The Simply Awful State of our Union
Today I was led to read the book of Hosea. I could only get through the first six chapters and had to come up for air. Air is in chapter fourteen, the last chapter in the book. Israel and Judah, (for the land is still divided) had gone ‘whoring’ after other gods for so long that the prophet is commanded to take a whore for a wife and children are produced whose very names signify the consequences of the people’s immoral and idolatrous ways.
The first is Jezreel. This is a place name though it means ‘God will sow.’ What God would sow is immediately apparent in that God promises to punish Israel. Jezreel was a place of bloodshed. Jezebel’s agents murdered Naboth just to give King Ahab his garden. Gideon fought there as did Deborah. It seems that the word punish is better translated “visit upon” and it drives home the point that the one time obedient King Jehu who righteously slaughtered evil Omri and the priests of Baal/Ahab, but then later failed to walk in the ways of the Lord, would himself be “visited upon” with the same wrath he displayed in the valley of Jezreel. To be named ‘Jezreel’ has great significance as a lesson for continued faithfulness to the Lord and should be just as onerous a name to give to a child as Chernobyl would be today.
The next ‘baby names’ are easier to pick up just from a glance. “No Mercy” is the girl and “Not a People’ is the next boy. What a graphic illustration of impending judgment and rejection, and of the inevitable consequences of unfaithfulness to the amazing Husband that God had been to Israel since the day of their deliverance from Pharaoh, in the promises to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the giving of the Law, and their final entrance into the promised land.
After all the blessings, Israel had turned on her God and whored after others. She was an unfaithful woman, a prostitute. God says enough, enough, enough of it for thirteen chapters. Hosea is tough to read. It is tough because it is still accurate.
Wake Up Call
It would be less tough if it didn’t apply to our world, our country, our states, our counties, our cities, our families. Family Safe Media reports that “the pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.” The numbers behind this assertion are several years old… So what is the current state of affairs in our nation now? Where are we really at morally? Only God knows. But we know this, young men and woman are leaving the church in droves. The church itself seems less potent than ever. Is it because we are morally degraded and getting high on sin and not on God. Isn’t it because we are not all we claim to be?
What about God? Is He happy when divorce in the church is just as common in the world? Is He going to bless a nation or a church that is morally compromised? He will not be patient forever. He is a loving God but He is holy as well.
Hosea stands as a call to repentance and renewal. God pulls no punches in it. He promises to be a lion and a leopard and rip us apart as a “no people” with “no mercy.” As a country we will become Chernobyl. Over and over Hosea calls out to point out the sin, and not just the sin, but the heinous and horrid and whoring and sickening aspects of our sin.
Oh, this doesn’t sound like grace but it is. To see the need in all of its awfulness is not just motivating, it is the truth. God hates sin. Sin is not just a bad idea or a bad choice, it is abhorrent and a stench in the Almighty’s nostrils and IT WILL BE DEALT WITH post haste.
We must come to grips with it or it will ensnare all of us. Compromise will destroy not just our institutions like marriage and family and our economy it will destroy people, even the babies. The spirit of whoredom (Hosea 4:12) inundated the glorious land to the point where parents laid their infants in the arms of pagan gods to be burned alive and then kissed the idol. (13:2) God says that person will be done away with so completely that he will burst into flames one day and be as “smoke from a window” himself. God is the one who draws a line from the sin of immorality then to idolatry and then murder and then to final judgment. Indeed it would be better for that person to have a millstone tied to his neck and drowned than to receive what the Lord has planned for him.
Oh wait, I entitled this paragraph “hope.” There is no hope unless we let the weight of our sin crush us towards repentance. Hope comes when we turn from sin and return to God. The air of chapter fourteen is not available until we are in a position to see our sin and hate it and turn to God with the wonderful words of confession and pleading for mercy from God to “take away all iniquity, accept what is good” and “pay” with an offering of sacrifice. For us in the New Testament the offering has already been made. But the words must still be given. The ‘Return’ must still be effected. We must destroy the idols. We must pound them into dust. WE must seek Him while He may still be found.
We must resolve as Judah was told to know that
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
The hope comes from a broken and contrite spirit…in realizing our “orphan” status is real, and in then fleeing youthful lust and returning to the Father humbly, and then being willing to walk in the ways of righteousness.
This orphan finds mercy. This is air. Air we can breath.
God promises to “heal” our apostasy.
“Love” us freely.
What more could we really want than to have the God of the Universe love us freely?
Some will no doubt read this and ask theological questions of me. Don’t you believe in eternal security? Yes, but sin is real. True repentance is in the heart of those who will be secure but don’t kid yourself. The New Testament is full of warnings against sin – see the whole of 1 Corinthians written to Christians. We must still speak with the prophetic voice of the Bible. In our day we are too afraid of making some theological mistake when what we simply need to do is to proclaim all of the Bible all of the time. Let God sort out the tares. Let the Holy Spirit be unleashed to convict the world and the church of sin and righteousness and judgment…it is His job but we are ambassadors whose job according to Daniel in the last days is to turn many towards righteousness…and therefore to shine like the stars forever!
Daniel says the wise will understand. The wicked will not. God says the wicked have no hope but the one who returns does.
Hosea ends with these poignant words.:
8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.
9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.