Have you ever been ignored or neglected in church? How did that feel? Sadly, I have often felt ignored and in my flesh, I have also ignored others (both knowingly and unknowingly). It is not a nice feeling to be ignored. Neglect hurts, doesn’t it? Have we thought about how God feels when we ignore Him, when we push Him aside, when we make Him less than central in our daily lives? Oh, we are sure God exists and Christ is our Savior, at least intellectually. But we still push Him aside and allow lesser things to occupy our hearts and minds. In other words, we forget God by neglecting Him. This is often true in our lives, but it also marked Israel’s life in 8th century B.C.
Hosea chapter 8 ends with these six solemn words, “For Israel has forgotten his Maker” (verse 14). Here was a nation who had everything and yet they were on the verge of losing everything. The reason: They had forgotten their Maker! Hadn’t Israel known Yahweh though? They even claim this knowledge of God in Hosea 8:2, “My God, we know You!” Then why does Yahweh conclude that they had forgotten Him? James Boice explains in his commentary on the Minor Prophets, “What the word ‘forget’ actually means is ‘neglect.’ Israel knew God intellectually, but she had neglected Him by pushing Him aside. She had allowed other, lesser things to become central in the national life… The problem involved was not an intellectual forgetting of God, but a moral forgetting in which a genuine worship of God and a rigorous obedience to His commands are neglected”.
And what was the result of this pushing aside of Yahweh? From Hosea 8, we see five sins that resulted from Israel forgetting Yahweh their Maker (verses 1-14):
- The breaking of Yahweh’s covenant (vs 1-3)
- The choice of wicked rulers (vs 4a)
- The perversion of true worship (vs 4b-6)
- The lust of foreign alliances (vs 7-10)
- The construction of false altars (vs 11-14)
They broke Yahweh’s covenant, set up wicked kings, made wooden idols, went after foreign alliances, and built false altars. They sowed in futility and were going to reap the whirlwind of destruction (verse 7). In plain language, they were going into exile! This really happened in 722 B.C. Once God was not on the throne of their hearts, someone or something else replaced Him.
“What the word ‘forget’ actually means is ‘neglect.’ Israel knew God intellectually, but she had neglected Him by pushing Him aside. She had allowed other, lesser things to become central in the national life…– James Boice
In Exodus 14, Yahweh rescues Israel from slavery and brings them through the Red Sea. In Exodus 16, Israel forgets the mercies of Yahweh and grumbles for lack of food. Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, one of the constant commands to the nation of Israel was to “remember” (see Deut. 5:15; 7:18; 8:2,18; 9:7; 15:15; 16:3,12; 24:9,18,22; 32:7). They were to remember the good that Yahweh had done for them. Yet, Israel forgot their Maker time and time again! This theme of forgetfulness is repeated often in Hosea (see Hosea 2:13 – “Me she forgot”, Hosea 4:6 – “you have forgotten the law of God”, Hosea 13:6 – “they forgot Me”).
Yet, we are no different from the nation of Israel. Even after coming to Christ, we are drawn to other lovers. In our age of ever-increasing distractions, we are pre-occupied with lesser things and our hearts are prone to wander. Our Lord, however, intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). Our God is a God who constantly woos us back (Hosea 2:14). He is the faithful one in the covenant (Deut. 7:9), yet He desires our loyalty and faithfulness too (2 Chron. 16:9). What are some practical ways for us as believers to remember our Maker daily? Let me close with these five practical suggestions to remember God’s goodness daily:
As we live our daily lives, let us pause to reflect on God’s mercy and grace to us in Christ. He took the initiative in our salvation and He will sustain us to the end. We must never forget that truth!
As we interact with our spouse, play with our children or enjoy fellowship with our church community, let us not forget God’s goodness in providing us such beautiful gifts. Yes, they are gifts and He is the Giver. Let us never love the gifts more than the Giver!
As we step out to work today, let us thank God for work to do. As we go through a busy day, let us remember our Maker in giving us appropriate skills to do our jobs well.
As we wake up to see another beautiful day, let us remember that our Maker has been gracious to us. Many of us who slept last night did not wake up this morning. As we retire to bed tonight, let us remember that our Maker created sleep for our weary bodies. Our very breath is a gift to us!
Our ‘other’ earthly blessings
As we drink coffee today or eat a delicious meal or drive in a comfortable car or give money to charity, let us remember that every good gift proceeds from our Maker in Heaven.
Let us be a people who do not push God aside in our daily lives. Let us remember that we have a Maker who never forgets us! Let not God say of us like He said of Israel, “They forgot Me”. Instead, let us be a people who remember Him and His goodness daily.