A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
At the center of God’s controversy and accusation against Israel was His dispute with the priests. They were the ones entrusted with the spiritual welfare of Israel and were the ones God held responsible for the current moral slide.
“Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.”
While the general population of Israel was equally guilty of transgression, God held the priests in a position of greater responsibility. Though He held a controversy against all the people of Israel, with the priests He held an even greater contention. They were His specially chosen servants, keepers of the temple, protectors of His Word, and advocates of His truth, but they failed their mission. Instead of proclaiming repentance and a return to the truth, they encouraged sin so that afterwards they could gain through the sacrifices performed. Instead of stirring up righteous anger over the cult worship and practices being brought into the temple, they opened the doors and welcomed the practice of idolatry and immorality right into the LORD’s holy sanctuary.
People don’t acquire the knowledge of God by accident nor are they born preprogrammed to obey God’s commands and expectations. They must be taught. In Hosea’s day, teaching about God, who He is, His commands, and past faithfulness to Israel was the job of the priests. This is why God held a special contention with the priests and why He was holding them accountable for their misconduct. Though they tried to play the blame game and point fingers at others, the LORD who knows all things called them on it and laid His accusation where it belonged—at the priests’ feet. God didn’t contend and point fingers at the political leaders nor did He accuse the martial, social, and judicial leaders. The full weight of God’s contention fell on the priests—the spiritual leaders, intermediaries, advocates, shepherds, and keepers of God’s Word.
So for us, modern-day children of God and people facing a similar spiritual and moral climate, there is a two-fold lesson to be learned.
1. When the world and culture gets dark, reform the Church not the political government
Israel was in a dark place morally and spiritually. Idolatry, murder, lying, stealing, backstabbing, prostitution, adultery, and blasphemy were at an all time high. Yet God didn’t seek to bring justice back into the land through politicians nor did He try to bring morality and righteousness back into the culture through a new government structure and leader. No, He sought to call the people to repentance and show the priesthood the error of their ways.
Therefore, why do we—as we look around at our darkening world—desperately try to right all wrongs through new political leaders? Why do we try to bring righteousness back into the land through a change of power in the White House or Supreme Court? Instead, why aren’t we following God’s example and holding our spiritual leaders responsible and seeking reform within the Church?
This was God’s approach with wayward Israel, so as His children and faithful followers, we should take note and follow suit.
2. Spiritual leaders, beware of your high calling and heavy responsibility before God
The priests were the spiritual leaders of Hosea’s day, and with them was God’s great contention. They were the ones held responsible for the rampant sin in the nation. But this level of responsibility wasn’t relegated only to the spiritual leaders of Israel’s golden age; it still applies to those of the 21st century.
Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48b) And the Apostle James warned, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (3:1)
Spiritual leadership is a great gift, but also a great responsibility. God entrusts them with much and therefore, holds them more accountable and judges them more strictly. However, this shouldn’t cause us to fear taking on the responsibility, but it should cause us to look on it with soberness, respect, and humility.
What is a spiritual leader?
Just as the various priests of Israel had different jobs—teacher, advocate, intercessor, shepherd, keeper of God’s Word, proclaimer of truth—so also modern spiritual leaders each have different tasks. Not all of them are teachers. Some advocate righteousness and cry out for repentance. Others lead by example. While others develop close relationships and lead through mentorship and discipleship. In short, a spiritual leader is one who points the way to the Father in word and deed, who declares truth in the face of error,
So are you a spiritual leader or feel called to be one? Does the spiritual condition and climate weigh heavy on your heart? Well, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to take up the mantle of leadership with soberness and full awareness at the level of responsibility. And it’s time to faithfully point the way back to our loving Father’s heart.
As evidenced by the swift moral slide in our nation, we are lacking an adequate number of strong spiritual leaders. We need a new and upcoming generation of faithful, passionate, relentless, and immovable spiritual leaders who will shake up our nation, our Church, and our society for Christ.
So will you step up to the plate?
“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
~II Timothy 1:14
“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
~I Timothy 4:11-12