Do not exult as other nations do; for you have played the whore, departing from your God. You have loved a prostitute’s pay on all threshing floors. (Hosea 9.1)
How did we not see the Great Recession of 2007 coming? Long before millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes and savings, economists warned that the bubble would one day burst. Yet we spent and borrowed like there was no tomorrow. As a nation, we pursued high-cost agendas in retaliation for 9/11. We slept—enthralled by grandiose dreams of wealth—while lobbyists and special interests plied our elected officials with seductive notions about lowering regulatory gates to unleash a tsunami-like cash flow that never materialized. Instead, rivers of riches poured into a handful of pockets, leaving everyone else high and dry. But that was not before we mortgaged our common sense to buy up any and everything that reeked of success.
We became a people deliriously infected with possession obsession. Whatever we wanted, we got, unconcerned about the ridiculous prices we paid to get it. Then tomorrow came. It was a tsunami all right—just not the one we’d been promised. We watched in horror as countless lives washed away because we sold out, doing precisely what Hosea accused ancient Israel of doing: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads, it shall yield no meal; if it were to yield, foreigners would devour it.” (Hosea 8.7) Whether or not foreign debt existed in Hosea’s time I don’t know. But his words surely must chill us to the bone.
The recession should have ushered in a season of chastening, a time to ponder our error and course correct. It didn’t. Our rebellion persists in willful ignorance of where we went wrong. Meanwhile, we shovel blame and disgust on our leaders for not moving fast enough to set things right. But what does God say? Before we answer, perhaps we should ask if we even care, because we’ve paid no heed to divine warnings not to put faith in material wealth, not to horde treasures, not to measure our lives with spreadsheets and status symbols. To truly believe that the prophets of old speak God’s truth to the ages, we must first deal with our Creator. Hosea 9.1 issues a scathing indictment: “Do not exult as other nations do; for you have played the whore, departing from your God. You have loved a prostitute’s pay on all threshing floors.”
We sold out, as a nation and individuals, wherever it profited us. Like streetwalkers, we traded in false pleasures that betrayed God’s desire that we be a righteous people. We soon will be given a new chance to mend our undoing. Will we sell out to the highest bidders, to merchants who reduce us to commodities that feed their wealth and enjoyment? Or will we be gathered in common effort to restore equity and justice to a land that has turned a deaf ear to precepts that please God?