All right, well let's open our Bibles to Hosea as Pastor Skip comes up to lead us in the study through the word.
Hosea, chapter 5. As we begin tonight, let's just open in prayer. I have a hunch that there's folks that are listening by radio, or here in the sanctuary who are struggling, and are burdened, and just need a touch from the Lord.
Heavenly Father, you are the God of all comfort. You said that. You said that you comfort us in all of our tribulation, that we might be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the same comfort that we have received from Christ.
So as we gather here tonight, and as others listen via internet and by radio, strengthen the feeble knees, and the hands that hang down. Encourage, minister, and open our hearts as we learn these vital lessons from the past that are very relevant to today. We pray Lord, a special blessing upon pastor Chuck and Kay as they enjoy a reunion with old friends in a ministry that they were a part of long ago. Strengthen them, and thank you for their example. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hosea served the Lord for about 50 years or so. From around 760 BC to 710 BC, this man of God, who had a broken heart because he had a broken home, ministered to the northern 10 tribes of Israel. Called in this book by its largest tribe, Ephraim, and when you read that term, know that the term Ephraim refers to the 10 northern tribes of Israel.
You might say that the book of Hosea is a heart-felt message from a heart-stricken prophet about a heart-broken God. You see, Hosea's life was to be a pageant of sorts. He was to be acting out an object lesson of how much God loves his people, and yet how unfaithful his people had been to God.
And so Hosea was told to marry Gomer. Now, I know that sounds like a weird name for a girl. You hear Gomer in our generation, you think golly.
But back in those days, Gomer, a woman's name, not a man's name like Gomer Pyle, but a woman's name. Was a Hebrew word that meant complete. And she was a complete failure in the marriage. She was a hooker, she was a prostitute. She left her husband, and she left the children that she had birthed to him.
And in this experience, the prophet Hosea was able to what Paul said, enter into the fellowship of his sufferings. Hosea was able to experience as a man in a marriage relationship what God on a greater level was experiencing with the heart-broken leaving of the people from their Lord. God wants relationship. That's what God is all about.
You can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you discover that God in heaven desires to have a relationship with people. And so he enters into different covenants whereby that relationship might be enjoyed. But what God has always been about is an intimate, personal relationship with his people.
Before we were married, my wife Lenya, when she was preparing for the mission field, and she was over in Hawaii training for it, she decided one night that she would have a special meal just her and Jesus. And so she cooked this special meal, and she wore a beautiful dress, and she set the table, and put candles on the table, and two settings, two chairs. And she said she just sat there eating her meal, what would look like to be alone, but talking out loud as if Jesus were on the other side of the table.
She told me that, and I fell in love with that concept of just a close, intimate walk with Jesus. And as she told me that, I fell in love with her. And I remember the night when she came back from Hawaii here to southern California, and we were dating again after a period of a hiatus, and I turned to her and I said, Lenya, I love you. And she looked at me and she said, thanks.
It wasn't what I expected. The typical response is I love you too. She didn't say that. She just said thanks. So I thought, oh, I really messed that one up. I shouldn't have said it.
It was too soon, and I could kvetched all night about it. Went to work at Westminster Hospital the next day, and mid-afternoon I received a phone call. Skip, it's for you, line two. I pick it up, Skip this is Lenya. I love you too. And I said thanks.
She said, you're probably wondering why I waited until this afternoon to tell you. She said, you see, for me to commit my love to somebody is a serious thing. And I wanted to ask the Lord's permission if it was OK for me to do that before I did it. And I thought, I've got to marry this girl.
It was that kind of relationship that I wanted with the Lord, and I wanted with my wife. Hosea wanted that beautiful relationship with his wife. God, Yahweh, wanted that relationship with Israel. But Israel turned away.
And so in verse 1 of chapter 5, hear this, o priests, take heed, o house of Israel, give ear, o house of the king, for yours is the judgment because you have been a snare to Mizpah, and a net spread on Tabor. Notice there's three groups that are identified in verse 1. The priests, the populous, and the princes, that is the leadership and then the common people. The religious leadership, the governmental leadership, and then the people, the house of Israel at large.
Now, the priests were to have been representatives for the people to the Lord. And as priests, they should have been the best examples of what godly lifestyle was all about for the people. The people should have been able to look at the priesthood and see a great example of following the Lord, commitment, dedication, and godliness. But they didn't find it.
Among the priests, there was a falling away. Among the priesthood, there was a faithlessness. Some years before, there was a priest named Eli who had two sons. And it says they acted corruptly, for they did not know the Lord. And Hophni and Phineas were doing all sorts of things in their own minds, making it up as they went along, that is their worship to God.
And it says their father was just sort of relaxed about it. He didn't come in and put his foot down and stop it. He just sort of let it go on. And the priesthood became very corrupt.
Because the priesthood was corrupt, the population, the people also became very corrupt. Like priests, like people. If you have corrupt leaders, you're going to have corrupt people. And there was a corrupt priesthood. And so the priests are addressed here.
Years ago in Germany, there was a young man who was part of a Jewish family, and this was a very devoted family. Father was insistent that the family go to the synagogue. This boy was compelled to do that. The whole home centered around the going of the synagogue, and the worship of the Old Testament God until the family was forced to move.
When the family was forced to move, because the important people in town were going to the Lutheran assembly, the father sat his family down and said, we're no longer Jews. Let's go to the Lutheran church. It'll be good for business. He wasn't a follower of Christ. He wasn't interested in Jesus Christ, but he was interested in business.
So they abandoned the synagogue and they went to the Lutheran assembly. This young teenager at that time was bewildered and embittered by the hypocrisy of his father, and that the church was just all about economics. And the young lad went away from Germany, went to England to study, and he wrote a book during that time as he formulated his thoughts and his new world view. In fact, he wrote a book saying that religion was the opiate of the masses. His name was Karl Marx.
And he was so influenced by the hypocrisy of his own father that he developed a system that has influenced millions of people around the world in communism. All because of a bad example from a supposed leader. So the priests are identified.
Just a side note. Whenever you read about priests in the northern kingdom, Ephraim, the 10 tribes in Israel, you automatically know that they weren't part of the temple priesthood. There was a false priesthood in the north.
Remember when Jeroboam went north and developed a false calf worship in Dan and in Bethel? He didn't so like Levites to be priest, but just common people, people that were loyal to his agenda. He didn't want the people going down to Jerusalem to worship in the temple, lest they follow and were loyal to the two southern tribes. So he developed his own worship system and his own priesthood. And it was a false and corrupt priesthood from the very beginning.
Now, I don't want to go too slow on this, but we only have three chapters tonight so no worries. Here this, o priests. But he says take heed, o house of Israel. Now this is important. Yes, the priest set a bad example, but their bad example was no excuse for the people who followed the bad example. God still holds them accountable and addresses them individually.
You remember back in Jeremiah when we were going through that? Some of the people were saying, our fathers ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. In other words, the way we are isn't our fault. We are the way we are because of our parents example. And the Lord retorts back to them, no, each man will die for his own iniquity.
We live in a nation. As one author noted, a nation of victims. He called it the victimization of America, where nothing is my fault. It's all because when I was young, what my mom did, or what my dad did, or what they said to me in school, or what my environment shaped me as.
It's not my responsibility. The victimization of America. And this author said our national anthem has become the whine.
A magazine in Britain called the British Economist said about our nation, if you lose your job, you can sue for mental distress. If your bank goes broke, the government has insured your deposits. If you drive drunk and crash, you can sue somebody else for failing to warn you to stop drinking. There's always somebody else to blame.
So yes, God addresses the priesthood, but also the people who are responsible for setting up these false priests as bad examples. The revolters, verse 2, are deeply involved in slaughter though I rebuke them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from me. For now, oh Ephraim, you commit harlotry. Israel is defiled.
Though they do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for a spirit of harlotry is in their midst. And they do not know the Lord. Now, compare verse 3 with verse 4. I know them, says the Lord. They don't know me.
It goes without saying that God knows people. He knows mankind. He knows our hearts. God knows the propensities and proclivities of the human heart. All we like sheep have gone astray.
Listen, when you fail, you don't surprise God. God never looks down from heaven, goes I can't believe you did that. You might surprise yourself, but it's not a shock to God. God knows the human heart.
When Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, in John chapter 2, it says many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he performed, but Jesus did not commit himself to them because he knew what was in man. And he had no need that any one testify of man, for he knew all men. Interesting. They were making some kind of overt commitment to him, but Jesus in knowing the motivation of their hearts, did not make a commitment to them.
So here God says, they say they know me, they don't. They don't know me. I know them, and I know them well. So they do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.
As we go through this chapter and the next couple of chapters, again, we're going to find the term Ephraim is applied to the 10 northern tribes. Now, Ephraim is the largest land section of the 10 northern tribes. If you find a map of the tribes of Israel and you look to the north, you find that Ephraim takes the largest chunk of land. And perhaps that is the reason that God decides to call all of the tribes by one tribe Ephraim, but I think there's another reason.
Ephraim at that time was the center of idolatry. You remember Jeroboam set a calf in Bethel? Originally, it was the tribe of Benjamin, but it seceded to the tribe of Ephraim, and later on that calf was centered in the city of Sumeria. Both of those cities were in the tribe of Ephraim. So because that became the center of idolatry, and the capital of the kingdom, he can refer to all the 10 northern tribes as Ephraim.
Verse 5. The pride of Israel testifies to his face. Therefore, Israel-- and here they are mentioned as separate although together, Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity. Judah also stumbles with them.
So he first speaks of the northern tribes, but then he refers to Judah, the southern tribe. Remember, the kingdom is split. There are two separate kings, one over the north, one over the south. They are seen as two separate nations, the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom.
God says that both the north and the south are playing around with idolatry. The northern kingdom will find the chastisement of God to come quicker than those down in Judah, because, and you find this running through the prophets, those in Judah should have watched carefully what happened to their sister up in the north. They should have gotten a clue when they saw the Assyrians in 722 march through and destroy the cities of Samaria and take captive the northern kingdom. They should have stopped right there and said, no more idolatry.
Now, God was merciful. We saw that last week with the southern kingdom of Judah. Gave them 136 years of mercy until 586 BC. The Babylonians came in and took captive the southern kingdom. But the point is, the south should have watched the north and learned from that history.
I had a history teacher in college. In fact, he's Chuck Smith's brother, Paul Smith, who loved to bring out that famous quote. Those who fail to learn from history will be doomed to relive it. He'd say that a lot in history class. Judah would be doomed to relive the history of Israel, because she failed to watch and see what happened to her northern sister.
The United States of America would do well to look over to its sister in Europe, especially England, and look at what has happened to that nation. Look how so many of the churches in England are now mosques. And you can go to these great cathedrals that at one time had thousands of people in them, and they're hollow.
They're empty. Nobody goes. They're in dire need of revival. We should look at that and take pause, and learn from the example.
There's a book I recommend to you. It was written by Francis Schaffer. It's called The God Who is There. And Francis Shaffer talked about what he called the line of despair. He said in Europe the line of despair was anything before 1890, and then it marked everything after 1890. In America, the line was drawn in 1935.
He says we're lagging behind Europe, therefore we should watch Europe. He says before 1890 in Europe, there was a moral consensus, a sense of absolutes, what is right and what is wrong. But the climate changed soon after 1890, and in our country soon after 1935, into moral relativism.
Before that, we made logical presuppositions based upon a system of absolutes. What happened? Liberalism in theology, secularism in philosophy. And that led us to a pragmatic relativism.
In other words, there is not right and wrong. It's whatever is right and wrong to you personally. It's existentialism. you decide what's right for you, while someone else might say, well, that's right for you but that's wrong for me. There's no moral consensus. He called that the line of despair.
And he encourages America to watch carefully what has happened to those nations. We should learn from them, as Judah should have learned from Israel, but unfortunately did not. With their flocks, verse 6, and herds they go out to seek the Lord, but they will not find him. He has withdrawn himself from them.
What does it mean, they were seeking the Lord with their flocks and herds? They were going through certain sacrifices in this new priesthood in Israel, thinking that they would be made right with God by bringing a sacrifice and appeasing this God up in heaven. But God says he has withdrawn from them.
They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children. Now a new moon shall devour them and their heritage. Now, God commanded the bringing of animal sacrifices. It's part of the law.
It's part of what pastor Chuck has been dealing with in Hebrews in the last several weeks, that kaphar, that covering, that the blood of these animals would temporarily present until the messiah would come and deal with sin once and for all. God commanded those sacrifices to be brought. However, God never separates the worship that we bring with the worshipper who brings it. So that if the heart is not right, if there is no real relationship with the Lord, God doesn't get off on the sacrifice or the offering. But God will judge the one who brings it.
So when Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices and their offerings before the Lord, Cain brought his offering, God didn't accept it. And he said this to Cain. If you lived right, would you not be accepted? You hear that? God never separates the worship from the worshipper.
You're bringing me a sacrifice, but you're not living right. Your heart's not behind this. And so yes, God commanded the bringing of animal sacrifices. Yet in Isaiah chapter 1, that prophet ministering down in Jerusalem, while Hosea is ministering up in Sumeria, says something to the effect as the Lord speaks through him, to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord. I've had enough of your burnt offerings. Your new moons and your Sabbaths, and when you spread your hands before me and you pray, I will not hear.
They were bringing the sacrifices, going through the motions, involved in the ritual, but their heart wasn't with the Lord. They were far from the Lord. So God says in verse 6 that he was leaving them.
Why? Because nobody was listening to him anyway. They weren't becoming the people of God that they should have become.
Several years ago, a poll was taken of the unchurched asking them a simple question. They had at one time gone to church, attended it, and the question was why did just stop. The answers were very revealing.
49% of the people who took this poll said they felt like the church doesn't help them find the meaning to life. You would think if there's one outfit that would specialize in helping people find meaning in life, it'd be the Church of Jesus Christ on earth. But almost half, 49% said the church isn't helping me find meaning in life. 56% of the people who took the poll said they noticed that the churches they were attending were more interested not in spiritual matters, but in organizational issues. They made organizational, structural, outward things more important than spiritual things. So they said they stopped going to church.
The trend that happened with Israel and later on with Judah is a trend we see today, because people will not tolerate just the word of God, just the scripture being taught, and fall in love with a God of the Bible as the Bible is being taught. They have resorted to junk food, fast food, something that won't nourish them. It's a warning, because God says, I will withdraw from them. Even though they seek the Lord, they won't find him.
Verse 7, they have dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children. And now a new moon shall devour them and their heritage. Now, this could mean a couple of things. The pagan children could refer to the intermarriage that some of the men had with pagan women.
You may remember in Nehemiah chapter 13, Nehemiah comes and builds the city. He goes back to Persia under Artaxerxes, comes back again to Jerusalem. And the second time he comes, he discovers that the people in Jerusalem, the men, were marrying pagan wives, and having children that couldn't speak Hebrew. Thus, they couldn't be taught in the synagogue, they couldn't be taught the law, they couldn't be brought up spiritually. They didn't speak the language of the word. And it upset him.
It could refer to that, or it could simply refer that they have neglected training their children. Instead of passing on the great spiritual truths of what God had done for them through their history, they just sort of stopped training their children. Remember in Deuteronomy, the Lord said to parents, especially to fathers, make sure that you write the law on the doorpost of your house.
Put it on your forehead, on your hand, and talk of these things with your children when you lie down, when you rise up, and when you walk along the way. Make sure that you pass on the truths in the normal duties of life to the next generation. That's probably what it refers to for they have begotten pagan children.
Parents, this is how it works. You have a walk with God, and then you pass that on to your children. You can't say, well, now that we have children, honey, we probably should start going to church. It's good for them. Your kids will see right through that, unless they understand that you think it's good for you.
Oh yes, they're kids. They better get Sunday school. They got to get God now in their lives. The way I figure it, it's like a relay race. We're running the race ahead of our children. And at the appropriate time, we are passing the baton on to them, teaching them how to run the race, teaching them how to walk the walk. And if we have run the race, and we have walked the walk, we'll be very successful in passing that baton off to that next generation.
Again, another study of parents and children. This study, in researching parents spiritual walk, their religious behavior, as that one poll called it, they discovered that if Mom and Dad attend church regularly and are faithful to the Lord in their lifetime time, that their children have about a 75% rate of staying faithful to the Lord and attending church after them. If they both don't, but let's just say Dad goes to church faithfully, regularly but not Mom, that child still has a 55% chance of remaining faithful. If Mother only does it, though it's better than no influence at all certainly, but not the father, now it's a 25% chance that that child will remain faithful. So it shows the combined effort of Mom and Dad loving God, trusting the Lord, walking the walk, running the race, and then passing it on to the next generation.
I love what Charles Spurgeon used to say. Before a child reaches 7, teach him all the way to heaven. Better yet, the work will thrive if he learns before he's 5. But you can't stop at 5 and 7, you've got to go all the way through age 12 and 14 and 16 and 18 and live that life throughout that child's lifetime. Else you have what you have here, for they have begotten pagan children.
Blow the ram's horn in Gibya. That is the shofar in Hebrew. The trumpet in Rama, that's a town just north of Jerusalem, close to the border with the northern kingdom of Israel. Cry aloud in Beth-Haven now, Beth-Haven is a renaming of the town Bethel. Bethel, Bethel means the house of God, Beth-Haven the house of wickedness or idolatry.
What one time had be-- was the house of God, the center of the nation when they came in from the wilderness is now the house of wickedness. Look behind you, o Benjamin, Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke among the tribes of Israel. I make known what is sure. Now, I mentioned that Bethel was originally in the tribal allotment of Benjamin.
You have down south Judah, and then just above it and around it the tribe of Benjamin. Bethel originally was in the tribe of Benjamin. But when the kingdom split, eventually Bethel defected, you might say, and got involved in that northern pagan system of worship.
The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark. I will pour out my wrath on them like water. Now, you remember back in Deuteronomy, in the law, God forbade the children of Israel to remove the ancient landmark, because that was the tribal allotment, or the portion of the inheritance of the tribes of Israel.
Don't touch it, God, said because if you move the border-- let's say you and I had property adjoining. I was from one family, you're from another family. I'm from one tribe, you're from another tribe. You go to sleep one night, and I decide I want a little more land. So I go out there, and I take the stone that was put there by your great-great grandfather, and I move it just a couple of inches your direction. And I do it with some of the other stones.
Now, I haven't taken much, but I've got a couple inches more. Now, I could do that over a period of several months and years, and if I was sly in the way I positioned certain plants and rocks out on that property, I might get a little more land. That's stealing.
What God is saying is that some of these nations, some of these cities that were down in the south that had defected to the north, they were stealing God's inheritance. They weren't true to temple worship down south. They were worshipping with that false system up to the north. Ephraim is oppressed, and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept.
They were becoming arbitrary. They were making up their own rules as they went along. They were going, as it says, willingly walked by human precepts. Now remember, I mentioned to you that line of despair. What was happening is they were forsaking the laws of God. Still worshipping God by name, but involved in pagan worship system at the same time.
And in so doing, they were willingly walking by human precepts. That is, they were not obeying the law of God. They were making up their own laws as they went along. Moral relativism, existentialism.
I found a book. Oh, it was several years ago. It was one of the most fascinating reads I ever encountered though. It was a book called The Day America Told the Truth. Now, I don't know on what particular day that was that America told the truth. I'm still trying to discover that.
But this book purported to be the most honest set of polls taken on the American landscape about ideology. Their approach, they said, was different. And there's one section in the back called 54 revelations about America.
Revelation number 3, according to their polls, was this. Americans are making up their own rules. Only 13% of us believe in all of the 10 commandments. We choose which laws of God to believe.
And very similar to the ancient nation of Israel, God had given them the law, yet there were certain laws they were keeping, and other laws they refused to obey. So they were living by human precept, by what they thought they wanted to do rather than what God told them to do. Therefore, I will be to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Cherib, that is Tiglath-Pileser III, the Assyrian emperor, but he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound. You know what's ironic? That the very person they look to for stability became later on their invader.
They looked to him for help, and he probably said, oh I'd love to help you. Let's establish a relationship together. Us, Assyria, you, Israel. Later on, 722 BC, they clean their clock. The very one Israel looked to for stability invaded them.
You'll notice in these verses a couple of different metaphors, one from the natural world and one from the medical world. On one hand the moth, which can quickly overnight eat through a garment. And from the medical world, sickness. God says you're sick, and you turn toward Assyria to cure your sickness. They were unable to do it.
So God accuses them of misdiagnosis, or you might say malpractice due to misdiagnosis. They thought, we have a sickness. We have a problem. We have a disease.
Our problem, we don't have enough human help. We need a kingdom. We need an empire. We need help. And so they looked to man for help.
That was a misdiagnosis. It was malpractice. Oh they were sick, but their sickness wasn't due to lack of human help. Their sickness was their own sin in trusting human help over the help of God.
I love the old saying life is short, death is sure, sin the cause, Christ the cure. Simple. They failed to diagnose their own sickness properly.
In verse 14, the moth turns into a lion. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away. I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of traveling over to Africa. We were doing mission work, and one afternoon a buddy and I found one of his friends who lived by a game park. And we decided to get in his Land Rover and drive out into the sticks to see what kind of wildlife we could find. And we found zebras, and wildebeests, and giraffes. It was cool.
I had my camera. And we found a little pack of lions, and I thought this is great. And he took that car, and he went over some of those hills, and perched his car real close to the lions. And there was a mother with her cubs. So I started rolling the window down, I'm going to take a picture. I have a telephoto lens.
The guy driving said, I wouldn't do that if I were you. I said, do what? He said, keep your window closed. That lion might look really docile, but you open a window, and you won't know what will happen. That lion could strike you and take away your head in an instant.
Now, not having any experience personally with lions, I decided to believe him. I kept the lion-- the window closed, and the lion at bay. But then I looked at those cubs, those young lions, and I thought, oh, wouldn't it be great to have one of those as a pet.
You look at them, they're so cuddly. They just look like oh, it'd be just cute. And you know what? They probably would be at first. But give them a chance, let them grow up, they'll be just like mama. They'll become predators, they'll become dangerous.
Now, you notice the description here, I will be like a lion to Ephraim, that's a full-grown one, and a young lion to the house of Judah. The very sins that Israel was playing with, that were destructive by nature, Judah was playing with. But the lion was just a young cub at that time. Judah thought, oh, I won't go as far as Israel.
And again, 136 years they were spared. But they started playing with the same sin, and what God is saying in this verse is just like judgment is going to come to the northern kingdom, that lion, that little cub is going to grow up, and judgment will also come later on to Judah. I will return again to my place until they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek me, or they will seek my face. In their affliction, they will earnestly seek me. Now, this is the final form of judgment. God says, I'm going to leave. I'm returning to my place.
Notice there has been several stages of God judging Israel. Phase number one, God sent them warnings through his prophets. They didn't listen.
Phase number two, God says, then I'll remove the hedge, and I'll be to them like a moth, and I'll be to them like a lion. And finally, because they weren't listening to all of that, God says, I'm done. I'm going to break fellowship with them. I withdraw. I'm going to my place until they acknowledge their offense.
It's always the worst when God's fellowship is withheld. How we thank God for the cross, that all we have to do if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father. We confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hallelujah for that.
But I remember as a teenager I got into trouble. I liked trouble. My father was a firm disciplinarian, and he did a pretty good job on keeping his four boys from trouble. But I was hard-headed, I was persistent.
And I remember getting into quite a lot of trouble, even with the law, where I was arrested for a couple of felonies. And when I got back from being fingerprinted and my picture taken, my dad said something to me I'll never forget. He said I'm done with you. You hurt my heart.
And I lost fellowship. That was more painful as a teenager than all of the spankings combined growing up. It was then that I really turned my heart toward my father, and sincerely said, I am so sorry that I offended you.
Now God says, I'm done. I'm withdrawing until. Now, that until his glorious because that until will happen to Israel in the tribulation period after the anti-Christ persecutes and hassles and hounds the children of Israel. And 144,000 at the witness of these two great witnesses in Jerusalem will turn their hearts to God, and they'll cry out, oh God, you have torn us. You'll heal us now. They'll turn back to him.
Now, Jesus said something very similar. He stood on the Mount of Olives over the city of Jerusalem. You remember this story. In seeing the city, he wept over it. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you, as a hen gathers her chicks, but you were not willing. Behold, your city is left to you desolate. You will not see me again on until you cry blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
Israel will recognize her messiah one day, turn toward Jesus as their messiah, and this until is alluded to here. Then they will seek my face in their affliction. They will earnestly seek me.
And this is what they say, chapter 6 verse 1, come, let us return to the Lord. For he has torn, but he will heal us. He has stricken, but he will bind us up. After two days, he will revive us. On the third day, he will raise us up that we may live in his sight.
It was Paul who said blindness in part has happened into Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. God is doing a marvelous work throughout the world, but there is coming a time when the last Gentile believer, or let's put it this way, the last Gentile non-Jew comes to faith in Christ. Then the rapture of the church, then the 70th week of Daniel, where God turns all of that energy into taking the blinders off of Israel, and their hearts become soft.
So just in case you're one of those hold-outs tonight, you're a non-Jewish person, you're a Gentile, but you haven't trusted in Jesus Christ, it could be that you're the last one. That God's waiting for you, and as soon as you come in, then God will again turn his glorious work toward Israel and the rapture of the church will happen. So do yourself a favor, and do us all a favor, get saved, would you?
So we can get out of here, and God can turn his word toward Israel.
So in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 6, the affliction had run its course. God spanked them, ravaged them, tore them. It worked. Now they're saying, let's come back to the Lord.
Do you think God delights in seeing his children suffer? No, but he knows that with discipline comes repentance. I remember when Nathan was younger and I had to spank him. I hated it.
He thought I loved it. I hated it. I didn't want to do it. But I knew that I had to break his will without breaking his spirit. I had to apply discipline.
But it was always for the intention of seeing him come in repentance and sorrow and his behavior, but especially his heart, change toward Mom and Dad. And when his heart was softened, what a delight he was. And it paid off. He's a delight today, serving the Lord. His heart is right with God, and walking with the Lord, and what a joy that is.
Now, Israel says, come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn, but he will heal. God's love is balanced. God tears, and God heals. That's balanced love.
If you are a parent who never disciplined his child, I would say you don't love that child. I spoke to a parent just the other night, and he said, well, it's so hard to discipline this kid, because he'll say, you don't love me. I said, well, you don't believe him, do you?
I said listen, what your child thinks of you today is much less important than what that child will think of you when he's 18. Don't go by the whim or emotion of what he feels now. Discipline that child in love. That is love.
A good doctor will both tear and heal. Can you imagine if I had a ruptured appendix or I had a tumor and I went to the doctor and he said, I don't want to operate, because I'd have to cut you open, and I just don't want to hurt you. So we'll just let that appendix go its way, or that tumor grow. We just hope everything will turn out all right in the end. I'd say you're a quack.
Give me a real doctor. A real doctor, a good doctor would take the balanced approach of I have to tear the flesh, I have to cut with a scalpel to remove the disease, and then after I tear I will heal and bind up. That's the idea.
He has torn, but he will heal. He has stricken, but he will bind up. After two days, he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up that we may live in his sight.
Now it is interesting, and I'll just say this in passing, in II Peter chapter 3 there seems to be what some see as a formula, where it says, one day with the Lord is as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years as one day. So it becomes very interesting to know that for the last two days, 2,000 years, Israel has rejected their messiah, and has suffered the consequences for it. But there will be the glorious third day, the turning, the resurrection of that nation, the turning back to God. On the third day, he will raise us up that we may live in his sight.
Verse 1 let us return, verse 3 let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning, he will come to us like the rain, like the latter and the former rain to the earth. So what God is saying is it's going to work. My tearing, my striking, my discipline will bring my people back. And they will say, let us return, let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of God.
The writer of Hebrews said, my son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him. For whom the Lord loveth, he chastens. And he scourges, or he spanks, every son that he receives. God loves you enough to spank you to keep you on track. And if God doesn't discipline you, that's when you have to worry. Whom the Lord loves, the Lord chastens.
It was David who wrote in Psalm 119 before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now, I keep thy law. I think it was CS Lewis who talked a lot about pain and suffering, and he said something to the effect that pain plants the flag of truth in the midst of a rebel soul. And God planted that flag, and the result will be glorious in the end.
The child will not be left to himself. God will discipline. Oh Ephraim, what shall I do to you? Oh Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness, your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away.
Here in southern California, the early morning report is often the same. Early morning, coastal clouds. It burns away. Even in June gloom it usually burns away by noon.
So the clouds come in, but they're not going to give any rain. There is no moisture to it. It's short-lived. So just like the clouds that come in, but they're burned away with the radiation of the sun, and the dew that's there for a while, but then burns away, that's the faithfulness of Israel and Judah.
You're unreliable. It's short-lived. It's clouds, but they're not producing anything.
Jude in the New Testament, when he speaks of the false prophet, he gives them an interesting term. He says they are clouds without water. They don't produce anything. They promise a lot, but don't produce.
Your faithfulness, O Judah, O Israel, is like that morning cloud. And like the dew, it goes away. Therefore, I have hewn them by the prophets. I have slain them by the words of my mouth. Your judgments are like light that goes forth.
In other words, I sent prophets to you, and they just said it like it is. They spoke the truth. I have slain them by the words of my mouth. For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Of course, these words are echoed in what Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees one day. He said, go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice. They were bringing animals, they were bringing sacrifices. But because their heart wasn't right, because they didn't have that relationship with the Lord, there would be no mercy that God could show to them, because it was all show and no go. It was all outward and not inward.
God wanted to be merciful, but he couldn't any longer, because they thought the sacrifices could cover up the wretchedness of their heart. But like men they have transgressed the covenant. There they dealt treacherously with me. Gilead is a city of evil doers, and defiled with blood. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem, surely they commit lewdness.
I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There is harlotry of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you when I return the captives of my people.
Sometimes we think of a spiritual harvest as evangelism, because Jesus said to his disciples, look at the fields, they are white unto harvest. Pray that the Lord of the harvest send out laborers into the field. And surely it is a picture of evangelism. The world is ripe. Let's tell them about Jesus, let's go out into the field.
But more often in the Bible, harvest is a picture of judgment. John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ his winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge the threshing floor. Jesus said, the harvest is the end of the age, and the angels are the reapers. In Revelation 19, his sickle is in his hand, and he acts as this harvester at Armageddon, destroying the enemies that come against Israel.
There was a man who was driving through the country. He was out in the farm area of the United States. He was with a local farmer, and he said, boy, why are the fields so white? The farmer said, well, when the wheat gets ripe, it turns this color.
The visitor said, wheat? I always thought that wheat was golden. He said, it is, until it's-- except when it's overripe. When it's overripe, it takes this pale, yellow-white color, because you have to go get it, you have to reap it now, because it's the end.
Then it dawned on him that when Jesus said behold, the fields are white, what he was saying is you've got to act now, because judgment is coming. So he speaks of the harvest. O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you when I return the captives of my people.
Now in chapter 7, and we'll make it through chapter 7, we won't go any further tonight. There's four word pictures I want you to notice, four idioms of Israel's unfaithfulness. God uses a lot of these pictures to paint ideas in people's minds, much like the parables of Jesus. So we'll notice four of them. The heated oven, the unturned cake, the silly dove, and the unreliable or treacherous bow.
Now, the implication is this. Every time God tried to help Israel, Israel would not be helped, and gave God more reason to judge than before. When I would have healed Israel, verse 1, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria, for they have committed fraud. A thief comes in, a band of robbers takes spoil outside.
A thief works inside the house, a band of marauders work outside the house. Here's the picture. The inside and the outside of Israel are both corrupted. All the way through, the moral, social fabric is depleted.
Psalm 11, the psalmist asks, when the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The foundations are being eroded and destroyed at this point. Inside and outside there is wickedness. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their own deeds have surrounded them. They are before my face.
Now, we would translate it they're in my face. That's the idea that God is saying. They are doing what they do, they are being very tolerant of sin, even proud about their sin, and they're in my face with it. They make a king glad with their wickedness and princes with their lives.
You can sort of picture what was going on in Israel, because it's what's happening in our culture. Look how tolerant we are as a nation. We're so proud that we're tolerant of all of this sin. In fact, not only are we tolerating it, let's be celebrating it.
Now, there was a time in our nation, though there has always been homosexuality, when it was kept in the closet. I'm not saying it's right if it is kept in the closet. It's always wrong. But there was a moral consensus. It was shameful.
Now, it's shameful to hide it. It's considered shameful to hide it. Now, there's gay pride week, and gay parades. Let's not just tolerate it, let's celebrate it.
And they were making rulers glad by their celebration of the very sins that were at one time were a shame to them. In Isaiah 5, the prophet said woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as if with a cart rope. But notice it says in verse 2, they don't consider in their hearts that I remember all of their wickedness. They're before my face.
The eyes of the Lord, it says in Proverbs, are in every place, Proverbs 15, beholding the good and the evil. You can't hide anything from God. And God is saying they've forgotten that.
You remember Moses, when he killed the Egyptian? The Bible says he looked this way and that way. He didn't look that way. He forgot God sees. The eyes of the Lord are in every place.
Lewis Barry Schaefer used to say, secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven. God says, I see it all. You can't hide it. They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by a baker. That's the first metaphor.
He ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough until it is leavened. In the day of our king, princes have made him sick. Inflamed with wine, he stretches out his hand with scoffers.
They prepare their heart like an oven. While they lie in wait, their baker sleeps all night. In the morning, it burns like a flaming fire. They are all hot like an oven.
They have devoured their judges. All their kings have fallen. None among them calls upon me.
Some have figured that because of the detail in this little section about the bakers, some have figured that Hosea by trade was a baker. Now, we don't know that, it's just a guess. He could have been, but not necessarily. I mean, you can go to a bakery and a couple visits, you get the idea pretty quickly.
Here's the thought. Bakers in those days would kindle their ovens, their bread ovens in the evening. And then once kindling the fire, they would go to bed. They would knead the dough, they'd leave it overnight for the leaven to let it rise, and then in the morning they would get up early.
Now the oven is burning hot, suitable for baking the bread. They'd throw the bread in, they'd cook it, then it would die out. It had served its purpose. The oven would cool off during the day.
But God is saying, you Israel haven't turned the oven off. With all of your lust and sin, you let it burn on and on and on. Not just running its course, but going beyond that.
Now, if you were to compare the history of Judah and Israel, southern kingdom and northern kingdom, you discover something. In the southern kingdom, there were a couple of revivals, and a few renewals. There were these periodic episodes of spiritual revival and renewal. But not in the northern kingdom. 200 solid years basically of 19 different kings, all of them wicked. No revival, no renewal, sin after sin, episode after episode, generation after generation.
Verse 8, second picture. Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples. Ephraim is a cake unturned.
Now, I can relate to this. I cooked pancakes yesterday morning for my family. I got it wired now. I know exactly the stove, and how to heat it.
And I know it takes about a minute-- and a minute and a half on each side. No Pam, just the griddle all by itself, and I can make perfect, golden pancakes. It's a mistake to pour on the pancake batter and then to walk away.
Because what will happen is I'll have an unturned cake. Burnt to a crisp on one side, gooey on the other side. Inconsistent. That's what God is saying. You are half-baked, Israel, you're inconsistent.
Now, they would cook bread in those days on stones. If you've been to Israel, and you go to Nazareth village, they will let you cook bread like they did in the ancient times. They'll give you the dough, you throw it on the stone, but they tell you turn it quickly or you'll have this phenomenon. An unturned cake, inconsistent.
You can have belief, but you need behavior. If you have just a belief and no behavior that matches the belief, you're half-baked. You have a creed, but no obedience. If you ponder this scripture but never practice the scripture, you can be half-baked, a cake unturned.
Aliens have devoured his strength. Don't think Roswell here, think outsiders. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it. , Yes gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.
Now here is a picture. Ephraim, like a man, is getting old. He's getting gray hair. He doesn't even know it. He doesn't know he's getting old. He doesn't know that he's losing spiritual strength.
And he doesn't know that people are taking advantage who are around him in his old age and his senility. His energy is sapped, but he is unaware of it. Why? Because usually, people get up and look in the mirror. They examine themselves.
And I bet you do that, you'll look and go oh, I'm getting a few more gray hairs. Oh, look at that. But if you never examine yourself in a mirror, you'll never know unless you have friends who say, boy, you look old.
Ephraim, God says, you're getting old but you don't know it. You never examine yourself. You don't take a good honest look at yourself. What a sad verse of scripture. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he doesn't know it.
You remember Samson came to a place where he didn't know the spirit of God had left him. He was toying with sin. He was playing with Delilah. And she said, oh Sammy baby, tell me the secret of your great strength. And so he started toying with her.
Well, if you tie my hair up in braids, or if you-- first of all, if you bind me with green cords, I'll be like any other man. So he fell asleep on Delilah's lap, she tied him up, and then after he was tied with these green cords, Samson, Samson, the Philistines are upon you. He woke up, broke the cords.
And she said, you don't love me. You lied to me. Now I would have said, wait a minute here. Lied to you? You tried to trap me. But he just didn't cop a clue.
If you really love me, you'll tell the secret of your strength. He goes, OK, if you weave my hair in seven locks, I'll be weak as any other man. He fell asleep on her lap. She did it, and then said, Sampson, the Philistines are upon you. He woke up, broke through, and conquered the Philistines.
Now you'd think that he'd say, wait a minute here. You've done this one too many times. I'm not going to tell you anything. But he doesn't. He goes for it. He said, well, if you give me a haircut, which is a sign of my covenant to God, I'll be weak as any other man.
And one of the saddest verses of scripture in Judges 16, Samuel said, I will get up as before, but he knew not that the Lord had departed from him. It's sad when you come to a point where the power, the Spirit of God is no longer operating, but you're unaware of it. You're unaware of it, God said to this nation.
And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him for all of this. Ephraim is also a silly dove. That's the third metaphor. Without sense.
They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. Wherever they go, I will spread my net on them and bring them down like birds of the air. I will chasten them according to what their congregation has heard. Now, there is an old eastern proverb that comes from this part of the world that says there is nothing as simple or stupid as a dove.
They're really dumb creatures. They're dumb in that they will allow you to get close to them, not protecting their nests. In fact, often leaving their nest, leaving their young unprotected, and not really fleeing danger themselves. They flit about, and they get confused when they hear noises from different directions. And they'll flit about kind of examining where the noises are coming from, but not averting danger.
God says, you're like a silly dove. The Assyrians call to you, the Egyptians call to you, and you're just courting their protection back and forth. It's silly.
Woe to them, for they have fled from me. Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against me. Though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. They did not cry out to me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.
They assembled together for grain and new wine. They rebelled against me. Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against me. They return, but not to the most high.
They are like a treacherous bow, or a faulty bow, a crooked bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt. If you had a treacherous bow, a warped bow, it doesn't matter if you aim it in the right direction. It won't hit the target. It's like having a gun and the barrel is warped.
So you are unreliable Ephraim, Israel. You're like a treacherous bow. In fact, you're dangerous because you can let that bow launch an arrow and not only will it not hit its target, it might hit somebody you love and destroy others. A warped bow.
What is described in these verses is true of humanity in general. All we like sheep have gone astray. It is our very nature. When you have a warped bow, you can't fix it. You discard it, and you get a new one.
And the Bible tells us that we were all born in sin. All of us are born as a warped, treacherous bow. The heart is wicked. Paul put it this way in Romans 5. By one man, sin entered, and sin spread. Death entered, and death spread to all mankind.
So there is only one hope, the new birth. You can't fix yourself. No amount of self-help programs will fix the problem. You need to be born again. It's that new birth. Because of our warped nature from the beginning.
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for the time we have spent tonight in your word. We listen to the warnings of the prophet to Judah, saying Israel has gone too far. Judah, you watch your treacherous sister, and watch what trouble they're getting into. And just like a lion would destroy them, you're playing with a baby lion that will one day grow up and destroy you.
And Lord, we think about our own country. And we look across the pond at so many of the countries that birthed this nation originally, and where they have gone, where they've ended up. And then we think of others who are not here, who are not walking with you. And we're warned by these things to always put you before our face, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Heavenly Father, I pray that the relationship we have with you will grow in closeness and intimacy and wonder as you have the freedom to speak to us, and we have the heart to obey. Thank you that though you are perfect and holy and all powerful, you love us as imperfect as we are. Thank you for the new covenant based on the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the new birth.
And we pray if anyone would be listening by radio, or here even in this congregation who doesn't have a personal relationship with you, would turn to you in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's all stand.
Of course, nothing has changed from last week to this week. The pastors are down front ready to talk to you, to pray with you, any need that you might have. Take the time, if you have the time, and bring it before the Lord. They'd love to pray with you and pray for you.
I love you, Lord. And I lift my voice to worship you. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy, my king, in what you hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your--