St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

God Tears Apart To Heal

Sermon on Hosea 5:15-6:3

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.”

It seems counter intuitive to hurt someone in order to heal them. However, it happens all the time in the medical field. If a bone isn’t setting correctly, the doctor may have to re-break that bone so that it can heal correctly. If there is a dislocation, the doctor may have to pull and twist so that the joint can be put in place. Even the careful incision of the scalpel would hurt, if not for anesthesia. Sometimes you have to hurt, in order for there to be healing. That same picture is used in our text. We see that GOD TEARS APART TO HEAL. 1. He Has A Reason For The Pain. 2. He Refreshes Us With His Grace.

Hosea was called by God to speak some very harsh words to the people of Israel. As they had done so often, they had followed other gods. When trouble came their way, they turned to other nations for help. God used Hosea to call the Israelites to repentance. Just prior to our text, God said, “I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.” (Hosea 5:14) God said that he would be like a lion that would attack the Israelites and tears them to levitra before or after meal pieces for their persistent sin and unfaithfulness. He would then leave the carcass and go back to his lair.

It says in verse 15, “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.” More frightening than the violence of God’s judgement would be the abandonment that followed. God went away from his people. He withdrew from them. This is a just act, because the people had rejected him and his laws. Now, there would only be silence. Think of the frustration that you feel when no one answers your phone call or text for help. The Israelites had abused God’s grace, and now God leaves them alone, a hopeless carcass.

However, God had a purpose for this severe action. He did not do this out of spite. God did not abandon his people or his love for them. He left them alone to help them see the truth so that they would admit their guilt. God, in his love for them, added misery to their sin. He did this so that they would turn from their sin. This was the reason for the pain that the people of Israel were going through. God’s stated purposed was “in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”

This serves as a reminder of why there is so much suffering in the world. People come up with all sorts of reasons why there is suffering. They blame the suffering on a bad upbringing or a lack of opportunity. Perhaps, it is because of some flaw in justice or the failure of political or social forces. Suffering is a cosmic mistake. Even within the church, people can be puzzled by pain and suffering. They know that their sins are forgiven. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any troubles or pain and suffering for the believer.

The trouble with this sort of reasoning is that we are looking at suffering as the problem. It isn’t the problem. It is a symptom. The real problem is sin. Sin is the reason that there is suffering in the world, in general, and in people’s lives, in specific. God allows suffering to come into people’s lives so that they see the seriousness of sin. For the unbeliever, it is intended to show them that there is no life without God. They can search and search to find happiness and meaning in life, but they never will. God is using the suffering so that they can see just how lost they are. God also uses suffering for the good of the believer. It might be that there is a particular sin that we find ourselves falling into again and again. God may use the suffering to wake us up, so that we do not continue in that sin and eventually lose our faith, which would mean that we would be lost forever. Even if it is not a specific sin that God is calling us to repent of, suffering reminds us how foolish to is to look to ourselves or to others for as our ultimate joy or comfort. It reminds us to turn to God. Sin causes suffering and is a lesson to teach everyone clearly that God is serious about his law.

Suffering also teaches us about how serious God is about saving us. If God didn’t care about us, he would let us go our own way. He wouldn’t do anything to make us see how serious he is about his law. Then, we would be lost forever. Sin is not a superficial scratch. It is deep and deadly. God wants to save us. We know that this is true, because he sent his Son into the world to provide the cure for this deadly disease. Jesus came to the world to be our Substitute. The perfect life that he lived was in our place. There was no reason, at all, for him to suffer. However, he willingly suffered beyond our imagination while he was on the cross. First of all, there was the physical suffering that accompanied crucifixion. Yet, that suffering pales in comparison with the suffering he endured as his Father turned his back on him. We hear the anguish in his voice as he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46) He was abandoned by his Father, so that you and I would never be. He suffered and died in our place, paying for each and every one of our sins. He was raised on Easter, showing that sins had been paid for and eternal life is ours.

It is because of what Jesus has done for us, that we can echo the words of verse 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.” We know that the God who tears apart will also heal us. Even if we are injured, God will restore us. This takes trust on our part. We might think of a child who is sitting on their mother’s lap, holding on tight as she digs out a splinter that has gone deep under the skin. It hurts. There are tears. Yet, in the end, that splinter is gone and the healing can begin. We endure the suffering, because God wants to get rid of the sin that is infecting us, so that the healing of his gospel might begin its work.

How long must our suffering go on? Listen to verse 2, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” There is no specific time frame given here. What we learn from this verse is that God will give relief soon. It is all according to God’s time table. We also see that the outcome is certain. He will revive us, not he might revive us. He will restore us, not he may restore us. Please, note that we are not talking about forgiveness here. We are already forgiven because of the work of Jesus Christ. The reviving that we are talking about is the assurance that all has been forgiven and God does still love us. We are also reminded, again, of the goal of this tearing apart: “that we may live in his presence.” As we live in his presence on this earth, we have the peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven. We have the comfort of knowing that God makes everything in our life work out for our benefit. This is also our purpose in this life. We no longer live to serve ourselves. Rather, we want to live our lives thanking him for all that he has done for us. We, also, look forward to that time, when we will live in his presence for all eternity. There all of the suffering that we endure now will be gone. We will live in perfect peace and happiness when we get to heaven. Though God tears apart, he refreshes us with his grace.

How do we know that this is true? How do we know that there will be an end to suffering? How do we know that God even uses this suffering for our good? Look at verse 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.” Will God keep his promises? Will the sun come up tomorrow morning? After a night of tossing and turning in bed from physical or spiritual pain, the morning sun brings hope. At times, we may doubt that a new day will arrive, but it will, as it has for each day of every year, going back to the creation of the world. We are reminded in Lamentations 3:22&23, “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [his] faithfulness.”

God also uses the picture of rain. The seasonal rains in Palestine are more predictable than what we experience. Planting in Palestine is done in the fall, after the autumn rains soften the hard soil of the dry summer. The winter rains allow the young plants to grow. Then, a few weeks before harvest in the spring, the farmer rejoices to see the rain fall again, bring the crops to maturity and a full yield. Without the rain at the right time throughout all the seasons, there would be little or no harvest. It takes faith for the farmer to put the seed in the soil. He does so, counting on God to provide the sun and the moisture. This is a wonderful picture of the Christian’s life. Everything that happens to us, whether they be days of sunshine or the storm clouds break forth with rain, is there to help us produce the crop that is pleasing to God. They help us to produce the fruits of faith, those things that we do out of thankfulness for all that God has done for us. We can trust that, whatever God may send our way, it is there for our good. God is always waiting, after the suffering comes to an end, to refresh us with his grace.

Hosea has taken us from the stern and just lion leaving the torn carcass of sinners to the same sinners healed and enjoying the downpour of God’s blessings. This morning, in essence, we have been studying what repentance is in the life of a Christian. It begins with the contrite heart that is broken. It realizes that is has dared to rebel against God. It is deeply sorry for its sins. This is the result of the tearing apart that God does. This is the reason for the pain that we endure. However, repentance doesn’t stop there. Repentance, also, means that we trust that Jesus has paid for all of these sins and we are forgiven. The final step of repentance is a turning away from that sin to living a life that is pleasing to God. This is a constant activity for the Christian and one that is necessary for us to do. May God help us to have such repentant hearts. Amen.