A Half-Baked Cake

 The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake.  Hosea 7:8

When Tom and I were first married, creating delicious meals was not part of my repetoire.  I can’t even remember ever making a meal before I was married.  I had to jump in quickly and learn how to maneuver around the kitchen. Luckily, I had a sweet husband who was very forgiving and ate less than tasty meals from time to time.  He even told me recently what a good cook I have become since those early days.  I guess 43 years of practice has paid off.  As a young bride, I often baked cakes and cookies that were a total flop.  Mine most often repeated mistake in baking was not letting the baking continue until it was completely baked.  I learned quickly that a half-baked cake is not a pleasant thing to eat and is not worth wasting tasty frosting on.

Hosea tells us that the people of Israel had gotten so entangled in sin and worship of other gods that they were useless- like a half-baked cake.  Hosea explains how becoming useless happened, “worshipping other gods has sapped their strength, and they don’t even know it.”

You see, the Israelites were a stubborn and hardened people.  They went to the Egyptians and the Assyrians for help whenever they got into trouble.   They had lost their way and had forgotten their God, becoming useless “like a half-baked cake.”

The good news for us is very Good News!  Jesus has made a way and paid the price for our sin, the occasional sin and the besetting sin.  We become his child when we put our faith in him and what he did on the cross.  Being his child is a forever situation.  Our God is faithful and true no matter what we do.  The Good News is glorious! 

But even though we live on this side of the cross, have the precious indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and grace upon grace poured out on us daily, we can learn from the predicament of Israel. 

First, we can learn that continuing in sin hardens a heart.  Just like the people of Israel did not desire a close walk with their God, we can do the same.  For the Christian who wants to be useful to the Lord and the work of his kingdom, the besetting sin has to go.  Until it goes, our allegiance and obedience will often flow elsewhere.  (let me recommend several books here if you are struggling in this area- The Bondage Breaker and Victory Over Darkness– both by Neil Anderson or if baggage is tripping you up- you can try my book, Pack Your Baggage, Honey, We’re Moving to Paris)

Secondly, we can learn that continuing in a besetting sin has both natural and spiritual consequences.  The people of Israel experienced sapped strength without even being aware.  That is how sin operates- usually, it is the frog in the kettle.  A little here and a little there, and then you have a besetting sin which has sapped your strength unaware.  The natural consequence is sapped strength, and the sad spiritual result, becoming less than useful to God.

So, all of this can seem pretty discouraging, especially if you have been struggling with a sin that has you in its grip.  But there is some excellent news that accompanies all of this bad news.  In Hosea 14, we read the great promise of healing for the repentant.  Repentance is a change of mind- a 180 degree turn- an agreement with God that what he says is true. Here in Hosea 14, we read what God offered Israel if they turned towards him and away from sin, and he offers it to us also. What an awesome God we have!

Hosea 14:4-9

The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
    my love will know no bounds,
    for my anger will be gone forever.

I will be to Israel
    like a refreshing dew from heaven.
Israel will blossom like the lily;
    it will send roots deep into the soil
    like the cedars in Lebanon.
Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
    as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.

My people will again live under my shade.
    They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
    They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.”

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

How beautiful are these words; The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;  my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.

A half- baked cake is not how I want my life to be described, how about you? So, in the words of Hosea, Come let us press on to know the Lord!

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