Some Things are Worse

God gets to decide what.

Hosea 4:14-19 (NIV)

“I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!

“Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;
do not go up to Beth Aven.
And do not swear, ‘As surely as the LORD lives!’
The Israelites are stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the LORD pasture them
like lambs in a meadow?
Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone!
Even when their drinks are gone,
they continue their prostitution;
their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
A whirlwind will sweep them away,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame.”

Israel’s sin isn’t literally prostitution and adultery; it’s analogous. God is illustrating that analogy through Hosea and Gomer—and now through Israel’s daughters.

God will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution because it’s insignificant. Still, this insignificant thing will horrify the parents. If that doesn’t get their attention, nothing will.

So God uses the shrine prostitution to connect the literal prostitution (which has their attention) to the figurative prostitution of Israel chasing after other gods (which God is trying to get them to pay attention to). He’s not going to punish your daughters because what the men do is worse.

Consorting and sacrificing with shrine prostitutes makes regular prostitution look like jaywalking.

Our criminal justice system measures crimes in terms of their impact on people. Sins against God get nothing.

Thus, the importance of purely spiritual sins is not in our face. We marinate in a culture whose priorities are not God’s priorities.

We know that loving God is the greatest commandment, but that’s not the message we see. We’re bombarded with updates on crime, politics, the economy, the weather, not to mention all the sales pitches and click bait. It’s mostly meaningless, but “don’t touch that dial!”

That’s why we need daily devotions.

Otherwise, we live and breathe only spam.

All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.