“Hosea’s Message: God’s faithfulness”
Opening Statement: Erma Bombeck tells of God in the act of creating mothers. She says that on the day God created mothers He had already worked long overtime. And an angel said to Him, "Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this one."
The Lord turned and said, "Have you read the specs on this model? She is supposed to be completely washable, but not plastic. She is to have 180 moving parts, all of them replaceable. She is to have a kiss that will heal everything from a broken leg to a broken heart. …She is to be able to function on black coffee and leftovers. And she is supposed to have six pairs of hands."
"Six pairs of hands," said the angel, "that’s impossible." "It’s not the six pairs of hands that bother me." said the Lord, "It’s the three pairs of eyes. She is supposed to have one pair that sees through closed doors so that whenever she says, `What are you kids doing in there?’ she already knows what they’re doing in there."
"She has another pair in the back of her head to see all the things she is not supposed to see but must see. And then she has one pair right in front that can look at a child that just goofed and communicate love and understanding without saying a word."
"That’s too much." said the angel, "You can’t put that much in one model. Why don’t you rest for a while and resume your creating tomorrow?"
"No, I can’t," said the Lord. "I’m close to creating someone very much like myself. I’ve already come up with a model who can heal herself when she is sick - who can feed a family of six with one pound of hamburger - and who can persuade a nine year old to take a shower."
Then the angel looked at the model of motherhood a little more closely and said, "She’s too soft." "Oh, but she is tough," said the Lord. "You’d be surprised at how much this mother can do."
"Can she think?" asked the angel. "Not only can she think," said the Lord, "but she can reason and compromise and persuade."
Then the angel reached over and touched her cheek. "This one has a leak," he said. "I told you that you couldn’t put that much in one model." "That’s not a leak," said the Lord. "That’s a tear."
"What’s a tear for?" asked the angel. "Well it’s for joy, for sadness, for sorrow, for disappointment, for pride." "You’re a genius," said the angel. And the Lord said, "Oh, but I didn’t put it there."
Bombeck noted this about moms - "I am close to creating something very much like myself." Wanna know what God is like – look closely at a mother’s love. One preacher said: “I suppose that is why today is very special - because we recognize that a mother’s love is probably the closest example we have to God’s love. It is a love that goes through the valley of the shadow of death to bring life into being. It is a love that sacrifices itself over and over again and would even dare to lay down its life for its own offspring or for some other needy child.”
God’s faithful like our mothers. In fact God’s even more faithful than our mothers. There is no doubt about it. I tell you how I know. Just read the entire book of Hosea, you’ll know what I mean. I believe God’s purpose in leaving us the record of Hosea’s prophecy is to reveals such a faithful love. He is not ashamed to admit his passionate side, He wants to be transparent in His faithful love.
Today I will squezze all of Hosea’s 14 chapters into one message. Hosea reads like an emotional roller coaster ride with highs and lows that sounds with repeated pleadings that defy logic. It speaks almost obsessively about the faithfulness of love that has tears, -as it tells the story of a jilted lover, adultery, broken-hearted passion and woundedness that goes deep. If you think God does not know how it feels to go through the pain of infidelity, the anguish of betrayal and the hurt of broken promises and the heart-wrenching turning upside down of your insides, think again because Hosea is a book that speaks fervently of the trials of a lover who pleads for his unyielding chosen people. You can hear the broken heart of God as He spoke …
2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel."
God spoke to Hosea to get “an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness.” Huh? What’s up? This is what’s up - “because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." Israel was to be the apple of God’s eye. A nation that knows intimately of God. A nation that has experienced the glory of God. They are the church of the OT Who knows the deliverance of God’s mighty hand through Moses from Egyptian domination and slavery. A nation that has seen God’s magnificence in building the Kingdom of David. They were to be the showcase of God’s grace and to be His instrument of blessing for a world bent on living without Him. But now in Israel, they have fallen far, far away from what was once a nation that knew God. They abused the grace and blessing of God and became proud and started to pat themselves on the back. It has forgotten God and has departed from God to chase after the gods that give them an immediate rush. Their leaders and worship leaders know nothing of God. They have the latest in spirituality and worshipping God just can’t beat worshipping the idols that allows for “seeking the truth” with temple prostitutes, sexual rituals and the rush of orgies disguised as spiritual fulfillment touching the divine. So dark is the con of man!
So God call on Hosea, using the imagery of the deepest most intimate relationship people can ever know -marriage, to be a living example of what He is suffering through. Hosea would demonstrate in live action, in real time, uncensored version of reality TV, that God feels deeply wounded, shocked, appalled, abandoned as a loving husband to a wife, which is Israel, that chases after other men. Go marry the adulteress, and she will give birth to kids who is not your own. Name the first kid Jezreel. The name recalls a dark period of Israel’s history - the reign of vile King Ahab and his notorious wife, Queen Jezebel. Have you ever seen people who have to raise kids that came out of adultery? Intensity of pain when folks realize it?? Unbearable gut busting sobs!! Seen it a few times in talk shows where they DNA testing done for couples to prove whether this guy or that guy or which guy is the real father.
Actually, Jezreel is a reminder of the location of Ahab’s palace which was next to a vineyard owned by a guy named Naboth. Ahab already has so much stuff but he so wanted that vineyard. And like a spoilt rotten brat crybaby, he clamored for it. Jezebel got it for him by arranging for false witnesses to testify against Naboth and got him stoned to death. Murdered for a vineyard!! On top of that, Jezebel was the key figure in introducing idol worship, built a temple to Baal, and instigated open opposition to the true God! It was just too much to take for God who expected Ahab to lead Israel to become a chosen nation of His. Ahab’s successors were just as bad, evil to the core, they would assassinate people to gain control of the crown. So god took the unusual step of getting Hosea to help turn Israel around and warn them that He was not blind. He has seen the injustices and the idolatry that went on.
And so we hear God’s pain as well in the names of the other 2 kids of Hosea and Gomer…
6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, [b] for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them… 8 After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. 9 Then the LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, [c] for you are not my people, and I am not your God.
Lo Ruhamah – no love, no forgiveness – Lo Ammi not my people, not your God! It’s like God is saying “You want me to say I sign up to be part of Ahab’s murdering scheme, to be part of the idol worship scene. You’re kidding me! No love man, no forgiveness – NO WAY, this is not my people, I am not that kind of God! So in the most shocking way possible, God is showing how He really feels. The shock value ought to wake them up but no, scholars say that this 3 kids thing happened over a period of 10 years. 10 years of warning, 10 years of calling out to them, 10 years of chasing after them, 10 years of waiting and yet Israel, stubborn as a mule, would not turn!
The roller coaster ride continues in Chapter 2:1-13 speaks of God’s warning of punishment for Israel’s spirit of prostitution of selling themselves to idols instead of her true lover, God! Israel is gonna get burn real bad. Yet God is not willing to just let Israel go without a fight. He loved Israel too much! God is just so faithful!
19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in [d] righteousness and justice,
in [e] love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.
Again, speaking the language of an emotional lover who is on a roller-coaster ride, one who is willing to win the love of a wayward runaway bride, God speaks in Hosea 4
Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
"There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, [a] lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed…
Then in v.6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge”
The knowledge here refers to the lack of intimacy with God. God wants his people, but His people would rather go chase after evil to satisfy their insatiable appetite for more thrills. There is an addiction to evil due to no knowledge of God!
I wonder if we can recognize God’s plea here for our generation. I wonder if we can hear His voice calling to us. God’s putting up a fight for His people. But His people are all too concerned with the politics of power, sex and videogames. We too live in idolatry, ruled by the almighty dollar, worship at the temples of Baal we call mega-malls, strip-clubs, sexual depravity of all sorts, pray at the altars of MSN, emails, clamor for vineyards of excess and injustice runs rampant as pornography is sold as art, wrong is call right, right is called an agenda from the right-wing fundamentalist nuts, wrong is called an alternative. God is calling, like a wounded lover through the pages of Hosea, calling… will his people listen?? Will they respond?
Hosea 6 echoes a haunting hope:
"Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
Most of all in Hosea, we cannot over look God’s obvious overtures of love e.g. in Hosea 11 for God is faithful…
1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more I [a] called Israel,
the further they went from me. [b]
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them.
5 "Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
6 Swords will flash in their cities,
will destroy the bars of their gates
and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
Even if they call to the Most High,
he will by no means exalt them.
8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath. [c]
Do we see God’s passionate faithfulness??? Yet God’s faithfulness is seen even in the most bitter of circumstances for God just could not bring Himself to vaporize His people. He pleads and brings in a prophet like Hosea to physically show in real time how God feels about the betrayal of His people. His heart still aches today for all who are far away from Him, who spurn His word, who chase after gods of this world. His heart calls to you.
What does our faithful God want from his people Hosea 14,
A. RETURN TO GOD: Tell God you goofed big time: that you have pursued other gods to fill your lives. God is standing ready to receive, now is the time to respond, don’t wait!
1. Admit failure.
The prophet calls out in v.1-2 “Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” Take words with you and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
2. Forsake non-Christ centered resources and plans (v.3)
“Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount war-horses. (calls for intentional dependence on God rather than alliances and dependence on own “machinery of power” or godless powers of the day)
We will never again say ’Our gods’
to what our own hands have made, (self-reliance a virtue in our time is to be replaced with God-reliance)
for in you the fatherless find compassion. (helplessness is OK with a God who is there for you)
B. REFRESH IN GOD’S OFFER OF LOVE AND PROTECTION: Listen to His Offer of love, refreshment: Jesus is ultimate offer, receive it, refresh in it, live there! Hope again! Let God infuse in you His joy in seeing you come back. Did not God bring Jesus the ultimate prophet, to show in real time that He will offer His love, forgiveness on a controversial and humiliating cross? Was it not a blatant offer of taking away our sin so that He could heal us, restore us, buy us back from our slavery to sin?
4 "I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots; (the dew speaks of refreshment resulting in growth - blossoming strength)
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. (Those who respond to God’s love is attractive, such splendor and fragrance)
7 Men will dwell again in his shade.
He will flourish like the grain.
He will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. (The blessing that Israel/church is supposed to be is once again felt in the world)
8 O Ephraim, what more have I [b] to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a green pine tree;
your fruitfulness comes from me." (Reliance on God alone brings forth the fruitfulness that we long for)
C. WALK in God’s ways: Get to know God again – respond to His Word rather than meaningless fiction that we can go on in life on our own or relying on this world’s resources. Go after Him as if He is your last breath, gasp for Him, as a deer pants for the waters. Pause and listen to God’s voice everyday, He speaks to us if we will listen and obey.
9 Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
So church, rejoice in the Lord always, as the apostle Paul once said and again I say rejoice. Find joy in the God who is amazingly wonderful. Say: What a God! What a God we have in Jesus, what a friend, faithful and true. Find joy in His passionate love for you, feel it as He says to you “ I will love you freely” and “I will heal your waywardness.” For too long some of us have wandered into a destructive lifestyle. Let us return to the Lord, for as surely as the sun rises, He will come to His own.