As toddlers, the first words of rebellious independence that come from our mouths after being coached to talk are, “I do it!” You see the look in the toddler eyes and hear the determined voice and we think, “well, look at you, being all independent!” And you allow them to do it themselves…until they cry for help. You don’t fight it. It’s part of the human maturing process to grow independent of everyone doing it all for us. It’s a natural progression in learning to think for ourselves as we make decisions that are good for us while learning skills to take care of ourselves. We want to grow up. Our parents want us to grow up. If we do everything for a child the child’s growth will be stunted.
So, our thinking is trained, based on our nature, to want to do it all–by ourselves. However, we are made to feel less than adequate If we ask for help. It is the “independent, do it my way or else” kind of person that we think of as a leader. Mm.
Is that why it is so hard for us to trust God—much less obey God?
I’m reminded of the cartoon that depicts a guy warned not to go near a slippery cliff. He did. He fell. He frantically prayed the shortest prayer ever to God, you probably know it and have prayed it, “God, help!” Suddenly his jacket was caught on a branch on his way down to sudden death. His response? “Never mind, God, I’ve got this!” We laugh, but we are exactly like that sometimes, aren’t we?
Hosea gets serious with God’s people as they continually think they can do life completely without God—unsupervised!
Hosea 10, The Message
You Thought You Could Do It All on Your Own
1-2 Israel was once a lush vine,
bountiful in grapes.
The more lavish the harvest,
the more promiscuous the worship.
The more money they got,
the more they squandered on gods-in-their-own-image.
Their sweet smiles are sheer lies.
They’re guilty as sin.
God will smash their worship shrines,
pulverize their god-images.
3-4 They go around saying,
“Who needs a king?
We couldn’t care less about God,
so why bother with a king?
What difference would he make?”
They talk big,
lie through their teeth,
But their high-sounding words
turn out to be empty words, litter in the gutters.
5-6 The people of Samaria travel over to Crime City
to worship the golden calf-god.
They go all out, prancing and hollering,
taken in by their showmen priests.
They act so important around the calf-god,
but are oblivious to the sham, the shame.
They have plans to take it to Assyria,
present it as a gift to the great king.
And so Ephraim makes a fool of himself,
disgraces Israel with his stupid idols.
7-8 Samaria is history. Its king
is a dead branch floating down the river.
Israel’s favorite sin centers
will all be torn down.
Thistles and crabgrass
will decorate their ruined altars.
Then they’ll say to the mountains, “Bury us!”
and to the hills, “Fall on us!”
9-10 You got your start in sin at Gibeah—
that ancient, unspeakable, shocking sin—
And you’ve been at it ever since.
And Gibeah will mark the end of it
in a war to end all the sinning.
I’ll come to teach them a lesson.
Nations will gang up on them,
Making them learn the hard way
the sum of Gibeah plus Gibeah.
11-15 Ephraim was a trained heifer
that loved to thresh.
Passing by and seeing her strong, sleek neck,
I wanted to harness Ephraim,
Put Ephraim to work in the fields—
Judah plowing, Jacob harrowing:
It’s time to till the ready earth,
it’s time to dig in with God,
Until he arrives
with righteousness ripe for harvest.
But instead you plowed wicked ways,
reaped a crop of evil and ate a salad of lies.
You thought you could do it all on your own,
flush with weapons and manpower.
But the volcano of war will erupt among your people.
All your defense posts will be leveled
As viciously as king Shalman
leveled the town of Beth-arba,
When mothers and their babies
were smashed on the rocks.
That’s what’s ahead for you, you so-called people of God,
because of your off-the-charts evil.
Some morning you’re going to wake up
and find Israel, king and kingdom, a blank—nothing.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
- Turning from God means doing life without the One who created and gives life.
- Left unsupervised, we fall for lies, the advice of fools, and get into troubles that are hard to escape.
- When we do it our way, having our own way in all things, thinking we can do all of life without God’s wisdom and guidance, the ungodly crowd applauds our efforts—until we run out of money, resources and popularity.
- With God as our guide, we sow righteousness and reap love.
- Without God we sow selfishness as we plow furrows of ungodly character and behaviors, influencing the hearts of others as well as your own. We reap a crop of evil and feast on a “salad of lies”. (Yes, I love the clarity of Peterson’s Message paraphrase of the prophet’s words from God!)
We have two choices. We can choose to do life without God. Or we can choose to do life with God. Hosea shows us the consequences of both. One leads to great pain, suffering with the foolish until eventual death. The other leads to life and more life—eternal life.
Life with God will not be care-free, without problems and challenges, for we live in the same imperfect world with those who do not follow God. However, we have the promise of Jesus that He will always be with us, helping us. He went back to heaven but He left behind His Holy Spirit to live inside us to constantly give us wisdom, encouragement, help in decision making, warnings, comfort, and insight for what is right and pleasing in God’s thinking which transforms our thinking. Jesus overcame the world—and we will, too!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –Jesus (John 16:33)
Take note: Jesus did nothing on earth of significance without asking God, His Father about it first. As hard as it might be, we must fight our natural independent tendencies, thinking we’ve “got this” when we do not. We must humbly come to God, ask for His forgiveness for going our own way and learn to lean into His understanding about life. We can no longer rely on our own thinking. To give up our way is to gain His way which is more than you can think or imagine!
Depend completely on God. Trust God. You will be amazed! God knows us better than we know ourselves. He wants only the best for us. God knows what tomorrow brings. We don’t know what will happen in the next hour, day or week. Go to God and receive the daily manna of His love, mercy and grace and do life His way. You will not regret it!
Your mercies are indeed new each morning as I come to you with a grateful heart. Thank you for saving me from myself. Thank you for learning that dependance on you is a more peace-filled life to live. Thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit—Three in One!
In Jesus Name, Amen