Summary: The sermon chronicles Ephraim’s (Israel) downward spiral and sets forth the love of God which reaches out to him.
Many here today have heard of the Darwin Awards. They are given to individuals who self-destruct in the most remarkable way.
Floyd Brown, age 42, wearing a ski-mask attempted to rob a Holiday Inn in Anchorage, Alaska. The problem was that there were 40 policemen who were in the lobby of the motel when he came in. They were there attending a law enforcement training conference which was advertised on the motel’s outdoor sign. He would certainly qualify for the Darwin Award.
The Bible records many who would qualify for the award. In fact one translation of Hosea 4:14 reads, "Yea, a people stupid and falling to ruin." Hosea stated the reason for the fall. He says,"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." Hosea 4:6.
The Book of Hosea is a denunciation of the sins of Israel or the 10 Northern tribes.Throughout the book Israel is addressed as "Ephraim."
Ephraim was the second son of Joseph. In the settlement of Canaan he was given the central-most section of the land. Being the dominant tribe, Hosea chooses to direct the message of his prophecy to him.
After all, it was this powerful tribe who led Israel into the calf worship of Jeroboam and other idolatries.
We recall that Amos gave his message to Israel prior to Hosea’s ministry there. Amos began by denouncing other nations and then, finally, directs his words to the Northern Kingdom.
Hosea is more direct. There is no warm-up. He gets right to the point. And he does it by using some of the most poignant word pictures in all of the Bible.
First, he mentions a "backsliding heifer." "For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer." Hosea 4:16. Have you ever tried to work with a heifer? Is there any animal more refractory? Try to move the animal forward, and it wants to go backward.
A broken-hearted God says through his prophet, "And my people are bent to backsliding from me." Hosea 11:7
In 42 years of pastoring, I’ve observed that the more the family and the church combine their efforts to disciple some, the further people seem to go away from God. The "heifer" nature prevails.
Secondly, Hosea uses a burnt pancake. "Ephraim is a cake not turned." Hosea 7:8
Personally, I know that pancakes are best when they are done on both sides. All of us have experienced that proverbial phone call that took us away from the stove. We return to find that our pancake is charred on one side and soupy on the other.
We can be so strong in certain areas and be so weak in others. God wants our life to have balance and symmetry. No half-baked Christians please!
In one of my pastorates I had a young man who was a very talented singer. His grandfather was a dear man of our church whom I visited at a nursing home. It seemed that upon many of my visits the man would share with me what it would mean to him if his grandson, the singer, would come to see him. He never came. Needless to say, I didn’t allow the man to sing. If a man doesn’t care for his elderly sick grandparents, he has nothing I want to hear.I place a character above talent.