Three ways to live

Which is your way?

Summary of Study: Hosea 8 to 11

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:35 pm on Thursday, September 13, 2007
There are several themes in Hosea 8-11 that we have already seen in chapters 1-7. These include:
a. Broken law (8:1,12,9:17)
b. No knowledge of God (8:2-3)
c. Leadership issues (8:4a, 9:15)
d. Idolatry (8:4-6,11,9:1,10,10:1-2,5-6,11:2)
e. Sell out to other nations (8:8-10)
f. Relying on man’s strength (8:14,10:13)
g. Broken relationships between people (9:9,10:4)

The calf of Samaria, mentioned in Hosea 8:5 and 10:5 explains quite a bit about what kind of leadership problems existed in Israel at that time. To see this, read 1 Kings 12:26-33 (NIV).

In addition to household idolatry (Baal worship), it seems that Israel was also practicing idolatry instituted right from the top. This why the leadership as well as the priesthood have been accused in Hosea 4-5, why the sinning was in the beginning confined to Israel and only later moved to Judah, why Bethel (or Beth-Aven), mentioned in Hosea 4:15, 5:8 and 10:5, was a place for sinning (it is where one of the calves was placed). In Deuteronomy 12:1-14 God three times repeats that Israel is supposed to worship in one place (later turned out to be a Jerusalem).

We can summarize the Israel’s problems in just one line, as follows:

Israel did not worship God properly.

a. They tried to worship him in their own way and in their own place, rather than where and how God commanded them
b. They worshiped him alongside other Gods (violating the first commandment!)
c. They worshipped him while doing evil to other people, withdrawing mercy and justice.
d. All this happened because they did not know or understand God.

Application. What is the right way to worship God for Christians?

1. How can we avoid idolatry (worshipping God alongside other things, e.g. money, work, people’s approval)?

Assume you have something of seemingly no value (like an old jewelry) and suddenly found out it was made by a famous master and now costs millions. What’s going to happen? Well, your whole attitude toward it will change. You will begin to admire it, think how you can use the money, no longer causal with it – buy a safe to keep it. If it needs repair to enhance its value, you would do it even if it costs a few thousands dollars. What has just happened? You were led into worship.

Applying the same dynamic to God, in order to avoid idolatry we must assign God not just a high value – the ultimate value.

2. How can we avoid repeating the mistakes of worshipping God while violating his other commands?

One way is to make clear to ourselves that God does not need our worship. If we think he does, we will always think we are doing a favor to him by our sacrifices, despite our negligence of other commands. God seeks worshippers not because he needs it but because we need it. God cannot go hungry or thirsty; he can survive and fulfill his plans without our money or our service.

Psalm 50:9-15 (NIV)

What God really wants is for us to give him glory, see earlier post on this topic.

3. How can we avoid a mistake about inappropriate place and way of worship?

God did not give us a geographical location for worship. New Testament is rather unclear about how to do worship because any clear regulation could become a stumbling block to spreading the gospel to other cultures. Yet there is one very important requirement: The only right worship must be through Jesus.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, he became the new “spiritual” temple. Worship is no longer confined to place and time, but must be done in spirit and in truth about the gospel.

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