“The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel:” Hosea 1: 1

Hosea was a prophet during the reigns of several different kings, but he primarily prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the long reign of King Jeroboam II in the 8th century BC.

During Jeroboam’s reign Israel became more prosperous and powerful than it had ever been. Due to trade wealth poured into Israel and Jeroboam extended the borders his country.  Jeroboam looked like a successful leader and Israel looked like a successful nation for most of his reign but looks can be deceptive.

I once bit into a beautiful looking apple only to spit it out because it was rotten to the core. That is a pretty good description of how according to Hosea God saw Jeroboam’s Israel. We’ll discover in Hosea that while outwardly Israel looked successful as a nation it was rotten to the core. Israel had become syncretistic in its worship; it had tried to mix the worship of the Yahweh with worship of Canaanite Gods like Baal. The country was also morally bankrupt. Sexual sin was rampant and injustice common place.

The Prophet Samuel reminds us that God “judges the heart.” God judges and defines success not on the outward but the inner. The Lord reminds us in Hosea that countries, and of course people, can look really successful but be a failure in His eyes.

It doesn’t matter how powerful and prosperous a country is if it turns a blind eye to injustice and is apathetic about the plight of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized. It doesn’t matter how successful a person looks if their heart is far from God and they replace God with idols.

The book of Hosea invites us to redefine success and to allow the Lord not the world to define what success looks like for us as His people.

How successful do you think you look in God’s eyes?

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