Israel was going astray. Hosea compares her to an adulterous wife who has left her husband to become a prostitute. She strayed away from the God she once followed and who delivered her from bondage. When Hosea writes, she had left God and turned to the worst the world had to offer. Israel, the chose people of God, were following another, obviously false, god.
There were some things so engrained into their culture, though, that they didn’t give up everything. They were still observing the feasts and traditions that Yahweh introduced to them in the wilderness. They were still celebrating passover and observing the Sabbath, but as Hosea points out, there was a major flaw.
“And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.” -Hosea 2:11
God is speaking here in the context of His grace. Just read all of chapter two and you will see that He was willing to do whatever He needed to do in order to get His people to return to Him, even if it meant administering discipline and punishment. But in this statement we see a problem. The problem was that the feasts and sabbaths had become theirs rather than His. They used these moments of celebration to glorify them instead of Him.
The people of God had allowed what was originally God’s to be tainted and dismantled by the world. They still did what looked religious on the outside, perhaps paying lip service to the God who delivered them from bondage, but it was really all about them. Their wants, desires and enjoyment became much more important to them than the Lord.
To be honest, I worry about what I see in our culture. If i’m going to be brutally honest, I worry about what I see in my own life, especially around Christmas time. Sure, we know that Christmas is about Jesus and not the material things, but do our actions show that? What does our wallet or checkbook say about who we glorify on Christmas? What about our traditions? Do they point to Jesus or to ourselves? There is nothing wrong with having a good time on Christmas. In fact, we should. The feasts that the Lord set up for Israel were times for the people of God to enjoy themselves. The point, though, is that it should all point back to Him.
We have an obligation to reclaim Christmas for what it is. We have a responsibility to teach our kids that Christmas is all about Jesus. It’s about the fact that He came as a baby, but also that He is coming back again one day.
Advent began yesterday, and I have to admit that it did not go as planned for me. We have a lot going on in our family right now, but that’s no excuse. Christmas is about Jesus, but my kids are not going to know that if I don’t go out of my way to demonstrate it to them. So tonight, we will celebrate Advent. I will read scripture to my 4, 3, and 1 year olds that she will most definitely not understand. I will explain as best as I can, but at the end of the day they will know one very important fact:
Christmas is about Him, and nothing else.