The sun was setting, creating long and hard shadows across the horizon. Her eyes were struggling to adjust to the changing light as she ran through the forest searching. The trees loomed ominously overhead as if they were ready to reach out and grab her at any moment. Trepidation started to set in as the sun’s rays quickly faded away. Darkness was imminent and he was nowhere to be found! Loneliness overtook her as she realized she was all alone. She remembered him calling out for her many times before. Oh, why had she waited so long to respond?
“With their flocks and their herd’s they shall go out to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn himself from them.”Hosea 5:6
While studying Hosea I came across this verse and was completely overcome with emotion. Why would God withdraw himself when they sought him? As I fell asleep meditating on this verse, I had a dream I was searching for God and unable to find him, much like the excerpt above; As I awoke a sense of sorrow and loneliness settled over me. It followed me as I arose and went about my day continuing to meditate on the scripture.
For over 7 years now I have walked closely with God, spending time with Him daily and enjoying His presence. The thought that one day I would wake up and He would not be there put’s a burden in my soul. It made me think of the time Moses was speaking to God and He was giving him instructions on how to take the “promise land”.
Unfortunately for Moses this conversation did not go as he had hoped I’m sure. God informed Moses that He would not be going with them into the promise land. Moses quickly replied “If your presence does not go with us, then do not send us up from here.” You see, Moses had spent many hours very intimate with God, closer than any other man before. He knew very well what it would mean to go without God. He had spent so many hours in God’s presence that the idea of going without Him rocked His world. God even promised to still provide all the promises, the land overflowing with milk and honey, yet Moses would not go.
The difference between Moses and the Israelites in Hosea, lies in the heart.
The Israelites had turned away from God’s plan for their life; they became sinful and full of pride, seeking after other god’s. Pride kept them from repenting and asking forgiveness. It blinded them from the truth of their actions.
During the time of Hosea the Israelites were influenced heavily by the Canaanites that lived around them. The Canaanites worshiped the gods and goddesses of fertility which they believed caused their crops to prosper. This was enticing for the Israelites who themselves were also farmers. The way in which the Canaanites asked or requested for the favor of the gods and goddesses, though immoral and crude, was alluring to the Israelites in all its seductiveness.
Now I’m aware most of us have not turned our attention to the gods and goddess of fertility, but our hearts are often being pulled in many directions by many different things. Idolatry is one of the scariest and most unacknowledged sins. It sneaks up on us like a serpent waiting for its prey. Now more than ever we should be on our guard against things that rob our attention and trust in God.
What really is idolatry anyway?
Growing up it was like this weird, obscure word from the Old Testament that we talked about when we were doing bible studies at church. But it’s much simpler then I remember it being taught back then.
Idolatry is looking to and craving other things, besides God, to provide ultimate fulfillment in our lives. It comes packaged much different than a golden calf or the goddess of fertility. Our idols have evolved into other things and it runs rampant in every human heart. I see mothers idolizing their children and husbands. Daily I see my children and myself struggle with social media, and you tube. I mean the struggle is real!!! I can’t get my son off of FortNite. Can anyone identify?
Another thought, some of us idolize our homes. Okay maybe that’s just me. I can be such a busy body, constantly wanting my home to be neat and tidy and everything in its rightful place. If I am not careful, I will easily clean away the day and forget that I never set time aside for God.
Now these things are not bad in and of themselves, but when we find ourselves drawn to making them a priority above seeking God, they have become a problem. We crave and desire so many things daily but if you were honest with yourself, when was the last time you caught yourself craving God? I mean we crave attention, chocolate, pizza, alcohol, and the list can go on and on, but what about God? Does He have a place in your life that causes you to go through withdrawals when you are away from Him?
The Israelites Divided Hearts
The Israelites were seeking fulfillment through other sources besides the One true God, yet they were still half-heartedly seeking God as well and bringing their flocks and herds for sacrifices. “With their flocks and their herd’s they shall go out to seek the Lord”.
How many times have we brought our half-hearted sacrifices and laid them before the Lord?
We tithe out of our leftovers.
We attend church physically, but mentally we check out when we enter the door.
We sit down with our Bible or devotional, but the minute our phone dings our attentions are drawn away like fleeting gazelle.
We are constantly asking what my church can do for me instead of what can I do for my church.
We say we are a Christian but really are we? Where is the fruit that shows proof of the relationship?
I am preaching to myself today for sure! So fickle is the human heart, mind and emotions!! We get so easily distracted and carried away. It causes me to be even more thankful that God is patient and enduring, that He waits for us, lovingly calling us back as our attention wanes. But what if we just never answer that call. What happens then?
He Has Withdrawn
“…they will not find Him; He has withdrawn himself from them.”
Now I will not claim to know the length of time that God calls and waits for us to follow Him before withdrawing. What I do know is that He is long suffering and has much more Mercy then we could ever humanly understand. I honestly think that it takes generation after generation for this to happen, but OH when it does!!!!
As hard as this is to bite off, it truly makes me consider my day to day walk with Jesus. And since I am sure that it takes generations for Him to withdraw, it causes me to think about how I am leading my children into a relationship with Jesus?
Do I crave time with Him daily?
Is my faith contagious?
Do I radiate passion for the Lord?
Am I as passionate for Him as I am the next sale at Dillard’s?
Finding a pair of amazing shoes 75% off that you have been drooling over for a while, now that will ignite passion deep inside! Hmm, does time with the Lord do that?
People all around us are watching. They are waiting for us to lead them to something that has sustaining impact, and that will fulfill their endless cravings, to something or someone that brings lasting joy and fulfillment. Are we carrying the flame that calls people out of the darkness and into the light of His Grace or has our fire dwindled and our hearts been divided by earthly cravings like the Israelites?
Are we chasing after things that have no eternal impact,or are we wholeheartedly sold out and running after The One True God?
Don’t let the flame die with you!
Ignite it and pass it on to your children, your grandchildren, and those around you, and on that day when you enter the kingdom of heaven, He will be waiting for you with arms wide open saying well done my good and faithful servant.