The narrative is far too familiar. A preacher grows a church and gains a following. He writes books, hosts a radio show, and accepts speaking engagements followed by large crowds. The global Church adores him, and he starts to believe his own press. He is blessed with money and fame and begins to build an idol of his own image. Unfortunately, it is often only a matter of time before that pride leads to a fall. Character cracks? Financial mismanagement? An extramarital affair? People weren’t created to be venerated. The human heart can’t handle it.
In today’s passage, Hosea told the narrative of Israel’s fall from grace. He started by remembering their past. They were once a powerful and prosperous nation, feared and revered by their neighbors (13:1). Commentators believe this refers to the time of Jeroboam II when Israel had a large army and enjoyed a comfortable existence—but in spite of this, or perhaps in part because of it, Israel turned away from God.
They combined Baal worship with their worship of God, taking from each tradition what they found attractive. Ironically, this led to the death of the nation rather than to the fertility that the priests of Baal had promised. Verse 2 describes the present, how Israel sinned more and more. They kept building idols—some by hand with their own silver, others by skilled craftsmen. All of them, of course, were in direct disobedience to God’s command. All of them evoked the anger of the Lord (12:14).
Finally, Hosea prophesied regarding Israel’s future. No specific historical details were given here, but through a series of natural metaphors (mist, chaff, and smoke), the message was crystal clear. Israel would disappear (13:3).
>> We, too, are vulnerable to the insidious sin of pride. Consider how you can safeguard your heart against this infectious sin. Having a believing and honest friend as an accountability partner is one
Even though we recognize the foolishness of human pride—what have we to be proud of?—it seems impossible to eradicate. Overwhelm our pride with awe of Your majesty, Lord!