Christianity has never existed in a cultural vacuum. For centuries, believers around the world have lived out their faith within that era’s language, customs, artistic expressions, and politics. In the book of Acts, for example, the Apostle Paul put his sermons into context for both the Jews and the Greeks. But there is a fine line between understanding our culture and allowing it to water down God’s truth. We are in dangerous territory when we blend society’s beliefs with scriptural truth and the heart of the gospel is gutted.
The Israelites of Hosea’s day had long since crossed that syncretistic line. Since the time of the judges, they had been seduced by the Canaanite gods (Judg. 2:11–14). But after Jeroboam built his golden calves (1 Kings 12:25–33), their adoption of idolatry deepened. And by the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16), Baalism was the dominant religion in Israel, as central to the people as their worship as Yahweh.
Hence, the harsh rebuke of Hosea 2:2–5. God’s people had been adulterous. The “she is not my wife” in verse 2 is not a formal statement of divorce, since in the next sentence God calls on Israel to turn from her unfaithful ways. He also warns that if she does not, the repercussions would be disastrous. She would suffer the shame of nakedness (v. 3a). God would reverse the fertility of the land, demonstrating that He (and not Baal) actually holds this power (v. 3b). And God would remove His favor from her children. The consequences of her sin would be visited upon her children as the nation was sent into exile (v. 4). Today’s passage is a stark warning of the devastating effects of sin.
>> Pray for today’s churches, and for our own hearts, that we will resist the lure of syncretism. Consider how you have seen churches water down the truth of God’s Word. How can we avoid that sin?
Today we pray for deep, abiding reverence for Your Word. Teach us to treasure truth. Help us discern where biblical values and cultural values get confused. Banish syncretism from our churches and our hearts.