Judgment on Israel
Hosea 4:1-3, 6; 6:1-3; 7:4-7; 11:8-11
INTRODUCTION History, someone has wisely observed, is "His story." The rise, fall and restoration of Israel is the outstanding demonstration of divine direction in the affairs of nations.
Contrary to social gospel heresies, however, God is concerned more with individual souls and their eternal relationship to Him than with ephemeral social groupings of humanity.
Nations, of course, are made up of people; and when a nation includes enough of God's people in fellowship with Him, He may bless the entire nation for their sake. Likewise He may curse and destroy a nation in which there is no effective spiritual testimony to His saving truth.
Divine judgment upon Israel was limited by divine grace: though the nation perished, a holy remnant was preserved.
Scattered passages from Hosea included in the lesson may be outlined as follows: 1. Rejection, Hosea 4:1-3, 6. a. A people deprived, 1. b. A people depraved, 2. c. A people desolate, 3. d. A people destroyed, 6. 2. Revival, Hosea 6:1-3. a. Source of revival, 1. b. Spirit of revival, 2. c. Sureness of revival, 3 3. Rebellion, Hosea 7:4-7. a. Premeditated sin, 4. b. Personal sin, 5. c. Presumptuous sin, 6. d. Prevailing sin, 7. 4. Restoration, Hosea 11:8-11. a. God's love reluctant, 8. b. God's love refraining, 9. c. God's love recalling, 10. d. God's love restoring, 11. NOTES ON THE TEXT:
REJECTION, Hosea 4:1-3, 6. Whether nations or individuals, those who persistently reject the truth of God will be rejected by Him. The truth cannot be changed by those who reject it, but the God of truth will bring his adversaries to judgment.
A People Deprived, 1. God's truth includes mercy as well as judgment, but where there is not truth there can be no mercy, and where there is no mercy there can be no knowledge of God. People deprived of the knowledge of God are people unfit to live.
A People Depraved, 2. Negation of all that is good leads naturally to acceptance and practice of all that is evil. The physical law that "nature abhors a vacuum" is even more true as a moral law. Such is the depravity of human nature in mortal flesh that when morality is emptied of divine authority the result is gross immorality of the worst kind.
A People Desolate, 3. Modern talk of a ruinous ecology is really quite old-fashioned, though the modern authorities do not understand the subject nearly so well as the Old Testament prophets, because the moderns leave God out of their thinking. Hosea understood that sinful inhabitants bring mourning and misery upon the land, causing desolation not only among the people but also among the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, and even the fish in the sea.
A People Destroyed, 6. "Lack of knowledge" refers to the knowledge of God [verse 1]. Personifying the nation, God through the prophet reminded the people that it was not for lack of opportunity that they lacked knowledge, but "because thou hast rejected knowledge." Therefore the nation that had been in a manner of speaking a priest unto God for the rest of the world was to be rejected from that office. The nation that had forgotten the law of its God was told, "I will also forget thy children" -- that is, God would withdraw His special blessings from them.
REVIVAL, Hosea 6:1-3. Faithful prophet that he was, Hosea called upon his people to seek revival. This is the only hope for God's people when they have fallen into sin and chastisement. If the people did not respond to Hosea as they should have, it was not the fault of the prophet.
Source of Revival, 1. Perhaps we need to be reminded that genuine revival must come from God. Have we, like ancient Israel, forgotten from whence cometh our help? Sometimes it seems that we are ready to try anything and everything else except returning to God. If we are His children, if our afflictions are from His chastening hand, can we not believe that He will heal us and "bind us up"?
Spirit of Revival, 2. "After two days will he revive us" -- whatever else these words may mean, they certainly suggest that we must wait upon the Lord. We probably did not drift away from Him all in a moment; let us humble ourselves before Him and patiently wait for His blessing, whether "in the third day" or later. If we will be wait upon Him, in due time "we shall live in his sight."
Sureness of Revival, 3. Then shall we know." Maybe we do not know it now; maybe some people will never learn. But "if we follow on to know the Lord," then we shall know. For those who follow on, as surely as morning is prepared to follow the night His going forth is prepared; His coming to bless us is as sure as the rain which follows a drought.
REBELLION, Hosea 7:4-7. Backsliding and revival cannot alternate forever. In Israel, God's favored nation, rebellion finally went so far in spite of many revivals that as a nation Israel has not yet returned to God.
Premeditated Sin, 4. Sinful desires work in the hearts of sinners until they work out in action, just as the leaven in dough causes the bread to rise without any further attention from the baker.
Personal Sin, 5. Drunkards cannot escape responsibility for their sin by blaming the alcohol. The princes of this text could not have made the king "sick with bottles of wine" if the king had refused to drink; high position carries with it great responsibility and the shocking fact is that it was the king who "stretched out his hand with scorners."
Presumptuous Sin, 6. Here were sinners who "made ready their heart" to cook up wickedness as an oven is heated to bake bread. So they fanned their burning lusts into open flames of sin.
Prevailing Sin, 7. One such sinner is too many, but here sin prevailed in the whole crowd. Judges and kings fell as victims of the lawless rabble, and God declared "There is none among them that calleth unto me."
RESTORATION, Hosea 11:8-11. Yet the mercies of God extend to a thousand generations of "them that love him and keep his commandments" [Deuteronomy 7:9]. His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cannot be set aside. If not immediately then ultimately the chosen nation Israel must somehow be restored to divine favor.
God's Love Reluctant, 8. Let theologians babble as they will about the impassivity of God: their god is not the God of the Bible. Contemplating judgment upon Israel, God said of Himself, "Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Divine love was reluctant to execute judgment.
God's Love Refraining, 9. Justice demands more punishment for sin than we can realize, but those who receive God's saving grace are not subject to justice, which is reserved for the enemies of God. In His infinite love and mercy, God refrains from executing the fierceness of His anger upon His chosen people. If His chastisements sometimes seem severe, they are still far less than we deserve. In His wrath He remembers mercy when dealing with His people [Habakkuk 3:2].
God's Love Recalling, 10. Dispersed by divine displeasure, Israel was to be recalled by divine love. Like the remnant of Israel, we learn better under affliction to "walk after the Lord." The prophet forsaw a day when God's call to His people Israel would sound like a roaring of a lion to bring them pack trembling from distant lands.
God's Love Restoring, 11. All the events of history must move in the direction of divine purpose. God's promises to His ancient people must be fulfilled. There is still "a remnant according to the election of grace" and in due time "all Israel shall be saved" because "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" [Romans 11:5-19].
CONCLUSION [Hosea 14:9] It is not necessary or possible for us to know in advance all the details of prophecies to be fulfilled. What is necessary and possible is that we learn and understand more of "the ways of the Lord," and walk in them. This is true wisdom and prudence. ===============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, November 1, 1974, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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