8 Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake not turned.
9 Strangers devour his strength,
and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
and he knows it not.
10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
nor seek him, for all this. ~~Hosea 7:8-10 (ESV)
I don’t pretend to be a Bible teacher, but neither do I believe we have the right to impose subjective interpretations on God’s Word. Therefore, I want to briefly highlight the context of these verses before applying them to 21st Century professing Christians. If you want to do some in-depth study on some if the idioms Hosea uses, may I suggest Bible Hub as an online resource?
Hosea prophesied in both Israel and Judah to warn them that their unfaithfulness to the Lord resembled a wife’s adultery. His chosen people rebelliously and continuously adopted the idolatrous practices of heathen nations in direct violation to His commands. His people, referred to in this passage as Ephraim, didn’t understand the idolatry they adopted as they mingled with other nations brought them destruction. In their arrogance, they refused to repent.
The passage made me think of the current Church Growth Movement, which looks to business models and marketing techniques in order to increase membership (and fill offering plates). The Lord, on the other hand, simply commanded us to make disciples by teaching others what He taught His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). These human methods do sometimes populate church rosters, but usually at the expense of sound doctrine. Such churches bow to the idol of numbers, appealing to egos with a gospel of narcissism.
Time prohibits me from detailing how capitulation to worldly Church Growth strategies has poisoned many evangelical churches today, and I’m taking tomorrow off to go to Boston. But I’ll have plenty to say about this topic in future posts. Let me close by encouraging you to look to Christ, not to worldly devices. He has the best ways to accomplish His purposes.