Daily Reflections November 3, 2017
Many times the prophetic books tend to sound repetitive. How many different ways can you proclaim that judgment is coming because of syncretism and idolatry unless there is a return to the Lord? The fact that it is declared ad nauseum only shows the sinful stubbornness of Israel who failed to listen. So, we should be wary when we get that feeling that we’re bored with the continual theme as we read these pages. That could be an indication of our own stubbornness to really listen.
In the first few verses of this chapter, the prophet announces to the people of Israel that their adoption of the fertility cult practices has failed them. Instead of a fruitful harvest, which their immoral sexual license and idol worship was supposed to provide, they are left in famine. Not only that but Hosea also says that this famine, like it did repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, would precede military defeat and exile. This should be a stark reminder to us that the promises of things outside of God will leave us disappointed. Furthermore, most often they not only fail to fulfill what they promise but also lead to further defeat and slavery to more harsh masters.
He moves on to tell them that their adultery effects their worship. Their hearts are divided, so their offerings are divided. And because they only half-heartedly worship God, anything that they do bring to God only condemns them further rather than please him. This naturally should cause a major problem when the festivals come where they are to worship God alone. This is another humbling reminder to us who live in a cultural Christian context where there are many who want to be half-hearted in their devotion to God. Many want to live with sinful license throughout the week, worshiping the things of this world, and then come to worship God on Sunday. Sadly, the reality is that the offering of worship that they think is being given to God on Sunday morning is not pleasing to him. In fact, the offering of worship is heaping more judgment upon them. A wayward heart impacts worship.
Near the end of this chapter we also see something that is becoming more evident in today’s world. The prophet who heralds God’s Word, the person who walks with God by the Spirit and upholds His truth, is said to be a fool and snare. Not only will those who stand to call people back to God be called ignorant but they will also be made into the enemy. We ought to be aware of that and prepare for that but not discouraged. Let’s be faithful and let’s be faithful in proclaiming God’s truth regardless of what opposition may come. Remember, he has overcome the world. God also knows his people and, as promised, will draw them back to himself.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
In today’s reading we again encounter three separate Psalms of Ascent. While each psalm stands apart as unique and challenges us in distinctive ways, it is also hard to miss an underlying theme of need and dependence on God. Let us look at each in turn and see what the Lord would remind us of.
In this psalm we encounter the joy of a restored people. The exile had come to an end and the people are filled with laughter and merriment as they return to the Promise Land. This joy was noticed by the nations and even they recognized it to be the result of the Lord’s blessing (v. 2). This same type of joy should permeate the lives of believers in Jesus Christ. Our Lord has ransomed us from sin and death and restored us to right relationship with God. If this is not cause for rejoicing I do not know what is.
The second half of this psalm provides a further insight into the nature of the Lord’s restoration. God provided the people with a great gift by restoring them to the land, but there was still much work to be done that could only be accomplished by the Lord’s continued blessing. The same is true for those who have been redeemed by Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross. Despite having received God’s full and perfect forgiveness, God’s people still need to rely on Him day after day for the strength to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.
In many ways the message of Psalm 127 continues the thought of the previous psalm. The psalmist once again reminds us that the Lord’s blessing is absolutely essential to success. We can strive with all of our might to make success happen on our own, but without the Lord’s empowering our striving is in vain. The end result of such work is the bread of anxious toil. This psalm, therefore, reminds us of our need to seek the Lord’s blessing on all of our endeavours. It reminds us that although we might get by for a while on our own strength, we will ultimately fail without the Lord’s help. While this psalm is certainly humbling, it is also full of the hope that the Lord delights to bless the work of His children.
In this psalm we read of the Lord’s blessing on the one who fears Him. We are told that such a person will prosper in their labour and be blessed with an ever growing home. Taken on its own it is easy to imagine that this might be one of the favorite psalms of the prosperity gospel preacher. After all, does it not confirm what they have been saying about the Lord wanting us to be healthy, rich, and successful? The simple answer to this question is no, this is not what this psalm is teaching.
Make no mistake, Psalm 128 certainly suggests that we should see success at work, a happy marriage, and children around the table as a blessing and gift from God. If this describes your situation, thank God for His blessings and recognize them for what they are, an undeserved gift. If, however, your circumstances are different, remember the full witness of Scripture. Meditate on the blessed life of our Lord and His Apostles, who though they feared God did not experience His blessings in the way here described. Life on this earth has looked differently for all of God’s people throughout the ages, and yet the promises of God’s future blessing stands true for all His children.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier