Breaking All Bounds

Hosea 4:1-19

Lots of moaning and groaning – things going from bad to worse in country. Let’s bring God back to Washington, etc. Yes, things have changed, but… Has to do more with the practice of evil than percentage of evildoers. Number of restraints have been relaxed – cultural, legal, religious – and so outward behavior more closely follows inward condition. Add to that the snowball effect – as restraints come down, evildoers tear down additional ones and wrongdoing proliferates.

Examples abound, not limited to USA. For example, article written by individuals in Netherlands and Belgium:

Organ donation after euthanasia has been performed more than 40 times in Belgium and the Netherlands together. Preliminary results of procedures that have been performed until now demonstrate that this leads to good medical results in the recipient of the organs.

…The dead donor rule states that donation should not cause or hasten death. Since a patient undergoing euthanasia has chosen to die, it is worth arguing that the no-touch time [the wait between cardiac arrest and procurement] could be skipped . . . contributing to the quality of the transplanted organs. It is even possible to extend this argument to a ‘heart-beating organ donation euthanasia’ where a patient is sedated, after which his organs are being removed, causing death.”

Published in international peer-reviewed periodical… Journal of Medical Ethics.

God could level same charge against much of world including America as he brought against Israel. Application not as obvious in previous generations as now because of outward conformity. But remember this: Gen. 6:5-7Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

True, don’t have to fear worldwide flood again… but notice underlying reason for flood: “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Must remember also that God acts in his time and way. Promise of no flood not equal to promise of no consequences for evil. Several categories of defendant here: guilty people, priests and prophets, guilty politicians – and for all, God has a plan.

A. guilty people v.1-3

Hosea as bailiff, God serves as: Judge, prosecutor, plaintiff

all rise, hear the word of the Lord – calling court to order, charges about to be read and accused need to hear so as to respond

defendants identified: “inhabitants of the land” – legal action taken against entire group; entire nation on trial before God himself

the charge (1b)

people as a whole have broken covenant with malice aforethought – the thoughts and intentions behind a wrongful act (including knowledge that the act is illegal)

specific charge: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God”, clear violation of covenant expectations found in Ten Commandments

breach of nearly every Commandment itemized in remainder of chapter and, as find out next verse, all wilfully

man, especially God’s people, created in his image are expected to be image bearers – displaying character of God in all areas of life, especially those aspects particularly related to covenant

“truth or mercy” NKJV “faithfulness or steadfast love, loyal love” – what God communicated in his Name to Moses

to rightly display God’s character requires knowledge of God and his ways, acknowlegment of him as rightful King

the evidence (2)

swearing: #3 – “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”; lying: #9 – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”; killing: #6 – “You shall not murder”; stealing: #8 – “You shall not steal”‘ committing adultery: #7 – “You shall not commit adultery”

break all restraint: knowing the law, refuse to be bound by it, wilfully doing what know to be wrong and pile it up… sin upon sin

primarily sin against others, sin against God enumerated later; likely would be first to cry “injustice”, claim to be working for social justice in community

the sentence (3)

serious hardship, at least withdrawal of God’s blessing… perhaps active punishment from God making conditions more severe

had promised blessing for obedience (Deut. 28:1ff), had also promised cursing for disobedience (Deut. 28:15ff), 1 to 3 ratio of blessing to cursing

summary, the case “in brief”, applies to all people with details to follow

pretty much the opening remarks as prosecutor lays out case against defendant – basics of charge, summary of evidence, sentence that will be requested

B. guilty priests and prophets v.4-10

my case is against you priests” (4)

spiritual leaders who should be setting good example no better than the rest – in fact, were leading the way directly contrary to God and his word

those who should be proclaiming truth that leads to knowledge of God had abandoned it; without truth, no basis for morality – remember time of Judges, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25)

prophets have not done their job either (5)

both prophet and priest stumbling around in darkness of spiritual night – ones charged with bringing light to dark places contributing to spiritual darkness

putting all of soceity at risk: prophets primary target often political and cultural leaders, priests responsible for church and family – would result ultimately in destruction of nation

rejected (wilfully forgotten) the law (6)

people do not have knowledge of God or acknowledge God because spiritual leaders have rejected what they know to be true

refuse to acknowledge truth of God’s law (the Bible) consequently refuse obedience – by word and deed encourage same in people, enable them to sin with less impact on conscience

embraced sin (7-8)

things led to things – more priests must mean doing right thing so lets do more; encouraged people in their sin who encouraged priests in theirs, and around we go

because lifestyle catered to desires, encouraged people to continue idolatry so priests would not have to give up their sin

like people, like priest (9-10)

no one is immune – when spiritual leaders fail to obey God, can be just as immoral and corrupt as worst heathen

reward for both regardless of vocation – pursuit of pleasures will not satisfy, none of plans to prosper will work: needed to learn only true God satisfies and supplies

C. guilty practice v.11-13, 15

spiritual unfaithfulness (11-13)

pursuing wrong thing leads to irrational thinking, enslavement – become dependent on things that only increase dependence

drugs of whatever form – substances, sex, thrills – require larger portion to provide same pleasure that lasts for shorter time

same is true of idols – always require greater sacrifice for no result; what takes place that belongs to true God… that is the idol

probably in view here: both spiritual “immorality” and actual – unfaithfulness to God, chasing after other gods a form of promiscuity (adultery, harlotry)

and, nature of idolatry practiced included sexually immoral behavior as part of worship; behaviors spilled over into daily life

learn from your siblings (15)

just because neighbors, former brothers and sisters, behaving sinfully and maybe appear to prosper, don’t fall for illusion

applies to Christians and the church today – don’t get sucked in to wrong ways of doing church and life because professing Christians “do it”, try to persuade you it’s ok

D. guilty politicians v.17a, 18-19

the whole nation (Ephraim) including leaders (17a)

get the impression Hosea might be nearly the only voice speaking truth, reason in nation completely corrupt; certainly only small remnant of faithful left

corrupted desires as well as action (18)

“dearly love their shameful behavior” – so much so they refuse to give it up, instead pursue with vigor and intensity

primary characteristic of behavior – rebellion: willfully going contrary to what they know the law to be, redefining if necessary

“sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hos 8:7)

Chris’s birthday cake – reach a point where takes on life of its own, becomes uncontrollable unless God somehow intervenes

E. God’s plan v.14, 16, 17b

I will not correct

in this case, God purposes not to intervene – they are doing wrong, people are gonna get hurt, God will not hinder or correctc

let them forage

seems like good deal – wide open spaces, no boundaries, that’s what they want anyway, so God opens door

problem is: lambs are totally defenseless… and dimwitted – will not “stay safe”, cannot provide for own needs, will get into serious trouble without any bounds

God’s actions here are punishment, not reward; keep in mind, with people and nations, God sometimes lets them have their heads

let him alone

to make sure punishment is effective, God warns off all who might intervene and try to minimize effects; God wants them to feel full weight of consequences

May be where we’re at in this country, God has taken away restraints, letting nation go its merry way to hardship and eventual destruction. Whether he has or not, we must be good lambs, follow the Good Shepherd wherever he leads.

 

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