Friday, August 3, 2012

Oh, Ephraim!

Oh, Ephraim!

I have written FOR HIM the great things of My law, But they were considered a strange thing.” – Hosea 8:12

Ephraim. God’s rebellious child.  The book of Hosea spends chapters talking about his sin, and how God feels seeing their sin.  I love how the tribes of Israel, Ephraim in this example, is spoken about as one person.  It’s easier to understand how God feels about us.  We could easily inject “United States” where Hosea speaks of Ephraim.  It’s a solid fit.
As you read about Ephraim’s sin, God didn’t just feel wrath and anger toward them.  He didn’t just plan judgment and punishment.  God felt pain at seeing them rebel.  He felt disappointment, just as any parent feels when their child turns from what is right.  He had turned to idolatry, seeking something “more” than the Almighty God could give. 

What more could any idol give than God?  God makes all things possible.  He owns the cattle of a thousand hills.  He is our provider of not only our needs, but the desires of our hearts.  Yet Ephraim decided he wanted “more”.  The grass just looked greener outside of God’s care.
God had taken them out of the slavery of Egypt, and fed them quail and manna daily for 40 long years while they wandered around in their sin.  But they still didn’t understand that God was loving them, and that He was GOD.  He brought them to the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey”, a land rich in everything, and they still didn’t see His love.  Hosea 8:12 says that God had even written His laws FOR Ephraim. 

Picture that.  God with a pen in hand, mind on Ephraim and how he’s going to act in the future, writing law after law to turn Ephraim’s heart back to Him.  He penned law after law hoping to prevent His child from turning away, and going after what was just going to cause Ephraim pain.
Knowing that God does not show favoritism to any of His children, my mind had to stop at reading that verse and wonder, what laws did God write for me?  If I were to go through all the book of Leviticus, which commands would convict me?  Which would cause my knees to bow?

Our sin does cause God’s heart to break.  He sees it all.  We can hide it from even our closes friend, but God sees us 24/7.  He even looks upon our heart and sees the sins we just THINK.  And daily He provides correction.  Hosea 6:5-6 says “Therefore I have HEWN THEM BY THE PROPHETS, I have SLAIN THEM BY THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH; and your judgments are like light that goes forth. For I DESIRE MERCY and NOT SACRIFICE, AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD more than burnt offerings”. 
God provides us with ministers who deliver His word, and we sit there on the pew thinking “ouch, thank God He’s not talking about me.”  We open the Bible and we read and hear his judgments and think “those wicked sinners! Thank God I’m not one of them!”  Sure, we don’t go home to a golden calf.  But we go home to a TV and a Sofa.  We neglect His word for NBC’s word.  We decide to learn to knit before we learn His word.  We spend our time chasing after that “thing” we desire rather than finding His desire for us.  And all God wants is our repentance to allow Him to give us mercy.

An idol doesn’t have to be something you can hold in your hand.  It’s anything that you put before God.  It’s any idea you put before God’s ideas.  It’s the thing that causes your heart to turn toward “it” instead of Him.  And if you feel it’s really not that serious, read Hosea 6-8, and what God feels about idolatry.  It’ll bring tears to your dry eyes.  It’s the pain of a parent seeing their child behind bars.  And really, that’s what it is.  Our sin does capture us, and take away our freedom.  Oh Ephraim!  We’ve all been there.

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