Read Hosea 7
Focus on verse 14
Culture seems to go in generational cycles. The cycle begins with a generation that builds. They build an economy, they build wealth, and they build a lot of cool stuff because everyone they employ (in the company they built) is expected to work hard as they did. The next generation does not have to work as hard because they inherit the wealth that their parents created. While there are always exceptions, the following generation tends to grow up with the notion that they are somehow entitled to have nice stuff and a lot of it. They create very little, yet consume a lot.
In today’s reading the Lord is describing the people of Israel again, and it sounds like an entitled generation.
They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds for grain and wine and they gash themselves; they rebel against me. (v. 14)
In other words, they are not interested in a relationship with God that means anything; they just want the stuff He has to offer. They behave like spoiled children who have learned how to manipulate their parents into giving in to their selfish demands.
Interestingly we seem to have reached that point in the cycle in our current culture. The children that grew up being given everything they demanded are now adults and they have no idea what it means to earn a living, but they have learned how to work the welfare system. The prospect of socialism makes sense to them because they would be on the receiving end of it. It makes sense to them because they have no concept of the fact that unless someone somewhere is paying into the system at the same rate that they are receiving from the system, the system will eventually be bankrupt.
The other connection we fail to make is the concept of God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. When we choose to replace God with ourselves, God eventually allows us to experience life without His influence. It actually works very much like what happens when a society adopts socialism. Suppose that God is truly one who controls and sustains everything but we don’t think that’s fair. Why should God have everything and be the one doling it out? So we kick Him out of the village square and decide that we are all going to be equal. Everyone will get the same wages no matter what he or she does or how hard he or she works or doesn’t work. Initially everyone cheers thinking this is a great idea!
Gradually, however, those who had been working hard, work less and less because they no longer have any incentive to work harder than anyone else. This causes the village economy to slow, which translates into everyone taking a salary reduction and food being rationed. Since they get paid less, and have less energy due to the rations, they work even less. In time the village has insufficient income to pay any wages at all. When all the village reserves have been exhausted, no one has anything because it all has been consumed. Without outside intervention everyone will die. Ironically, the one they blame for their misfortune is actually the only one who could help them. If they would only give control of the economy back to God it would soon become a prosperous community again, but leaders would rather allow the villagers to die than admit that they were wrong.
The moral of the story? Those who abandon God – abandon life.