I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. (Hosea 5)
We come to a bleak chapter in Hosea’s prophecy. Israel (or Ephraim, one of the tribes of Israel) and Judah have hardened their hearts against the Lord. In pride they engage in corruption and continue to prostitute themselves to other gods. As nations, they have turned to war and to other kings for help.
The Lord seems to have had enough; he withdraws himself from them. But he can never give up. He seeks their repentance through a jarring image – that he is a moth or a rot to his people. Biblical scholar Gary V. Smith says that “moth” in verse 12 should more accurately be translated as “pus, maggot, decay, sickness” (Gary V. Smith, NIV Application Commentary: Hosea [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001], p. 104). For if they will not turn and repent, he will infect their wounds. And though the people seek help from other kings, the earthly royalty cannot heal their sores. No doubt it pains the Lord to take these drastic measures. But perhaps only “in their misery” will the people earnestly seek him (v.15). Only then will they cry out, “Stop the rot.”
As a nation (whichever one you are in), have we turned from the Lord, and is he allowing pus to fester in our sores? How about in our cities and communities? How can we as Christians exert influence? We might not feel skilled in advocacy for the downtrodden, or articulate in putting forth our views about climate change. But Christian organizations such as World Vision, Tearfund, Christian Aid, Stop the Traffik, A Rocha and others work tirelessly in varied arenas, such as against sex trafficking, in lobbying government ministers against corruption here and abroad, in planting trees in desert areas, to name a few. Supporting these organizations and getting involved can help stop the rot as we shine our lights for Christ.
Prayer: Father God, help us to fight injustice in our communities and nations. Equip us with your tools and your gracious words of truth.