HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, November 14, 2021
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, November 14, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “God’s Unfaithful Spouse”
Texts – Hosea, 2 Kings 17, 2 Chronicles 36 +
Today, I want to begin with a story. It’s about a man who others probably thought was a bit of a chump—easily duped and deceived—who married a woman with a reputation for being sexually promiscuous. They had three children together, but it was obvious that at least two were not his own; in the face of her undeniable adultery, he remained faithful, providing for her needs and that of the children. However, she left him and found herself in a very bad place; this man could have washed his hands of her, but instead he paid off the debts she owed to her lovers and brought her back into his home. She was permitted to live with him once again, but this time he told her that she needed to remain chaste; he would care for her, but refused to play the game of pretending she was going to be his faithful wife and, for an undetermined amount of time, refused to engage in sexual relations with her. Time would tell whether she was capable of remaining faithful…
What man, in his right mind, would agree to this kind of marital relationship? The prophet Hosea, that’s who! As unbelievable as it may seem, Hosea was following God’s directions. God had directed him to marry a prostitute or ‘sexually promiscuous’ woman. So Hosea married Gomer who he knew fit the requirement. She did bear Hosea a son, who Hosea named Jezreel, but it soon became obvious that the life of a faithful wife didn’t suit Gomer. She was soon to get pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter, who Hosea named Lo-ruhamah, meaning ‘not loved.’ And then, shortly after weaning her daughter, she became pregnant yet again, and Hosea named this second son, Lo-ammi, ‘not my people.’ Hosea knew these last two children were not his own, but he also knew that his life was being used for a much greater purpose. God had already told him what to expect, that this woman he married would commit adultery and would have children that were not his offspring.
So, why would God cause his prophet to suffer this way—why assign this faithful man to a life of such disloyalty, grief and to be treated as a laughing stock amongst his peers? Because God was entrusting Hosea with a sacred task—to represent God’s own relationship with His chosen people. God wanted to show His ‘wife,’ Israel, what it was like for Him to be their faithful husband in the face of their never-ending adultery. Hosea’s story was God’s story. Hosea’s life was to serve as a picture of what God endured and to serve as a warning that their sham marriage, on the part of Israel, was about to come to an end. God was no longer going to abide the pretense.
“GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN UNFAITHFUL”
Hosea 5:3-7 – ‘I know what you are like, O Ephraim.
You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel.
You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband;
you are utterly defiled.
4 Your deeds won’t let you return to your God.
You are a prostitute through and through,
and you do not know the Lord.
5 “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her;
Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt.
Judah, too, will fall with them.
6 When they come with their flocks and herds
to offer sacrifices to the Lord,
they will not find him,
because he has withdrawn from them.
7 They have betrayed the honor of the Lord,
bearing children that are not his.
Now their false religion will devour them
along with their wealth.’
Unfaithfulness to God is no small matter! From amongst all the peoples of the world, God had chosen Abraham through whom He would see His great plan revealed—the complete restoration of all that had been lost when sin entered into the world. The Israelites were to God a people that He had chosen to reveal Himself for the benefit of all humanity. He performed incredible miracles for them—rescuing them from Egypt, providing them with water and manna in the wilderness for forty years. He led them in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night as well as helping them to accomplish the task of taking over possession of the promised land of Canaan. He had chosen to dwell in their very midst—demonstrated through His provision of commands and the directions for the construction of a Tabernacle and later the Temple. He had made a covenant with them that He hadn’t made with any other nation of the world.
The people were fully aware of what was required of them, yet failed time and again to remain loyal to God alone. The seduction of other loves proved too much for them to resist. By the time of Hosea, God had begun to warn His people of coming judgment if they did not repent and return back to Him immediately. In the time of the judges, God had allowed various nations to oppress the Hebrew people to bring them back to their senses and return to Him. But, Hosea warned, a time was coming when God would choose to turn a deaf ear to their cries for help. His patience was wearing thin. God had remained ever faithful to them—providing all that they needed, giving them unmerited favour, forgiving them when they repented—but He also knew a time was coming…and had in fact arrived…when they would no longer come back to Him. In order to restore the relationship, God was going to have to do something drastic.
God was about to withdraw His protection from the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was going to advance the Assyrians against them.
“GOD BRINGS PUNISHMENT”
Hosea 11:5-7 – “But since my people refuse to return to me,
they will return to Egypt
and will be forced to serve Assyria.
6 War will swirl through their cities;
their enemies will crash through their gates.
They will destroy them,
trapping them in their own evil plans.
7 For my people are determined to desert me.
They call me the Most High,
but they don’t truly honor me.”
During Hosea’s day, the Egyptians and Assyrians were vying for territory and power. The chapter of 2 Kings 17 explains how Israel found itself first answering to Egypt, then details the events of Israel’s capture and the relocation of its peoples by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The city of Samaria suffered a siege of three years before finally surrendering to the conquerors, who then displaced the people and moved-in other conquered peoples to the newly acquired territory.
Later, in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, God gave similar warnings to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Assyrians never were able to take over the kingdom of Judah, but the southern kingdom found itself required to pay tribute to Egypt after the death of King Josiah, much the way the northern kingdom had; however, after pilfering Judah, it appears that Egypt wasn’t that interested in retaining control and in 2 Chronicles 36 we read that the Babylonians, the new up and coming power from the north, captured Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Why would God mobilize enemy nations against His own chosen people? And make no mistake…it was His doing. In the prophet Habakkuk’s discussion with God, He reveals to the prophet, “I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands” (Habakkuk 1:6). Habakkuk protests, “O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. 13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they? (Habakkuk 1:12b-13). The prophet understands that God has allowed the Babylonians to conquer His people, but he cannot wrap his mind around the fact that God would choose to use an evil, pagan, cruel nation to bring about His justice.
In hindsight, we know that God had no intention of eliminating the people of Israel, despite what it looked like. God tells Hosea that He simply cannot give up Israel entirely—though betrayed time and again by His faithless spouse, He continues to care deeply for His people.
“THE PEOPLE WILL RETURN”
Hosea 11:8-11 – “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
and my compassion overflows.
9 No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
I am the Holy One living among you,
and I will not come to destroy.
10 For someday the people will follow me.
I, the Lord, will roar like a lion.
And when I roar,
my people will return trembling from the west.
11 Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt.
Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria.
And I will bring them home again,”
says the Lord.
God punishes, not merely out of fierce anger as a person might, but out of holy necessity. If they never return to Him, they will be lost forever and so He intervenes…His care is too deep and His love is too strong to allow Him to sit passively by while His creation sets itself on a course for destruction. And He is determined to see His plan fulfilled…He has promised the Messiah through the line of Abraham and His promises never fail!
So, what did God want from His spouse?
“WHAT DOES GOD WANT?”
Hosea 6:1-6 – “Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
2 In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
3 Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
4 “O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces--
to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.”
God’s desire is to have a relationship with His people. He wants us to have the same faithfulness to Him as He has toward us. He is jealous for our undivided love; the kind of love that He has for us. Why should He have to share our affection? Why should the One we claim to know remain a veritable stranger? We should not expect to enjoy good things from God if we aren’t also prepared to acknowledge their source.
God allows difficulties into our lives for a variety of reasons…sometimes to strengthen our faith in Him, sometimes to provide course correction, and sometimes to punish. An undisciplined child turns into an entitled, selfish and rebellious adult. God wants so much better for us. In fact, the author of Hebrews echoes other authors in Scripture that tell us that God’s punishment is a demonstration of His love for us, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (12:6). Whatever the reason, the difficulties He allows into our lives always have a purpose, even if we cannot see it. No discipline is enjoyable but it is capable of producing great benefits…for ourselves, personally, for others and for the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan.
So what are our takeaways?
· The Bible tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ—God still views His chosen people, all those who believe in His Son, as being in a covenant relationship with Him that requires loyalty, fidelity and love
· God still punishes us when it is required, but is quick to forgive any who repent. His punishment is not a sign of His hatred or apathy; it is because He cares too much not to provide us with needed motivation to encourage us off of our own self-determined destinations for destruction
· God may choose to provide us with opportunities to grow, to change directions or for discipline through sources we don’t appreciate. Habakkuk couldn’t understand God’s choice of the Babylonians to punish the people of Judah, yet seventy years later, God knew that the time would be ripe for the people to return to Jerusalem newly committed to serving Him. Even when we don’t understand the plan, we can always trust the One whose plan it is.
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!