We have already learned from the beginning of our study of Hosea that God is a God of grace. There is more grace given to us than any of us deserve. This prophet asks Israel (and us) a question as we open his book … Isn’t it time that we stopped wandering? Isn’t it time that we came back to God? God wants all of us to come home, but there is more!
Hosea is preeminently the prophet of love, but unlike some today, he doesn’t minimize the holiness of God. The Bible does say that God is love (1 Jn.4:8, 16), but we are also reminded that God is light,and in him is no darkness at all (1 Jn.1:5). God’s love is a holy love, not a sentimental feeling that condones and pampers sinners.
Hosea focused on three particular sins of his day. Sins that are just as real today: idolatry (spiritual adultery), ingratitude, and hypocrisy.
God speaks to the children and tells them to rebuke their mother for her unfaithfulness. The picture is one of Israel. Israel was guilty of worshipping false gods.
Pagan worship included sensual fertility rites, and in these rites, both male and female prostitutes were provided. In a literal as well as a symbolic way, idolatry meant prostitution. Since the people were acting like prostitutes, God would treat them like prostitutes and shame them publicly. Unfaithfulness to the Lord is a serious sin.
Just as Israel was tempted to forsake God for idols, the church is tempted to turn to the world and trust the world rather than God. What has God told us about our relationship to the world? The church is …
- Not to love the world (Jn.2:15-17)
- Not to be friendly with the world (James 4:4)
- Not to be spotted by the world (1 Jn.1:27)
- Not to conform to the world (Rom.12:2)
How are we doing? How guilty are we before our gracious, holy God?
What a picture of today! Instead of thanking God for the blessing he has given to us, we show ingratitude. How do we do that? By using the very blessings that God has given us to serve idols!
Just like Israel, the God that provided the blessings was ignored for an idol. What wickedness it is to take the gifts of God and use them to worship idols!
Have you ever wondered why things just don’t seem to work out for you? Ever wondered why the attempts that we make to run from God always end in failure? It is because God is blocking our path (v.6-7). That is love! When we deserve to be abandoned God chooses to discipline us.
Have you ever taken the time to see how many references there are when God’s people are told to be thankful (Ps.100:4, Col.3:15)? One of the first steps toward rebellion against God is refusal to give God thanks. When we ignore the Giver that is idolatry. Le me ask you something very simple. You have had at least three opportunities today to give thanks to God … did you? Did you say grace when you had a meal? Most people don’t and that is an indication of the condition of our heart.
The people still enjoyed their festivals, but in their hearts they gave the glory to Baal and other false gods.
How easy it is for us to attend church and just go through the motions when our hearts are really far from Him (Mt.15:7-9). But the truth will eventually come out (v.10).
When God’s people live in idolatry, ingratitude and hypocrisy, He will take away their blessing and leave them to their sin (v.11-12).
Do you know what one of the greatest judgments that God can inflict on His people might be? Letting us have our own way (v.13). God will not let His people enjoy their sin for long. He will not allow us to continue to live on cheap substitutes. Eight times in the Bible we read be ye holy, for I am holy; God means what he says.
Living in a materialistic society we are constantly tempted to depend on human abilities rather than God. It is easy to be sucked into the idea that places reliance on self and not God and substitutes dependence on a job, the stock market, personal savings, and social security above God. What is our trust based on? Do we actually see God as the final source of economic blessing (Dt.8:17-18)? Our prosperity is the result of God … not anyone or anything else. Any attempt to replace His proper role is nothing more than idolatry and ingratitude.
Do we not see the hints that God gives to us of our hypocrisy? Do we not see the clear discipline that God demonstrates that he is unhappy with the status quo?
We are given repeated exhortations, commands, and examples in the Bible revealing to us what God approves and hates (1 Cor.10:11), but then our modern world believes it has outgrown the need for the Bible.
But then how do you explain our reality? We have more and more education, more and more self-help groups and talk show hosts that tell us they have the answer. We have more laws and groups in place to enforce those laws than ever before and there are …
- Failed marriages because of unfaithfulness
- Jail sentences for selling and using drugs
- Teenagers who have illegitimate children due to immorality
- A dead college student because of binge-drinking
And the list goes on and on. We have daily reminders … example, after axample of our failed relationship to God. This is God’s call to repent. God is gracious, but never forget that God is also holy.