True Religion or False Alarm!
Anne Graham Lotz devotes a chapter of her book The Glorious Dawn Of God’s Story to “He Rejects Righteousness.” She tells two stories that relate to Hosea’s interaction with Israel. She spoke with a professor of religion in one of our nation’s “most prestigious and intellectual universities.” This professor said she was confused by all the other religions in the world.
On a trip to India, she met with members of the Hindu religion. They impressed her with how good they were. She asked herself why her grandmother had spent so much time praying for the salvation of these people who were so good.
Lotz also relates how she and her two daughters were awakened from deep sleep in a motel. Repeatedly, she hit the alarm clock beside the bed to shut it off. Finally, sleepy eyes opened enough to see that the alarm came not from a clock but from the fire alarm on the wall. Looking out the sixth floor window, she discovered fire trucks and flames. She and her daughters had to scurry quickly down flights of steps, deluged by water from fire hoses, to escape disaster.
Israel, too, asked why another religion’s practices were not a good supplement for her own. The fire alarm message Hosea brought did nothing to wake sleeping Israel from its false religion dreams. God’s threat of judgment flew by their ears unheeded.
Like Israel, modern church members flirt with varied religious practices. We may label them “Far Eastern” or “New Age.” They may range from mystical meditation to yoga to spiritualism to some form of devil worship. These do not replace the religious devotion we learned from our parents. They supplement it and give one more access to “god” and one more guarantee of peace and serenity here and hope for the future. If one religion is good, some people think, then two or three must be better. Israel tried this new “religious math” long ago, and the prophets met it with a call for alarm to wake the people to battle.
God has only one job description for his people. It does not include more religious practices. It includes devotion to him as the only God and devotion to righteousness and faithful love as the only way of life.
Oh Lord, we confess that we are too religious. We look into every new religious fad and practice trying to find peace of mind. Forgive us. Teach us to trust you and you alone. Tune our ears to hear your call to righteousness and love. Go with us as we follow your path.
I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
Holman Old Testament Commentary