O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
Commitment: an absolute dedication and faithfulness to someone or something. It's something we all claim to have, yet very few demonstrate it. Many people claim to have a strong commitment to the local church, but they rarely attend, even when they have nothing else to do. Others take wedding vows which include promises of commitment. Yet those vows are broken rapidly and all commitment is nullified. Nothing is so distressing to the Lord God as to see a Christian who is only half committed to Him. (See Revelation 3:14-22.)
The greatest example of a lack of commitment in the Old Testament is found in the prophecy of Hosea. Hosea (whose name means "salvation") was a prophet to the northern kingdom and a contemporary of Amos. In fact, Hosea was to the northern kingdom what Jeremiah was to the southern kingdom - a weeping prophet. His prophecy is very tender and his ministry is similar to that of John the Apostle.
The purpose of Hosea's prophecy was to provide Israel with a real-life example of her spiritual idolatry. Hosea transferred his personal tragedy into a figure of the tragedy of Israel as a nation. The lack of commitment to him by his wife and her infidelity was but a minute calamity when compared with the spiritual infidelity of Israel and their lack of commitment to God. Hosea called Israel to national repentance much as he pleaded with his adulterous wife for personal repentance.
To bring Israel to understand how complacent they had become, the prophet observed, "Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" (Hosea 6:4). Israel's commitment was shallow at best, and Hosea likened the fleeting goodness of uncommitted men to a morning cloud and the early dew which vanishes with the morning sun. God is never pleased with such a halfhearted commitment and a complacent attitude toward Him. Israel had not yet learned that lesson; apparently twentieth-century Christians haven't either.
There is a tiny harbor town on the ocean shore where many ships have crashed on the rocks in violent weather. This town became well known because of the dedicated rescue team which aided mariners in distress. The rescue team would rally to the sound of the siren and rush to the scene of the accident, risking life and limb to save the sailors from drowning. As time went on, the citizens of that tiny town raised enough money to build a rescue station close to the shore. While this greatly facilitated the operation, it softened the dedicated team as well. As time went by, they added some of the comforts and conveniences that other rescue stations had. Through the years the rescue station became a social club, where the town's people gathered to have fun and relax. Ships would still crash upon the rocks; the alarm would still sound; but eventually no one responded. They were reluctant to leave their comforts, because their commitment to rescue the miserable mariners was no match for their complacency.
We can imagine that Hosea felt much the same way about Israel as we may feel toward this once-dedicated rescue team. Still there are many Christians today who have a halfhearted attitude toward God and, in fact, have committed spiritual adultery with the world just as Hosea's wife did. Much of Christianity today is nothing more than "country-club Christianity," basking in the goodness of God, relying on the riches of this world's goods, and unconcerned about commitment to the Father or the rescue of those who are perishing.
We can almost hear Hosea saying, "Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away." The fleeting goodness of uncommitted Christians is not goodness at all. It is just a temporary rest stop on the highway to complacency.
MORNING HYMN A charge to keep I have A God to glorify Who gave His Son my soul to save And fit it for the sky.
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