Train Wreck

Hosea 10:1 “Israel is a luxuriant vine; he produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made.”

Observation: The context of Hosea 10:1 is that as the people became more prosperous, they had less need to rely upon God and began to build their own altars. This is an echo of Hosea 8:11, which speaks of having built “multiplied altars” that became places of sinning. The rest of the chapter describes God’s response: He would destroy literally everything the people had come to value other than God Himself.

Application: This verse is a spiritual mirror if ever one existed: Altars: 401k plans, IRAs, houses, careers, ministries. I see my own reflection, filled from earliest days with a stubborn determination to be independent, to “make it” on my own, to do well. 

But who is to say what “doing well” looks like? Have I asked God’s opinion lately? Or dare I not, for fear His opinion could mean total derailment and train wreck from tracks so feverishly laid down? The Gospel of Christ is a downward call insofar as this life is concerned. It is a call I strain against, a call to simplicity of lifestyle and singularity of focus. A call away from entitlement. It’s terrifying, because the more I understand it, the more I realize it is the complete opposite of the mentality I have learned to live by. 

In my prosperity, I do indeed build my own altars. I worship at them, asking God to bless my plans and the work of my hands. The possibility that these plans, these works, may not be His plans and works is too profoundly troubling for me to seriously consider. But verse 12 tells how to right things: “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” And again in Psalm 73:25–26, “Besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Prayer: O God, You Who have made all that my eyes delight in, You are indeed all I need. Pull me back today, Lord, from the precipice of my own pursuits, and cause my heart to exalt You and You alone. Teach me contentment in less, Lord, for as I make You my only refuge, You open storehouses of heaven as my portion in You. Rain Your righteousness on me today, Lord. I love You!

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