By Collin Ross
I knew the tower was going to fall. Every game of Jenga has that moment when a player removes a pivotal piece, leaving the structure permanently unstable. It becomes only a matter of time until the whole thing comes crashing down.
Hosea 13 begins with that moment. The piece has been pulled, the die has been cast, and Israel is on the path toward destruction. What was that critical piece of the tower that Israel foolishly removed? They broke the first two commandments when they turned from the Lord to worship idols (Exodus 20:2–4). At that moment, Hosea declares, they hitched a ride on the road to death (Hosea 13:1). Worse still, they weren’t getting off that road.
Once in high school, I was driving a friend home from band practice when I missed a turn. My friend decided not to say anything and instead chose to wait and see if I would come to my senses. But I was lost in the music on the radio, and after ten minutes of driving, I had still not recognized that we were never going to make it to my friend’s house so long as we continued down this road. Someone had to do something.
In a similar way, this is what the Lord does in response to Israel’s idolatry. God had been the perfect Shepherd, providing all that His people needed. But, even as they enjoyed His blessings, they forgot about the One who supplied them. In order to correct their errant ways, the Shepherd acted as the “lion” (v.7).
If you came across a lion, wouldn’t you change directions? But Israel would stay the course, just as Hosea predicted. They miss an opportunity to know the abundant life that God promised. God’s people would be like a child missing its own birth (v.13).
This is the effect of sin in our lives. Forgetting the countless ways that God has cared for us, we barrel down a path that leads to no good thing. And yet, we won’t turn the car around. The Jenga tower of our lives will fall. That is, unless someone does something.
Take heart, for we have a living hope. The same God who says, “I will destroy you, Israel; you have no help but me” (v.9) also promises, “I will redeem them from death” (v.14). When our situation feels hopeless, we remember that our Father in heaven saw our desperate state and chose to intervene through Jesus Christ. When our journey of faith feels like one step forward and two steps back, we can point to Him and know that the only help we’ll ever need is here with us today.