Summary: Sermon #11 (and final) in a study in Hosea
1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. 2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. 3 “Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses; nor will we say again, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in You the orphan finds mercy.”
For those of you who think in pictures the suggestion I’m about to make would be unnecessary. For those of you who do not tend to put mental imagery to the words you hear, I’d ask you to think about what the prophet is calling the people to in the opening verses of this chapter, and visualize what the setting would be.
Here is a nation of people steeped in idolatry. They are guilty of faithlessness and deceit and spiritual adultery. As we have witnessed in earlier chapters, God has declared that He would remove Himself from them until they turn and acknowledge their guilt and acknowledge Him in repentance.
So in this final chapter of his writing the prophet is calling for just that. And using our imaginations we envision an offended king, high up on his throne and looking out over a kingdom of rebels. It is only by his grace and mercy that he has not sent out his army to obliterate his subjects.
But they have seen their evil and have experienced remorse for their wrongdoing, and now they are coming before him to acknowledge their guilt and acknowledge his goodness and seek his forgiveness.
This begs the question, just how should people such as these, approach a king such as this?
As I began to contemplate that it reminded me of the recent visit of the Queen of England to the United States. I was tickled at the obsessive attention that was given by the media to the proper exercise of protocol and the frequent faux pas they were able to detect and get on film during the Queen’s stay.
I tried not to spend too much of my time following these events, but I do remember passing the television one morning and hearing the newscaster chuckle as Mickey Rooney, who was in attendance at one of the functions given to honor her visit, reached out without invitation and shook the Queen’s hand. Apparently this is a ‘no-no’ when greeting or being greeted by royalty. So of course, the media couldn’t let it go by with any show of grace, even though the Queen herself very graciously shook Mr. Rooney’s hand and seemed to take no notice of his lack of attention to these details.
Having remembered that scene, memorable and mentionable only because CNN thought it was more important than anything else going on around the globe at that moment, I went to my computer and ‘Googled’ the words, ‘preparing to go before royalty’, and found this list of instructions published by someone named Baron Modar Neznanich.
I won’t give you the whole thing; just some highlights:
First listed are the reasons you may be going before royalty.
a. You are receiving an award
b. You are an officer and have an official function to perform
c. You have an announcement to make
d. You have a presentation to make
e. You are swearing fealty (loyalty)
f. You are involved in some form of shtick, etc.
Then it goes on; Approach the throne until you are approximately 20 feet away and bow or curtsey to the Royalty. Then walk briskly into Court, which I presume means ‘get closer’, and when you are directly in front of Royalty bow/curtsey once again and kneel on the cushions – and it says in parenthesis – ‘that’s what they’re there for’.
Well, this goes on in small print for three pages so I can’t go on too far, but there are further notes on bowing, how to recede from the presence of Royalty; eg, if there are stairs, turn and walk down, don’t try to back down or you may fall,.. it’s not a good idea to wear a weapon unless you’re General of the Army – presumably, the Army of this particular Royalty – and so on.
Now, this one site I found was specifically addressing the issue of having been invited to Court or having some business to conduct there, and throne room etiquette. I’m sure that somewhere there are pages upon pages of instructions available for every perceived circumstance in which one may find him or her self in the presence of Royalty.
Taking it back to the Bible, some of you may already be thinking of the very well-known story of Esther who, even as Queen, married to King Xerxes, knew that to walk unannounced into her husband’s presence not having been summoned or expected could result in her immediate and unceremonious execution right there on the throne room floor.