Nation in Sin
Hosea 4:1-6; 7:3-10
God deals with His creatures both indlvidually and in groups. So lower forms of life on earth were brought under the curse because of sin in the human race. (Romans 8:20-22.) And so with people, there are relationships and Influences which transcend the individual life.
Spiritual and eternal salvation on the one hand or punishment on the other is a matter of personal relationship to God, and no national or other group relationship can override or nullify this personal relationship. Nevertheless, in temporal matters, individual lives can be vastly influenced by the group.
We speak of nations, but nations are made up of people of varied character and with individual differences. At what point does a nation become guilty before God of sins committed by somewhat fewer than all its people? When will the whole nation be punished for the sins of which only some, though perhaps many, of its people are guilty?
Questions like this are easier to ask than to answer. We do know that God agreed with Abraham to spare Sodom if ten righteous souls could be found there, but they were not there, and the presence of righteous but backslidden Lot was not enough to save the city. (Genesis 18:32ff.) True followers of Christ are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), but we are made to wonder sometimes whether there is enough salt left to preserve our country.
Hosea prophesied to a nation sinking ever deeper in sin. Selections from his prophecy for this lesson may be outlined as follows:1. Universal Sin, Hosea 4:1-3 a. Sin's controversy, 1 b. Sin's catalog, 2 c. Sin's consequence, 3Notes on Printed Text:
2. Unreproved Sin, Hosea 4:4-6 a. Sin's rebellion, 4 b. Sin's ruin, 5 c. Sin's reaping, 6
3. Unchecked Sin, Hosea 7:3-7 a. Sin's delusions, 3 b. Sin's dalliance, 4 c. Sin's debauchery, 5 d. Sin's depravity, 6 e. Sin's destruction, 7
4. Unashamed Sin, Hosea 7:8-10 a. Sin's hypocrisy, 8 b. Sin's hallucinations, 9 c. Sin's hardness, 10
Universal Sin, Hosea 4:1-3.
"Everybody's doing it" is generally taken as an excuse for sin, but such excuses only aggravate the guilt before God. We are not commanded to follow the crowd, but to obey God. In fact, the darker the night of sin, the greater the need for the light of righteousness. "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." (Exodus 23:2.)
Sin's Controversy, 1.
When people sin, they oppose God, and are in controversy with Him, because sin by definition is the transgression of His holy law. (I John 3:4.)
Again we note that a nation consists of people, and that, strictly speaking, God's controversy is not with the land itself but with "the inhabitants of the land." Sins are committed by people, and people are responsible. We cannot escape responsibility by prating of circumstance, situations, or environment. Men are not creatures of circumstances, but creatures of God, and accountable to Him.
Sin's Catalog, 2.
Longer lists of sins can be found elsewhere in scripture, but this list is long enough, to expose to some degree the dreadful depths of degradation to which people can sink when they forget God. "Swearing" includes profanity and perjury. "They break out" suggests failure of all restraints, and "blood toucheth blood" suggests such an epidemic of crime that the whole bloodstream of society is infected with the common virus of sin.
Sin's Consequence, 3.
Deadly results of sin affect not only the individual sinner, but also his fellows in his own race, and even the four-footed beasts, the fowls, and the fish over which his Creator has given him dominion. So in a sense the very land is said to mourn in consequence of men's sins.
Unreproved Sin, Hosea 4:4-6.
Sinners who refuse reproof may finally be left without reproof, given up to judgment. (Romans 1:24-28.) "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Proverbs 29:1.) No wonder it is written that "he that hateth reproof shall die" and "he that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul"! (Proverbs 15:10, 32.)
Sin's Rebellion, 4.
When sinners openly rebel against the word of God, they will certainly not respond to any reproof of human reason. Under the old testament, the priests were commanded to teach the people the laws of God (Leveticus 10:8-11; Deuteronomy 24:8; II Chronicles 15:3; etc.), and what can be said to people that strive with the spokesmen of God?
Sin's Ruin, 5.
Apparently the individual sinner is addressed here, the nation being the "mother." Then as now, there were false prophets to rationalize and justify sin to the satisfaction of the sinner, but God is still the Judge. By day or by night, both the sinner and his prophet will fall to their mutual ruin, while the whole nation rushes on to destruction.
Sin's Reaping, 6.
Ignorance of God and His word is not bliss, but blind bluster that demands the very judgment it denies. God's eternal law of sowing and reaping eventually becomes manifest, and sinners will reap, either in. this world or in eternity, an appropriate harvest.
Unchecked Sin, Hosea 7:3-7.
Rulers and other persons in positions of leadership and authority ought to hold in check the baser impulses of the people, else what is government for? But here we see what happens when, low-down people occupy high places.
Sin's Delusions, 3.
A king fit to be king would be angered by wickedness, and would use his power to restrain it. Princes fit even for subordinate positions of authority would see through the sycophancy, slander, and selfishness of deceitful seekers of privilege, and would employ their authority in the promotion of a decent and orderly society. But what can be done for a nation when its highest leaders share the popular delusions of sin?
Sin's Dalliance, 4.
If the reference here is only to literal adultery, the moral degradation described rivals that of the worst classes of people in our day. More likely the term includes spiritual adultery, the worship of false gods, which in the sight of God may be even worse.
The thoughts and feelings of sinful lust preceding acts of adultery are compared here to the gradual heating of an old fashioned oven in which the baker plans to bake his leavened bread, which must be given time to rise after kneading.
Sin's Debauchery, 5. Drunken debauchery on the lower levels of society is bad enough, but surely we have come upon sad days when men of high rank are common sots. The king of Israel not only allowed his princes to make him sick with wine; in his drunken stupor "he stretched out his hand with scorners" of all that is good and holy.
Sin's Depravity, 6. Continuing the figure from verse 4, we note the deliberate planning to sin, the waiting for an opportunity to sin, the smoldering embers of sin even during the hours of sleep, the accumulation of sinful lust until "it burneth as a flaming fire."
Sin's Destruction, 7.
Fires of lust (in the broad sense of overwhelming desire to sin) so swept through the nation that judges were devoured in the flames, and kings fell one after another. Among a people being consumed by their own lust, Jehovah testified through the prophet, "there is none among them that calleth unto me."
Unashamed Sin, Hosea 7:8-10.
Such is the hardening effect of sin that sinners can lose all sense of shame. And such is the deceptive power of Satan and the perverseness of the mind of the flesh that people even boast of not being ashamed of what they ought to be ashamed of! (Philippians 3:19.)
Sin's Hypocrisy, 8.
When God's people, called to be separate from the world, mix themselves with the world, they are asking for trouble. "A cake not turned" suggests a half-baked religion, an attempt to show one face to God and another to the world. But God sees through the hypocrisy of sin, and in the long run the hypocrite deceives no one but himself.
Sin's Hallucinations, 9.
As Samson lost his strength without knowing it (Judges 16:19, 20), so a nation may lose its power unawares. As gray hairs generally are a sign of advancing age, so there were signs of the decline of Ephraim or Israel; but the nation refused to recognize the signs. Even without any of the hallucinatory drugs, sin induces spiritual hallucinations to prevent the sinner from facing reality.
Sin's Hardness, 10. Vilest sinners cling to shreds of virtue. Self-righteous pride of a religious nation testified "to his face." That is, there was plenty of mutual denunciation of sin. It is characteristic of sinners that each believes others to be worse than he is. In Israel, as in our country today, it was probably popular to confess and denounce mass guilt, while carefully avoidbrong.ss.ot.hosing any mention of or emphasis upon personal responsibility.
"For all this" the nation would not return to God, or seek Him. Sin had hardened the hearts of the people against Him. They might turn to arms or diplomacy, education or philosophy, politics or idolatry, without giving up their sins; but to turn to God they must turn away from sin, and this they would not do.
"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." - Hosea 8:7.
Naturally we expect to reap more than we sow: otherwise, why sow? And spiritually, a little bit of good seed may produce a glorious and eternal harvest. But it is equally true that the seed of sin produces a dreadfully proportionate harvest. (Galatians 6:8.) ===============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, May 7, 1971, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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