Summary: Unfaithfulness among Christians has led many in and out of the church to lose power for living. Yet God turns tragedy into triumph.
The First Product of Unfaithfulness: Impotence
Pastor Jim Luthy
Dan and I drove through downtown Vancouver B.C. a couple of weeks ago after a worship session on a Friday night. A two-block strip of night clubs were beginning to come to life as the rest of the city was dimming its lights. Across the street from the night clubs were several women dressed provocatively, all spaced evenly apart and waiting by the edge of the curb. Dan and I agreed that this would not be a good place to stop and ask for directions.
As the picture of these young women of different size, shape, and race flashed through my mind (which tells you about the visual nature of a man), I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of journey these women experienced to come to the point that they would sell their bodies to anyone who would pull up to the curb and pay the price. I figured they probably had a drug problem, a rough background, maybe even a child to feed. I also wondered if any were undercover cops, which would have been the one Dan and I asked for directions! But I never wondered if any of them were a Pastor’s wife. Hmmm.
Could you imagine if your pastor’s wife were a prostitute? I suppose that if my wife were a prostitute, I wouldn’t have much credibility. Leading a church is a tough enough proposition as it is!
But this is the problem Hosea faced as an up-and-coming prophet in the nation of Israel. "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.’ So he married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim."
As hard pressed as you might be to listen to me if I were the husband of an unfaithful woman, I urge you to listen to Hosea. Here is a man who God asked to do something that seems unreasonable. He asked him to marry Gomer, who would serve as an example of the unfaithfulness of Israel. For us, the book of Hosea can either serve as a warning or as a mirror. Unfortunately for the church today, I believe it is more of the latter than the former. This is not just a warning, but a prophetic glimpse of the current state of today’s church. God reveals through this prophet a message for a church that is far too unfaithfully his. What was said about Israel then, could easily be said about us today.
We’ll spend a couple of weeks in chapter 1, observing what our unfaithfulness produces. For example, we’ll first see how our unfaithfulness leaves us impotent—without strength. For example, do you ever wonder why it is so hard to break a sinful habit? Do you wonder why you lack the strength to make changes in your life? Have you wondered why you see so much addiction and why the people on your Blessing List keep heading down paths that are unhealthy and destructive? We’ll see how Gomer’s first child gives us an answer to why our strength is gone.
Let’s begin, however, with a little background. Those of you who stay up late watching the History Channel might enjoy this. Then again, anyone who enjoys the History Channel might just about enjoy anything.
Israel was a nation comprised of twelve tribes, initially named after the twelve sons of Jacob. After David and his son Solomon ruled all of Israel, the ten northern tribes rebelled when Solomon’s son Rehoboam was made king. Those ten tribes became their own kingdom – Israel, or Ephraim. That left the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin as one kingdom, which retained the name of Judah.
With civil tensions at rest, the northern kingdom of Israel was enjoying a time of peace and economic prosperity, but extreme wealth was accompanied by extreme poverty. Israel also had a deteriorating social, moral, and religious climate. Does that sound like any other nation you know?
At the center of this deterioration was a king named Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. 1 Kings 16:30 says Ahab "did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him." Jezebel introduced Baal worship into Israel as well as the licentious orgies of the goddess Ashtoreth.
For example, Ahab demonstrated his materialism by constructing a huge ivory palace in a city called Jezreel. Outside the palace walls was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab really wanted this vineyard and Ahab was the "what Ahab wants Ahab gets" type. (Remember the little girl on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "I want it now!") Naboth refused to sell, so Ahab had him falsely accused and tried for blasphemy. After Naboth was stoned to death, Ahab took possesion of the vineyard. God was not pleased, and he condemned Ahab through Elijah. Ahab’s son Joram succeeded his father on the throne.