Sin is, amongst other things, completely stupid. I read through these verses in Hosea 7 this morning:
When I would heal Israel,
the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
and the evil deeds of Samaria;
for they deal falsely;
the thief breaks in,
and the bandits raid outside.
2 But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.
3 By their evil they make the king glad,
and the princes by their treachery.
4 They are all adulterers;
they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
from the kneading of the dough
until it is leavened.
5 On the day of our king, the princes
became sick with the heat of wine;
he stretched out his hand with mockers.
6 For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
all night their anger smoulders;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
7 All of them are hot as an oven,
and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
and none of them calls upon me.
8 Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake not turned.
9 Strangers devour his strength,
and he knows it not;
grey hairs are sprinkled upon him,
and he knows it not.
10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;[a]
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
nor seek him, for all this.
11 Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
12 As they go, I will spread over them my net;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
13 Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me.
14 They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.
God would heal Israel, yet they turn away. Israel sins, and does not think that God sees everything. Sin might delight earthly rulers, but all Israel’s kings fell – and none of them called on God. It is a black picture, made all the blacker by v9. Israel (Ephraim) did not even know her strength had gone. It reminded me of the tragic story of Samson (Judges 13-16) who, seduced/nagged by Delilah gives away the secret of his strength and getting up does not know the LORD had left him.
Amongst other things our choices to sin are unbelievably stupid given the reality that God sees them, but they are even more stupid when we consider that God longs to heal us of those sinful choices. He longs to see us turn back to him and ask for the help – he is offering it with outstretched arms – the offer is back in Hosea 2:
16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish[f] the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
The husband/Baal link of v16 is a subtle wordplay – both “ish” and “baal” can mean “husband”, but Baal is also used of a Canaanite deity. Israel will be faithful to her true husband – the one who is – v19 – utterly faithful – full of righteousness and justice, steadfast love and mercy.
Our God is the one who will abolish war, provide peace, and be utterly faithful. And yet I can still choose sin.
May God open our eyes to the realities of faith, and cause us to hate sin because we love him, the one whose faithfulness and mercy are too great to leave us in our stupidity, but call us to better things.