Summary: The Gospel According to Hosea Hosea on The Divided Heart, part 11
The Gospel According to Hosea
Hosea on The Divided Heart, part 11
Hosea chapter 10
We are in the back half of our summer series, The Gospel According to Hosea, looking at God's faithful love toward an unfaithful people. I want to recap where we have been to give you and overview. The first three chapters set the stage as to why God responds the way he does to Israel's unfaithfulness. God tells Hosea to marry Gomer, who is repeatedly unfaithful to him, which is a picture of God's relationship to Israel. God is a faithful and loving husband who has been tossed aside by his unfaithful wife, Israel, for lovers who only disappoint and betray her. Then chapters four through ten describes in various ways God's grace, Israel's disgrace, God's discipline, and then God's amazing grace. And starting next week in chapters eleven through fourteen, we see a change in tone focusing more on God's compassion for his people. Today in chapter ten we look at “The Divided Heart,” examining Israel's idolatry from a different angle, the divided heart, and his calling them back to whole hearted devotion to God.
1. God's Grace (v. 1)
So far we have seen Israel described as a wife, a son, and now a grape vine reminding us again of God choosing Israel to be the particular recipients of his love and grace. We are give an graphic description of this in Ezekiel 16. Israel is described as an abandoned baby who is left to die when the Lord rescues them and causes them to flourish. Then they are described as an vulnerable young girl who at the initiation of the King enters into a marriage covenant so that she becomes a queen. God choosing Israel was an act of particular love to display his grace and mercy on them. They did not deserve it nor did they earn it; it was pure and sovereign grace.
2. Our Disgrace (v. 1-2)
The more Israel prospered the more they built altars and remodeled their pillars so that all over Samaria there are now new altars and remodeled pillars, dedicated to the worship of Baal. God did all he could to ensure that Israel prospered and instead of relishing in his grace they became increasingly unfaithful. They had put aside the Lord for another lover and redeemer. And so Baal was getting credit for God's provision and God was being robbed of his glory. Israel was undermining the very purpose for which they were chosen, to be a light to the nations. This vine metaphor is picked up by Jesus in John and is a good commentary on this passage. There Jesus is the faithful and true vine and his people are the branches. All fruitful vines are pruned to be more fruitful, so the vine dresser, the Father, can reap a harvest. It is by abiding in Jesus, in his word and obedience and therefore abiding in his love that we produce fruit. So as we abide, we are pruned to be more fruitful and that fruitfulness glorifies God. The issue for Israel is they were not abiding in the Lord.
The reason for this disgrace is a divided heart. That is, they were religiously devoted but living in rebellion to God. Saying one thing and doing another. Our hearts are divided because our idols have our affections and so get our attention. What are some symptoms of a divided heart? First, religious devotion without a desire for God. Next, inconsistency, acting one way at church and another way in daily life. Third, drifting in your walk with Jesus. There is a growing disinterest in the Lord and activities that strengthen your faith. Activities like reading your bible, going to church, being part of a life group, and other activities that you used to love to do and were encouraged and energized by are now dropping down on the priority list for other activities. When I sense that my heart is starting to lose interest in the Lord I pray and put myself in the way of God's means of grace – reading and thinking on the word, worship, prayer, and sermons that encourage me. The only way to destroy the power of a divided heart is to replace those sinful desires and affections with the desire and affection for God.
3. God's Discipline (vs. 10-11)
God disciplines his people in love. 'When I please,' that is when God decides, he will discipline his people by bringing Assyria against Israel, taking them into exile. Nothing happens outside of God's sovereign will and purposes. This exile is to impel them to turn back to him. When life gets difficult or painful milk that season for all its worth because God is up to something and he always has your best in mind. Don't avoid it, ignore it, or get mad at God. Turn to him for grace and comfort and let his word and his presence strengthen you. Remember Jesus, the sinless son of God, learned obedience through suffering. The trouble for most of us is that when difficulties of life come, we think God does not love us. Or we believe the lie that God does not want us to suffer. God will go to whatever lengths necessary until he accomplishes his shaping in your life. He loves you too much not to discipline you. So if you are here and are going through difficult times then look to Christ, not the idols that promise but can't deliver.