Priority Check

August 10, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!” — Hosea 13:2

The corruption that Hosea dedicates his life to correcting is so aptly captured in the following quote: “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!” The Sages teach that while the normal way of a human being is to kiss people and slaughter calves, this generation got things completely backwards. They would kiss calves and slaughter people! Apparently, their priorities had been turned completely inside out.

It sounds barbaric to us, but human sacrifice was an accepted practice in ancient times. Our verse describes the worship of an idol in the image of a silver calf. People would sacrifice humans – even their own children – just for the opportunity to kiss the idol. It sounds absolutely insane to value an inanimate object over a human being. Who could do such a thing? But – wait. Think about it. People do it all of the time.

“Cat’s in the Cradle” is a famous song all about a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. Though the son repeatedly asks his father to spend time with him, the father offers little more than vague promises to spend time together in the future. He is presumably busy with his job and earning a living. As the song progresses, the child who wants to be just like Dad grows up. The day with Dad never comes.

In the last two verses of the song, the roles are reversed and the child doesn’t have time for his father. The father, now an older man, realizes that he missed the chance to have a relationship with his child. He may have achieved financial success, but in the process, he gave up his son.

This haunting song reminds us of the sacrifice many of us unknowingly make when we strive for gold and silver. In our pursuit of success, it’s so easy to forget the cost. Though most people start out with their priorities in place, time and challenges can turn them inside out. The scary part is that most people don’t even realize that their priorities are shifting. Harry Chapin, the author of the song, said about it, “This song scares me to death.” It should stir us all.

In our generation, we often flip-flop our priorities like the idol worshipers in the time of Hosea.  The question is this:  Do we sacrifice our money so that we can kiss our kids? Or do we give up our children because of our love for money?


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