Hosea 13:4-6 But I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.
This is a timely warning for us. The Ten Commandments were not given to Israel as a means by which they could come into a relationship with God through obedience; they were given to a people who were already in a relationship with God through his gracious act of saving them from slavery through his power and the death of a substitute Passover Lamb!
The commandments were to be a description of how a redeemed community should live. This is why they are prefaced by, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” Israel (and so we too) are to understand a ‘therefore’ to lead into what follows: “[Because you have been rescued by grace alone] you shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me.” (cf Exodus 20:2-3). It is a stark reminder that the only way we can belong to God’s redeemed people, and so have the hope of eternal life, is through his gracious action on our behalf; precisely through the only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he sacrificed as our Passover Lamb (cf 1 Corinthians 5:7) for us. Anyone who thinks he or she can get to heaven by doing good and by keeping the Ten Commandments, or by any other way that is not centred on faith in Jesus (cf Acts 4:12), will be sadly disappointed.
But Hosea’s words sound another grave warning also. Israel’s other prevalent sin, after idolatry, was complacency. They were often so occupied with enjoying God’s protection and blessings that they forgot and spurned the One who gave these blessings. We are in danger of committing both these sins today: the sin of giving other things the place belonging to Jesus, the only Saviour; and the sin of taking our peace and prosperity for granted and turning our backs on God completely – becoming ‘proud’ and ‘forgetting him’. It is instructive and challenging – and very confronting – to read on in this chapter to see what the prophet says about God’s judgement in response to such sins!
– Bruce Christian