The Antidote for a Dying Worldby Marnie Pehrson
We recently studied the unusual Old Testament book of Hosea in Sunday school. In this parable, the Lord compares Himself to a husband and Israel to an unfaithful wife. In the story, Hosea takes a wife who is unfaithful to him. She goes after other "lovers" instead of remaining faithful to her husband. Like the wife in the story, Israel has been unfaithful to God by going after gods of wood and stone.
The wife says, "I will go after my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink" (Hosea 2:6). She seeks after them, but she cannot find them. They remain elusive to her until she finally decides to go back to her husband because it was "better with him than now" (v 7).
Then the husband in the story says, "For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal." In other words, Israel took all the things God had given them and gave them to idols. Then they attributed the good they received to false gods instead of the true God.
To prove his point, when the wife returns the husband in the story holds back his abundance until the wife humbles herself. He takes her into the wilderness and speaks kind words to her and then gives her back all the good things she once had (v14-15). Verse 16 concludes "it shall be at that day saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (husband) and shalt call me no more Baali (master).
Notice that the Lord doesn't want a "master-slave" relationship with us. He wants a "husband-wife" relationship with us. There is a big difference between the closeness and love that a husband and wife share and a master-slave relationship.
So how can we apply this parable to us today? We aren't off worshiping idols of stone and wood are we? However, how many times do we look at all the good things we have and assume they came from our own hard work, or from the lotto ticket we bought, or from government programs? How many times do we acknowledge that everything and I mean every little thing that we have is from God?
How many times do we view His commandments as a hardship upon us? How many times do we see him as a Master and us as the slave instead of realizing that every command, request, or prompting through His still small voice are words of loving-kindness that will bring us to greater love and happiness?
In scripture we repeatedly see individuals and civilizations go through a pride cycle. They come to God, repent, are blessed, prosper, become proud and then fall. At the point of humility, they come to God and repent. His mercy returns and the cycle repeats. It is my belief that the point at which prosperity becomes pride is when we stop being grateful. It's when we do as the wife in this story did and stop acknowledging that every good thing we have comes from God. It's when we start attributing our success to our own ingenuity or to other false "gods" we put before the true Source of all good things.
At the point of ingratitude, we become proud, and pride surely goes before a fall. Humble gratitude is the antidote for pride and the cure for a fallen world.