Summary: What is it about wayward people? Israel was at the time of Hosea, sick, not right in the head, how could this be addressed, how were they to be healed and what was their future prognosis, if they accepted the treatment?
I had started this sermon series a few weeks back regarding ‘the wrath of God’ we had a wee break for the Olympics as that was the topical thing to do. We had a guest here last week Major Bruce who spoke on placing our faith in Jesus because there it is well placed.
I like to summarise sermons by way of writing a benediction for them; I summed up his sermon this way:
Be sure of what you hope for,
Be certain of what you don’t see,
For in Christ Jesus, life is worth living,
Be safe in his arms,
He is always with you, faithful, always faithful,
Jump into his big arms!
Now if our relationship with God was as He would have it, none of us would ever need to hear such messages. But, hey we humans are fallible, interesting that if you look for synonyms of fallible you get words such as imperfect, weak and even the name of our race ‘human’ is listed. We are all, all of us humans in continued need of being made aware of our place in the scheme of things, our place before God. For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Hosea was a prophet and his role as a prophet was by and large to put the people of Israel the northern kingdom, right on its place before God. Judah was the southern kingdom at the time, the time being around the middle of the eighth century B.C.
Remember the history of this nation, God had lead them. But they moaned on about wanting a king, so God gave them a king, Saul, he didn’t do the best of jobs. King David followed, King David was a man after God’s own heart because he worshipped the one true God in one place. Then King Solomon, then strife, it all went belly up the nation was divided in two Israel and Judah. Under the leadership of king Jeroboam in the North and King Rehoboam in the South. Israel was ruled by nine different dynasties and finally it was destroyed by Assyria in 721BC. Judah lasted about another 250 years then was toast!
This nation / these nations were really blessed in the first place; they then turned their backs on God. In the two sermons about the wrath of God so far I have discussed two things that we can hold onto when it is all going to custard around us, because of our own actions. Two things that are characteristics of God, the first is that God longs to redeem, to rescue people. The second is that God desires mercy, in saying that it means He desires a loving relationship, a two way loving relationship with people, his nation Israel. We hear about it in this in Hosea’s writings, but as we know because of Jesus it’s all people. God desires to have a loving relationship with.
Now there is one other characteristic about God I’m keen to look at, that it’s probably a good thing to have an understanding of when we encounter God’s disapproval and as we come under God’s divine judgement. Now this might sound a bit heavy and the whole book of Hosea sounds pretty heavy in the whole smiting and destruction scene. As I said a few weeks ago a bit heavy and hell fire and brimstone’ish; but it’s not and hopefully the opposite will become clear.
But then again God had warned the Israelites a fair old number of times prior to Hosea and at this time about their behaviour and that the consequences of this behaviour were going to hurt (repeat).
Because they had strayed from God, because they had rebelled against God and because they spoke falsely about God! This was a nation who God had brought into being and it had turned its back on him.
When things got tough for them through their own foolishness, there was no seeking God, they slashed themselves, and appealed to other gods ‘small g’. The reason for this was because their crops had failed and they were mourning over this failure, their cutting of themselves was a sign of mourning, but this itself was forbidden by the law of God due to its pagan background.
God in this passage comes across as a ‘hard man’, a wrathful, angry God who has turned his back on his people…
But the question arises, “Had He?” Had God really turned His back on His people? Well, we know that they had turned their backs to Him, but was he doing the same? The third characteristic of God that I am keen to discuss from the book of Hosea makes it clear the opposite is true, let’s have a look at chapter 14:1-7(read).