A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
“Ephraim’s glory shall fly away like a bird.”
As I sat outside on a beautiful summer morning and pondered this verse, a lovely hummingbird (pictured above) came zooming in to have some breakfast at a nearby flower. After watching it for a few minutes, it zoomed away again in search of more sweet nectar. As I watched it fly off to the next flower across the yard, this warning from Hosea 9 came to life.
A hummingbird’s life revolves around the pursuit of more and more nectar. It is their life source, their reason for living, and their one and only desire. So they spend their days zipping around from flower to flower, always on the move and in search of this precious commodity. From sunrise to sunset, it is a constant search, never ending and never fully satisfying. They are always in need of more; so off they go in pursuit of the next sweet treat.
While this lifestyle is completely fine for a hummingbird, it is not okay for mankind. The hummingbird was created to seek out nectar and to do so all day long, but mankind was not intended to be constantly on the move in search of the next burst of sweet pleasure. It was not God’s plan for us to be continually pursuing fleeting things like pleasure, wealth, power, or glory.
Personal and human glory is passing. It gives pleasure to the pursuer for a moment, but then quickly fades away. Therefore, we should not make the quest for human glory our chief aim in life; we should not even desire it. However, too often we are drawn by its lofty promises, its glitz and glamor and forget how transitory it is.
Israel learned this lesson, but they learned it the hard way. They got a taste of prosperity and began craving more. They enjoyed being an important nation and wanted to keep that position. So they pursued their own glory. They forsook the pursuit of God’s glory and instead sought their own. They wanted their name to be great, their people to be prosperous, and their nation to be powerful.
But it didn’t work out that way. The more they pursued their own glory, the more it slipped further out of their grasp. The more they sought prosperity, the poorer they became. The more they wanted greatness, the weaker they grew. They sought power, but ended up slaves. Human glory promises much, but gives little in the end. And Israel learned this the hard way.
But we don’t have to live out the same mistake! We can learn from Israel’s past and not repeat it. So what will we choose? Will we pursue human glory and honor or God’s? Will we live our lives to attain the applause and recognition of man or will our chief desire be to hear God say “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Do we desire the promises and temptations the world offers or do we long for God’s will to reign sovereign in our lives?
We don’t want Israel’s story to become our story. Therefore, let us purpose to turn away from the pursuit of our own glory and only seek God’s. Let us not become wrapped up in what the world has to offer or any of its vain promises, but let us keep our eyes fixed on the One who gives all good things and whose promises always come true. Let us not become like Israel who sought glory and wealth but ended up a slave or like the little hummingbird that spends its whole life chasing a substance that never fully satisfies. May that not be us! Instead, may our life’s aim always and only be “To God be the glory!”
“You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. … The cup in the LORD’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory!