“Foreigners consume his strength, but he does not notice. Even his hair is streaked with gray, but he does not notice.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? That’s an old cliché to express the fact that it is easy to get lost in something enjoyable. When we are having fun, we don’t worry about time. We don’t want to. We give our attention to simply enjoying the experience. And it always feels shorter than we’d like it to feel. There’s a fine line, though, between enjoying something fun, and being controlled by some habit. The former is harmless, the latter can be deadly. Israel had crossed that line.
Have you ever seen someone who was controlled by a habit? This is the alcoholic who doesn’t realize he’s an alcoholic. He doesn’t realize the impact his drinking is having on his life; the way it is destroying his relationships. He just keeps turning to the alcohol like some invisible hand is controlling his actions.
Or maybe you’ve had some other habit that you just kept turning to in spite of the damage it was doing to you. Maybe you didn’t even notice the damage until someone loved you enough to show you. That’s what Hosea was doing with the people of Israel.
They were on a path of sin. It was a path that was going to kill them if they kept walking it. The problem was, they didn’t realize it. They didn’t realize it because they weren’t yet experiencing any of the cultural symptoms of their sinfulness. You see, when sin has become systemic in a culture, unless the people begin experiencing certain consequences, they’re not going to notice. Or, to put that another way, when everybody’s doing it, until everybody suffers from it, nobody notices it.
Israel’s economy was good. Their military was strong. There were jobs for most people. There was a growing stratification between the rich and the poor, but this didn’t bother the rich. When money is coming in, and you’re not struggling to eat; when you have plenty to wear and a roof over your head, you don’t notice things like a problem with sensuality or injustice.
Israel was awash in sensuality. Men did what they pleased with whomever they pleased as often as they pleased. Women did too. God even went out of His way to tell them that He wasn’t going after them for their sin since they were such victims to the men. Their passion was like a fire that didn’t have to ever be stoked and tended. It just burned hot all the time.
Passion is like a river. It flows strong and fierce. If it is directed properly and in the right context, it’s potential for great good is nearly limitless. But, that same river, when unleashed to roam wild and free, its potential for destruction is just as great. Passion unrestrained doesn’t just stay sensual, because passion is not only sensual. It becomes anger and wrath and jealousy and selfishness and the like.
It destroys. It causes the foundations of our lives, of a whole culture, to begin to crumble. But, when passion is in the driver’s seat, we don’t notice. And that’s where the real danger lies. We can’t see the damage we are doing to ourselves. Israel couldn’t. And it was killing them.
So, what do we do with this? For us, this is a call to awareness. It is a call to turn our hearts to righteousness. It is a call to seek the good, the true, and the beautiful. It’s a call to turn from sin and stay on the path that leads to life.
We cannot afford to lose ourselves to sin. It will feel good when we do it. Going back will feel good too. So will the next time… though it will take a little longer. But eventually the rut comes. Stay out of the rut.
Where there is sin, destroy it. Turn to what is right. Your heavenly Father is waiting to receive you and give you the life that is truly life.