Sunday, July 09, 2006

Matt's Messages - Reaping the Whirlwind

“Reaping the Whirlwind”
July 9, 2006
Hosea 8:1-14

All Summer long, we’ve been studying the book of Hosea together. This is our 6th message in Hosea. Let me remind you what we’ve learned so far.

We’ve learned that Israel, especially the northern Kingdom, had been spiritually adulterous and had made for themselves idols and worshiped Baal. And because of their spiritual infidelity, God was going to bring destructive judgment upon them. And before He did that, God sent Hosea to tell them in advance what was going to happen. He did that in picture form in chapters 1 through 3 by sending Hosea to marry Gomer–an adulterous wife. And then to have children that were named “Coming Judgment, Not Loved, and Not My People.” And then in chapters 4-7, God has been further explaining this picture of coming judgment for rejection of God.

And that’s what chapter 8 says, as well.

Chapter 8 continues where chapters 1 through 7 left off. It says in prophetic words that Israel will be reaping the consequences of their actions.

Chapter 8 contains that famous phrase that everybody knows but few people know where it comes from: “They sow the wind and reap [what?] the whirlwind.” “Reaping the Whirlwind.”

Hosea chapter 8 is a great example of the biblical “law of the harvest.”

You know what the “biblical law of the harvest” is, don’t you?

In God’s world, you reap what you sow.

Or to put it another way, IN GOD’S WORLD, YOU HARVEST WHAT YOU PLANT.

And we’re talking spiritually here.

Galatians chapter 6, verse 7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (vv.7-9)

That’s the biblical law of the harvest: In God’s world, you harvest what you plant.

What did Israel plant?

Hosea chapter 8 verse 7 says, “They sow[ed] the wind and [will] reap the whirlwind.”

Israel didn’t sow anything worthwhile. They planted worthlessness, just wind.

And wind is what they got back...and did they ever!

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

They planted a worthless breeze, and they harvested a terrible storm.

What did they plant? Three things.

They planted rejection of God’s ways, construction of false gods, and confidence in all the wrong places.

Let’s take those one at a time.


“Put the trumpet to your lips! [Hosea. You need to announce this one big time!] An eagle is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law.”

An eagle seems to have been a symbol of coming judgment. The word could also be translated “vulture.” This eagle is not like this one up here that stands for beauty and majesty. This is an swooping eagle ready to devour the people of Israel. But Israel says that they don’t deserve it. V.2

“Israel cries out to me, 'O our God, we acknowledge you!' [We know you!] But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.”

Notice all of the rejection words in these first 4 verses:

V.1 “The people have broken my covenant.”
V.1 They have “rebelled against my law.”
V.3 They have “rejected what is good.”
V.4 “They set up kings without my consent! [5 kings in 13 years, 3 by assassination of the one that came before him.] They choose princes without my approval.”

What’s going on here?

They rejected God’s ways.

That’s what they planted, and they will reap the whirlwind for it. V.1 An eagle is coming. V.3, “An enemy will pursue...”

Assyria will swoop down upon Israel and destroy it, carrying off many into exile.

Why? Because they rejected God’s ways.

In our home, we have a saying for this: “With Disobedience Comes Danger.”

The biblical law of the harvest teaches that if you plant the wind-seed of rejection of God’s ways, you will harvest the windstorm of God’s displeasure.

Is that what you are planting with your life?

I’m sure that’s not what you would say with your lips. But what does your life say?

Israel said (v.2), “O our God, we know you!”

But God knows better and cannot be mocked. In God’s World, You Harvest What You Plant.

What are you planting?

Many people claim to know God but have really rejected God’s ways.

We see it all the time:

Professing Christians getting unbiblical divorces.
Professing Christians having sex before and outside of marriage.
Professing Christians cheating on their taxes or not paying their debts.
Professing Christians gossiping about their neighbors.
Professing Christians refusing to forgive those who have sinned against them.
Professing Christians cussing up a storm.

Jesus saw it, too. He said in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?”

What are you planting? Are you planting rejection of God’s ways?

Or submission to God’s ways?

That’s what Israel should have done. Look down at v.12

“I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.”

What should they have done? They should have submitted to God’s ways.

He gave them the law. They should have obeyed it.

What happens if obedience is what you plant?

Well, the biblical law of the harvest says that you harvest what you plant. So if you plant faith-filled-obedience, you will harvest blessing.

In our home we say (just about every day): “With Obedience Comes Blessing.”

Now, that’s not a one-for-one occurrence every day because the Curse is at work in this world and sometimes we have to wait for the next world for that blessing to come through. And this is not an earning of blessing as if it was a work, but a receiving of a blessing by faith–faith-filled obedience is what receives this kind of blessing.

But it’s absolutely true. With Obedience Comes Blessing.

We need to submit to God’s ways.

Have you reached a point in your life where you are ready to surrender to the Lordship of Christ?

What God says goes?
What God says to do, you will do, no matter the cost?

That’s what it means to be a disciple. And none of us do it perfectly, but real disciples do it authentically.

And everyone else is just sowing the wind.

We need to submit to God’s ways.

Are there any of God’s commands that you consciously know right now that you have no plans to submit to?

If so, you are sowing the wind. And you can expect the whirlwind.

The second wind-seed is this: THEY CONSTRUCTED FALSE GODS.

They not only rejected the ways of the true God, they constructed for themselves false gods. V.4.

“With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction [whirlwind]. Throw out your calf-idol, O Samaria! My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of purity? They are from Israel! [Shocking!] This calf–a craftsman has made it; it is not God. It will be broken in pieces, that calf of Samaria.”

King Jeroboam I had created two golden calves, one at the top of the kingdom and one at the bottom, to keep the Israelites from going down to the true temple in Jerusalem. And when he did it, he told the people, “Here is your god!” (2 King 12)

I think he took a page out of Priest Aaron’s playbook.

Well, those golden calves were a real snare to the people of the northern kingdom. They worshiped them instead of the LORD.

And the LORD will not stand for any rivals. If you sow idolatry, you will reap God’s hot displeasure.

Notice how almost beside Himself, God is in v.5 “How long will they be incapable of purity? They are from Israel!”

God almost can’t believe it. And it pains Him to no end.

They Constructed False Gods.

We do, too, don’t we?

Most of the time, they aren’t exterior false gods. They are internal false gods. “Idols of the heart.”

How are you doing with your carpenter ants?

I still haven’t sprayed around the perimeter of my house. I was sick last week, and this week was the fourth of July, and I’ve been pretty busy, and a bunch of other excuses.

So far, my house is still standing. But you and I both know that I need to get at those ants or they will destroy my house from the inside out.

Idols of the heart are the same way. If we let them go unchecked, they will destroy us from the inside out.

What are you planting?

Is it construction of a false god?

Maybe that idea of an idol of the heart is a hard idea to wrap your mind around.

My friend Bob Jones has recently published a book entitled, Uprooting Anger. And in it, he offers this list of possible heart-idols. See if you can relate to any of these desires:

Be free of intense problems and pressures.
Hold and express personal opinions
Have money/possessions and use them as you choose
Plan my daily schedule
Be respected, appreciated, considered important
Friends, close relationships
Be loved and accepted
Be understood, listened to
Be supported and cared for
Make my own decisions
Plan my future
Good health, adequate medical care
Date or marry
Loving, caring, committed spouse
Sexual fulfillment
Raise children the way you choose
Children who obey, respect, appreciate you
Children who work hard and succeed in school/job/marriage
Be successful in job, family, or church
Satisfying employment, enjoying your job
Affirmation from your employer
Day off from work
Coworkers respect, appreciate you
Personal hopes and aspirations fulfilled
Be treated fairly
Have fun in life
Be physically protected, secure
Now, is there anything bad on that list? No. Everything there is a good desire in its proper place.

But any desire there that takes the place of God, is a false god and needs to go.

What does God say to Israel in v.5?

“Throw out your calf-idol, O Samaria!”

Throw it out! It’s got to go.

Why? V.6 “It is not God!”

None of these things can satisfy. The Old Testament makes the case again and again that idols are man-made and therefore are not god. If it can be constructed, it shouldn’t be worshiped.

It is not God.

So, how are you doing this Summer at throwing out your heart-idols.

I have really struggled with that this Summer. If Hosea isn’t for any one else this Summer, it’s for me.

Last night, I got another picture in my head of what it’s like carting around these idols of the heart.

We still have two in diapers right now. I’m hoping that one or both of them move out of the diaper stage in the next few months. But for the last 6 years, we’ve had this thing called a diaper pail in our house. You’re familiar with what goes in there, right?

Well, every evening, we take the bag out of the diaper pail and tie it up and toss it out the steps to be put into the garbage cans. For the last several years, that has often been one of the kids’ jobs–to take out the garbage. It’s cute to watch Isaac do it, for example.

Well, last night, I thought to myself, what if I didn’t throw them out, but clung to them and hid them around the house. In the cupboard, in the fridge, under the bed, in the closet, and so forth.

Because they are good things, right? Diapers are a great idea. Especially the paper kind, I’d love to thank the person who came up with Pampers! They are a good thing.

And what if I continued to cling onto that good thing?

Well, our house would become uninhabitable, wouldn’t it?

My wife would leave me!

If that’s what I planted, the harvest would really stink. [Pun intended.]

Well, that’s what are doing when we cling to our heart idols. And God wants us to “throw them out.”

The New Testament book of first John ends by saying, “Dear Children, keep yourselves from idols.” And John knew that it was the heart-idols that stunk the most.

What are you planting?

Israel constructed false gods.

We need to throw them out. And worship God alone.

In God’s world, you harvest what you plant. V.7

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.”

In other words, Israel is getting what they deserve.

In God’s world, you harvest what you plant.

The third wind-seed that Israel planted was confidence in all the wrong things.


Others. V.8

“Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like a worthless thing. For they have gone up to Assyria like a wild donkey wandering alone [nothing more stupidly independent than a wild donkey]. Ephraim has sold herself to lovers. Although they have sold themselves among the nations, I will now gather them together. They will begin to waste away under the oppression of the mighty king.”

Israel thought that they should put their trust in bad alliances.

Israel put their confidence in their bonds with other nations. And God thinks of that as adultery, too!

When Israel should have trusted in God alone, instead they trusted in other people.

We do the same thing, don’t we? We look to other people to make us happy.

A husband, a wife, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a roommate, a child, a parent.

A boss? An employee.

Now, we are to trust people in a limited way, but not exclusively and definitely not at the exclusion of God.

We are to love people and trust God.

Israel put their confidence in all the wrong places.

Others. And religion. V.11

“Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings [sounds good], these have become altars for sinning. I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien. They offer sacrifices given to me and they eat the meat [looks good], but the LORD is not pleased with them. Now he will remember their wickedness and punish their sins: They will return to Egypt. [They will return to slavery.]”

It’s not that these people weren’t religious. They were very religious.

In fact, they were trusting in their religion to get them by!

But God cannot be mocked.

He doesn’t care about our religiosity if it isn’t based upon true relationship with Him.

He’s the One we need to trust.

But Israel put their confidence in all the wrong places.

Other nations, religion, and worst of all, themselves. V.14

“Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; Judah has fortified many towns. But I will [bring the harvest] send fire upon their cities that will consume their fortresses.”

Israel forgot God and trusted in their own abilities.

That’s what a palace and fortress and a fortified town signify.

Instead of trusting in the God, they trusted in their own abilities to protect themselves.

Have you ever done that? I know that I have.

Self-reliance is what they planted. What did it harvest? V.14

“I will send fire upon their cities that will consume their fortresses.”

If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind.

If you plant the wind, you will harvest the windstorm.

What are you planting?

Confidence in all the wrong places or trusting in Jesus?

Do you know that Jesus never planted, never sowed, to the flesh?

He never sinned.

And because He never sinned and because He died in our place, He gives us His perfect score at submitting to God’s ways, rejecting false gods, and trusting in God alone.

You might hear a message like this and think, “I’ll never make it. I’ll never submit perfectly to God’s ways. I’ll never get the 100% best of my heart-idols. I’m always putting my trust in other people who will let me down, religiosity, and self-reliance.”

And you’re right. But as much as this passage is about planting towards righteousness, it’s also about how we can’t do it ourselves.

Hosea chapter 8 points us to our need of a Savior Who did it all perfectly on our behalf.

Are you trusting Him?

He is worthy of your trust.

If you are not yet a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, I challenge you to begin to follow Him today by placing your trust in Him and what He did on the Cross.

Tell Jesus that you want to submit to God’s ways.
Tell Jesus that you want to worship God alone.
Tell Jesus that you want to trust Him and not other people, religion, or yourself.
Tell Jesus that you want to begin to sow to the Spirit and to reap eternal life.

Because if you don’t, your whirlwind will be an eternal fire.

Trust Him right now.

If you are a faith-follower of Christ today, I challenge you to live like it.

Because if you don’t, your whirlwind could be a painful discipline.

Our girls who went to the Challenge Conference this week were challenged to actually live the Christian life.

To submit to God’s ways. What He says, goes.
To worship God alone and throw out their heart-idols.
And to trust in God alone and not in friends, religiosity, or themselves.

To sow to the Spirit.

To not forget your Maker but to trust in Him with all your heart.

I challenge you to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

It’s the greatest adventure you could ever live.

And it leads to the greatest blessing.

Because the biblical law of the harvest says, “In God’s World, You Harvest What You Plant.”

What are you planting?