Not gonna lie, I can be a directionally challenged soul. In fact, it’s very fair to say that sister doesn’t do north, east, west, and south. Tell me to hang a right by the Target; tell me to look for the road near the big sign that has flashing lights; or tell me the building is behind the local Starbucks drive-thru but please, pretty please, do not encourage me to drive south on 48 and then take 725 west where I will locate the mall. DO NOT. Because in all reality, sister will stay home in her yoga pants until she’s able to adequately charge Harry (the saucy British dude that also dubs as my phone’s GPS).
And though I would like to say that navigating roads and compasses are the only areas where I am directionally-challenged, I believe there are times when my soul’s compass finds itself in the same kind of predicament.
In fact, as I read through the chapters of Hosea 7 and 8, I resonated in a way I didn’t want to resonate.
As my fellow Hopers have already summarized, Hosea has been called to speak to Israel (God’s people) on behalf of God. In a nut shell, Israel has rebelled and disobeyed, but because of God’s covenant-love and faithful-mercy, there is hope for the people even though there are consequences for their disobedience.
So when we pick up at chapters 7 and 8, we find God in the middle of a righteous rant, running through a laundry list of Israel’s committed sins and continued rebellion.
Let me outline a few of them for you:
They do evil things to make the kings and princes glad (7:3); they break covenant with God, becoming adulterers (7:4); they look for help from other nations (7:11); they lie against God (7:13); they devise evil (7:15); they have transgressed and rebelled against God’s law (8:1); they have spurned good (8:3); they have set up idols (8:4); they have set up altars for sinning (8:11); they have offered sacrifices in vain (8:13); and they have forgotten their Maker (8:14).
Ummmm, yeah. It’s safe to say that Israel is not only waist-deep in a whole bunch of yucky-mucky sin, but they are also neck-deep on God’s “angry list.”
And as I read through these chapters, I couldn’t help but think, “Come on, people!!! Wake up and repent! TURN AWAY from your sins and bathe in the mercy of the Lord! He’s trying to get your attention!!!”
In fact, in Hosea 8:1, the Lord says to Hosea, “Sound the alarm!” and in other versions, Set the trumpet to your lips!”
Do you know what purpose the trumpet is to serve?
To warn! To get their attention!
The Lord says very similar words in Ezekiel 33. “Speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.”
He does the same thing in Revelation 8:6 when the Lord is asking the people of the earth to repent. “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.”
God is blowing a trumpet of mercy!
It’s loud and it’s shrill as it belts out, “Turn from your sins and turn back to me!!!”
Very literally, God is giving them a direction. In fact, He gives them several directions in chapters 7 and 8.
Yet they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him, for all this. (7:10)
They do not cry to me. (7:14)
Do you see that?
God is asking them to return to Him…to seek Him…to cry to Him. He is trumpeting out the direction their compass should read. ISRAEL, I AM YOUR TRUE NORTH.
But what do the people do with the directions God is giving them?
They do not consider His directions (7:2); they do not return (7:10); they stray (7:13); they make kings (8:4); they make idols (8:4); they go to neighboring nations (8:10); and they build palaces, cities, and strongholds (8:14).
And as Hosea 7:16 so poignantly states, “They return, but not upward.”
As my footnote in my Bible reads, “They return, but not to the MOST HIGH.”
Hopers, God is giving them the very direction they need, but they are blatantly disregarding it. And what are they doing instead? They are looking to anything and everyone for the direction they think they need.
Isn’t that just like
me us at times? Directionally challenged in our souls?
Come to me. Seek me. Pursue me. Meet with me. Look to me. Call to me. Rest in me. Return to me.
And what do we do?
We find our hope and fill in other things.
Though we may not go to neighboring nations, aren’t we guilty of going (first) to our friends for advice, to the internet for security, to our self-help books for comfort, and to our social media outlets for approval?
Though we may not set up idols, aren’t we guilty of finding hope in our closet of clothes, in our bank accounts, in our appearance, in our accomplishments, in our relationships, in our homes, and in the myriad of other things that scream for our attention and take away our direction from Him?
Though we may not build palaces and cities, aren’t we guilty of building back-up plans that bring us control, of building titles and positions that make us feel confident, and of building walls and personas that make us feel protected?
And aren’t we guilty of doing exactly what Israel did in Hosea 7:14 when things get scary, hard, and downright hopeless?
“They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds.”
We wail, we cry out and oh, how we complain and whine about our circumstances (some that are even self-inflicted like Israel’s)! But instead of going to God, our soul’s Global Position System, we fling ourselves at the things that do not save and that will never bring forever security.
We forgo His directions; we flee His love; we forget our Maker; and we forge ahead in our own strength and with our own plans.
Hoper, I don’t know what you’re facing or what you’re fearing today, but I pray you will resist the urge to find direction in anything other than Him. I pray you will turn your gaze UPWARD, and I pray you will call upon the MOST HIGH.
And if you are hearing His “trumpets” call out to you in warning, I pray you will resist the evil you are pursuing, repent of the sins that have you ensnared, and return to His loving and merciful arms.
Because as the Lord notes in Hosea 7, “I would heal…[and] I would redeem” if only they would simply turn my direction and repent.
Oh, Lord, help us to set You as our “true north.” Help us, according to Your great mercy, to redirect and realign our misplaced, compass needles. And Lord, help us in the fullness of Your grace to resist the urge to find our direction apart from You and your Word.