Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them. Hosea 14:9 NASB
Are right – Hosea reveals that YHWH’s darke (paths) are yesharim (straight, upright). We should notice that the characteristic of the righteous is their consistent direction along these paths. They “walk” according to the trail God blazes. Conversely, transgressors (ufoshim – rebels) stumble. Transgressors are not excoriated because they take another road. They are on the same path, but they don’t step according to the directions. When God says, “Put your feet in my footsteps,” they choose to place their feet somewhere else. As a result, they don’t get lost. They totter. They stagger. They cannot maintain their stride. They are overthrown.
Hosea’s declaration is in concert with the rest of the Tanakh. God is yashar. It is not that His ways are the right directions for living. They are that, but they are also much more. As Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 92:15 and Psalm 25:8 demonstrate, yashar describes who God is, not just what His directions are. We say, “God is good,” but now we can add “God is upright.” There are no exceptions to this rule. Whatever God does, it is always just, upright, righteous and correct. It matters not a bit if you don’t like it. Just as we are not in a position to determine what is good, so we are not able to determine what is just apart from God’s ways.
This has an interesting implication. It suggests that even those who claim to be on the path but who do not step as He steps are transgressors (ufoshim). It doesn’t take shaking your fist at God and demanding that you live as you wish. It only takes walking on the path according to your interpretation of the proper steps. Hosea tells us that people who decide for themselves where they need to step in order to follow the path are, in fact, rebels and are destined to stumble.
Just think about this. What it means is that Torah allows no personal exceptions. It means that you and I don’t get to decide to honor Shabbat on Sunday – or Monday. It means that we don’t have the right to determine what we eat, when we eat, how we eat. It means that we are not empowered to change worship to fit our style or the calendar to fit our culture or doctrines to accommodate political correctness. The Way is the way! And it is right.
It isn’t necessary to be an atheist or an agnostic to stand in opposition to God. All that’s necessary is to practice your own form of religion. Ouch!
Topical Index: right, yashar, Hosea 14:9, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 92:15