Summary: A parable helps illustrate how we’ve been separated from God by not delighting in him. Our unfaithfulness leaves us estranged, but by his sovereign choice he has made a way to reconcile us to himself through Jesus Christ.

The 3rd Product of Unfaithfulness: Estrangement

Hosea 1:7-8; Romans 9:1-29

Pastor Jim Luthy

Imagine a large ship sailing across uncharted waters in the vast Pacific Ocean. Aboard ship are the ever-wise captain Ichiro (I couldn’t help myself) and his large family – children, grandchildren -- along with several crew members.

Suppose the oldest son of Ichiro came to the captain and insisted on a little vacation to a small tropical island they’ve spotted in the distance. The captain, knowing the dangers of sailing near uncharted land and exploring an unknown island with vulnerable little children, declines the son’s request.

Into the night, the son stirs up the passions of the family and the crew to go to the island. In spite of the captains warnings, the family insists on turning starboard toward the island. The captain refuses, retiring to his cabin with clear orders to sail ahead.

During the night, the son incites a frenzy among the family and crew. Before dawn breaks, the decision has been made. Mutiny! The oldest son and his two brothers storm the captain’s cabin, rousing him from his bed, and sending him adrift aboard the ship’s life raft. Every man and woman aboard was given the opportunity to go with Captain Ichiro, but all chose to stay, hoping for greater pleasures in the pictured paradise. The children were given no choice.

With a fog hovering over the still waters of the ocean, the crew watches as the inexperienced brothers steer the ship right and head toward the unknown island. The younger men are inexperienced seamen, unskilled in navigation. As they draw closer to shore, they realize they have little control of the ship. They’re unsure how to stop or how to best approach to the island. Beside all that, none of them would take responsibility for controlling the ship. Each one repeatedly defers to the others in favor of surveying the approaching paradise.

Suddenly the ship halts to a thunderous crash 1,000 feet offshore. The ship jumps skyward and then rolls halfway over, causing one of the brothers and a child to fall overboard. The child is never found. Once the initial screams of fright clear the air, new screams of panic arise from the hull of the ship as crew members ascend, crying, "We’re taking on water!" and "She’s gonna sink!"

The perilous trip to shore from the sinking vessel claims nearly one-third of the 70 people on board. Most drown, but a few fall victim to the vicious sharks that swarm the reef. Once ashore, the family and crew have no ship, no life boat, no way off the island. They are marooned. But that is only the beginning of their troubles.

The castaways soon discover that the land is not fit for survival. There is no fresh water supply and little rain from which to draw some. Food supplies are also limited. Within weeks they also discover they are not alone. A small tribe of native islanders invade their camp, killing one of the men and taking one of their women as a souvenir. A battle for survival ensues, resulting in more drama and more death. After a period of time, the battles seem to subside. The castaways and the natives just seemed to learn to co-exist.

To make matters worse, a volcano rumbles at the top of the island, posing a constant threat to wipe out both "tribes" in one destructive eruption. The lingering threats of a fiery volcano and the hostile natives, along with the struggle to survive with very little food and water, hang over the settlers like a cloud of condemnation. Each passing of a starved child reminds them of that dreadful day they cast their captain aside. The family and crew had managed to find their way to the island of their dreams, only to find themselves stranded in a nightmare.

Now, suppose the captain finds his way to safety and has the means to find his family and crew and bring them home. Would he be unjust if he chose to leave them deserted on the island of desolation? Wouldn’t he be perfectly justified to let them face the consequences of their choices?

Let’s say the captain does return after a period of time. The ship he returns in is large enough to carry all of his surviving family members and crew as well as the native tribe. Would he still be unjust to take some of the island’s inhabitants to safety while leaving others for destruction?

(Have a few volunteers stand on one side of the front indicating they will be spared. Ask a few others to stand on another side, indicating they will be left on the island)

What have those who are left received? Injustice? No, we’ve already determined it would be justified to let them stay. These have received justice. What have those who are chosen received? Mercy.

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