They Turn, But Not Upward
In Hosea’s day, the nation of Israel had become incredibly corrupt. This actually coincided with a time of great wealth and material prosperity during the reign of Jeroboam II. Spiritually, however, things were so bad that even the priests of God were waiting to kill those who walked by on the road (Hos. 6:9). The people were being punished by God to give them a wake up call. They recognized that they needed help. Hosea 7:16 says, “They turned, but not upward.” They trusted in Egypt and Assyria (7:11). They trusted in corrupt religious leaders (5:1). They trusted in their armies to keep them safe (10:13). In fact, it seems they turned everywhere but God for help.
God should have been the one they went to for help. He had led them out of the land of Egypt when they were a young nation (Hos. 13:4-5). As soon as God gave them what they needed, they became content, and forgot God (13:6). It was because of their refusal to turn to God that He punished them. God even said of His chosen nation, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6).
The more I read and study the prophets the more I am convinced that their problems are our problems. When things go badly for us we often turn to all sorts of places for help other than God. Even when our economy has been at it’s worst, Americans are still wealthier than any nations were in the past. It is because of this that we often are tempted to put our trust in the world. We place our trust in jobs, banks, politicians, and even ourselves so much that we don’t recognize where true security comes from.
During a crisis some may finally call out for religion out of desperation. However in times of prosperity these same people forget God. This is not sincere faith. As Christians in a wealthy country, we can never forget that every good and perfect thing comes from God. We cannot be content and forget who our God is. When we do have troubles, God must be the first one we turn to. Our friends and families, our doctors and psychologists, human philosophers, etc. should not be the first place we turn when trouble strikes. Let it never be said of us that when times got hard, “we turned, but not upward.”