Sermon on Hosea 5:15-6:6
Text: “Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face — in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
6:1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. 5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth — then my judgments go forth like the sun. 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
You may have heard the words, “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” They may have come from a parent when discipline needed to be administered. If you ever heard those words directed to you, you may have thought, “Yeah, right. I don’t think that is exactly true.” However, when you have children of your own, you realize that it is never fun to discipline your children. It does pain the parent. This morning, as we look at God’s Word, we see his love being exhibited, though it probably didn’t seem that way at the time, nor may it see that way in our lives. GOD DISCIPLINES HIS PEOPLE IN LOVE. 1. He Does Not Tolerate Sin. 2. He Calls To Repentance. 3. He Shows The Way To Peace.
God had called Hosea to prophesy to the northern ten tribes of Israel. God wanted to warn the people that if they did not cease what they had been doing, they would be taken away from the land of promise. God spoke through Hosea’s words and through Hosea’s life. God told Hosea (1:2), we read, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.” God told Hosea that he was to marry an adulterous woman. This was a picture of the relationship that existed between God and Israel. God remained faithful to them. The people had committed spiritual adultery with false gods. God sent prophet after prophet to warn the people about the seriousness of their sins. However, the people refused to listen. They thought that they could live however they wanted. They could worship the Lord and then go to their altars and idols on the hillsides and worship Baal and other false gods. They weren’t that concerned with what they were doing.
Finally, it got to the point where God was going to show them just how serious their sins were. God said, “I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face — in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Verse 15) Since the people were not going to listen to his repeated calls to stop what they were doing, God was going to turn his back on them. Basically, what God was saying to them was, ‘If you want to be without me, I will do what you wish.’ The reason God did this was not that he was being petty and had his feelings hurt. He wanted them to see just how serious he was about their keeping his law. He wanted them to know that he would not tolerate their sins.
This is an important point for us, as well. In today’s world, people seem to have almost no concept of personal responsibility. It is always someone else’s fault when they do something wrong. It was the way that they were raised. It was the circumstances that they found themselves in. It certainly wasn’t their fault. It is so easy for us to fall into that type of thinking, as well. It’s not my fault that I did that sin. It’s because someone made me angry, so I lashed out at them. It’s because the temptation was right there in front of me and I just couldn’t help myself. Besides, we may even try to fool ourselves into thinking that sin really isn’t that big of a deal. Everyone else does it and nothing bad seems to happen to them. I’m basically a good person, so I am entitled to let loose every once in a while. God really can’t expect me to be perfect all of the time, just as long as I do my best most of the time. The list goes on and on as to how we try to minimize sin and its effect on our lives and faith.
However, God wants us to see that he will not tolerate sin. He is not like some grandfather who smiles as his grandchildren do something naughty. He is a righteous and holy God. As God gave the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel, he said, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:5) God wants us to see that sin isn’t some sort of imperfection. It is something that separates us from God. Should we continue in that sin, God will say to us on the Last Day, ‘You wanted to be without me during your lifetime. Now, be without me for all eternity.’ Because God doesn’t want to say that to us, he will, at times, send difficulties into our lives, so that we see the seriousness of our sins. Again, this is not done because he hates us. If he hated us, he would let us go on our merry way straight to hell. Rather, it is because of his love that he will discipline us. Peter reminds us in his second epistle, “[God] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) So that we might come to repentance, God shows us that he will not tolerate sin.
Hosea invites the people to repent when he issues this invitation, “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (6:1-3) He acknowledges that the Lord had torn to pieces and had injured them. However, he also knew that, when the people returned to the Lord, he would heal them and bind up their wounds. This is a beautiful picture of the Lord’s love for them. He wanted to bless them. When they came to him in repentance, he promises that he would restore them and revive them.
So, also, may the Lord grant us repentant hearts. Before we go any further, we would do well to define exactly what we mean by repentance. Repentance is more than just feeling sorry for what you have done. There are many examples of this in the Bible. For example, we might think of Judas, who betrayed Jesus into the hands of his enemies. He felt sorrow over what he had done. He even tried to return the money that the enemies had given him. Yet, he was overwhelmed with despair and went and killed himself. Repentance also means believing that Jesus has paid for all of those sins and we are forgiven. Again, we have examples of this in the Bible. We think of Peter, who denied even knowing whom Jesus was. He felt great sorrow over what he had done. He, also, believed that Jesus would forgive that sin.
When we come to God in repentance, we come humbly confessing our sins. We, also, hear the beautiful message that comes from God’s lips, as he says to us, “Son, Daughter, your sins are forgiven. They are forgiven because of what Jesus has done for you. Jesus lived a perfect life for you. Though he was tempted constantly to sin, he never did it. This was done for you. Then, he took that load of sin that you have accumulated and went to the cross. There he paid for every single one of them. He faced all of my righteous anger in your place. He suffered the punishment of hell for you. Then, my Son rose from the dead, which assures you that he did everything necessary for your forgiveness.’ There are no sweeter words that we could ever hear. Listen to this beautiful description of God’s forgiveness being spoke to the heart that has confessed its sins. “He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Verse 3) Like ground that has become so parched that there are huge cracks drinks up the refreshing rain that falls from the sky, so the sinner’s heart is refreshed when it hears that all of its sins have been forgiven. Your sins have all been forgiven. God calls us to repentance so that he might shower his blessings upon us.
God has a final word for the people of Israel. He said, “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth — then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God knew that there would be the temptation for the people to merely go through the motions of living as his people. They thought that they would satisfy God, if they did all the right things and said all the right things. They were like the morning mist or fog that promised moisture, but quickly burnt off and provided no lasting moisture for the parched land. God said to them that he did not just want the outward actions that were good for as long as they were in trouble. Then, they could go back to doing what they were doing. God was looking for a change in their attitudes, as well. He wanted to bless them throughout their entire lives.
This brings us to the third part of repentance, which is we turn from our sinful lives to doing that which pleases God. As Christians, we don’t live for God so that we don’t get into trouble with him and face his anger against our sins. Rather, we live for God out of thankfulness for all that he has done for us. We want every part of our lives to glorify him. We look at what we are doing in light of God’s love for us. This doesn’t just apply to the things that we might do at church. This applies to all of our lives whether we are on the job or at home. It applies to the things that we do in our leisure time. We want to glorify God with the things that we watch and the things that we hear. Even the most mundane tasks take on special meaning when we remember that we are doing them to thank God. We give glory to God in the things that we say. Rather than tearing other people down, we look for ways to build them up. We want to speak the truth to others in love. We thank God with our thoughts. We think the best about everybody rather than assuming the worst. In short, we know that, when we live this way, we are showing our love for God and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us. Then, we live in the peace of knowing that we are forgiven.
This morning, we have been talking about the fact that God, in his love for us, will discipline us, when it is necessary. The truth be told, no one likes to be disciplined. It is no fun. It hurts. Yet, we know it is necessary and that God does so out of love for us. He wants only what is best for us. He wants us to see just how dangerous sin is. If left unchecked, it will eventually cause us to lose our faith. So, though it may seem odd to hear, we thank God for the discipline that he carries out in our lives. We pray that it may always have the desired effect for us. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:11&12, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” We thank our Father for his love for us. Amen.
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