Hear the word of the Lord , you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. – Hosea 4:1-3
Today’s passage contains “a charge” against the Israelites levied by God, so it is probably worth a close look as we float by. The charge is against “you who live in the land”, which could mean the people dwelling in Israel. Although if one were to think more broadly “the land” probably means all those who live here on earth too. This includes all past, present, and future God-followers including me. This passage just became much deeper water for sure.
The specific charges are a lack of faithfulness, love, and acknowledgement of God “in the land”. Certainly all three of these would apply in the land that I live in today, the United States, as well as it applies to Israel in the time of Hosea. The social and interpersonal manifestations of these three problems are cursing, lying, murdering, stealing, adultery, breaking all bounds, and bloodshed following bloodshed. Certainly all of these things tear down the fabric of a society and harm people’s relationship with each other and God.
I want to dwell on each of the “big three” issues God calls out above in the context of what God has revealed to me so far in my float through the bible. So the first rapid we arrive at is faithfulness. When I think of faithfulness it means sticking by someone or something when it is hard or costly to do so. I just finished a really interesting book by an author named Francis Chan called “Crazy Love“. Toward the end of the book he shares that God led him to leave his very successful and comfortable church to travel through Asia with his family seeking God’s will for them. He encountered followers of Christ in China, India, and many other countries and one of the things that struck him was how different their faith looked than the way we pursue God here in the United States.
Francis was speaking to a believer in India and said
“Every believer seems so serious about his or her commitment to Christ. Aren’t there people who just profess Christ but don’t really follow Him?” He answered by explaining that nominal Christianity doesn’t make sense in India. Calling yourself a Christian means you lose everything. Your family and friends reject you, and you lose your home, status, and job.”
That is what radical faithfulness looks like. I was convicted by this as I reflected on what my pursuit of God looks like. I have much to learn about faithfulness.
The second charge was that the people of the land lacked love. Now for some reason when I think of the word “love” 1 Corinthians chapter 4 is not what came to mind. I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, but the first thing I thought of when I considered the word “love” was the 1980’s Tina Turner song “What’s love got to do with it”. I would have been in college when this song came out and I do not think I was a Christian yet. I am pretty sure I had not yet begun my game of tag with God. I have learned quite a bit about love along the way and I can safely say now that I disagree with Tina Turner. Love is not a “second hand emotion”. In fact it is not an emotion at all, but actually the very essence of God in us. God is Love.
This brings us to the third charge which is actually closely linked to the last one. The charge is that the people do not acknowledge God. Now if we accept that God is Love then what people are doing when they fail to acknowledge God is that they reject love, God’s love for them and the love they are supposed to share with others. These are the two items that Jesus called out to summarize the law when asked by an “expert in the law” in Luke 10:27, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So that finally brings us to the water reference. The consequences of failing to recognize the importance of faith, love, and God is that the “land dries up”; “all who live in it waste away; and “the fish in the sea are swept away”. If we fail to acknowledge our water source and disconnect ourselves from the spring we will whither and die. We cannot thrive as self sufficient fish. Only those who can acknowledge that they are poor and needy in spirit find the water supply to satisfy their thirsty souls. If we pursue God He showers us with the Living Water that makes all things new.
Prayer: God You are love and we are to love You and others with all our being. Help us to do this by providing guidance through your Holy Spirit.