Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you wanna go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
We cannot read these words without singing them, right? In fact, start singing the Cheers theme song and most people will join in knowing all the words, right? From 1982 to 1993, Cheers was America’s television equivalent of the corner bar where everybody knows your name. But the protagonist of the Cheers theme is going through a lot more than your run-of-the-mill stressful workday when you hear all the words to the song written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart-Angelo, words not heard at the beginning of show. Here is the rest of the forlorn story, so to speak…
All those nights when you’ve got no lights,
The check is in the mail;
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by it’s tail;
And your third fiance didn’t show;
Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead;
The morning’s looking bright;
And your shrink ran off to Europe,
And didn’t even write;
And your husband wants to be a girl;
You want to go where everybody knows your name…
The writers of this song are going insane with all the troubles brewing around them. They are hopelessly going through life, finding comfort only in the next drink to dull their senses. If they do it with others who are also insane, then somehow, it all okay.
But is it? Is this all there is to life?
Hosea 5, The Message
They Wouldn’t Recognize God If They Saw Him
1-2 “Listen to this, priests!
Attention, people of Israel!
Royal family—all ears!
You’re in charge of justice around here.
But what have you done? Exploited people at Mizpah,
ripped them off on Tabor,
Victimized them at Shittim.
I’m going to punish the lot of you.
3-4 “I know you, Ephraim, inside and out.
Yes, Israel, I see right through you!
Ephraim, you’ve played your sex-and-religion games long enough.
All Israel is thoroughly polluted.
They couldn’t turn to God if they wanted to.
Their evil life is a bad habit.
Every breath they take is a whore’s breath.
They wouldn’t recognize God if they saw me.
5-7 “Bloated by arrogance, big as a house,
they’re a public disgrace,
The lot of them—Israel, Ephraim, Judah—
lurching and weaving down their guilty streets.
When they decide to get their lives together
and go off looking for God once again,
They’ll find it’s too late.
I, God, will be long gone.
They’ve played fast and loose with me for too long,
filling the country with their bastard offspring.
A plague of locusts will
devastate their violated land.
8-9 “Blow the ram’s horn shofar in Gibeah,
the bugle in Ramah!
Signal the invasion of Sin City!
Scare the daylights out of Benjamin!
Ephraim will be left wasted,
a lifeless moonscape.
I’m telling it straight, the unvarnished truth,
to the tribes of Israel.
10 “Israel’s rulers are crooks and thieves,
cheating the people of their land,
And I’m angry, good and angry.
Every inch of their bodies is going to feel my anger.
11-12 “Brutal Ephraim is himself brutalized—
a taste of his own medicine!
He was so determined
to do it his own worthless way.
Therefore I’m pus to Ephraim,
dry rot in the house of Judah.
13 “When Ephraim saw he was sick
and Judah saw his pus-filled sores,
Ephraim went running to Assyria,
went for help to the big king.
But he can’t heal you.
He can’t cure your oozing sores.
14-15 “I’m a grizzly charging Ephraim,
a grizzly with cubs charging Judah.
I’ll rip them to pieces—yes, I will!
No one can stop me now.
I’ll drag them off.
No one can help them.
Then I’ll go back to where I came from
until they come to their senses.
When they finally hit rock bottom,
maybe they’ll come looking for me.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
God speaks through Hosea, His prophet, summarizing the life of His people. It’s not good. It seems they have succumbed to a life of following whoever gets their attention and pays attention to them. They left God. He did not leave them until God could no longer get their attention. God is the Judge and they have been pronounced “Guilty!” in His courts of justice. God condemned the leaders for trapping innocent people and exploiting them. No justice was in the land. They were sinking deep in sin and lacked the power to repent and turn back to God, for their sins had paralyzed them.
Paralyzed people are powerless. What is the summary of our lives at the moment? Are we so paralyzed by our sins that we just accept them as a way of life?
Are we so hopelessly lost in sameness of life, that we no longer take notice of God, asking Him what He would like to do for us and in us?
Do we just want to dull our sense even more and go to a place where everybody else is hopeless, too, so we no longer have to wonder if there is someone or something better?
Isn’t this way of life just another form of arrogance against God? Our lack of notice, knowing and growing in relationship with God leads to stumbling around in life aimlessly and eventually falling…just like the Proverbs advised…pride goes before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Israel and Judah were weak, sick nations, according to all the prophets whom God sent to assess the hearts of His people and give diagnosis. Instead of turning to the Lord for healing, however, both turned to the king of Assyria for help. They needed prayer and true repentance, but instead, they trusted politics and useless treaties. All the Lord could do was withdraw and wait for them to seek His face in truth and humility. God certainly has had a lot of practice in the fine art of waiting for each of us to respond to His grace.
Friends, God waits for us to turnround and look fully into His face. He waits for eyes to be opened wide to see Him for who He really is…the Lover of our souls, the One who created us, the One and Only who died and rose again to save us, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, the One who counts the hairs on our head and knows the number, the One who knows our name!
Our name is written on the palm of His Hand. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:16, NIV) “I’ll never forget you…”—God
Thank you for leading us back to you through the words of Hosea. We don’t really want to be a complacent people who merely stumble around letting life happen to us. We want to realize how fully loved we are as you have told us and live an expectant life to the full! Lord, may I notice you at work in my life today and stop immediately to give you praise, thanksgiving, honor, and glory! It won’t be hard to do, because you are always at work! And Lord, I’m yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen