To Forsake or Not to Forsake
June 29, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Perhaps you have a plaque or a framed picture in your home with Joshua’s words: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is a good mission or goal to keep for your home and family. The context of these words comes at the end of Joshua’s life and leadership of Israel. They had conquered the Promised Land (with God’s help). Now the twelve tribes of Israel are to settle in their new land allotments. Joshua gives them a final exhortation to follow the Lord as their King. He lays out the choice before them:
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
The people respond by saying, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods…” (24:16). The word “forsake” is a covenantal word, a marital word. To forsake someone is to break covenant with that person and replace them with something else. Committing adultery is a form of forsaking your spouse. As Joshua’s leadership was coming to an end, the people of Israel could not imagine “forsaking” their God who worked wonders among them (their parents died in the wilderness because they had forsaken God with the golden calf). Unfortunately for the nation of Israel, forsaking God is exactly what the people end up doing.
We come across this word only once in Hosea:
“They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the LORD to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding” (Hos. 4:10-11).
This word proves helpful for us in understanding the nature of sin and how we might fight against the temptation to sin. Sin is replacing God with an inferior pleasure or satisfaction. That’s what we hear from Hosea 4. Israel turns away from God (forsaking him) to “cherish” or love or enjoy “whoredom, wine and new wine.” They replace God with the instant gratifications of sexual activity, rich food, and the promise of bigger savings accounts (new wine highlights this “savings” for the future). These gratifications are inferior because they do not satisfy (they eat but are not satisfied…).
Every sin is a replacing of God with the hopes of another pleasure or satisfaction. The deception of sin is that these other pleasures and satisfactions are always inferior to God. They can’t produce what they promise.
Jesus had to confront his crowds of followers, who had the same propensity to forsake God. After his miraculous feeding of 5,000 people, which was meant to point the people to the sufficiency of God, the people seek Jesus out for just another meal. They had forsaken God for a loaf of bread. Jesus says it like this:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal" (John 6:26-27).
The message of Jesus and Hosea are one and the same. Do not let the gifts of God replace God. Do not forsake God to “cherish” lesser satisfactions. The battle against sin is to see the deception of sin and to see the infinitely better offer from God. Forsake sin. Serve the Lord.