“Me?” you say, “I don’t have any shrines!” Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Until I started looking at the people of the prophet Hosea’s time. And I saw that though I may not have statues, I (and probably all of us) do sometimes set up shrines in my life. God had blessed his people richly, and the more they prospered, the more shrines they set up.
Israel is a luxuriant vine that produces his fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit he has multiplied his altars. As their land has prospered, they have adorned their sacred stones, (Hosea 10:1).
Being comfortable and well-off is not always a pitfall. But it does come with the dangers that success and accomplishment bring. Which can cause us to feel smug and self-satisfied. And before we know it, we’ve built shrines in our lives.
The shrine of our own abilities and ability.
Ephraim said, ‘Surely I have become rich, I have found myself wealth. In all my wealth they won’t find in me any iniquity that is sin,’ (Hosea 12:8).
In Hosea’s day, their shrine of ability said, “I did it!” Which led them to even make treaties with evil nations, worship foreign gods, and compromise principle just to get ahead. They pushed God out of the picture.
And this is a danger with the shrine of our own accomplishments. Thinking we accomplished it all, we should get to call the shots. And we forget to seek God’s leading. “Should I do that? Is this how you want me to spend money? Is this how I should use your precious gift of time?”
Instead we think: “Why shouldn’t I have that? I earn every cent I make. I deserve it!” Or “So what if I waste a lot of time playing games, watching TV, or checking social media? I work hard and need it.”
But true worship proclaims, “God has done it all!”
And then uses every gift, talent, and strength to glorify him. Knowing that it all comes from him: our talents, strength, health, and even our mental ability.
Yet Israel continued going through all the right motions. Their divided heart did not come overnight. But through a gradual drifting away from keeping God in first place. Slowly putting their own accomplishments on the throne.
My heart’s prayer today is:
Let’s acknowledge Yahweh. Let’s press on to know Yahweh. As surely as the sun rises, Yahweh will appear. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth, (Hosea 6:3).
Walking with God and knowing him more don’t come naturally. They take work. They take checking our hearts to make sure we’re not just going through the motions, giving lip service. And tearing down our idols to self. It’s work, but it’s worth it!
Because God will refresh us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime!