Divided Hearts

Hosea 10:1-15

Going all way back to Gen. 12 have beginning of record about God’s promise to gather together people from single family into nation. They would be primary recipients of God’s blessing, agents through whom he would move plan of redemption forward. Established general scope of land inheritance in covenant with Abram (Gen. 15:18ff), then further defined within setting/context of covenant law-giving.

Israel heard God’s command to take possession – Deut. 1:8See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to give to them and their descendants after them.” Hebrew children reached conclusion, one they still hold to tenaciously:

This land is your land, This land is my land / From the Euphrates River to the Sinai Desert; / From the Mediterranean to the Red Sea waters / This land was made for you and me. (Ex. 23:31, Woody Guthrie)

Were two significant details they chose to overlook:

God’s imposed conditions Deut. 16:20Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” ESV

God’s ultimate ownership – Deut. 10:14“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” and Jer. 27:5‘I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me.”

Acted as if God gave them full ownership, full rights to land, to retain all rights over it forever including right to do with it what they pleased. Truth is – God never gave up his rights, and rights he did give to Jewish people were conditional. And… should not have been a surprise to them, had the example of peoples who lived in Canaan before Jews did and God’s dealing with them:

Lev. 18:24-28Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled),lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

Let’s be fair, not just Israel and Jews who have thought that way. Every person and nation has done so at some time in their history. Thank God he is patient, longsuffering, merciful; one of his mercies – giving us permanent record like Hosea to show us our need, keep us on right track. God uses two images from agriculture here in chapter 10 to point out aspects of Israel’s problem – luxuriant vine (1-8) and trained heifer (11-15), transition between images (9-10) showing this is not new problem, drawing attention to God’s longsuffering.

A. luxuriant vine v.1-8

devoted their prosperity to idolatry (1-2)

God blessed them abundantly – “land flowing with milk and honey”, blessed in ways other than agriculture; enjoyed numerous periods of great prosperity

used their wealth to increase value of not simply where they worshiped but what they worshiped – false gods of own choosing

had divided hearts, iow, trying to serve two masters but failing – divided in two different ways: loyalties directed toward multiple gods, loyalty divided between gods and self

knew truth, which God was true one, yet other gods promised rewards more to their liking – what appealed to senses

worship at no time represented true devotion – practiced rituals even to Yahweh for what they could get in response; strongest devotion was to self even in face of convicting conscience

God had tolerated disloyalty, would soon reach his appointed limit and show false gods for their true worth, bringing hard but just consequences for their sinfulness

dismissed the consequences (3)

talk about acting like a child! soon God would remove their king, their response “what do we need a king for anyway?”

even more dishonoring since they know reason for loss of leadership – their failure to “fear the Lord”; disobedience was willful, not accidental

knew full well what God expected them both to do and not do – like Adam, went ahead with eyes wide open in all areas of life

“fear of the Lord is beginning” of both knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 9:10) – book of Proverbs supplies wise teaching that runs the gamut; was not “just” in worship they disobeyed God

disputes multiply (4)

dishonesty and disloyalty part of interpersonal relationships – person’s word was meaningless, not “man’s word as good as his bond”; may have said thus and so, what I meant was (something different)

perjury a common occurrence, a serious sin and social ill – derails basic necessity of justice, discovering the truth, encourages injustice

ended up with worthless business and political agreements – covenants at least one party had no intention of honoring

and you can be sure it extended to covenant promises made to God also; any promises made were only for utilitarian ends

result: “lawsuits break out (sprout up) like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a field” HCSB – because trust absent from relationships, expected courts to sort it out

dread of the wrong thing (5-8)

had transferred loyalty to false gods, fear as well – knew Yahweh was displeased yet mourned losing calf idol instead

should have expressed this level of sorrow over loss of God’s pleasure and blessing, not breaking up of their idols

have to wonder if it’s extra melodrama! – real deal is coming, that wasn’t it Rev. 6:16-17said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

don’t be too quick to write Hosea’s countrymen off as primitive backward people – similar actions and attitudes in “modern” world

one of most prosperous nations on earth, yet statistics about giving to support local church are appalling; frequent reason for not tithing “can’t afford it” – iow, God comes last, not first

even church is in on the action – consequences for sin as found in God’s word relegated to another time and place, not relevant

court system getting slower and less responsive every day – overwhelmed by amount of litigation, much of it frivolous, result of deception or dishonesty

far more weeping and wailing about lost benefits, lost creature comforts, threat of loss of material things than about loss of favor with God

B. transition v.9-10

egregious sin – gang rape

was time when majority acted on their desires, behaving in immoral and depraved ways – reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah

Levite’s concubine sent out to placate the gang (leaders in the town), lost her life; Levite forced the issue, town of Gibeah refused to take action, obstructed others who sought justice, became catalyst for civil war

horrific vigilante justice – only 600 survivors from tribe of Benjamin

rest of Israel rose up against Benjamin, slaughtered 50,000 soldiers, then destroyed women, children, animals, cities; only reason for survivors – hid four months in caves

rebellion persists… until God acts

God in effect said, look around: same kinds of sinful behavior and worse prevailed in land in Hosea’s day; would only stop when God intervened… again

mankind, even when experiencing abundant blessing from God, will eventually turn away from God and to idols of own making

on the way to idolatry picks up all manner of sinful actions and attitudes, will never return to God and righteousness on his own

C. trained heifer v.11-15

threshing grain or plowing wickedness (11,13)

grain after cutting spread out on ground, cows walked on it to separate grain from stalks prior to winnowing; pretty easy work since they got fed in the process

instead of easy yoke of service to God, took on themselves yoke of wickedness, plowing hard ground in order to plant evil

good thing to remember: everyone is yoked to something – either Christ/righteousness or sin/unrighteousness; one is easy, the other painfully burdensome… and gets worse, not better

reaping what you’ve sown (13-15)

those who refuse to heed warning will reap only grievous consequences – not only hardship brought on by men, serious repercussions from God also

had already begun to see fruits of wickedness, God would add his measure of punishment – would be deprived of means they had used to sin against God and others

would lose freedoms, privilege of “self-government”, use of their own land and what it produced (means of support)

again, a call to repentance (12)

is window of opportunity: even though fallow ground is hard going to plow, if planted with righteousness it will produce in mercy

those who heed call to repentance and seek/fear the Lord, he will respond with fruits of righteousness and deliverance

God did not then, does not now take pleasure in destruction of sinners – he does take pleasure in their repentance

break up fallow ground, turn under old growth/weeds and ways of thinking/doing, sow seeds that produce righteousness

plowing will be hard going, tearing up old roots painful, weeds try to come back quickly, young plants need diligent attention

God won’t automatically show up – must seek after him until he comes, pursuing knowledge and obedience expecting God to respond favorably and showers down his blessing

David prayed: “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psa. 86:11) May that be our desire as well, that we would not have divided hearts, divided loyalties. Instead that God would enable us to serve him faithfully and fully.

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