Today: [Hosea 8] Go to the Church of Your Choice? In Hosea 8 the northern 10 tribes of Israel are warned against living their lives without seeking God’s choices in their worship and in their leaders, that were set over them. Because they had refused to seek God’s will there a unavoidable consequences forthcoming. This for us is a caution to remember that we are not left in life to make our own choices however we will, but are commanded to seek God’s mind in all things pertaining to our lives, however challenging or inconvenient that may be.
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[Hos 8:1-14 KJV] 1 [Set] the trumpet to thy mouth. [He shall come] as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. 2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 3 Israel hath cast off [the thing that is] good: the enemy shall pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew [it] not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. 5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast [thee] off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long [will it be] ere they attain to innocency? 6 For from Israel [was] it also: the workman made it; therefore it [is] not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. 7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. 8 Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein [is] no pleasure. 9 For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. 10 Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes. 11 Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. 12 I have written to him the great things of my law, [but] they were counted as a strange thing. 13 They sacrifice flesh [for] the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat [it; but] the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt. 14 For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.
Verse 1 of Hosea begins with a cry to “set the trumpet to thy mouth…” This also happens to be the title of a book written by David Wilkerson in 1985. Controversial at the time, it marks a strong emergence of prophetic ministry into modern times by a well-known religious figure. In this verse the warning describes the nation of Assyria as an eagle (or vulture) that is descending not just against the “house of the Lord” but against the entire land of Israel. The reason given does not lie with in the wickedness of the Assyrian empire but with the people of God, because as the prophecy states “they have transgressed My covenant and trespassed against My law…” What this suggests is when challenges come we look first at ourselves and not at other originating factors.
When difficult times come our tendency is to focus on what we perceive the enemy is doing and consequently come against the enemy in our prayers. Failing that another common response is to see the problem at hand at originating in God, or that God is putting us through some trial ostensibly because we are so godly or privileged in His sight that He counts us worthy to suffer. This viewpoint is not backed up in scripture. To suggest that God is putting us through something that Jesus died to remove from us, or that the word of God promises deliverance from is to accuse God of colluding with the devil. Both of these perspectives in understanding suffering require both some mental and theological gymnastics to express, but the third, very least considering possibility is what is plainly stated many times throughout God’s word, as in this case that the problems at hand regarding the Assyrian invasion originated in the disobedience of the people. Hence, in our own situations when problems surface, we would be foolish not to first and foremost look into our own lives and somehow find the transparency and honesty to ask the question, did we bring this upon ourselves?
In verse 2 Israel is described as crying out to God, desiring to know Him while at the same time (v. 3) they are casting off the things that are good, commendable, and those things that constitute adherence to His law and yieldedness to His Spirit. The common retort against such verses is to contend that this is the Old Covenant and has no bear on how God will deal with us today. To this assertion we give the reminder that this is in the book of Hosea, wherein there were three children, two of whose names were changed from very negative meanings to names representing grace and redemption. The one name however that remained unchanged was Jezreel, whose name means “God will sow…” What that tells us is that God’s heart toward us is always to show clemency and deliverance, but God’s heart is not the only thing that influences what happens next in our lives. Our actions have bearing on our lives through God’s laws of reciprocity. Let us remember that Paul, the author of more than 2/3rds of the New Testament made the following statement as inclusive to those found in a state of saving grace:
[2Co 5:10 KJV] 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
Therefore in verse 3 the statement is because the people (while claiming to deeply desire to know God) at the same time by their actions had cast off the good, therefore the verse states “the enemy shall pursue them…” not because they are righteous, but because they are hypocritical in life. V. 4 goes on to itemize how the people were casting off the good.
1. (V. 4) they set up kings of their own choosing without seeking the Lord. In other words in this day when a king was chosen they would consult the Urim and the Thummin, the oracle of God through the priesthood to determine who would be their next king. This the people refused to do because they refused as the northern 10 tribes to worship in Jerusalem, or go to the temple because is lay in the territory of the southern kingdom they had removed themselves from.
2. They took the silver and gold that God had prospered them with and forged idols of pagan gods and worshipped them.
When the 10 tribes separated from the southern kingdom, rather than worship at Jerusalem they made a golden calf (v. 5) tells us and provoked God to jealousy be commanded all the peoples of the northern kingdom to worship the calf at Bethel rather than going down to the temple in Jerusalem as God has commanded. This has to do with the perceived right of personal choice in matters of religion. The religion section of the newspaper says “go to the church of your choice…” if that statement is the reflection of your motives for attending the church you go to, or not attending for that matter, then that constitutes a golden calf, a provocation of God’s jealousy, because He holds first right of refusal over every choice we make in life, because He isn’t just savior but also our Lord.
Because of the provocation of the altar at Bethel, the prophet declares that the idol of the calf of Samaria will be broken in pieces. This speaks to us of the church that in the beginning, in the first century was very monolithic but quite the opposite today, Christianity as we know it, like the golden calf is broken into 16,000 different denominations and groups, all worshipping according to their own choices and preferences. The human response would be to celebrate the diversity, but one cannot but pause, if there is any sincerity at all in our hearts to consider what the response of God might be to see His people so fragmented and unable to come together in unity to seek His face.
Verse 7 declares that these policies of the people in choosing kings, or leaders after their own desires, and worshipping after their own self-styled means, that they have sown to the wind and will now reap the whirlwind. The warning is that the crops will not yield and what does come forth will be swallowed up by strangers, in vact verse 8 says the entirety of the 10 tribes of the north will be swallowed by the Gentiles. This certainly came to pass when Assyria came against Israel, then Babylon invaded as well and upon taking the 10 tribes captive, over successive years these tribes vanished from history, being bred out of existence altogether.
Verse 12 states that God had written great things of the peoples of the north, specifically the tribe of Ephraim, but now in spite of all the promise of God they are now counted because of transgression, to be a strange thing. Why? Because they lived their lives according to the dictates of their own heart and their own sense of expediency rather than consulting and seeking the mind of God, specifically in matters of civil leadership (in choosing a king) and in matters of worship (refusing to worship at Jerusalem). Verse 14 sums up that in these choices the people have forgotten their Maker in building many temples, and many fenced cities yet in spite of it all their world will come to naught because they rejected the supremacy of God and His word in the perogatives they reserved for themselves in their self-interested choices.
What is the instruction for us in this chapter? It is found in the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians:
[1Co 6:20 KJV] 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
We cannot ever lose sight of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives. In Romans 10 let us be reminded of the very wording that we as evangelical believers pray that constitutes our new birth:
[Rom 10:9-10 KJV] 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We must confess not only with our mouth but with our live not just Jesus as savior, but Jesus as Lord. That means that there is a responsibility incumbent upon every one of us to seek God’s will in every decision and choice that we make, lest we follow the example of the northern kingdom and face the consequences that they unnecessarily suffered.
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