A Disturbing Diagnosis

Hosea 5:1-15

Last week: Breaking All Bounds, nation of people willfully determined to have no externally imposed rules. Not only knowingly breaking laws, trying to remove or redefine remaining laws so as to allow / enable their sin. Are even foundational elements present w/i professed Christian community – strong proponents of 2nd amendment, homeschool activists, for example. “I won’t have someone else threaten me, I won’t have them rule over my children” at times the underlying mindset. Must be sure are doing right thing for right reasons, ones that do not lead into sin.

Many parallels between current culture – ideas, behaviors, desires – not least being corruption and evil behavior in high places: “Her rulers dearly love dishonor.” (Hos. 4:18) God’s answer: hands-off approach.

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.”

All-knowing Creator supplies his evaluation, A Disturbing Diagnosis – what is and what will be for rebellious people. According to God’s design, are unforeseen, often invisible consequences for persistently sinful behavior. Yet throughout God remains steadfast, never deviating from his eternal character. This kind of material from Bible serves number of useful purposes:

– display God’s overwhelming unfailing love for his people in the face of their rejection of him

– reminder of where child of God came from, what he / she has been spared since conversion

– accurate insight into fallen human condition, equipping for better interaction with unbelievers

Divine assessment of his wayward people: they are unable to change, unable to find what they seek, unable to be cured by their choice of treatment. Good news, though: sickness not necessarily terminal. Finally, knowing this… how we should respond.

A. unable to change v.1-4

opening burst: identifies defendants – everyone! All entities within Jewish society: priests, house of Israel, house of the king

Martin Luther, 1539, On the Councils and the Churches – “The first government is that of the house, out of which come people. The second is the ruling of the city, that is, lands, people, princes, and lords, which we call worldly government. There everything is given, children, property, money, beasts, etc. The house must build this; the city must guard, protect, and defend it. Then comes the third thing, God’s own house and city, that is, the Church, which must have people from the house and protection and defense from the city. These are the three hierarchies ordained by God, and we need no more; indeed we have enough and more than enough to do in living aright and resisting the devil in these three.”

God levels his charges against all three “hierarchies” or institutions – in one or more ways, all were complicit in rebellion that had overtaken the land: leading rebellion, following leaders, giving approval by silence

ones in front knee-deep in slaughter, have greater responsibility because of greater sin, but all come under God’s discipline

no innocent bystanders caught in firefight, no casualties from friendly fire – God’s discipline based on his perfect comprehensive knowledge… nothing hidden from God’s view, including thoughts/desires/motives

good reminder to true believers: don’t stay silent, make voice count in all ways available – conversation, influence, vote

so what’s the deal? have heard truth, confronted by it, know what the Bible says but persist in going their own way in spite of it – sound familiar??

see Jer. 13:23Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

as though the Prophet said, “They are entirely enslaved by their own diabolical inventions, that their inclinations will not allow them to repent.” Calvin

sinful behavior not innocent mistake, something done out of sincere ignorance – comes from mind that is polarized against God

can maybe grasp biblical truth intellectually but… will not embrace it because doesn’t make sense, doesn’t “fit” their situation

in their own strength, cannot clean themselves up and turn to God – are committed to present way of thinking and doing

may through sheer willpower and discipline conform to some external standard (AA, 12-step) – not equal to turning to God

will stay that way until God intervenes and releases from bondage to sin, removes blindness to spiritual truth

how does understanding this change how we converse with unsaved? – ok to remind them of God’s standard of right and wrong

but… need to go beyond “turn your life around” and get to “turn to God” – crying out to God for help is only sufficient long-term solution for persistent sinful rebellion

need to do same in our prayers – go beyond asking God to “help them do right” and get to “convert them, deliver from slavery”

B. unable to find v.5-10

problem actually goes beyond borders of Israel, includes Judah as well; not just American or Canadian or German problem

pride, arrogance ailment common to mankind regardless of geopolitical boundaries, ethnicity; all apart from God suppress truth

pride shows up whenever individual – justifies sinful action or falling short of God’s standard; persists in going own way

“The Prophet here laughs to scorn the hypocrisy of the people, because they thought they had ready at hand a way of dealing with God, which was, to pacify him with their sacrifices.” Calvin

is right about hypocrisy – put coins in machine, turn handle, treats come out – trying to treat God same way, expecting results

not sure about “laughs to scorn” – think Hosea more likely profoundly saddened by truth he was compelled to express

people so thoroughly deceived: thought if they went to church on Sunday, dressed decent, carried Bible, sang all the hymns, said “Amen” in right places, God would respond as usual

instead, they went to church but God never showed up… on purpose – those who seek God only for his benefits will not find him; that would be deceptive, encourage wrong thinking about God

means we need to be careful how we pray for needy unbelievers, what we tell them; don’t want to encourage thinking: God will listen to Christian when they pray for me and I’ll be good

go beyond “I’ll pray for you” and get to “I’ll pray that as you turn to Christ, you will find all your needs met in him”

looking with wrong motives

were simply trying to use the formula to keep one more god pacified, off their back; had no intention of giving up idol-worship, even knowing it displeased true God

not finding God doesn’t mean he is uninvolved; willful unfaithfulness like Gomer’s adultery eventually brings serious consequences – God would judge their sin in his time and way

C. unable to cure v.11-13

direct one-for-one correlation: oppressed and crushed under judgment because determined to pursue human wisdom

judgment not all they deserved; God’s intention to correct their behavior, not destroy them – desired repentance, not retribution

consequences could be fatal, would have symptoms – if ignored or treated wrongly, would eventually destroy

moths in the closet show signs of their presence – holes; if not “evicted”, will eventually destroy clothing

rot in wooden structure displays symptoms: stains, sags, odor; can be removed, building salvaged; will do irreparable damage if ignored, left untreated

know they’re sick, go to wrong doctor

even if didn’t know precise nature of need (that’s debatable!), did know who they should not go to for any kind of help

pattern throughout entire history: true God the only one they needed to go to for help, never to idolatrous foreign nation

time is of essence, terminal illness, needs right attention right quick – Pastor Ron, admitted Monday, surgery Wednesday, estimated 2 months without intervention… by medical personnel with necessary skills

most obvious symptoms of Ephraim/Judah’s sickness external ones – all sorts of hardships, threats from enemies – yet root cause a spiritual one

no power on earth capable of bringing about true spiritual healing that results in total cure – only one true God has necessary resources; other powers maybe address symptoms but can never cure

D. until…confession and repentance v.14-15

God will not stay hidden forever, only until they acknowledge guilt

God will bring judgment, God will oversee/orchestrate their punishment, God will remain withdrawn and hidden until reach turning point

human nature being what it is, won’t stop trying own/human solution until gets too painful… or becomes impossible to continue – come to end of human resources, have no other option but God

as difficult as it is to see unsaved people we care about experiencing serious hardship, often is precise thing God uses to turn them back to him

God is just, sin must be punished; however, God’s greater desire is confession, repentance and restoration to full fellowship

should be our goal also – not simply pain relief but real cure – confession of sin and turning back to God, seeking him for himself

promise still stands: the one who seeks God diligently with sincere heart and motive, intending to follow him, will find him

E. the Christian’s response

patient compassion for the sinner, righteous anger about consequences of their sin (harm they cause to others)

remember: “there but for the grace of God…” and they are just as helpless as we to way of thinking and living… even though they should – God’s law applies regardless of ability or desire (even most hardened sinner doesn’t have to be that bad)

whatever compassion we show to them should be designed to lead them to Christ, not enable them to remain comfortable in sin

requires great wisdom and discernment – depend entirely on God and fellow believers for guidance in those areas

pray the hard prayer: whatever it takes to bring to faith in Christ; anything less is eternal death sentence!

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