Hosea 1-14 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight HOS01
"The Bible from 30,000 Feet, Soaring Through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation."
Turn to your Old Testament, the Book of Hosea. If you have trouble finding that find, that big prophet named Isaiah. Turn right. Go down a few blocks past Jeremiah, pass lamentations, past Ezekiel, past Daniel, and boom, you're right there at Hosea.
Back in 1936, King Edward VIII of England, who incidentally was only on the throne less than one year before he abdicated the throne, gave a speech that was going to be carried-- and was carried not only in England but all through the United States-- via a radio station in New York City. They were going to broadcast it and feed it to others. So in 1936 when King Edward was about to give that speech, just minutes before the speech that would go to the United States, as well, somebody in the radio station in New York City tripped over the main radio wire that was connecting the feed from England and the reception to the United States. So the communication was broken.
It was a radio signal. They didn't know how they were going to patch it up. They just had, really, seconds before the king was going to go live.
A very quick-thinking engineer in that studio took one hand and grabbed one part of the broken wire and, with the other hand, took the second part of the broken wire. And the speech was given by the king. And the signal was transmitted literally through the body of that engineer. That low-power radio signal was carried through his body. His body became, in part, the transmission of the king to his people and our people.
Now, that little illustration is what a prophet is all about. A prophet hears from God. And a prophet speaks for God.
A prophet is like a radio. It receives transmission from heaven. And then it broadcasts or transmit that reception to others. So they're like spiritual radio. They bridge the gap between heaven and Earth.
Now, sometimes, the prophets-- their style is proclamation, pure preaching. They are speaking about issues that are dealing with the day and age in which they are living. They're proclaiming forth God's word. At other times, it's not just proclamation, it is prediction. They are foretelling the future events, some in the near future, some in the far future, all the way to Christ's coming or second coming.
Sometimes the prophets aren't about proclamation or prediction but demonstration. They want to get the people's attention. And so they play a part. They act a role. And in so doing, the people who are around them are able to see what the message is the prophet will later on then speak.
So we've already discovered that. Jeremiah did that a few times. Ezekiel did that. But of all of those who were called to be prophets-- of all of the prophets I wouldn't want to be, the one that would top my list would be Hosea.
I mean, Jeremiah had it bad. Ezekiel had it bad. Some of the things God called him to do-- not good, very difficult.
But Hosea was told by God to demonstrate God's love for his people in the worst situation possible. God told him to marry a wife who would then go out on him and have an affair with other men, become a prostitute. Then God would instruct that prophet, Hosea, to bring her back again, and support her, and forgive her, and help her raise the children that they produced together.
God was demonstrating through the prophet not just proclamation, not just prediction-- that's included in this book, as well-- but God was demonstrating his love under the worst possible circumstances, when you have an unfaithful spouse. It's interesting that the name Hosea is the same Hebrew name as Joshua, or Yeshua, or Jesus. And he, in his agony and his pain, shares God's great love for the people of Israel.
Now, we are dealing with what are called minor prophets when we begin the Book of Hosea and finish out the Old Testament. This is the 32nd week in this series called "The Bible from 30,000 Feet." We're flying over it. And we try to do a book a week. Ha.
Good news-- there is only 14 chapters in this little book. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, yeah, but you're the preacher, Skip.
And there were only 12 chapters in Daniel, and it took you two weeks. But this book is highly unique and different from the book of Daniel. Daniel itself was a standalone book.
We call them minor prophets only because of the size of the book itself, not because of importance or significance. They're not any less than Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, or Daniel. They're minor only because they're brief books. They have a major message, but we call them minor prophets, not because of inferiority, not because of superiority, but simply because of brevity.
Size can be misleading. An espresso is a tiny cup of coffee, but it packs a wallop. And it's a lot stronger than a pour-over, or an Americano, or a standard cup of coffee. A small cup can bring huge results.
Another thing about size-- my mom was about 5 foot. She could pack a wallop. She could handle four boys quite easily. So size can be misleading.
The Book of Hosea and the rest of what we call the minor prophets have some incredible messages. Let me divide it up for you. The book falls naturally into two divisions, although I'm going to give you four.
It falls naturally into the first three chapters and then the second 11. The first three are personal chapters, private chapters. It's about his own personal life as God is forming this messenger.
And then the second part, those last 11 chapters, deal with his public life, his prophetic ministry to the nation. But I've sliced Hosea up into four sections. Chapters 1 and 2 is about a faithless wife. You're going to be introduced to her in a moment.
Then chapter 3 is about a future restoration as God takes the illustration of the first two chapters and announces something he's going to do in the future. And then, third, chapters 4 through 10 is about a fickle nation, the nation of Israel. Even though Israel and Judah are both mentioned, primarily he is a prophet to the Northern Kingdom-- and then finally, a faithful God in chapters 11, 12, and 13.
The Book of Hosea is a heartfelt message by a heartsick prophet about a heartbroken God. He is the prophet of the last hour. The Northern Kingdom is months away from destruction, from captivity by the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom Judah will have some more time. We're going to see that in our text, as he predicts that.
Well, we begin in chapter 1, verse 1. And of course, we're just going to take select verses as we go through the book. We begin with the faithless wife.
"The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jothem, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah"-- so those are Southern kings-- "and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash King of Israel." That is a Northern king. The book begins by giving us a reference point, so we know when and how long this prophet ministered.
He is going to talk to the 10 Northern tribes, the two Southern tribes. Primarily, his message just for the North. Secondarily, it's for the South.
Now, remember, Solomon died in 930 BC. After he died, his son took over. His son eventually split the Kingdom.
The Kingdom is now in two different parts-- Israel, sometimes in this book called Ephraim. I think, like, 36 times in this book the Northern Kingdom is referred to under the largest tribe title, Ephraim. So when you read Ephraim, think Israel, the 10 Northern tribes-- and then Judah. So it's given us the reference of time in verse 1. And if you were to add up the kings that are mentioned and you look at the length of time Hosea ministered, he ministered about 50 years in total.
Verse 2, "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, go take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry." He is now predicting what is going to happen to her. She probably was not a harlot when he married her. I say that, because based upon the law of the Old Testament and how prophets roll, they don't marry harlots. And the children were born afterwards.
So the idea is that, I know what is going to happen to this woman that you're going to marry. She is going to turn out to be unfaithful. "Go take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord." Hosea, I've got a difficult mission for you. I want you to marry a wife who's going to have an affair on you.
Now, God knew that. Hosea didn't. God lets him in on it to sort of preview the kind of heartbreak that he is going to experience as an object lesson.
Think of it this way. As hard as it sounds, as difficult as it would be, God invited Hosea into a pageant, a play. Hosea, you're going to play the part of me, God. Your wife is going to play the part of Israel, the harlot.
Just as she went out on you, the nation of Israel has continually had affairs on me by worshipping other gods. So when your wife leaves you, Hosea, you're going to experience personally the kind of pain I have been experiencing for years with my people. Nobody would want that task. Nobody would want that call. It sounds too difficult to bear.
And yet, let me just say that Paul the Apostle in the New Testament has a very interesting verse. When he cries out that he might know the Lord, he said, that I might know him and the fellowship of his suffering being made conformed even to his death. Do you remember that prayer of Paul in Philippians? Lord, I want to know you so well that I have fellowship with you even in the deepest, darkest times of suffering. Hosea was able to suffer in like manner as God himself suffered.
Verse 3, "So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. And she conceived and bore him a son." Now, that's sort of like red flag number one. That's bad in and of itself to have to marry a woman by the name of Gomer, I'm guessing. Because I'm thinking Gomer Pyle. That's just where my mind goes.
That's her name, his sweet wife, Gomer. And she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to him, call his name Jezreel. Jezreel is a valley in Israel called after Jezreel.
Jezreel means God sows like you sew seed-- or better yet, God scatters. Because a sower or a farmer would throw seed out in the field, scatter the seed for sowing. "So call his name God scatters, Jezreel, for in a little while, I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel."
Now, here's something I think would be helpful. In the Hebrew language, there is wordplay that we don't get in English. There's a play on words.
In Hebrew, the word Israel and Jezreel-- they sound a little bit similar to us in English. But they're almost identical in Hebrew. In Hebrew, [HEBREW]. And in Hebrew [HEBREW] for Jezreel-- very similar in spelling, very similar in sound. So it's a play on words. Notice this.
Verse 5, "It shall come to pass in that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." So God is going to take Israel, the nation. And he's going to Jezreel them. He's going to scatter them.
What does that mean? 722 BC-- the Assyrians will take them and scatter them. Now, Assyrian strategy when they took over a nation wasn't just to occupy the nation but to displace the people.
They would take people out of a conquered country, send them into various other countries they conquered, take all of those other people from the countries they conquered, scatter them all so that the Northern Kingdom of Israel eventually had people scattered, sewn in with all of the population so that the marriages would be mixed and so that the strength of identity would be weakened. That was their strategy. And Israel was scattered throughout the world.
Verse 6, "She conceived again and bore a daughter. And God said to him, call her name Lo-ruhamah, which means no mercy. For I will no longer have mercy on the House of Israel. But I will utterly take them away.
Yet, I will have mercy on the House of Judah"-- see how he makes the difference between North and South. "I will save them by the Lord, their God and will not save them by bone, or by sword, or battle by horses or horsemen."
Now, in verse 7, that little word yet brings that glimmer of hope not for Israel in the North, but for Judah in the South. Israel is going to be scattered. Yet, Judah, for 136 more years, is going to be preserved by God. They will not go into captivity.
And when they do, it won't be by the Assyrians. It will be by the Babylonians. 586 BC-- remember all those dates we gave you.
So this is a glimmer of hope for the nation of Judah. "Yet, I will have mercy on the House of Judah." Now, push the pause button in your mind. Think back to our studies in the Book of Isaiah.
In chapter '37 of Isaiah, the Assyrians had surrounded Jerusalem. And the King of Assyria announced to Hezekiah, that King of Judah, don't trust in your God. He's not going to save you. Every nation that thought their gods could deliver them didn't work. You're dead meat, basically.
So Sennacherib was the one who made that announcement. You remember what Isaiah did? He tore his robe. He prayed. He grabbed Isaiah the prophet and said, pray for us.
Isaiah the prophet prayed. And then Isaiah said, hey, because you turned to the Lord at this time when the Assyrians were gathered and you humbled yourself, God is going to spare you, hence this prophecy. And for 136 years, they were spared.
Now, according to history, Sennacherib, the ruler, heard rumblings of an issue that happened on another front in Judah. So he moved he and part of his army up to Lakash, where he heard about the uprising going on there.
When he was removed, he kept some troops-- a lot of troops-- around Jerusalem still. Isaiah 37 says that "An angel of the Lord went through the camp of the Assyrians and killed in one night 185,000 Assyrians." So this brings weight to the statement of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when he says, Peter, put your sword away, man. Don't you know that I could call 12 legions of angels to take care of this little band of merry men from the Romans?
And now if one angel can put out 185,000 enemy, imagine what 12 legions could do. It could destroy everyone and everything. So God preserved Judah.
Verse 8, "Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah"-- by two or three years after their birth, they were completely weaned in that culture and that day-- "she conceived and bore a son. Then God said, call his name Lo-ammi"-- which means not mine or not my people-- "for you are not my people. And I will not be your God."
Now you notice something before the words of these names, lo dash ruhamah, lo dash amni. You read that? It's because the word lo means no in Hebrew.
If you go to Israel today, somebody will say, can. That means yes. If somebody says lo, that doesn't mean get down. It means no.
So lo means no in Hebrew. It's also a negative prefix. So when you have that word before a word, it negates it. So mercy is ruhamah or ru-hamah. And when do you want to say no mercy-- lo ruhamah.
If you want to say mine, amni. If you want to say not mine, lo amni. It's not mine. So it's the negative, that prefix, that turns the word around.
Verse 10-- "Yet, the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea which cannot be measured are numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, you are not my people. There it shall be said to them, you are sons of the living God."
Now, there is another yet you read in verse 10 like the one in verse 7, another glimmer of hope, another array of mercy. Just when we think there's no hope-- before the commercial break, he turns. The story shifts-- yet. The number of the children of Israel will be as the sand on the sea.
There are two words in the Bible that do this frequently. Here, the word yet-- but the words I'm thinking are-- we did a whole series on this-- but God. Just when things get really bad-- but God. Just when you thought there was no hope-- but God.
When that spouse was unfaithful-- but God. When your finances were dragging you down-- but God. You were going one direction, but God did this. How many times have you seen that?
It's one of the great transitions in Ephesians chapter 2, where Paul says, "You were dead in trespasses and sins in which you walked according to the course of this world. You were little children of disobedience. But God in His great mercy and love were with He loved us. And everything changed after that."
That's your testimony. You were who you were-- but God. And you could fill in the blank and give the testimony.
Chapter 2, verse 1, "Say to your brethren, amni, my people and to your sisters, ruhamah. Mercy is shown." Now, again, you see how that negative prefix is dropped? They take the lo off. And it changes the whole meaning.
God is saying, I am going to change your status. I'm going to take the negative prefix off your condition and make it positive. Now, the reason I'm dwelling on this is because, too often, God is accused of taking your fun away.
Oh, he's so negative. Who would want to follow Jesus Christ, man? There's no fun in that. He takes all the fun out of life.
No, you've got it wrong. Sin gives you the negative consequences. Jesus comes and deals with those things and adds life, adds positivity.
So I like to say, medical research, medical science can add years to your life, but only Jesus can add life to your years. He takes the lo away, the no away and says, you are my people. You are sons of the living God.
Now, through chapter 2-- and we're just going to skim this-- we get woven in these predictions from abandonment-- God abandoning his people in the short term-- to God restoring his people in the long run eventually. So verse 13, "I will punish her." Look at verse 14. "I will allure her."
Go down to verse 19. "I will betroth you to me forever." See, there's that weaving together of I'm going to punish you, but I'm going to bring you back.
Again, verse 19 and 20, "I will betroth you to me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in loving kindness and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord."
The two versus that I just read to you are the two verses that every orthodox Jewish male recites when he wraps around his hand the phylacteries, that little box with the scriptures in it. When he does that, he recites these two versus. He has them memorized. And he recites this.
I will betroth you. I will betroth you. I will betroth. The reason I love these verses is because they are relational. They are not religious.
The term betrothal-- man, that's intimate, right? I'm going to engage you to myself. And I believe this represents the heart of God through his prophet. The relationship God wants with you is one of intimacy.
He doesn't want it far off. He doesn't want a religious, I go to church, I say my prayers. He wants it real, man.
He wants it relational. Like young lovers engaged, they can't wait to be with each other. I'll betroth you, engage you.
My wife Lenya has a great story when she was in youth with a mission, where, one night, she decided to spend the night, the evening, to spend dinner with Jesus. She told me this story. When I first heard it, I thought, really? How do you do that exactly?
I was interested. That got my attention. She said, so I cooked dinner. I lit candles. I sat in a chair. The other chair was empty.
And as I ate dinner, I did it as unto the Lord. And I just poured out my heart to the Lord like we were having an intimate meal. And I thought, what a beautiful gesture. She captured the idea of relationship.
And it's interesting, a few months after that when she moved from Hawaii back to the mainland, I picked her up at the airport. And then maybe it was that night, a couple of nights later, I was at her house. And I said to her these words. I was getting all romantic.
And I said, Lenya, I love you. And she looked at me. And she goes, thank you.
Not the response I was hoping for. I mean, usually the protocol is, I love you, too. But she didn't say that. She just said-- and she did it very deliberately-- she goes, thank you.
And so I went away home. I went, oh, man. That just did not go well at all. I bombed tonight.
The next day, I'm at work at Westminster Community Hospital in the radiology department. They page me. They say there's a call from somebody named Lenya. I picked up the phone. And she said, I love you, too.
Now, the reason I didn't tell you last night is because I needed to ask Jesus if it was OK if I said, I love you, too. Because He is my first love. And I wanted to make sure I don't commit my love to you unless He said it was OK. And He did. So I love you, too.
And I thought, again, that's the idea of relationship. I have a relationship of love with Jesus. We are betrothed. We are engaged. I don't want to have anything step in the way of that.
Well, chapter 3-- one commentator called the greatest chapter in the Bible, because it portrays the greatest story in the Bible. It's the story of redemption. It's a prediction of restoration.
But I love the word redemption. Remember that was a word we used Sunday in the Book of Romans, redemption? And I said it's a term from the slave market-- always has been-- Old and New Testament-- has its roots in slavery.
So in the Greek language, redemption is exagorazo. Ex means out of. And agorazo refers to the marketplace.
And agora in ancient Greece was a market. So you go to the agora. You go to the market to buy your vegetables. You go to the agora to conduct business.
So exagorazo means out of the marketplace. So redemption has its root in an ancient slave market. And the idea is you're shackled by sin. And Jesus pays the price and buys you out of that.
So, so far in Hosea's marriage to Gomer-- Gomer the gogo girl-- there has been betrothal, marriage, adultery, estrangement, and now restoration. Chapter 3, verse 1, "Then the Lord said to me, go again. Go again and love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel who go to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." It's part of their ritual. "So I bought her." That's redemption.
I exagorazo. I bought her out of the marketplace. "I bought her for myself for 15 shekels of silver and 1 and 1/2 homers off barley." Do not think of The Simpsons here when you read homers. It is a measurement of weight and substance in antiquity.
15 shekels or 15 pieces of silver was the going rate for a female slave. By the way, if you remember back in Leviticus, 30 pieces of silver-- not 15-- was the rate for a slave who was gored by an ox. That's what you had to pay. And I bring that up, because Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
"And I said to her"-- verse 3-- "you shall stay with me many days. But you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man. So, too, I will be toward you." In other words, sweetie, I'm committed to you. I want you to be as committed to me as I am to you.
I'm buying you back. I'm redeeming you and rescuing you out of the street. So I'm loving you. I want you to show that same love and respect.
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod"-- that is the tire of the high priest by which he would discern the will of God-- "or teraphim." Now, teraphim were little gods that, in their idolatry, they brought into their homes. So the point of this verse is, for a long time, you're not going to have any access to any answers at all that you're seeking.
"Afterward, the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord, their God, and David, their king. They shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days." Now, this happens to be, in my opinion, one of the great prophetic pronouncements in scripture.
Notice the phrase many days. Verse 4, "Israel will abide many days without king, prince, without sacrifice, cetera." Many days is unusual. Why do I say that? Because typically, God is very precise.
Let me give you an example. Three times in the Bible, God told Israel they would be out of the land. And the first two times, he was extremely exact.
So God told Abraham that his descendants are going to be taken away into a land for 430 years, which they. They were in Egypt as slaves for that long. God told Jeremiah the prophet that the people would go into captivity in Babylon for 70 years-- very exact.
So typically, God is very exact when he talks about these kinds of judgments. Here is just says, many days-- many days without a king. Now, today, Israel is back in their land. But they have not had a king since Zedekiah-- 2,500 years.
It has been many days without king, without prince. You say, well, what about Jesus? Sure, he came into his own. But his own received him not.
They rejected him. They crucified him. They did not receive him as their king. Even though pilot correctly announced on the cross, this is the king of the Jews, Jesus has never occupied that position. He will when he comes back the second time.
It has been many days-- 2,500 years or thereabouts-- that Israel has dealt without king, without prince. They haven't had a sacrifice on that altar since 78 AD, fulfilling this scripture. But do you know that, though in Jerusalem there is a king-less throne, do you know that, in heaven tonight, there is a throne-less king named Jesus?
And one day, the throne-less king and the king-less throne will be brought together. And when that happens, glory will fill the Earth. It is the prediction made by Isiah the prophet.
It's familiar to you, because we put it in our Christmas cards-- for unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a son is given. "The government will be on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end upon the throne of David and over his kingdom to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forth, even forever, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." That time, when those two factors come together-- throne-less king, king-less throne-- glory will cover the Earth.
Now, Hosea chapter 4 is a brand new section. The first three were personal. The last 11 or public.
This brings us to the third swath of the Book of Hosea. And that is the nation of Israel, the fickleness of that Northern Kingdom. Isaiah brings charges against Israel.
Think of Hosea as God's lawyer, God's prosecutor. He marches into the courtroom like this last weekend we saw Paul the Apostle doing in Romans chapter 3. Here Hosea marches into the courtroom and list the charges.
And the charges are as follows, number one, apathy, number two, uncertainty, and number three, idolatry. I want you to notice them all. When I say apathy, I mean they stopped growing spiritually, because they stopped loving to learn the things of God.
Chapter 4, verse 1, "Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings the charge against the inhabitants of the land. There is no truth, or mercy, or knowledge of God in the land." Verse 6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge." Three times, that word is mentioned.
"I will also reject you from being priest for me. Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children." God tells them they have rejected knowledge. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Be careful. Be careful, as Christians, of what I can only describe as an anti-learning sentiment, an anti-intellectual sentiment. It seems to be very popular among Christians these days.
Well, we don't care so much about what we know in terms of doctrine. We care about how we feel. And we care about-- we love the Lord.
It's not about what you know. OK, I understand that. But you have to know certain basic truths so that your love can find full vent and full fruition.
You and I need to be instructed in the things of God. Jesus said, learn of me. Peter said, grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So the key is to give yourself to Bible study. But then convert your knowledge about God that you learn into knowledge of God on a personal basis so that you go from learning to take those principles of learning into your relationship, betrothal. Learn, and then with that learning, grow.
So there is a great book out called Knowing God. It was out, I think, in 1972 or something that. I bought it in '73 or '74, maybe '76. I get my dates messed up-- J.I. Packer. And he said in his book this. I wanted to share this with you.
"Whenever we embark on any line of study in God's holy book, we need to ask ourselves, what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God once I have gotten it? For if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it's bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us."
But then he goes on to say, "but if you pursue knowledge and then you convert your knowledge about God into knowledge of God on a personal level, you'll grow." The thing about Israel-- hence, this indictment-- they didn't care. They didn't want to learn.
They didn't want to learn, because they didn't want to grow spiritually. They had lost their spiritual appetite. So apathy is charge number one.
Second charge, uncertainty-- see, they didn't know what the future held. They didn't want to trust God. So they decided, let's trust other nations and form alliances with them to protect us against the big, bad Assyrians.
So look at chapter 5, verse 13. "When Ephraim saw his sickness"-- that is the Northern Kingdom-- "and Judas saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jerub. Yet, he cannot cure you nor heal you of your wound." Look at chapter 7, verse 8. "Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples. Ephraim is a cake unturned."
Imagine cooking pancakes tomorrow morning. You cook it on one side. And you don't flip it to the other side. You take it out.
So one side is hot. The other side isn't cold anymore. It's just sort of lukewarm and gooey-- a half-turned pancake. Ephraim is a half-cooked, half-baked pancake.
Jesus said to the Church of Laodicea, "I wish you were hot or cold but not lukewarm." I want you hot. That's how I prefer you. Or I want you cold, so I can convict you.
If you're hot, I can use you. If you're cold, at least I can convict you and get you back to a heated state. But if you're lukewarm, I'm going to just spit you out of my mouth. Sort of like tea-- I love hot tea, and I love cold tea. But lukewarm tea--
Ephraim is a half-baked pancake, a cake unturned. Charge number three, idolatry-- in chapter 4-- I'm kind of bringing you around a few different places-- verse 17, it says, "Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." For God to say, let him alone, indicates that he's determined to judge them. Judah has a chance. Israel does not.
I mentioned a few weeks ago on a Sunday that one of the indications that God is judging is when he lets us have what we want. He turns us over to our desires. Ephraim is joined to his idols.
What the Northern Kingdom did is they paid lip service and tipped their hat to the God of Israel. But they also brought in other religious systems and other belief systems and and mixed beliefs, gods, and goddesses with Yahweh, the God of Israel. It's a practice known as synchrotism. And because of that, they diluted the pure worship of God. But for God to say, let him alone, indicates I have resigned myself to judge them.
That's why-- as I've mentioned before, but I'll just touch on it again-- I get very concerned about our country. Because although people say, you better watch out. God's going to judge America if we don't turn.
I think he already has begun the judgment. I think he's turning us over to what one news commentator called-- we're now in late-stage decadence. And if you look at what people are arguing about, nobody would even consider some of the policies that some are offering-- 20, 30 years ago, they wouldn't even be discussed.
So, you want that? You can have it. Let him alone.
Chapter 5, verse 1, "Hear this, o priest. 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. It's all in the Northern Kingdom east of the Jordan River-- and a net spread on Tabor"-- That is the prominent mountain in the north that you will see. We will point it out to you when you go to Israel with us-- 12 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
Now, chapter 8, 9, and 10, the prophet predicts judgment on this nation. Let's look at a few verses. Chapter 8, verse 3, "Israel has rejected the good."
Ever heard of Jerome? Jerome, the scholar who translated the Bible from Greek into Latin, translated this. Israel has rejected the God who is good.
I think that really captures it. Israel has rejected the God who is good. The enemy will pursue him.
Verse 7, chapter 8, "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stock has no bud. It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, aliens would swallow it up."
Chapter 9, verse 7, "The days of punishment have come. The days of recompense have come. Israel knows." Go down to verse 17 in chapter 9. "My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him. And they shall be wanderers among the nations."
Today Israel is back in their land, sort of. Since 1948, they've been back in their land, sort of. Actually, the Jewish people have wandered since the Assyrians took the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC.
There are, today, living in the land of Israel about 8.6 million Jews. There are 8.6 million Jews living, also, in the United States of America and a couple million scattered around the rest of the nations of the world. So they're there in part but not in totality. One day, He will bring them totally back and restore them-- and you and I along with them.
Chapter 10, verse 14, "Therefore a tumult shall arise among your people. And all your fortresses shall be plundered as shall man plundered Beth-Arbel in the day of battle, a mother dashed in pieces upon her children." Verse 15, "Then it shall be done to you, oh, Beth-El. Because of your great wickedness, at dawn, the King of Israel shall be cut off utterly."
Now, just quick note about these places-- Beth-Arbel is a prominent mountain right by the Sea of Galilee. Again, remind me, and I'll pointed out to you when we're at the Sea of Galilee. You can see the Arbel.
Anybody who has been to Israel knows that prominent mountain. It's where the winds come through and churn up the Sea of Galilee. Beth-Arbel was a place a very famous battle where the Assyrians attacked Israel. So they're making a reference to it.
Beth-El was the center of the Northern Kingdom when it split. Now, notice he says, you've sown to the wind. You're going to reap the whirlwind. There is a law of the harvest. It's called you reap what you sow.
It comes to us also in the Book of Galatians, chapter 6. "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. If he sows to the flesh, he's going to reap corruption. If he sows to the spirit, he's going to reap everlasting life."
In a nutshell, that is the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. Whatever you plant, it's going to grow. If you plant bad stuff, bad stuff's going to grow. If you plant good stuff, good stuff is going to grow.
Here's the deal about the law of sowing and reaping. It's never equal. That is, what you reap isn't exactly what you sow. Because typically, you reap far more than you sow.
If you have a handful of seed, you throw it into a field, you won't get a handful of produce. You'll get bushels full of produce. You will reap far more than you have sown in terms of quantity.
So if you sow to the flesh, you're going to get buckets of corruption. If you sow to the spirit, you'll get more than you put down. You'll get fruit that abounds to your account.
That's why it makes sense to serve the Lord. Because you sow a little bit of your seed-- you say, well, I don't have much. That's all you need. Jesus took a few loaves and fishes and fed a multitude. Let him take your life and feed a multitude.
Chapter 11 through 14 is the last section. It's about a faithful God. And let me split it up this way. Chapter 11 is about a faithful God and a runaway child. That's the analogy.
Chapters 12 and 13 is about a faithful God and a rebellious teenager. The kid grows up. In chapter 14, there's the faithful God and a restored adult. That is the language that is used in these chapters.
Now, back in chapter 3, God's love was typified by the love of a husband and a wife. Now it's a father and a child. Chapter 11, verse 1, "When Israel was a child, I loved him. And out of Egypt, I called my son. And they called them.
So they went from them. They sacrificed to the bales and burned incense to carved images. I taught Ephraim to walk"-- and you can hear the love of a father-- "taking them by their arms.
But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle chords, with bands of love. And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped. And I fed them."
Notice the language. Again, relational but of a father loving a child-- not dragging your child, not kicking your child, prodding your child, drawing your child. It's interesting. I have seen over the years these kind of leashes that parents will sometimes wear with their children.
Have you seen them? They're elastic. They go out to a certain point, but then they don't go any further. And the child feels the tug. And the tug brings them back to the father.
It might look a little weird like they're walking their dog. But actually, I've come to realize those are chords of love. That's a parent loving his child to give a little bit of freedom but not too much to get in trouble and to bounce back when you're at the end of it.
But verse 7, "My people are bent on backsliding from me. Though they call to the most high, none at all exalt him." Let's go now to chapters 12 and 3. The child now grows up to a rebellious teenager. Some of you can relate to that. I was one.
Chapter 12, verse 1, "Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind. He daily increases lies and desolation. Also, they make a covenant with the Assyrians. And oil is carried to Egypt." They're trying to buy the favor of Egypt to keep them protected.
Verse 3, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb." Remember Genesis 25? Little Jacob was grabbing. He saw his heel.
"And in his strength, he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the angel and prevailed." That's Genesis 32. That's the history of the nation.
"He wept and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel. And there he spoke to us."
Chapter 14-- last chapter-- is the restored adult. Verse 1, "Oh, Israel, return to the Lord your God for you have stumbled because of your iniquity." Now, throughout this book, Hosea doesn't pull any punches.
He calls what they have done sin. He uses the term iniquity. He calls it backsliding. He calls it what it is.
Why? Because you need to know your condition before you can get healed of it. You need to know what the problem is.
1 John, chapter 1, verse 8, "If we say we have no sin, we lie and do not practice the truth." Verse 9, "If we confess our sin, He is faithful, and just to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all in righteousness." So, like a good lawyer or a good doctor, he's saying to the patient, your condition is sin and equity backsliding.
Here's the solution-- verse 2. "Take words with you, and return to the Lord." That is, when you talk to God, be specific about what you're confessing. Lord, I think I've blown it.
How? What exactly are you confessing? "Say to Him, take away all iniquity. Receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips."
Verse 4, "I will heal." They're backsliding. "I will love them freely"-- that is, without their cause-- "for my anger is turned away from Him. I will be like the dew to Israel. He shall grow up like the lily and lengthen his roots like Lebanon."
Verse 6, "His branches will spread. His beauty will be like an olive tree, His fragrance like Lebanon." That is, they'll be a delight.
Interesting thing about cologne or perfume-- it has absolutely no utilitarian use, but it's delightful.
Ah. You smell good. Some of you put too much on. But generally, when you put a hint of it on-- oh, you smell good. It's than BO.
And so God is saying, not only will you be useful, but you'll be a delight to me. I'll love being around you.
Ah, you smell great. Verse 8, "Ephraim will say, what have I to do anymore with idols? I have heard and observed Him. I am like a green cypress tree. Your fruit is found in me."
"Who is wise?" Verse 9, "Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them, for the ways of the Lord are right. The righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them."
Now, as we close the book, think of your own life. Think of the times that the Lord warned you. I know I can think of several times when God tries to get my attention and say, you've got to watch this. You've got to turn from this. You've got to pivot from this.
So think of your car. You drive down the street. A light comes on that says you need service. Check oil.
You can do one of two things. You can stop, check the oil, take it in. Or you could carry with you in the glove box a little hammer.
And when you drive and that little emergency light goes on, just take the hammer and smash it in. Break the light. You've solved the problem. It's not warning you. You're fine for now-- but not for long.
So when the Holy Spirit warns you and warns me, hey, take heed, take note, instead of carrying the little hammer and pushing Him away, take heed to the warning light. Every prophet sent to Israel was a warning light for them to repent. Now, unfortunately-- and I'll get off my horse and pray after this-- not this being my horse, my high horse.
Repentance is a very unpopular topic these days. A lot of preachers do not want to talk about repentance. They'd rather talk about how to have your best life now, and how to feel good, and smile well. And that's about it.
But do you know that repentance was the very first message John the Baptist ever preached? And do you know that repentance was the very first message that our Savior Jesus Christ preached? And do you know that, in that lovely sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.
I think, among believers, there needs to be a little more holy mourning. There used to be a holy laughter movement. There needs to be a holy mourning movement, where we recover, we recapture the holy character of the living God. And we exalt Him. And we turn from those things God is telling us to turn from. Amen.
Father, we pray that your spirit would not stop warning us. For you said in your word, he who covers his sins will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find mercy. One of the key themes in this book-- ruhamah, mercy.
Lord, I pray that we would be your people, and we would act like your people. You've redeemed us from the slave market. You purchased us. You valued us. You bought us.
So we now belong to you. And I pray, Father, that our lives would glorify you in Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from "The Bible from 30,000 Feet."