August 17, 2021 | Hosea 7:13–16


This Month’s Issue

I grew up hearing “sin” defined as “missing the mark.” God’s will and law were the target for our behavior, a target not one of us will hit perfectly this side of heaven. That concrete image of an arrow falling short or landing off-center was helpful when I was a kid.

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the LORD has spoken.


Hosea 7:13–16 reads like a climactic and summative lament by God for the sins of His people. He wept because their demise was near. For all of the reasons stated thus far, God pronounced woe on them because they had strayed. He prophesied destruction to them because they had rebelled. Still, at the end of verse 13, God articulates a heart-rending longing to redeem, but the people responded with more lies.

In verses 14–16, God mourns a nation who would cry out for Baal, and indulge in cultic fertility feasts, while turning their back on Him. They had received God’s guidance and strength when they needed it, then plotted evil against His name (v. 15). In a little twist of irony, God described Israel as a “faulty bow” (v. 16). They had certainly “missed the mark” in many ways. And as a part of their punishment, they would be “ridiculed in the land of Egypt” (v. 16).

“Egypt” as it is used here may represent Assyria specifically or all Gentiles more generally. But regardless, God warned, Israel would be made a laughingstock as God’s salvation in Exodus would be reversed and captivity would come again. It doesn’t take much imagination to consider over what God might be weeping in our world today. Our specific false gods might be different, but our penchant for idolatry is not. Like Israel, we have turned our back on God, and we don’t even see that we have sinned.

In a culture that holds to no moral absolutes, the only “wrong” is believing that there is a single divine standard for “right.” How can you talk about sin with those who do not believe it exists?


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