A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
Israel spurned the good, built their own kingdom of princes and politics, and became a useless vessel. They no longer trusted and relied upon the LORD to see them through the difficult times but ran off to Assyria for help and hired allies. They made foolish decisions and trusted in human strength all because of one thing: they had willfully forgotten their Maker.
“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.
As for my sacrificial offerings, they sacrifice meat and eat it, but the LORD does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins; they shall return to Egypt.
For Israel has forgotten his Maker.”
Israel had forgotten its Maker. They had abandoned and forgotten their LORD, Redeemer, Savior, and Deliverer and all their sins and issues pointed to this tragic fact. They did not heed the advice of their former King Solomon, the wisest man on earth, and his warning to “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.” (Ecclesiastes 14:1a) Instead they forgot. And this wasn’t an “Oops! I forgot to bring my coat and left it by the front door” type of neglectfulness, it was intentional and willful—a fully informed decision and choice they decided to make.
But what does forgetting one’s Maker look like? How was it evident in Israel’s lives and culture? Within Hosea 8:12-14, two areas are mentioned in which Israel fell short, dropped the ball, and simply disregarded. Two areas that are interconnected and reveal outward signs of Israel’s disregard for the LORD.
Israel did not know God’s Laws or His Word. They were not honored as the law of the land, but rather regarded as foreign, strange, and unfamiliar. This is a direct violation of God’s covenant with Israel, for they were commanded to:
“Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
Obviously, Israel did not heed Moses’ instructions, God’s commands, or this explicit warning. They did not lay God’s Word in their heart and soul or remember them, but rather turned aside to worship other gods and therefore kindled the anger of the LORD. All that Moses warned them against, they did and were about to reap the just reward for their decision.
From the beginning since Adam and Eve’s sin, God has provided a way for man to be justified. Until the coming of Christ, that method always included the sacrifice of an innocent and spotless animal whose blood was to cover up sin. It wasn’t a permanent fix to man’s sin issue, but it was the process God ordained for the time. Therefore, the process of animal sacrifice and other Old Testament ceremonies was not to be taken lightly. They were the means for ancient Israel to attain justification before a holy God.
However, Hosea points out that Israel had begun to take the matter lightly. They brought unacceptable offerings and flippantly performed their duties and sacrifices. They no longer understood and respected the process God designed to deal with sin. In short, Israel had taken God’s way of justification and misused it. They disrespected God by disrespecting the worship of Him.
But what about us? Our culture and church is sliding down the same slippery slope that Israel traversed. We are becoming a people who are biblically illiterate and therefore, do not rightly worship our Creator and Lord. Blasphemy, taking God’s name in vain, and out-of-context quoting of Scripture are at an all-time high. We may know some Scripture, but how much of that have we gained through hearsay rather than personal study? Do we know how to take the full counsel of God and understand verses within context? Are we disrespecting God’s method of justification and wrongly worshiping Him?
While Old Testament Israel had to sacrifice animals in order to cover their sins and worship God, we don’t need to. God sent His Son to be the ultimate sacrifice. The perfect One—who was fully man and fully God—became our sacrifice. His blood not only covers our sins, but completely erases them from God’s holy sight and memory. We don’t need to repeatedly offer up sacrifices each time we transgress God’s Law; we only need to confess our sins and accept and believe in Jesus’ gift of salvation and cleansing.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can take advantage of this gift! Israel was guilty of repeatedly sinning and then offering sacrifices without compunction and remorse. They were merely trying to enjoy both the pleasure of sin and God’s blessings. But it doesn’t work that way! You can’t have both. Therefore, we must be careful not to take lightly Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf nor become like Israel who sinned then sought forgiveness without repentance. For God saw right through their act and He sees right through ours too!
So in closing, Israel had forgotten their Maker and become biblically illiterate and improper in their worship. Are we guilty of the same thing? Have we as a people, church, nation, and individuals forgotten our Maker and become biblically illiterate and disrespectful in our worship?
I would say yes, as a people we have. But we can change things staring with our own personal life. So if you’re personally guilty of forgetting your Maker, what are you going to do about it?
“For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain.”