In the mid-1630s, thousands of Puritans migrated to New England. They built homes, established government, and founded churches. Quite quickly, though, they recognized the need to train the next generation of clergy. So, in September of 1636, classes were first held at New College in New Towne, Massachusetts. In 1639, the school was renamed Harvard College in honor of English minister, John Harvard. Their original motto? “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Current Harvard Professor Stephen Shoemaker wrote his dissertation on the religious history of the University that is no longer known as a training home for clergy.
Today’s passage from Hosea may, on the surface, seem to have nothing to do with Harvard. These verses are full of curious baking images, the details of which confuse even commentators. But what is clear is the main idea. Over time, Israel had formed alliances with other kings and assimilated the worldview of other nations (v. 8)—their thinking, their morality, their values, their worship. These foreigners had slowly sapped Israel’s strength, but the people were not even aware that it was happening (v. 9). Like the gradual process of getting gray hair, this creeping compromise occurred one small choice at a time, moving them further and further away from God and His purpose.
Hosea reveals the status of their hearts and their relationship to God: “All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me” (v. 7). What was once a people focused on God and following His command, had deteriorated into a people who turned to earthly leaders and even other Gods. Hosea describes Ephraim as “easily deceived and senseless” (v. 11). Each small compromise had led to a huge move away from the one true God.
>> In what way do you need to combat creeping compromise in your own life and family? Consider choices you’ve made that have moved you away from a godly focus.
Warn us of the incremental ways the devil draws us into sin. Awaken us to the minor compromises we make that lead to big problems. “For the sake of your name lead and guide me” (Ps. 31:3).