The Lord had explained worship and obedience in his Law which was given to Israel,
but they disregarded his Word. Hosea says (8:12) that northern Israel regarded God’s Word:
- “as something foreign” (NIV)
- "as a strange thing" (ESV)
- "as something that does not concern him." (Amplified)
Israel’s (Ephraim's) problem was not that they failed to be religious or that they refused to build
altars. Indeed, they were very active in religious things and they built many altars which they
used to make atonement for sin and to make fellowship offerings to God. But, they
did all this while rejecting God’s revelation of his Word given to them in the law.
They built altars and participated in religious activity created from their imaginations
and designed to please their expectations and desires (called High Places). But, these
“many altars” that they believed would please God “became altars for sinning” because they
were not build or used as God intended. They did not communicate or advance God’s revelation
given to Israel in his law where God says he “wrote for them the many things” that he desired.
Likewise we can build churches and schedule them with activities, youth groups, weddings, meetings, music and services, but if we regard the Word of God “as something foreign”
(“as a strange thing”) we are building churches that hardened people to the Spirit of God,
reinforce the perceived unimportance of God’s written revelation and contribute to the
complacency of our Western Christian culture. Are we building many churches that become
churches for sinning? The teaching and instruction of the written Word of God should not
be “a strange thing” in our churches or “something foreign” in the life of the modern Christian.