Hosea 8:1-3, 11 “Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel cries out to me, ‘O our God, we acknowledge you!’ But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. … … Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning.”
How it must have grieved Hosea, the Prophet, to have to deliver this message to the LORD’s rebellious people! He had been required by the LORD to marry, and love dearly, a prostitute, in order to drive home to his nation just how abhorrent their ‘adultery’ with other gods (Baal, etc) was to their faithful, holy God, the LORD (1:2-3). He now had to warn them with a trumpet blast that the LORD’s patience was running out and they were spiritually DEAD, with the birds of prey already hovering over them.
Their outward profession of allegiance to the LORD was not backed up by obedience to the terms of his Covenant, which meant they were alienating themselves from his gracious blessings. With a clever play on a Hebrew word that covers both ‘sin’ and ‘sin-offering’, Hosea brings to light a very important truth: we are all experts at turning the things God provides to deal with our sin into occasions for sin themselves.
This subtle device is a powerful tool in the hands of our enemy, the Archdeceiver (The Greek word for ‘devil’ is ‘diabolos’ which comes from the verb to ‘deceive’.) Paul has to admonish the Christians in Corinth for (ab)using the Lord’s Supper as an occasion for selfishness, thoughtlessness and gluttony (1 Corinthians 11:17-22), and to point out to them how Satan masquerades as an ‘angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14). Our worship of God is often hollow, going through the motions while our hearts and minds are engaged in unedifying interests and pursuits. Our prayers can be focussed on our needs while lacking a sense of the holiness of God, the depth of our depravity, and the cost it was for him to make us his friends. The awfulness and shame of the cross can be overshadowed by smooth, gilded ornaments to adorn our beauty.
– Bruce Christian