Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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They Did Not Know

By Dennis Pollock


Hosea was a prophet of Israel who is not especially well-known among casual Christians. This is a shame, because his life and teachings were important and anointed. He was the only prophet we read of in the Bible who was instructed by God to marry a prostitute. By Hosea's marital experiences, God wanted to show that He was a husband to Israel, and that His people Israel were like an immoral woman who would not be faithful to her loving and good husband. Even when his wife left him to engage in more sexual immorality, God told Hosea to find her and bring her back home, demonstrating His own patience and longsuffering with His people.


In the second chapter of Hosea, the prophet writes:


She will chase her lovers,

But not overtake them;

Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.

Then she will say,

‘I will go and return to my first husband,

For then it was better for me than now.’ (Hosea 2:7)


Hosea is describing the stubborn and senseless tendency of the people of Israel to forsake the God of their fathers, and to worship the idols of the nations around them. He speaks of a situation where they had backslidden and turned away from God to serve the idol, Baal, then made some profession of a return to the true God, and then once again turned away from God only to go right back into idol worship.


"Better Then"


Hosea tells us one of the major reasons for this. They apparently had a time, while in their idol worship, that they were prospering and doing pretty well. But now things were tough, and their blessings seemed to evaporate. This did not make much sense. They no doubt assumed that by turning to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their situation would improve. But things were no better, and in fact were more difficult now than before. So, according to Hosea, they were saying, "I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now."


It had a certain logic to it. If things go well in situation A and poorly in situation B, then head straight back to situation A and everything should be fine. But of course, they were completely in error. Hosea sets the record straight, saying:


For she did not know

That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil,

And multiplied her silver and gold–

Which they prepared for Baal. (Hosea 2:8)


God is saying through His prophet that even when they were worshiping idols and prospering with abundant grain harvests, new wine and olive oil, with lots of silver and gold flowing freely, it was God, their God, the God Moses spoke of, who was blessing them. Even in their rebellion God was showing them mercy and enabling them to live well, out of His love for them. These blessings were not an indicator of His favor, they did not mean that they would not escape judgment and chastening in the future. But for His own reasons, God was doing what He so often does – showing kindness to rebellious, wicked, and ungodly people.


Ignorance of the Blesser


But Israel was completely oblivious to this. As Hosea says: "She did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil…" Therefore, when things grew tough while they were maintaining some effort to worship God, they thought back to their days serving Baal, living so high, and decided this return to the God of Israel just was not working. It was time to make a beeline for their previous idols. That would surely fix things!


The problem these Israelites had is one which is frequently seen among religious people. They assumed that one's level of prosperity and success is a sure and certain marker of God's favor. When you're doing well materially, you are surely doing well spiritually. The wealthiest people are the ones that God favors, and the poorest, neediest people are the ones God is punishing. No doubt these miserable folks have fallen into a terrible spiritual error. Perhaps they are even worshiping the wrong god!


Even people without any real faith in God still cling to this "theology." They assume that prosperity and success are a blanket endorsement from fate, or providence, or the universe or whatever. The fact that they are so successful, when so many other people are struggling just to get by, means that their own opinions, values, convictions, and even politics must be exactly right.


This is why we often have celebrities lecturing us on all sorts of topics that are far beyond their expertise. They have been so incredibly successful at acting or sports or singing or as authors that they must surely share all their ideas with the world. The universe has put its seal of approval on them, and all the common people who shop at Walmart and eat at McDonald’s and go to garage sales and watch Andy Griffith reruns need to shut up, sit down, and listen to them. They are important, they are wealthy, they are famous, and we can learn so much from them!


Gifts from Heaven


To such people, Hosea's words surely apply. They do not know that all their success, wealth, and fame are gracious gifts from a kind God. They do not prove that they are better, wiser, more spiritual or more insightful than common people. Often janitors, truck drivers, and auto mechanics have far more practical wisdom than celebrities do. But, for His own mysterious reasons, God has seen fit to grant these people great measures of talent and the opportunity to use that talent to achieve success, wealth, and fame.


The amazing thing about God is that He is kind to all, not only to His children who love Him and trust in His Son Jesus Christ. He is also kind to the wicked and ungodly, whose lives are missing God's mark by a country mile. As our Lord Jesus said, "He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). His desire is that men and women would recognize His goodness to them, repent, put their faith in Jesus, and receive eternal life and a place in the family of God. Not all do. In fact, most do not. But some do eventually recognize that all the blessings of their lives are a gift from their Creator and turn to Him in faith.


Most of us will never be famous or extremely wealthy. But we all have so much to be thankful for! And the proper response for all people, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, is thankfulness. Our lives, our families, our friends, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the home, apartment, or mud hut in which we live, the car we drive, or if we have no car, the legs and feet on which we walk – all of these and a thousand other blessings in our lives are gifts from our kind Heavenly Father. Jesus tells us: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11). Our God is a "good thing" giver!


Learning to Prosper and Struggle


But when times are tough and money is lean, or we have just lost our job or had our spouse walk out on us, we must never consider forsaking our gracious Father in Heaven. He who has blessed us in the past can bless us again. The apostle Paul writes:


I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)


In our good times and in our bad times we will be thankful. We must never succumb to envy of those ungodly, wealthy, and famous people who have no use for our God. Their lot is the sad one. In many cases their success is too great, their money is too plentiful, and it keeps them from ever humbling themselves before the Savior, Jesus Christ, who loved them and died for them. Too often they will go to the end of their days, assuming that they accomplished all they did by their superior wisdom or great intellect, or amazing talent, or tremendous work ethic, never recognizing the One who made all their success possible.


Let us give thanks to our great God and His Son Jesus Christ, who hold all things in their hands. Let us be among those blessed people who give praise to God for His kindness to us all. And let us especially give thanks for Jesus, by whom we have been saved.





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