Tag: Hosea

Restored as Promised

Hosea 14:1-9

“Satire is the use of humour or exaggeration in order to show how foolish or wicked some people’s behaviour or ideas are.” It works… because is element of truth/reality, enough to make it believable.

It finally happened. I always knew it would. After years of trying to do this whole thing called “life” in my own strength, I got a heavenly dose of reality from my Creator. God brought me to a breaking point. He brought me to a crossroads in my life. He made me realize I can’t do this on my own. I’m ready to let go of the illusion of control.

I’m finally ready to completely and totally surrender a small fraction of my life to God.

I write this today as a new woman. I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The emotions I’ve felt over the last 48 hours are indescribably beautiful, after, at long last, I listened to the voices screaming within my spirit and loosened my stubborn grip on a miniscule portion my life, offering it up to God as a pleasing sacrifice.

I’ll never look back. I’ll never be the same. I’m a new woman—that much I know. I reached the end of my rope and gave it all to God. I laid before my Savior and promised Him that while I continue to run the bulk of my life as though He didn’t exist, I’m dedicating this miniature fragment to Him with reckless abandon. Forever.

I’m filled with optimism and hope as I look forward to, for the rest of my life, consecrating a minute piece of my life to Jesus, while keeping the vast majority of it to myself, completely separated from Him, doing with it whatever I please. This is it. No looking back. This tiny piece of my life belongs to you, Jesus. I can’t wait to see how this extraordinary adventure unfolds. (www.babylonbee.com)

Was attitude of Israel in Hosea’s day, is attitude of far too many professing Christians today – want God in their lives… on their terms, not God’s terms. Were cool with God having access to small piece of life – not willing to give up any more territory than absolutely necessary. God didn’t give up on them; instead, stood/stands ready to not just receive, but lead by the hand – here is what you need to do, here is how to do it, here is what to expect for results. And not for that generation only, for all those throughout human history who hear and heed.

Summary is important – call to repentance is call to do what is right because it is right, not because of results. Hosea says the prudent, the righteous walk follow God because his ways are right. Too many want formula for what to do so God will fix their issues… in this life. Are not interested in following/worshiping God because it is the right thing to do. Is ok in our evangelism to include blessings that follow conversion and repentance; must be careful not to make it sales pitch.

A. call to repentance v.1-3

invitation (1a)

not simply suggestion, rather tender plea “O Israel” – God does threaten, sometimes harsh stuff, never empty threats; but… final word through Hosea one of tenderness

is what we would expect after hearing how Hosea treated Gomer – look at chapter 3: bought her back from her slavery, treated her as wife, would eventually have her loyalty

demonstrates compassion – you’re making life harder for yourself than needs to be

didn’t just stand on sidelines, watch people he loved flounder around and make more of mess – pointed out error and solution

notice genuine compassion identifies real problem, doesn’t minimize or make excuses for it – “your sin has been your downfall” NET

explanation (1b)

here’s why life is hard – your choices… not circumstances, not the other guy, not karma; choices for which you are responsible

all of life is black and white – some seems gray because we lack knowledge or understanding, people try to make a lot gray… helps avoid responsibility

choices are not neutral – either please God or displease God since God has “opinion” on everything; choices that please him are those that follow God’s way of doing life… and every other choice is sinful

here’s why life is hard – God’s purpose: by design, sinful choices and behavior leads to difficulty

if sin did not lead to difficulty, would be little incentive to repent / turn back to God; besides, sin means trying to pursue corrupted goal using corrupted methods and tools

“negative” identification of sin as the problem sandwiched between two “positives” – invitation to return, script for how to do it

when we counsel others, should follow same model – need to address sin and at same time offer genuine hope in Gospel

supplication (2-3)

“sample prayer” – notice parallels with example prayer Christ gave to followers

forgive us; be gracious to us; accept our worship – penitent who takes these words takes full ownership of sinful past, acknowledges need for grace and forgiveness, commits to proper worship

articulates true repentance, change of mind, about who they will trust: no longer see world’s solutions as effective

commit to restored relationship – were in effect orphans, fatherless so long as following idols; return to true God means return to Father/child relationship again

B. promised healing v.4-7

“not their self-image that He will heal” Keithley – not long ago, spoke with individual; after 5-10 minutes asked “can’t you say something to make me feel better?”

far too many today content to address symptoms, leave real ailment alone – greatest desire is to continue sinful course of action minus hardship and suffering

individual I spoke with wants to feel better, not necessarily be better; wants spiritual medicine to take as needed, does not really want God

first goal of healing: nature (backsliding)

God’s healing starts at core, with source of problem – change described in both OT and NT is significant and counter-cultural

Ezek. 36:26-27“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

new nature, new desires, new results, new emotions, will result in new way of thinking about self and circumstances

gotta pay attention when counseling – don’t spend too much time on symptoms, get to root of the matter and God’s solution

second goal: relationship (love freely, anger turned away)

common way of “recovery” from infraction – probationary period: limited benefits until prove that whatever occurred won’t again

not the way of it with God – true repentance always met with full restoration; God doesn’t hold back waiting to see how we do

God no longer has cause to restrain love and blessing – his anger has achieved its purpose of bringing about repentance

third goal: circumstances – a reversal of hardships that led to repentance

always applies to spiritual blessings, may include temporal blessings as well; as spiritual blessings bear fruit, attitude toward circumstances will change

God may change circumstances, more often changes individual/group in the circumstances by equipping them to relate properly

C. protection from idols v.8

“old” category: perseverance of the saints – true repentance followed by gracious protection… so long as maintain trust in true God

and God does his part to preserve his people,”continues to bring about and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that lead to immortality.” LBCF 17.1

actually more about God’s preserving than saints persevering – yes, we have our essential part, but God’s is far greater

the one wholeheartedly devoted to Christ sees nothing attractive in idols – no imitation can compare to real deal

quality, endurance, quantity promised by false gods never measures up in substance – by design, only Christ can fully satisfy our true need

problem is that apart from God’s intervention people keep pursuing imitations, refuse to acknowledge it will always end in futility

there’s a catch: when we think can successfully resist idols on our own, have just set up an idol to worship… pride

must continually recognize need for dependence on God for all things and in all things – lose sight of that and we’re done

D. summary v.9

Hosea’s prophetic and exemplary ministry primary focus: neighbors in Israel; at same time, God knew it would get written down

God isn’t figuring it out as he goes along – e.g., all that made Hosea who he was part of God’s purpose to use him as his prophet

all who would hear/read Hosea’s prophecy included in God’s purpose when he moved Hosea to act, speak, write

God has always been inclusive – all who come to God on God’s terms without exception will be received

God doesn’t use categories we do – race, social status, gender or orientation, age, worldview; is either righteous or unrighteous, saved or losts, repentant or rebellious

God’s inclusivity is exclusive – only one way, God’s way, to gain audience with him; he receives all who come to him through Christ alone

to be effective witnesses, must have personal house in order first; then start from right origin and proclaim truth

God said “Take these words… receive us graciously” – God meant it and intends to meet us that way when we come to him; is what we must encourage others to do also

Without exception, all who take words and return to the Lord, sincerely of course, will be Restored as Promised. Cannot be like person at beginning – This tiny piece of my life belongs to you, Jesus – must be that Jesus is Lord… and of all parts of our lives.

Relentless, Yet Reluctant in Judgment

Hosea 13:1-16

Present text (especially along with text from this morning) highlights why is essential to understand God’s Word in its context. What kind of Sovereign is God? What is his attitude toward his people, rebellious sinners, and the like? Dr. Charles Hodges – book – Good Mood, Bad Mood – depression and bipolar. Large segments of what passes for Christianity and many who challenge Biblical Christianity would diagnose God as bipolar.

Why is God so angry in the Old Testament and so loving in the New?

The angry, violent, vindictive God of the Old Testament often seems completely at odds with the loving Father of the New Testament.

Why was God so harsh on people in the Old Testament and more forgiving in the New Testament?

Harsh God of OT the one skeptics and professed atheists present, often a caricature of the real – bring over into NT, accuse God of “cosmic child abuse” at the Cross. Loving Father of NT the one theological liberals emphasized as basis for watered-down gospel. Many well-intentioned Christians struggle with their understanding of “Good Mood Bad Mood God” and how to relate to him, how to honestly share their faith in God with others.

Is relatively new problem in popular culture, essentially 20th century thing. Two things contribute to its continued presence – people don’t read the Bible, pastors don’t preach the Bible… comprehensively. Bible’s size / word count not a good enough reason/excuse for not reading:

Bible – 750,000 words; Lord of the Rings – 480,000; War and Peace – 580,000; Harry Potter series – 1.1 mil.; Left Behind – >1.3 mil.

Host of reasons given by church leaders for avoiding more than sporadic attention to cool stories of OT, favoring NT material in its place. Heaven forbid should trudge through any more than first 3 chapters of Hosea, that only as part of series on marriage and divorce. Rest of minor prophets?? Maybe on Christmas/Palm Sunday/Easter, then only specific short texts. For diligent reader of God’s word the Bible, especially when read more or less chronologically, much different picture of God emerges. In both Testaments we find complete description of character of God – NT adds no new tidbits to indicate God is work in process; NT leaves out no essential points either. Does not make either OT or NT standalone resource – each enhances and relies on the other for full picture of God and how he displays his character.

Our text only one of many that give multi-faceted view of God in relation to his people. Reminds of statement maybe even your parents used: “This is gonna hurt me more than it will you”. Probably thought parents were exaggerating, might have been. Yet is that true if God were to say it? Would God be exaggerating? Basic issue present here is God’s response to sinful rebellious people.

Because God is holy and just, sin must be punished. Because God is love, has both ability and desire to be merciful. In order for God to show mercy, holiness and justice cannot be compromised. God’s solution, we all know, what he spoke of in v.14: “I will ransom… I will redeem” – God paid infinitely higher price than his people to satisfy justice at the Cross.

Didn’t start out this way for Ephraim – at one time… was pleasing to God, then things changed.

A. how did this happen? v.1-3

a good start (1a)

so long as Ephraim acted humbly, life was good; God gave grace and exalted him – experienced life, God’s good provision

was true throughout course of Ephraim’s history: received “right-hand” patriarchal blessing when still a child, instead of Manasseh

later, after conquest of Canaan, assumed strong leadership role among tribes in northern Israel; name came to stand for 10 tribes like Judah for southern kingdom

for much of early history, northern 10 like the rest did worship true God, more or less follow his laws and reject idolatry

a bad choice (1b)

added to God-shelf – never did officially and outwardly reject true God; even today Jewish hope is that temple be rebuilt, worship established once again in Jerusalem

started worshiping other things along with old religion, no longer devoted with singleness of purpose to true God… who was still taking care of them, btw

only takes one wrong choice to begin trajectory that is eventually opposed to God and the truth – sometimes a short trip, other times can be longer and not so obvious

all downhill (2-3)

notice “things lead to things” – he offended through Baal worship, now they sin more and more – like proverb: “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”… and camel takes sole possession

downhill because following/worshiping anything less than true God leads to death – only Yahweh is source of what has substance and value

B. no God but Me v.4-5

one God, one Redeemer, one people

by virtue of who he is, what he has done – has right to be exclusive, to require total allegiance from people he has made his own

exclusive devotion works both ways

God exclusively devoted to his people, those one with his Son, just as he expects them to be devoted to him

is committed to doing all necessary for their well-being: their one-stop source for all needs without exception – spiritual, emotional, material

don’t miss: not a present reality but future promise

people weren’t presently devoted to one God but would be in future – means all bad stuff promised would not utterly destroy

why didn’t God vaporize Adam and Eve, then start over? to redeem and restore fallen humans, then glorify them for eternal existence brings him greater glory… and he has always had that end in view

C. why did this happen v.6, 11-12, 16

proud in prosperity (5-6)

could be dependent on God in the desert; in “land flowing with milk and honey” much easier to take personal credit for prosperity

when life is stable, material reserves steady or increasing, not necessary to depend on God for daily bread – focus of sight, thought, attention drops from heaven to earth

rejected God as king, then kings rejected God’s leadership (11)

God’s assessment to Samuel: “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

Saul took authority not his own; Solomon married contrary to God’s design; Jeroboam multiplied gods on the god-shelf

piled up sin upon sin (12)

in spite of God’s rebukes through prophets, internal and external calamity, continued to sin wilfully; short of repentance, would be day of reckoning at some point

summary: rebelled against God (16)

not ignorance, not case of trying but not making the grade – weren’t even trying to please God, instead the opposite, wilfully going against God…his laws…his authority

D. relentless yet reluctant v.7-9a, 13, 15

expression of God’s actions and attitude goes from justice to mercy and back – v.9, for example

not because God is fickle or undecided – has greater purpose than maintaining his character by destroying enemies

justice is necessary and God takes pleasure in showing mercy; without justice, mercy would have no context and no meaning

like a predator (7-8)

imagine meeting up with lion, leopard, mad mama bear – what would you guess odds of survival? …without someone to rescue

is God’s point – situation is hopeless so long as relying on own resources; will be that way for those who rebel, intended to persuade change of direction

pain upon pain (13)

and with no good outcome – woman in labor but too weak to push child out; child to stupid to crawl out on his own

similar predicament: certain death for both mother and child unless there is outside intervention; just as true on spiritual level

incredible hardship (15)

God will purposely turn all efforts into nothing – dry them up, blow them away, bringing to end of all available resources… no reserve; greatest accomplishments end up empty… by God’s design

God refuses to give up until he has achieved his goal, using what is necessary to achieve it… no more, no less

E. I will be your King v.9b-10, 14

I will be your help (9b)

no matter how desperate conditions are, at hand of God, he stands ready to help all who turn to him

your king (10)

God’s desire and intent is to be King – in NT terminology, Lord – the ultimate authority and provider for all needs of his people

your substitute (14a)

for those who trust in Christ, God is the one who satisfies his own demands for justice… in the place of his people, paying full price of their ransom himself

your redeemer (14b)

how many ways does God need to make clear… in OT no less! that he has redemption of sinners in view continually

So how should we respond… to God’s goodness as well as his discipline? Recognize that Christ and Christ alone can satisfy. Stimulate appetite and thirst for Christ. Satisfy that hunger and thirst with Christ and Christ alone. Understand the more we satisfy our desires with Christ, the more we will desire him.

 

Chasing the Wind

Hosea 11:12-12:14

Sure you would all agree: man was made by God on purpose for a purpose according to God’s design. Number of principles embedded in statement – man’s origin, his ultimate goal, his significance, the means to achieve his goal, all defined by God. Tinker with any one of principles and begin inevitable drift away from God and into disaster. Reject one or more principles and is short drift! Here’s why – if those principles are essential to fabric of mankind’s existence, they cannot simply be discarded. The place they occupy must and will be filled by something… of God’s choosing or the individual’s.

Put another way: “WSC 1 What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” If correct, man was made to glorify and enjoy, and God gave Word instructing how to rightly do that. So long as God, Jesus, Bible have right place in individual’s life, all is good. But… what happens when tinker with principles? Someone or something else moves in to replace, fill up space rightfully belonging to God and Bible. Individual begins to glorify someone/something other than true God, seek enjoyment from other than what God intends.

Sad truth is – fallen sinful man’s ideas of how to do life may result in some good achievements but ultimately to eternal disaster. And on the way… far less than the ideal God had in mind for us. Many of good things in life that we appreciate invented/designed/manufactured by unbelievers. Thank God for his gracious use of all kinds of means to meet needs of his people. At same time, should cause us sorrow – that such intelligent and capable people should miss out on so much. And… gives insight into true need of unbelievers, equips us to offer right kind of help when given opportunity.

One more application of principle: if man made by God who never changes and not product of evolutionary development, then basic needs of Hosea’s contemporaries and ours essentially the same. Basic problems facing culture of Hosea’s day same ones we deal with – large percentage of people wilfully striving to fill emptiness with wrong things. Use all manner of methods to find satisfaction… except for right one according to God’s design. Hosea uses examples from life of Jacob, Israel’s experience in Canaan to demonstrate need to stop “chasing the wind”, start pursuing God.

A. present conditions v.12-1

surrounded by lies

a culture of deception – overwhelming lack of honesty yet not without hope: Judah (a remnant) still faithful to God

absence of honesty prevalent in both word and deed: lies, deception – will eventually bring total breakdown of a society, cannot function without trust on some level

situational ethics – saw something posted on signboard other day: “ethics is what you do when no one is looking” Richard Shiningthunder Francis, Jehovah Goodbye

basically means do what is best for you in given situation – may be good for others, but greater good for you

moral relativism – another casualty along with ethics: what is good / right for you may not be same for me… so don’t impose your standard on me, that’s being judgmental

pragmatism – in absence of external unchanging standard of right/wrong, whatworks becomes the rule… usually what works for me, to satisfy desires or way of thinking

take heart: was not all Israel that thought/acted that way; same is true now, are still those who follow biblical principles

leads to chasing the wind

unreachable goals because efforts (of goal-setting and pursuing) based on irrational thinking

the most fully rational thinking is what is most closely connected to true reality – viewing and assessing reality from God’s perspective

one chasing wind sets wrong goals because has wrong view of needs and what will satisfy – fails to account for God’s design

also uses wrong means to achieve (or try) goals – God not only ordained the ends, his eternal decree included all means to right ends

more poignant, desired goals have no substance, cannot satisfy

Assyria and Egypt will only destroy, God alone can truly help – because God was determined to judge his people, no earthly power could countermand that

at best, things unbelievers pursue will fail to satisfy need or desire; at worst, will be destructive of health, wealth, family, relationships; if followed to end, will be eternally bad end

B. remember Jacob v.2-6

a supplanter by name and nature

contentious from the womb – desired to gain the advantage, to have something not his by right; then there were methods

repeatedly showed lack of trust in God; tried to achieve goals by own means, including major deception of his father

in that, was following in footsteps of father and grandfather: both tried to deceive those in power about their wife/sister

parents encouraged sinful ways to achieve God-appointed ends

knew what God had in mind for Jacob/Esau, apparently failed to instill need for patient trust in Jacob; then was Rebekah’s complicity in deception of Jacob

a little slow to catch on

still wanted upper hand even after hard lessons in Haran

resented Laban’s deceit – cheated him out of intended wife, cheated him on his wages, tried to keep him enslaved

of course, at same time Jacob not being just in his dealings with Laban; certainly enough blame to go around

surprised by God – “who are you?”

instructed by God to return to Canaan; sent for Esau when he was close, spent night wrestling – expected his brother, found God instead

thought he would get blessing from older brother, realized otherwise when God blessed him – perhaps in return for his honesty: gave right name!

even for all bad behavior Israel could still find God

exhorted to repent, coud not do it on their own – “by the help of your God”

if would do what they knew to be right instead of willful disobedience, depending on God, could expect God to show up

even when God has said he would repay according to deeds, door is still open for repentance – Jacob lived with consequences (limp) and enjoyed God’s blessing

C. conformed or transformed v.7-8

God’s plan for Hebrew children – drive out Canaanites because of gross immorality and idolatry

Lev. 18:3-4According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.”

then spends 18 verses forbidding all manner of sexual immorality, repeats warning/command: “‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.” Lev. 18:24

Jewish people to “purify” the land by their right living in it; instead became like the Canaanites – were conformed to the culture rather than transformed out of it

compares them to dishonest Canaanite businessman – took his immoral lifestyle to work, oppressed his customers same as in personal relationships

had become self-reliant and arrogant – I can take care of myself, no one can accuse me of wrongdoing; ultimate autonomy

is that not like the “church” – conformed to wrong pattern

first 2 chapters of Judges, over and over Jewish tribe did not drive out Canaanite tribe or did not completely drive them out

instead made a deal with them: Judg. 1:28When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.”

church has done same: taken attitude “we can bring these things from world into church and make them serve us/God” – predictably results same for church as Israel, has become like culture it was supposed to resist

D. remember the true God v.9-14

and yet… God does not have genocide in mind – purpose not to utterly destroy his people, rather intends to bring to their senses

God has been their God for generations – brought out of slavery and idol-worship once, will do it again, after repentance

surrounded by false gods, yet true God has spoken… abundantly

cannot use ignorance as excuse – have God’s revealed truth readily accessible, both verbally and committed to writing

again, remember Jacob – he chased idol-worshipers (Gen. 31:19), yet God found him

Jacob not looking for deliverance in right places, even though had heard directly from God; was following God’s instructions and had own backup plan

great example of God’s condescension – patiently works with people where they are, moving them to where he wants them

and… sent Moses to deliver Israel/Jacob from Egypt

yes, Israel cried out to God for deliverance, but what did they really want? seems most wanted to be delivered from slavery in Egypt, not out of Egypt and slavery

did not willingly relinquish desire for goodies and gods of Egypt even when God showed his superiority; yet God still cared for them, did not abandon or destroy in desert

God is merciful, quick to forgive but will not be patient forever… especially with persistently rebellious

like Jacob, bore consequences of his lack of faith for rest of his life… while enjoying blessing upon blessing

those who remain rebels, well, they retain their guilt also and will pay ultimate price for it

Christ’s Church needs to stop chasing the wind and pursue Christ instead. Must have priorities set according to God’s word, follow principles he has given in order to meet his goal for individual and corporate life. Need to be one of voices God uses to bring his truth to the lost, helping them understand God is loving and gracious and merciful…. and just and righteous. When we do that, his Church will grow in strength and likeness to her Head, the Lord Jesus.

 

I Still Love You

Hosea 11:1-11

Have here a variation on prodigal son story from Luke 15:11ff. Is one of rare opportunities to really see into mind of God. Have already been given example of God’s persistent love using example of husband and wife – Hosea and Gomer. Hosea’s love of the kind that would not allow the one he loved to remain in self-destructive way of life. Nor did Hosea hold any of that over Gomer’s head – goal was restoration of healthy biblical relationship that modeled God’s relationship with his people.

Imagery changes here in chapter 11 from husband/wife to father/son. This some of most tender and touching language in all of Hosea, covering quite the range of emotions – fond reminiscing, sorrow, anger, compassion. Yet have clear reminder v.9: “I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst”. Believe what God says about relationship he has with his children, and remember he is God our Father.

God picks up thread from early in the Exodus narrative – “Israel is my son, my firstborn” (Ex. 4:22) then continues from God’s perspective of their relationship. Reminisces about his own actions, Israel’s response; in turn, God’s use of the rod of correction, then he relents… holding back from total destruction. In surprising move, God roars, and finally we consider his purpose of redemption in all this.

A. reminiscing v.1-4

God

loved (1a)

not because of any pre-condition met by Israel or any need on God’s part, rather because God chose to love his son for reasons known only to him

is an active (not sentimental) kind of love – is love that does what is best for the person, brings about good for and in them

called (1b)

yes, son was in Egypt when called; not where God intended him to stay, though – called out of slavery and idol-worship

consider from perspective of adoptive parents: love child, desire to do what is good for child, adopt and leave in orphanage… not!

adopting, giving all rights of sonship, includes bringing child into home for God as well as earthly parents – God loved while we were still sinners, did not expect us to stay in that place… has called us out of Egypt just like Israel

taught (3a)

did all necessary to start son off in right way – think toddler just beginning to walk, hold both their hands as you walk behind supporting and guiding along safe path… loving compassion in action

was what God did at first for Israel, does for us; then can move on – Isa. 30:21Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”

God has defined path, taught and supported in early stumbling stages, continues to walk behind giving further instruction

healed (spiritual healing/deliverance) (3b)

God knows his people need more than vocational training, learning new or better skills; worked with one individual, identified biblical principle not being put to use – pencil, paper, “what do I do? how do I do that?”

must begin with spiritual healing – new life where none before; spiritual deliverance – freedom from bondage of sin; followed by regular restoration after lapses into sinfulness

drew (4a)

human fathers too often tend to drive, not draw – much more effective to lead someone in the desired way

used means and methods most suited to individual disposition and ability; good teacher recognizes and uses approach that accomodates learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic… so does God

God’s methods of drawing us to him are outworking of his kindness and love – means he encourages, persuades, convinces his way is best

stooped and fed (4b)

reached down to level of individual and provided nourishment suitable to both need and ability/development – not solid food to choke baby, not milk to undernourish more mature

the son

drifted away (2a)

can hear pathos in sad account – “The more they were called, the more they went away”; can certainly put child’s name/face to that picture, head in opposite direction in spite of parent’s calls

what adds to sadness is God truly has child’s best in view, has both desire and power to make it happen; instead, child pursues what is seriously harmful

worshiped idols (2b)

hard to comprehend how God’s children, having received so much so freely from him, could give honor to useless idol

didn’t take long – a month after plagues ended and Red Sea crossing, voila, here’s a calf! goes to show incredible power of sin, the hold it has on fallen mankind

did not acknowledge God (3b)

gave credit to other than God for deliverance from slavery – either themselves or gods of their own making, even when they for certain knew better

B. the rod v.5-7

God’s consequences

harsh captivity – Egypt and Assyria (5a,b)

“shall he not return…” – since they won’t willingly return to God, he will return them to Egypt (aka captivity)

Assyria the primary aggressor, but… some would go to Egypt, from frying pan into fire and away from God’s protection

after Assyrian victory, large numbers of Israelites carried off and replaced with other POW’s (Samaritans) under major resettlement program

loss of life and livelihood (6a,b,c)

cities become indefensible, material resources plundered, many would die, the rest forced into harsh working conditions

their behavior

refused to repent (5c)

justified consequences for abandoning and rejecting what they knew to be true and right – God called, they ran the other way and would not voluntarily change direction

followed their own counsel (6d)

their own plans, rather than leading to better conditions would lead them into hardship and suffering – in essence God didn’t force them into captivity, they chose their own direction and that was result

bent on backsliding (7a)

minds were set on wrong idea and they would not be persuaded otherwise; pride at the root… “I know what is right/best more than God does”

hypocrites (7b)

at same time as turning away were calling on God – not much different from person in need, “I prayed to all the gods I could think of, I hope one will answer”

C. relenting v.8-9

love and compassion come to forefront (8)

change of heart, compassion aroused (not change of purpose) – mercy and judgment both active here, giving child hope that it might come to good end

pulls back from total destruction – Admah / Zeboiim destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah (9a)

are times when God has only judgment in view – has reached end of patience, can be merciful no longer, must act decisively

when it comes to God’s people, his purpose is their redemption – desires repentance and restoration to fellowship

don’t forget, he is still God and not man (9c)

does not act like a man, does not change expectations or purpose like man – at same time, reinforces idea that he takes no pleasure in death of wicked

D. the roar v.10-11

they will walk right (10a)

God makes it explicit what he expects, what he desires for them: right living, in light of truth/principles given in his word

they will come trembling (10c, 11a)

God’s desire is for humility – resists the proud, gives grace to humble: even when doing right thing, must approach him as God

they will dwell (11b)

God intends for his people to have a home, to be settled in place of his provision; he really does have their good in view

they hear the roar, not the “love” (10b)

sinful human nature being what it is, don’t always hear God’s voice when it is gentle; need the in-your-face roar to get attention

come to understand… eventually… that God is love, even when he roars!

E. God’s call => God’s purpose

has always had redemption in view – Eph. 1:4He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

called his son Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 4:22-23) to prepare way for greater firstborn Son

called Son out of Egypt to complete means of redemption – back to Israel, his ministry, the Cross

is in light of what Christ would accomplish that God could show mercy to backsliding rebellious people

Is expression of God’s love in all of this, especially at the Cross – 1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

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.

Coming Exile

Hosea 9:1-17

We’re good Christians who believe the Bible – LBCF 5.1 “God, the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, organizes and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by his perfectly wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created.”

Also believe he governs a fallen and corrupted creation – not only Adam and his posterity subject to consequences of original sin, all the created order came under God’s curse. Further changes following the Flood – man and animals no longer vegetarian, e.g. Recognize many things not the same now as at beginning, stuff we have to endure because of sin entering world – natural disasters, disease, conflict, etc.

Here’s where it gets tricky – say we believe God “governs all creatures and things” but often have wrong understanding of how God acts as Governor. Perhaps, by God’s design, sin and curse changed some lines of code in original program God wrote and embedded in his creation. Is true, things behave according to their nature, according to their design; at same time, they are not on autopilot.

Here’s how that works – we think earthquakes/volcanoes/tornadoes etc. are simply natural result of climate messed up by the curse. We think disease is result of genes corrupted by sin or food contaminated by corrupt environment. We know God was involved in the curse, what we fail to see is his fingerprints on individual expressions of it – this tornado, that person’s cancer, this nation’s unrest, that Christian’s persecution. If God truly “governs all creatures and things” then we should see God at work, not simply laws of nature or impersonal consequences of 7000 year old curse. People and nations experience hardship because God has ordained it so and governs accordingly, using hands-on approach even though he works through means. Remember: is God working through those means.

A. sin results in exile v.1-9

drunk with pleasure, success (1-2)

have sought pleasure and fulfillment in anything but God – reality is they looked for physical means to satisfy spiritual needs

yes, turned to false gods, but why? would gratify their felt needs, physical desires/cravings in return for some kind of payment – sacrifice, tribute

practiced physical and spiritual immorality, both in defiance of God’s direct command; same for seeking pleasure in substances, wine and perhaps other tihngs

seeking in forbidden relationships, harmful substances what only God could supply – did find what they perceived to be some level of pleasure/satisfaction

warning: only lasts until the hangover

these things do not truly satisfy, the pretense of satisfaction is only temporary; requires increasing amounts of relationships or risks to provide same level of pleasure

one fellow, spending $2K per weekend for drugs and sex, figured was doing ok since enjoyed and could afford it – then God brought him to justice, destroyed his career and reputation; has his life… and some regrets

dispersion is coming (3)

uprooted from land, scattered among other nations

Promised Land given as symbol of future heavenly land of rest – did not deserve to keep the gift when refusing the Giver

tool God will use – Assyria

some ran to Egypt, others forcibly resettled far from Canaan – part of Sargon and Sennacherib’s plans for political expansion

God not simply bystander, he was moving nations around according to his will to bring about his purpose

deprived of worship (4-5)

sacrifices unacceptable

actions and motive both count with God – “honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Isa. 29:13-14)

severe restriction on spiritual blessings

in absence of right obedience, God no longer providing for spiritual needs – his presence no longer with people, his prophets would be largely silent… only Daniel when all Israel in exile

destruction coming (6)

not of individual but most everything else

many would “escape” alive, but would die in far country, unable to ever return home – would keep life but little else

all they thought was of value would be lost – they couldn’t take it with them, even to Egypt or Assyria!

discarded prophetic warning (7-8)

attitude – prophet is fool, insane; hatred result of guilt

deep down knew the truth; outward display – ridiculed, mocked, minimized, dismissed message God sent by his prophets

accused those remaining faithful to God of mental illness – not able to show love, guilty of hate crimes, insensitivity

thought and acted that way because knew they were guilty of sin against God, refused to acknowledge it, hated to be reminded of it

action – hunted like animal

rather than repent and seek forgiveness, did all in their power to eliminate anything that would show up their sinfulness

went so far as to try to make church a safe comfortable place for rebellious unrepentant sinners: “The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God; yet a fowler’s snare is on all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.” ESV

deep corruption (9)

not surface, goes to the core of individual

do we see here Rom. 1:24, 26, 28 at work – “God gave them up”, relaxed or took off restraints allowing to be as sinful as they desired

both moral and spiritual

as in later case of David and Bathsheba, was sin against both man and God at Gibeah (Judg. 19 & 20) – started with contempt for God and his laws, went downhill from there

B. from mountaintop to valley v.10

delightful delicacy to distasteful depravity

they became as detestable/disgusting as what they loved” – had they remained faithful to true God, would have become like what they loved… but not disgusting

C. idolatry results in barrenness v.11-13

their glory shall fly away like a bird” – children should be viewed as blessing (Psalm 127:3)

those pursuing all wrong things like Israel have little desire for home and hearth – gets in the way of pleasure and prosperity, especially children – viewed as liability, not asset; so…. attitude toward marriage and procreation tanks

why bother get married, doesn’t matter who gets married, kids can come later after career and house and vaca property

“No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception”

fertility religion leads to infertility – cp. sexual revolution, feminist movement – misuse/perversion of God’s good gift prompts him to take gift away

not just biology keeps women who put off child-bearing with contraceptives until later from reproducing – God’s hand at work

“Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer” – or Moloch, or the abortionist

many would lose lives trying to escape from Assyrian army; many more sacrificed to Moloch, or today Planned Parenthood

D. prophet’s prayer v.14

what else can just God do?

in face of such pervasive and awful rebellion and rejection of what was clearly right, God could not stand idly by doing nothing

E. rejection goes both ways v.15-17

rejected his moral law at Gibeah (9), rejected his religious law at Gilgal (15), demanding a king like all surrounding nations – iow, thoroughly rejected God

God will reject them, has been patient for generations, still is patient, yet…

evict them

pretense will come to end – calling themselves God’s people yet acting contrary; God will make dishonesty plain

love them no more

love as actions, not emotion – will display his covenant blessings to them no longer; does not mean God abandoned covenant, has become time for covenant curses to kick in (Deut. 28:15ff)

remove their hope

Communist China already figured it out – one-child rule not a good one, not conducive to continuation of Chinese culture

F. How can this be good?

consider all different ways, areas of life God puts up walls to limit propagation of evil

political – using foreign nation

how many times did God use nation or coalition of same to halt evil of Hitler, Gaddafi, and others

social

dispersion prevents collaboration; language barriers prevents communication – hinders ability to oppose spread of truth

infertility prevents procreation – slows down spread of evil within families, a huge blessing from God

religious – cuts off access to true God, communication from him

at same time puts brakes on their practice of idolatry – God limits those things that would limit spread of Gospel

misuse of freedom results in nearly total loss of freedoms

Israel played fast and loose with liberties God had given – until persistent misuse provoked God to put them in captivity

mercifully God does not take total hands-off approach until Judgment Day; and… know from other OT texts and NT ones, Israel’s destruction not total or permanent

God rarely rejects people permanently; instead he pushes them away, into place of suffering and hardship so they will eventually return to him. After all, he is gracious and merciful God who will abundantly pardon all who come to him by faith because he delights in mercy.

Five Blasts of the Trumpet

Hosea 8:1-14

Are surrounded by people from all walks of life who are bent on defining relationships according to their own rules. Not just what is or isn’t acceptable, includes how Entity A relates to Entity B. Applies to all institutions ordained by God – family, church, state. Consider some examples:

someone breaks civil law – is government’s proper relationship as Department of Justice or Department of Corrections?

question not simply who is fit for leadership in local church – does pastor get to declare or should he/she share their thoughts / feelings?

and then the home: marriage is optional, is a 50/50 partnership in all things except separate checkbooks, $0.50 in the “cuss jar” if you use headship or submission – right?

Not in my Bible! God not only defines what relationships are acceptable, which are unacceptable; he sufficiently defines roles of parties in a relationship. Any, regardless of spiritual condition, who try to live contrary to God’s standard or who try to redefine the standard do so at their peril. Sovereign Lord of all things does not allow such things to go unnoticed.

At every portage on the Presumpscot bright yellow WARNING signs declare: “LARGE RIVER FLOW CHANGES MAY OCCUR RAPIDLY. FLOW CHANGES IN THE RIVER WILL BE PRECEEDED BY THREE BLASTS OF A HORN FOR YOUR SAFTEY. PLEASE RELOCATE TO THE RIVRBANK AT THAT TIME.”

In similar way, God graciously warns children – relationship is broken. Five blasts of trumpet before serious consequences aka judgment comes to you. An abrupt opening to the chapter: “to your gums a shofar”. Sense of urgency, first bird of prey (vulture) already circling over the temple. Just as significant change in river quickly follows blasts on horn, same will be true for God’s people. Must heed warning or bear the consequences.

Must remember God works through means, did in Hosea’s day, will continue to do so until Jesus comes back. God working through Hosea to warn people of imminent danger. Pattern used here: get their attention, declare God’s truth. Shofar / trumpet not a quiet instrument – not quite on-off but close. Large ram’s horn can be over 4 feet long, not a good for indoor use!

Ex. 19:16 “Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.”

Sound of trumpet not to be ignored, often used as summons to gather people together that could not be ignored… either for important communication or assembling for battle. Here intended to get everyone’s attention, make them realize what comes next is of utmost importance. Are in effect five blasts – one for each of charges / warnings brought against people by God through prophet Hosea. Is good to understand warnings, recognize how they can apply to our present circumstances. Also need to be up to speed on what our part in all of this is.

A. transgression v.1-2

broken the covenant – going back to Garden, fall into sin had its root in simple act of eating fruit God had forbidden

part of entire cascade of sin, one leading to another and another – disobedience accompanied by disloyalty, pride against God and man

really came about as result (for both first parents and Israel) of replacing “God on throne” with self – self making rules, self being priority, self knowing what is best

leads to distorted view of God and his laws – when loyalty is to self, external authority is seen as mean-spirited and oppressive

meanwhile, still claiming to be God’s people – thinking they can acknowledge God on their terms, God obligated to recognize them

probably were still doing things that would identify them as devotees of Yahweh – the culturally significant rituals, church on the big days, important feasts, etc.

and… they did same for other deities on god-shelf – Yahweh not even first among other gods, was only one of many

were no longer loyal to covenant or God of covenant – all they wanted was to pay in to risk pool, make withdrawals when needed or desired; didn’t care about personal relationship with God any more

God’s response – “Next thing…”; are too quick to ask people “do you believe in God”, “do you believe in Jesus” – should be asking “does God know you… and how do you know that”

B. rebellion v.3-4a

discarded moral standard – rebelling against law never stays that simple: has tentacles that reach into all areas of life

once God’s law is rejected, ultimately leads to hyper-individualism, no regard for any external standard of right and wrong

don’t believe me? read book of Judges, note the conclusion: Judg. 21:25In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

here’s one of those tentacles

The husband is NOT the leader or “head” of the family. This mindset is misogynistic and completely outdated. Their decisions both have equal value because they’re both equals as individuals. One shouldn’t be given the “final say” simply based on their gender, as this is both discriminatory and unbalanced. If one person is more comfortable making decisions and being the vocal instrument in a relationship due to personality traits it’s one thing, but to be a leader based on faulty gender roles that have been proven flawed over the years is another.”

another one – why is present political landscape like it is? because at least one candidate is doing / saying what all supporters would… if they only had the guts, or opportunity

notice where God begins – underlying principle, not specific behaviors; problem in Judges not what people did, was what they rejected to get there

problem with quote not choices about gender roles but rejection of inspiration / authority of God’s word

means we should identify/address principles in discussion, going back to root cause, instead of addressing only symptoms

C. idolatry v.4b-6

rejected acceptable worship – redefined not only relationships, right/wrong, redefined religion into worship of god who would serve them

in Hosea’s day, idols likely to be tangible things of wood and metal crafted for particular purpose; now idols disguised more cleverly

when people did not get what they wanted from true God, manufactured one they claimed would satisfy their desires

is twisted reasoning but setting up idol to worship is actually setting up self in place of true God – one worshiping idol believes they know better than true God which god is best to worship

worship of idol is never acknowledgment of false god’s supposed worth; is attempt to manipulate deity into meeting felt needs

similar pattern exists today – worship at altar of personal rights, choice, sports, appearance, things; expect to receive pleasure, validation, sense of worth or achievement in return

professed atheism is idolatry taken to limit: individual claims to have all resources necessary to determine truth, morals, values – iow absolute ruler over kingdom of one, more if they can impose views on others

D. alliances v.7-10

focus here on political entanglements but extends to all areas of life – attempted alliances with Egypt and Assyria to protect against Judah

had long track record – God had never failed to supply what was needed… so long as people remained faithful to covenant

had broken covenant (v.1), now consequences for disobedience starting to kick in – trying to keep God off their back, line up other sources of help before foreclosure and eviction

two-fold problem: lack of trust / loyalty / obedience to God and inviting trouble by close association with people committed to unbiblical worldview

is problem no matter where it occurs in a society – eventually will have effect on all spheres of life whether public or private

agreements between governments or between governments and alliances like UN, NATO can require compromise of constitutional principles and maybe biblical ones, too

alliances between religious entites with conflicting worldviews is always injurious to Gospel and its furtherance

can be true in workplace, business partnerships – may require difficult choices to preserve biblical integrity

is definite problem in home, alliance between saved/unsaved – ruinous effect on children especially: see Neh. 13, several examples

need godly wisdom / discernment to see worldview issues at root of political/religious/social problems, then apply biblical/Gospel standard

E. altars of sin v.11-14

paying off God so they can pursue own agenda – “built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning”

made it simple, convenient to sacrifice for sin, all it was: going through motions without expected change of heart and behavior

no thought for who they were sacrificing to – “Israel has forgotten his Maker”, religious practice degenerated to empty ritual

bottom line – God operates on basis of relationship, not simply ritual; motivation matters, doing religious thing will not avert just consequences

“Whenever a nation forsakes God it insures its ruin. It may, for a time, dwell in luxury, building palaces; and give itself a sense of security, by fortifying its cities; but sooner or later the Divine fire will destroy the cities, and devour the castles. There is no true pleasure, nor any real security, but such as are found in the maintenance of right relationships with God.” G. Campbell Morgan

So what are we to do? Know the truth, practice the truth, stand for the truth, invite people to the truth. Do not be ashamed of the truth, it can defend itself. And in context of personal relationships, invite and encourage friends to check out “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (foundation) of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15)