If a law enforcement officer is pursuing a killer and sees him about to open a vile containing a deadly virus capable of killing thousands, of course he will take the criminal out before the plague is unleashed. In the history of Israel at Baal Peor, it wasn’t a deadly virus that unleashed a plague on Israel. It was the worship of an idol called Baal—an idol that demanded the slaughter of children. It was a strange irony. The Moabite god whose temple prostitution was supposed to guarantee fertility murdered children instead. When the Israelites started participating in the Baal orgy it took the thrust of Phineas’ spear to stop the plague (Num. 25:1-5) In Hosea’s day the people had returned to this worship of Baal and his immoral cult.
“Like grapes in the wilderness I found Israel; Like the first fruit on the tree at the beginning of the season, that’s how I saw your fathers in the wilderness. Then they came to Baal Peor and dedicated themselves to Shame, the Baal idol. And they became as disgusting as the thing they loved.”
In the Star Wars saga Anakin Skywalker begins as a Jedi fighting for the good, but in Episode III he grows close to Palpatine, the Supreme Chancellor for the Galactic Republic. When Anakin is not given the rank of Jedi Master, he becomes angry and commits himself more strongly to Palpatine who is actually a Sith Lord controlled by the dark side. Anakin’s devotion to Palpatine causes him to turn into Dark Vader.
Hosea warns us that we will become like the ones we love. We must be careful to be devoted to the true God who is loving, faithful, and true. He gives us life, but false gods turn us into the walking dead.
LORD, help me realize that false worship and immorality is worse than a deadly virus. It doesn’t just destroy physical bodies. It destroys souls. Help me to respond only to your love today so that I will be protected from false loves that in the end produce worthlessness and disgust.
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