Hosea / chapter 9 (read the chapter)
One of the “complaints” I sometimes hear about God from atheists, former Christians, and agnostics is that He requires worship. Some seem to feel that this is a flaw in His character—that there must be something lacking in Him if He “needs” or “demands” worship from His creatures.
On the contrary, today’s chapter clearly explains why God wants us to worship Him. It’s not for His sake, but for ours: “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.” (vs 10)
This isn’t just a historical description of what happened to the Israelites when they practiced idolatry. It’s also a statement of a spiritual principle which is true for every created, intelligent being: We become just like the person or the thing we love and admire. If we admire what is evil, we will become evil. If we admire what is lovely, we will become lovely.
Paul reiterated this principle in his second letter to the Corinthians: “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor 3:18) Note, there, that being changed into the image of God, being made more and more like Him is a result of having the “veil removed” so we can see His glory.
And that—beholding God’s glory—is precisely what worship is.
You’ve probably heard about the phenomenon that couples who grow old together start looking more and more like each other or people who’ve had dogs for a long time start to look like them. I’m not saying that this is because worship is involved in such cases, but the amount of time spent together tends to have a physical effect, even if it’s only mild.
In the same way, what we spend time worshiping has a spiritual effect on the kind of people we become. You might remember that Isaiah wrote that the people who worshiped stone idols become as dumb as a box of rocks (Isa 44). The reverse is also true: If we worship the humble, merciful, and generous Creator, we will become humble, merciful, and generous.
This is why God wants—even “demands”—our worship. He doesn’t need us to worship Him. We need to worship Him! We are in dire need of a spiritual transformation, and worship is the only prescription for that!