduced or abandoned our enthusiasm and perseverance in following Jesus and living for His glory. The areas of our lives where we have become lukewarm and disengaged are the fallow grounds Hosea is encouraging us to plow, re-cultivate and re-activate for our Lord.
Based on Hosea’s message, we double down on 3 life aspects which seem to be in focus: attitudes, actions and relationships.
The same way Israel’s idolatrous attitude (10:2 “their heart was divided”) was giving their land’s neighbors reasons to discard Israel’s God as the only true and almighty God, our attitude speaks volumes to the people around us about who our God is and how He is and what He is to us. Our attitude has the power to influence others, and we should conform it to the character of Jesus, in order to silence those who are disregarding our faith and to encourage them to adopt it, and praise God.
When it comes to actions, we need to consider all the things we do on a usual day. How many of these have eternal consequences, are bringing glory to God and are in line with His calling for us and with what God Himself is doing? What we do (or what we sow) determines what we will harvest. “Sow the wind, and we shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7) “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love” (10:12).
Our relationship to God determines the relationship to people. Hosea’s message was that God wanted to restore the relationship to Israel, He wanted to forgive them and to give them what is best for them. Forgiveness is many times crucial in restoring relationships and allowing them to grow. English writer Hannah More wrote: “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits”. In addition to that, Paul commands the Philippians (2:3-4) “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” These are 2 nourishments for relationships, 2 “godly tactics” for connecting to people around us and praising the Lord through our relationships.
After an eventful 2020, at the start of 2021 we are presented the opportunity not only to make new plans and resolutions, but also to examine our lives and check those areas which we have allowed to harden and become fallow. Which of our attitudes, actions or relationships seem to be influenced or driven by anything or anyone else than our Lord? Which areas of our lives are compromising on righteousness, holiness and obedience to Jesus? Those are our fallow grounds which we need to break up in the time we have ahead of us.
Grace and love,