As we continue the short story of how God was going to bring devastation yet healing to a small nation, we realize there are many parallels in our own lives as well. As the passage starts with an analogy of a relationship between parent and child so familiar to many of us, so God expresses His love for His children of Israel through deserved discipline and sadness at Israel’s choices. Taking this as an example of God’s love, how are we to react as God’s newly adopted children through Christ?
Israel: once the prized vine planted by God, now grown wild and astray. In modern days, discipline seems to have become unfashionable, but nevertheless we, like Israel, undeniably need it. This is a message we need to hear, not because we are so much like them in their despised state, but because we also have a propensity and ability to turn back to our own ways, to become self-dependent. We need guidance and direction.
In Hosea 9, we learn about how evil the people of God have become before the Lord’s sight. Like a father who once saw his own children come ot christ and yet turn away, so does the Lord yearn for the return of all his children. In efforts to alert Israel of their straying ways, Hosea 9 lists the different stages of humanity’s fall from God: the death of joy, exile from the land, loss of spiritual discernment, falling birthrate, actual casting out. Are we falling away from God in the same ways? How can we keep ourselves from becoming as the downfall of Israel? What are major points to keep in mind to maintain a close and loving relationship with the Lord?
God always knows where we’ve been and what we’ve done. So what should we do in light of this? God’s lamentation of Israel’s sorry state and relentless urging for Israel’s return continues in Hosea 7 as a parallel to our own sinful condition.
Although not particularly fun to read through the Lord’s judgment against the people of the Lord, still it serves as a message to us in the ways that we can return to the Lord. As God’s difficulty, we often find ourselves saying NO to God without much thought to the blessings of obedience or the consequences of disobedience. Don’t let yourself starve from God’s Word.
Where is the joyful message? It is a scary thing to know who God is, and then to be told of the coming departure of God. Yet, it is not God who wants to leave us, but it is we who drive God away with our unfaithfulness towards and rejection of God. God shows us the correct way, but all too often our eyes wander. What happens on Sunday morning in Marlborough besides church? Our priorities change all too easily.
Download the sermon about God’s loving discipline here or listen here:
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
Judgment Against Israel
5 “Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgment is against you: You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor.
Hosea 3-4 paints an image of the deterioration of Israel’s society eerily resembling modern times. Though Israel was unfaithful to God and deep in sin, still God works to bring Israel back. Walk through another two chapters in Hosea that speak of God’s firm and faithful love, even as our eyes wander. What is it that God wants? What keeps Him from giving up on Israel?
3 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”