Summary: Sermon 10 in a study in Hosea
“Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. 5 I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. 6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.”
What could demonstrate the word ‘incongruous’ more aptly, more clearly, than man’s propensity for denying God, then turning to worship a false god?
What could demonstrate the utter rebellious sinfulness of all mankind more poignantly than man’s universal rejection of the loving and helping advances of the true God and Creator of Heaven and Earth, then bowing down to pay homage to an image he has formed with his own hands out of dead materials?
Now I am aware that when statements like this are made here in 21st century America our very modern and very American brains have difficulty finding a place to file them. We might think something like this. “Well, we’re talking now about the ancients and the uneducated pagan. They make wooden and golden and iron and silver idols and bow down to them; we know better. So what does this really have to do with us?”
That is not a true way of looking at things. It is the propensity of everyone of Adam’s race to shy from, run from, deny, curse, blaspheme the very thought of God and worship something else, because he was created by God to worship, and worship he must. It is in his nature. This is where the problem comes in.
Once he has rejected God and His revelation of Himself, there is nowhere to turn but to falsehood. He may not run immediately to the nearest statue, but that is ultimately where he will end up.
C.H. MacKintosh made a point of this.
“The first step in evil is to place confidence in a form apart from God; apart too from those principles which make the form valuable. The next step is to set up an idol.” -Mackintosh
So the truth, which is true both 900 years B.C. and 2000 years A.D., and true whether you are in the jungles of New Guinea or the jungles of New York City, is that at the moment your image and understanding of God deviates infinitesimally from God as He has revealed Himself, you have begun to worship simply a form; a fake; a delusion. And even though your delusion is seemingly so close to truth that it appears to have value for life and is deemed worthy of your worship, nevertheless it is not God, and as MacKintosh asserted, the next step is to put something visible and tangible before yourself to give palpability to that which you venerate.
The people of Israel were not less smart than you or I. They were not blithering idiots. They knew their history, they had God’s Word proclaimed all about them in the many prophets He sent among them, and they knew what God called evil and what He called good.
So how were they different than you or I? They were not. Just like 21st century America, they forgot God.
What? They didn’t remember Him? No, that’s not it. They put Him out of their minds so they might pursue their fleshly desires, so that they might seek protection and help from worldly sources, so they would not have to be subservient to a higher power. And they died.
EPHRAIM DECLARED DEAD
Verse one of this chapter is a reference to the prominence of Ephraim in Israel. You may remember we mentioned early in this study that Hosea interchangeably used the names Samaria, Israel and Ephraim, because Israel was the name of the Northern Kingdom, Samaria was its capital, and Ephraim its largest and most prominent tribe.
So too here, the use of the name of the largest tribe attaches all that is being said to the Northern Kingdom in its prominence, in its sin and in its coming destruction.
Look at the digression being cited here. First is the self exaltation, then the sin, then the death. This is the pattern of turning from God. It began in the Garden of Eden.
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Gen 3:6
This is the spiritual principle at work in individuals and in nations. It begins with self-exaltation and the resulting self-deception that God is not needed, and the following downfall.
What fools people is that the downfall is seldom immediate, giving them the false sense that they have gotten away with something; that there will be no consequences to pay for forgetting God.