Friday, June 22, 2012

Last Look From Hosea 12 - It is Glorious

Hosea 12:8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but kI am rich;I have found wealth for myself;
in all my labors lthey cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”
mI am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
I will again make you ndwell in tents,
as in the days of the appointed feast.

It is one thing to be lost.
It is another to be lost, but not know it.
It is one thing to be out of favor with God.
It is quite another to be out of favor with God, but so deceived that we think we are in His blessing.

Hosea 12 presents Israel in such a vile state.

They were wicked, but they seemed to not know it.
They saw their state as being evidence of God's favor, but were actually being prepared for God's wrath because of their wickedness.

They were fooled by the precepts of men and blinded to the truth of God's Word and prophets.

Dr. Thomas Constable writes on this issue:

The Israelites considered their wealth a blessing from God that they interpreted as due to their cleverness and His approval of their lifestyle. Really it was due to His grace in spite of their sins. 

As I read this attitude from Israel in Hosea 12, I am reminded of Jesus' message to the Church in Laodicea in Rev. 3
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the pAmen, qthe faithful and true witness, rthe beginning of God's creation.15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. sWould that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 tFor you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, ublind, and naked.18 I counsel you vto buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and wwhite garments so that you may clothe yourself and xthe shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, uso that you may see. 19 yThose whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.20 Behold, I stand at the door and zknock. aIf anyone hears my voice and opens the door, bI will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 cThe one who conquers, dI will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as eI also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 pHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Is there any part of this message that causes concern? It does to me! I am a product of the west and I live in relative peace and prosperity. I enjoy luxury and leisure. 

This creates a casualness. I find my attitude to trend toward pride (look at me, I am such a good believer) and can justify my love of luxury as 'God blesses me because I am good'. These are dangerous attitudes.

Where would I be without the hope of the gospel? But in this beautiful message, I need to seriously consider God's constant call for repentance and loyal love for my King.

Hosea 12 continues:

oI spoke to the prophets;it was I who multiplied pvisions,and through the prophets gave parables.11 qIf there is iniquity in Gilead,they shall surely come to nothing:rin Gilgal they sacrifice bulls;stheir altars also are like stone heapston the furrows of the field.12 uJacob fled to the land of Aram;there Israel vserved for a wife,and for a wife he guarded sheep.13 By wa prophet xthe Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,and by a prophet he was guarded.14 yEphraim has given bitter provocation;so his Lord zwill leave his bloodguilt on himaand will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.
There is so much going on in this passage. Word games, deep allusions, and a strong reminder.

The mention of the wickedness in Gilead and Gilgal has multiple layers of meaning.

In some ways it is a geographical reference- kind of like saying 'From sea to shining sea'. In other words, 'you are not pleasing Me- your sin is found from east to west'.

But it is even more than that:
The heritage of Jacob is still in full view.
There are links here to Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Leah, and even back to Ephraim and all the family controversy that continues to this day.

There is history in Gilead (west of the Jordan). In Genesis 31, Laban took over Jacob and God showed grace to Jacob as Rachel lied, and Jacob foolishly promised, and there was a heap of stones that divided Jacob and Laban for good. Gilead was a place of bloody footprints due to the sacrifice to idols. 

(I wish I had time to write of the 'Balm in Gilead' and the narrator crying out for it in Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven)

Gilgal (East of the Jordan)- The play on words is that, in Hebrew, there is a connection to the pagan altars at Gilgal which both sound like 'pile of stones'. Their altars, piles of stones, are as useful as stones in a farmer's field. They will be thrown out because they are a hindrance to growth.

The bottom line:

Yes, Israel was strong and rich and felt 'untouchable'. But they had had humble origins. They had been wilderness wanderers, they had been sheep herders, they had been in the clutches of ruthless men and manipulators before.

And God was willing to put them right back into exile and humility and dependency if they continued in their arrogance and idolatry.

Closing points:

Ephraim has given bitter provocation;so his Lord zwill leave his bloodguilt on himaand will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.

Take away the name Ephraim in that verse and replace it with your name.

(Jay Mathews) has given bitter provocation;so his Lord zwill leave his bloodguilt on himaand will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.

This verse is how we all stand in the presence of God's Holy throne.

Ephraim- ME-You- so blessed by God, so loved by God. We have seen Him come through for us time and time again.

But we have given BITTER PROVOCATION...why?

We are COVERED in bloodguilt...How?

I am not as thankful as I should be.
I am more in love with the world than in love with God.
I haven't told people faithfully about the good news of Jesus Christ.
I have passively watch sin after sin after sin go on around me and shrugged my shoulders.
My country is polluted in abortions, and pornography, and people hurting and being hurt.
I don't pray or worship like I should.
I don't give and serve like I should.

The cup of God's Wrath is just about to overflow on me and I deserve it.
I fall down to take it in fear.

And I look up.... and I see it..... all fall on the cross of Jesus Christ !!!!!
My Savior is trembling in pain and agony.

The God I provoked loved me so much that He took MY PROVOCATION on HIMSELF.
He then plunged me, stained in bloodguilt, and washed me clean in the blood of the Lamb!!!!!

The only thing I added to my forgiveness was sin.

I have spent the last several weeks weighed down in the judgement of the Old Testament. God's prophets were killing me with the truth of their observations.

And every time I tremble. I turn to the cross of glory and weep with joy!

My friend, reading this today, do you see it?
Can you believe it?

Why would you ever want to drift away from Jesus? Look what He has done for you!

That is why today, I am celebrating.

And yes- I need to keep driving to pursue Him and leave my life of selfishness and luxury and ease and apathy. And I am confident that He will get me there.

But I do it in praise....not in guilt or fear.


No comments: