Sunday, June 04, 2006

Matt Messages - God's Wayward Wife

“God’s Wayward Wife”
June 4, 2006
Hosea 2:2-23

Last week, we were introduced to the prophet Hosea and his very unhappy family. God asked Hosea to marry a woman that he knew in advance was going to be adulterous and unfaithful to him. Her name was Gomer. She was going to be promiscuous and adulterous. And, knowing that in advance, Hosea was still to marry her.

Why? Because their marriage was a prophetic press-release to the nation. Their marriage was a picture of God’s relationship with His wayward wife–the nation of Israel. “God’s Wayward Wife” is also the subject of chapter 2.

Israel had fallen into idolatry, and the LORD calls idolatry “spiritual adultery.”

So Hosea and Gomer were married to send a pictorial message to the people of Israel.

And they had kids to send a pictorial message to the people of Israel, as well.

The oldest boy was “Jezreel.” His name predicted coming judgment. God will scatter [Jezreel] Israel in a coming judgment for the sins that had been committed a place named “Jezreel.”

The girl in the middle was named “Lo-Ruhamah” which means “Unloved.” God wouldn’t continue to show compassion and pity and mercy because Israel continued to take advantage of it. So, Israel would experience being “Unloved.”

And the littlest boy, “Lo-Ammi” which meant “Not My People.” And he probably wasn’t! God was saying that He would effectively disown His people and bring the curses of the covenant to bear on them for their unfaithfulness.

That’s where He begins in chapter 2.

It begins with a rebuke.

GOD’S WAYWARD WIFE REBUKED.

Chapter 1 told the story of Hosea and Gomer. Chapter 2 begins to explain what the story means. The mother in verse 2 is not Gomer, but Israel. V.2

“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.”

God is calling upon the children of Israel–that is individuals within Israel–to rebuke Israel for having left her first love. And God says that they are, in effect, divorced. There isn’t much hope for this relationship. It looks bleak.

Israel deserves a rebuke for her waywardness.

It’s a rebuke designed to encourage repentance.

Some of your versions say “Plead with your mother.” Or “Contend with your mother.”

This is a rebuke that has the goal of trying to wake Israel up to their dangerous condition before it’s too late. V.2

“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.”

If Israel doesn’t change her ways, and soon, she’s going to face the well-deserved discipline of God.

God is going to expose her to shame and to vulnerability and take away her basic sustenance.

Deprivation. Her discipline will include deprivation.

And this will be true for all of the people in Israel, not just a few. V.4

“I will not show my love to her children [Hebrew individuals], because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'”

What I want us to especially notice from this section of Hosea 2 this morning is “What Sin Says.”

Because what Israel was saying in her heart is what all of our hearts say each time we sin.

We don’t say it out-loud, but this is what our hearts are telling us.

#1. There Is Life Somewhere Else.

Notice what the LORD charges Israel with saying, (v.5) “I will go after my lovers...”

Israel didn’t fall into her adultery because she was pursued by the Baals.

She pursued the Baals! She went “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

She sought out other lovers. Because she believed that there is life somewhere else.

This is how sin starts. We get to thinking that God is not satisfying enough. And our hearts begin to look in other directions for soul-satisfaction.

We begin to think that some other person, some other thing, some other place might have some life to it that would make us happy.

And so, we wander. Because sin says that there is life somewhere else.

And then, sin says, #2. Life Comes from Somewhere Else.

Notice what Israel said in her heart.

“I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.”

Israel convinced herself that the Baals were providing life for her. Blessing. Good things. The stuff. Life.

And we do the exact same thing. We worship the creation instead of the Creator, the gifts instead of the Giver, and then we begin to think that gifts were given to us by someone else than God.

It’s easy to do. God is invisible. But our idols often are not. We can see them very clearly.

And they promise to give us stuff. Even though we know that every good things comes from the LORD.

What sins are you struggling with right now?

I’ve been struggling with the sin of complaining recently. If things aren’t going 100% my way, I’m bellyaching about it. And the people around me have had to suffer for my grouching.

Catch this! Not only do I believe that there is life in complaining, I believe that when I complain I get good things! Because sometimes, I do.

Now, do I thank God for His grace in giving me good things despite my complaining heart?

No. I begin to say, “Well, I got a little action out of that!” And in my heart, sin says, “Complaining works. Life comes from complaining. Let’s do some more.”

Israel gave the Baals the credit for their blessings! And we do the same thing.

And the third thing sin says in v.5 is #3. It’s All About Me. Life is all about me.

Did you notice the pronouns in v.5? They are there in the Hebrew, too.

'I will go after MY lovers, who give me MY food and MY water, MY wool and MY linen, MY oil and MY drink.'”

It’s all about me. My life centers on me.

Sin says, “You deserve a break today. If it’s not working for you, it’s not worth it.”

Sin says, “It’s about time you got some service around here.”

Sin says, “Life is about you.”

I have a friend who likes to say, “You are not the lead actor in your life’s play.”

But sin says, “Oh yes, you are!”

And God says, “If you keep listening to sin, Israel, I’ll have to bring discipline.”

And that discipline will look like deprivation (v.3) and also frustration (v.6).

“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. [God is going to frustrate her plans. V.7] She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, [Oh well!] 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'”

Notice how it’s still all about her. That’s not repentance. That’s just resignation.

God says that He is going to frustrate Israel. Baal will no longer be effective or satisfying. V.8

“She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold–which they used for Baal [making idols!]. ‘Therefore I will take away MY grain when it ripens, and MY new wine when it is ready. I will take back MY wool and MY linen, intended to cover her nakedness.”

Notice how the pronouns have switched! The grain, the wine, the wool, the linen were the LORD’s in the first place, and He has the right to take them back from His wayward wife.

She was supposed to be a classy, well-dressed woman. The head of the nations. But she acts like a whore and will be shown to be one.

No longer will she be able to take the LORD for granted.

Discipline will look like deprivation, frustration, and now, humiliation. V.10

“So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands.”

Israel is going to go into exile and the Baals won’t be able to do a thing about it.

Israel is going to be subjected to deserved public shame for having left her first love.

And she’ll have nowhere to turn. V.11

“I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days– all her appointed feasts.”

Notice the pronouns. Those were supposed to be all about the LORD. But Israel has made them all about her. And the LORD will not allow her to continue.

Deprivation. Frustration. Humiliation. And then, devastation. V.12

“I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,’ declares the LORD.”

The desolation will be devastating. Sadly, Israel will be judged for her spiritual adultery.

Notice, some more, what sin says here in v.13.

Sin says, #4. I Can Mix the Lord with Something Else.

Did Israel stop the Jewish feasts? Yearly festivals? Sabbaths? Worship of the LORD?

No. Never. She just decided that she could do that AND include the Baals.

We do the same thing, don’t we?

We want to be Christians and worldlians at the same time.

“A little Jesus is good, mixed in with everything else.”

Imagine an Israelite farmer who notices that his neighbor put up a Baal idol in the middle of one of his fields.

Now, he might decide to rebuke him, but he might also decide to hang back and see what happens.

Imagine if the neighbor’s fields produced a bumper crop that year. And our friend decides to talk with the neighbor about it.

Does the neighbor deny the LORD? No! He says, “Oh, I believe in the LORD 100%. I just don’t think it hurts to put up a little Baal statue in my field, too. What can it hurt? The Canaanites have done it for hundreds of years. And they’re great farmers!”

What is our farmer friend tempted to do?

He’s tempted to mix. Theologians call it “syncretism.”

Sin says, “There’s Life Somewhere Else.” Put up a Baal.
Sin says, “Life Comes from Somewhere Else.” It was Baal that sent the big harvest.
Sin says, “Life is All About You.” Try it. See if it works for you.
Sin says, “You Can Mix the Lord with Something Else.” Don’t worry. What could it hurt?

Are you tempted to mix something with the Lord right now?

Perhaps a little cheating at work and still stay a Christian?
Perhaps “chasing your dreams” even if you’re not sure that they are God’s dreams for you?
Perhaps cutting a few corners?
Perhaps gluttony, or lust, or greed, or gossip with a nice Christian face on it?

Maybe a whole other belief system:

Jesus and Buddha.
Jesus and Mohammed.
Jesus and the Dalai Lama
Jesus and Oprah.
Jesus and the Self-Help section at the bookstore.
Jesus and My Own Way.

Jesus won’t allow it.

It’s never “Jesus plus.”

Because what happens is that Jesus gets left behind. Jesus gets buried. Jesus gets forgotten. V.13

“I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me...she forgot,’ declares the LORD.”

Israel put on her finest for date-night, and God’s wayward wife “went out on the town” with the Baals and left her husband behind.

God won’t allow that to continue forever because He’s jealous.

He knows that if we try to mix something with Him, He’ll get left in the dust. And eventually, we’ll be left with dust in our mouths because nothing less than Him will satisfy.

Do you see how Israel’s waywardness is a picture of the sinfulness of our sin?

This is what we do, so often.

We look for life somewhere else.
And when we get a little life, we attribute it to something else.
And we think it all revolves around us.
And we think that we can keep it up and mix it up with Jesus at the same time.

We need a rebuke. Because we need to repent.

But you know what? God doesn’t stop at the rebuke.

It comes almost out of nowhere, but God doesn’t stop at the rebuke of His wayward wife.

He goes on to restore her!!!!

He promises restoration.

GOD’S WAYWARD WIFE RESTORED. V.14

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

What?!!!

Where did that come from?

It’s grace. Hosea is all about God’s “Amazing Grace” and “love beyond degree.”

He says (v.14), “Therefore I am not going to allure her.”

Therefore? What kind of logic is that?

We’ve had 12 verses (2-13) of Israel’s yucky waywardness. And the LORD says, “Therefore, I’m going to win her back.”

God is so counter-intuitive. No one could predict this who didn’t know God! The divine logic is that God loves His people so much that He won’t let them wallow in waywardness, but will pursue them in passionate love!

Like we said last week: God is jealous; and God is just; and God is generous!

God promises to reverse all of His judgments. And restore Israel to Himself.

Notice all of the “I wills” in this section. Israel has messed it all up. And, therefore, God will do all the fixing by Himself. V.14

‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. [The desert is where they got married. He’s going back to their courtship, so to speak. V.15] There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [Trouble Valley where Israel was first judged in the land, read Joshua chapter 7, Trouble Valley will become] a door of hope. There [Israel] will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

God’s Wayward Wife will be Restored.

And not just so that she can do it again. V.16

“‘In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' [A related word to Baal. He’s saying that there will be no more mixing up who the LORD is and who Baal is. V.17] I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. [They will be forgotten. They will be left in the dust. The LORD will win 100%. This relationship is going to be fixed. V.18] In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.”

No more Assyria. No more war. No more danger from the creation.

What is the fulfillment of all of this? It’s come in part with Christ and will come fully when He returns and sets up His kingdom that will be forever. Forever. V.19

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.”

This relationship will be perfectly fixed.

Everything that was wrong will be made right.

This relationship will be marked by righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness.

On both sides!

“You will acknowledge the LORD.”

You will know the LORD. The very opposite of verse 8.

You will know there is no life somewhere else that the Lord.
You will know life comes from nowhere else than the Lord.
You will know that life is all about the Lord.
You will know that nothing need be or can be mixed with the Lord. He will be enough.

The LORD is promising to take Israel back to her pre-marriage days and start all over again and this time do it perfectly.

It’s a description of the New Covenant and the blessings that will come from it.

A complete reversal of all of the judgment. V.21

“‘In that day I will respond,’ declares the LORD [responding to the renewed relationship]–‘I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. [What’s He saying? He’s saying that He’s going to set off a chain reaction of blessing that will reverberate throughout the creation, issuing in a new era, a new creation where He will sow blessing instead of judgment.] I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one. 'I will say to those called 'Not my people, ''You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'’”

Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi will all be reversed.

God will plant instead of scatter.
God will show love again.
God will be our God.

And we will say (with Israel, Romans 9:26, 1 Peter 2:10), “You are my God.”

Just as verses 2 through 13 pictured the sinfulness of our sin, verses 14 through 23 picture for us the splendor of our salvation!

The LORD is going to fix the relationship so that the name “Baal” won’t even cross anyone’s mind.

And He’s going to fix the universe so that everything in it works again the way it was meant to be.

What a glorious hope, brothers and sisters! What a glorious hope!

And do you know how He does it?

Worship at the Lord’s Table

He does it by the Cross.

The Cross is where the justice of God and the generous grace of God meet and kiss.

God’s holy jealousy requires Him to put a stop to sin. It must be judged and it must be done away with.

But instead of you and me absorbing the judgment we deserve for our waywardness, God placed it on Jesus.

He took our sins upon Himself. The righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God.

The Divine Lover pursued His bride and gave Himself up for her. For us.

So that we could be restored to Him. So that we who deserve unlove should be shown love. And we who were not His people hear Him say, “You are my people.”

And we can “You are my God.”

Unless you can’t yet. If you do not yet belong to Jesus by faith in His Cross, please do not eat and drink this memorial meal with us. It’s not for you.

Instead, take some time to consider His invitation to you.

He invites you to believe in Jesus as your Savior and entrust yourself to Him as your Lord.

He has paid the penalty for sin on the Cross. Jesus has paid it all.

He offers to restore you to Him.

Trust Him today.

If you do belong to Jesus through faith in His Cross, you are invited to eat and drink with us today.

But before you do, do a heart-check.

Take a spiritual inventory.

Confess your sins to God.

Confess your recent waywardness.

Confess ways that you believed that there is life somewhere else and that life comes from somewhere else and that life is about you and that you have mixed Jesus with something else and ended up forgetting Him.

Confess those things to God before you eat and drink. And know that they are paid for. Jesus paid it all.

And ask for help in fighting those sins this week.

Ask for help in saying No to waywardness and Yes to Godwardness this week.

1 comments:

This is excellent Matt. It has prompted me to go back and read Hosea again and a few commentaries on it.

I recently was writing to the same end, of how husbands are the picture of God to their families, and spiritual adultery we are guilty of.