“I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days – all her appointed feasts.” (Hosea 2:11, NIV)
Which is interesting.
Israel was in terminal religious decline. She had embraced the pagan Baal worship of the surrounding nations in a syncretistic mish-mash with the worship of Yahweh.
The regular religious festivals which had been ordained by God were now an admixture of Baal worship (often licentious) and the true worship of Yahweh.
This unholy mix had got to the point that Yahweh disassociates Himself from them. Note that the verse describes the religious feasts as “her” celebrations, “her” festivals, “her” New Moons, “her” Sabbath days. That is to say, God says, these are no longer that which I ordained and intended – these are your creation, your affair, I have nothing to do with them.
I was struck by the parallelism with the contemporary situation. We still celebrate Christmas, Easter, All Hallows Eve but these celebrations have become paganised. Their religious content and meaning stripped away. They have been separated from any religious dimension or component.
I watched a recent political T.V. show in which someone commented that they had received many Christmas cards from MPs. They noted that only a single digit percentage of them had any religious reference.
We are now more likely to wish each other “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. A bland, unspecific phrase, devoid of any vital meaning.
The festivals, once the high points of the religious year, celebrations of the transcendent, of the possibility of human salvation and flourishing, have now mutated into a mere frenzy of consumption.
Empty vessels. Hollow. Much noise, no meaning.
Hosea’s message was that God’s response would be to bring to an end these shambolic, syncretistic, shameful abominations of His holy festivals.
However, a society’s cultural calendar can only be stopped by bringing that society to its knees.
Which meant the military and economic destruction of the country. Which God brought to pass.
So that Israel could start again. Get back on the right track.
I wonder what God’s response will be to our paganisation of His ordained festivals…