Now he tells us in the first verse during the time which he did prophesy. So immediately we realize that as he was prophesying, and his prophecy was essentially to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but while he was prophesying to the Northern Kingdom of Israel was the same time that Isaiah was prophesying to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. For he names those same kings that reigned during the time of Isaiah’s prophecy. And so Hosea was a contemporary to Isaiah.
For he declares:
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah (1:1),
You remember Isaiah begins his prophecy, at the beginning of his prophecy, chapter 6, he said, “In the day that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord high and lifted up, sitting on the throne.” And then Isaiah does go ahead and has quite a great influence upon Hezekiah.
So during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who were the kings of Judah; and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, the king of Israel (1:1).
Now, it is interesting that he only names Jeroboam as the king of Israel, but Jeroboam, after his death, there were many other kings of Israel. But Israel, at this point, had slipped into a state of anarchy. Jeroboam was the last king of Israel through which God really spoke or to whom God really spoke. After Jeroboam’s assassination there was so much anarchy, intrigue, and one assassination after another, that he does not really acknowledge any of the others as kings in Israel. And yet, his prophecies were mainly directly to Israel.
The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD (1:2).
Now further on in Hosea the Lord is speaking how that He has spoken to the people, verse 10 of chapter 12, and have multiplied, spoken to the people by the prophets and had multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. Now a similitude is something that is similar to, by which you then draw a picture, something that you can see and then you draw from that a spiritual analogy. Now this is similar to, and with Hosea God did speak by the similitudes in his own life. In taking a wife, and it does not indicate necessarily that she was a prostitute when he married her and had children, but God is speaking of her knowing her heart and the bent of her nature that she would be unfaithful to him and would leave him and become a prostitute. And thus, God, in speaking of that nature that was there, commanded him to marry her. This character later developed.
Now, there are some who say this is all just an allegory, that he really didn’t marry and this is just a whole story. I cannot accept that. I think that it’s just that God told him to take this woman that God knew would be unfaithful in order that God might draw the similitude between this unfaithful wife of Hosea and the nation Israel who had been unfaithful unto God. For God had taken the nation Israel as His bride, had blessed her, heaped His love upon her, and yet she turned from God. And thus, the picture is given here.
for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; who conceived, and bare a son. And he called his name, Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel (1:2-5).
Now, this is a reference to a historic period when Jehu became the king of Israel. Now the king listed here, Jeroboam was a descendant of Jehu. When Jehu became the king of Israel he took it by force, and there were about seventy sons of this wicked king Ahab. And so Jehu sent a message to the elders of this city and he said, “Pick out one of the sons of Ahab and let him gather together an army and come out and face me.” Well, the men of the city said, “That Jehu is tough. There are two kings that weren’t able to stand before him. How can we stand before him?” And so they sent a message back to Jehu and they said, “Look, we don’t want to fight with you. We’re willing to come to terms. What do you want?” And Jehu said, “If you’re willing to come to terms, bring me the heads of the seventy sons of Ahab and lay them before me.” The bloody slaughter of all of Ahab’s sons. And so they brought them and they laid them in the valley of Jezreel. That’s why he named his son Jezreel, as a memorial or to remember this atrocious act of Jehu in obliterating all of the descendents of Ahab.
Now, when he did this, the Lord then declared through the prophet that he was going to bring judgment upon Jehu, but he had…because he had been zealous for God, he also took the prophets of Baal and wiped them all out that Ahab had gathered together. He slaughtered all of these prophets. He said, “Let me show you my zeal for the Lord,” and he killed all the prophets of Baal and all. And the Lord said, “I will allow him to reign.” That is, for four generations. So Jeroboam was the forth generation. Jeroboam, at his death, his son Zachariah became the king of Israel, but he reigned only a very short time before he was assassinated. So, the writing of Hosea is shortly before the death of Jeroboam, the ascension of Zachariah, who was assassinated.
So God is saying, “I’m about ready. Name your son Jezreel. Remind them of that atrocity that was committed in the valley of Jezreel, the heads of these seventy sons of Ahab in a pile there. And now I’m about to avenge this bloody act, so name your son Jezreel.” So it called into remembrance that judgment that God had declared would come upon the house of Jehu in the fourth generation and it was about to transpire. So that is the reason for naming the son Jezreel.
for yet in a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, [that king who had caused them to be put to death] and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel (1:4-5).
So Israel is about to be judged. The time has come and this avenging of the blood.
Now she conceived again, and she bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah (1:6):
Now Loruhamah means “no mercy” or “no pity.”
for the Lord said, I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel (1:6);
Now that’s a sad and a tragic day when God says, “Hey, I’m not going to have any more mercy upon them.” They had existed solely because God’s mercy. God had been so merciful to them. When God’s mercy is taken away, there’s nothing left. And so it was really a very severe judgment.
Call her Loruhamah: for I’m not going to have any more mercy on the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away (1:6).
And Israel is soon to be destroyed by the Assyrian kings and, of course, the fact that he reigned through the reign, lived through the reign of Hezekiah, he lived through the destruction of the Northern Kingdom.
But [the Lord said] I will have mercy upon the house of Judah [that is the Southern Kingdom], and I will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, or by sword, nor by battle, by horses, or by horsemen (1:7).
Now the Assyrians who destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel came against the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah. And Isaiah came to Hezekiah and said, “Look, you’re not going to have to fight in this battle. The battle is the Lord’s and the Lord is going to destroy the Assyrians from before you.” And the Assyrians had encompassed the city and there was a real shortage of food and a famine. And, of course, this was the typical manner of siege in those days. They would cut off the supplies of the city rather than trying to assault the walls and have the heavy loss of life in trying to batter the walls down. They would just encircle the city and cut off all their supplies and starve them out.
And so they had sent messages to Hezekiah to capitulate and all, and the Lord just told him, “Just stand still. Just, you know, watch My salvation.” And one morning when they awakened and looked over the wall, they saw the Assyrian army totally wiped out. An angel of the Lord had passed through the army of the Assyrians that night and had killed 185,000 in one evening. And those that did remain fled back to Assyria. And so, as the Lord here prophesied by Hosea, “Now I won’t have any more mercy on Israel, but I will have mercy on Judah. And I’m going to save them,” saith the Lord, “but not with a bow, nor by a sword, not in a battle.” God saved them by the angel of the Lord passing through the Assyrian army and destroying them. So, not by their fighting, not with bows or within the swords or by battle or horses or horsemen, but by the hand of the Lord Judah was saved because of God’s mercy.
Now when his wife had weaned Loruhamah [no more mercy], she conceived again, and she had a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God (1:8-9).
No more mercy. I’ve had it. I’m through. Call the son Loammi because it’s not My people. I’m not going to be your God.
Now, of course, the indication here is that his wife had already started messing around and Loammi was not his son. And so he’s just not my son. But it was also a picture of God saying to Israel, “You’re no more My people. I’m through. You’re not My people and I will not be your God.” That point of severance when God says, “That’s it.”
Now, here is one of the, you know, the cutoff. That’s as far as you can get when God says, “Hey, that’s it. You’re not My people. I’m not your God. Split. I’m through. Nothing more to do with you.” Probably the darkest prophecy against Israel. You can’t get any more darker or worse than that when God says, “That’s it. You’re no more My people. I’m not your God.” But in that very same place, we get one of the brightest prophecies of God’s future work in Israel.
Yet, though I’ve cut them off, I have no more mercy, they’re no more My people,
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel (1:10-11).
So in this very place, Jezreel, where God says, “That’s it, you’re no more My people,” in that place God is going to say to them, “You are My people and the number of Israel will be as the sand of the sea.” This is a prophecy of the glorious restoration of God’s grace, God’s love and God’s work on the nation of Israel.
Now there are many today who in interpreting the Bible, the New Testament, like to exclude the nation Israel from the grace and the mercy of God. And they declare that God is through with the nation of Israel forever and that the church is now Israel. And Paul, in writing to the church, does make reference to the fact that we who were once alienated had been brought nigh and we have been grafted in and partakers of the fatness of the vine and so forth, and he does speak of our being blessed by God, that is, the church. But it is wrong to say that the church is Israel. Paul says, “We are sons of Abraham through faith,” but we are not Israel, nor are we the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. And to spiritualize and make the church Israel is manifestly wrong and I will give you one reason and you need no more. There are many, but I’ll give you one and you’ll need no more.
Here in Hosea, in this similitude of Hosea taking a wife and her leaving him and becoming a prostitute, but then God saying to Hosea, “Go and get her again, purchase her and take her again for your wife,” precludes the church spiritually being Israel. For the church is the virgin bride adorned and prepared for her husband Jesus Christ--not a harlot, not bought out of harlotry, not purchased back from adultery, but the virgin bride being prepared for Christ. So don’t let these men who profess to be Bible scholars convince you that God is through with the nation of Israel and that there is nothing left for them, they’ve been cast out and God has placed us in and God is through with them. Not so. God has not finished yet with Israel. Even in the place of the darkest area where God says, “You are not My people, Loammi: not My people,” yet in that place God will say, “You are My people.” And God is going to restore His work on Israel.
Say to your brethren (2:1),
And here he leaves out the Lo, which is the negative.
Say to your brethren, My people; and to your sister, Ruhamah (2:1).
Or, “having obtained mercy.”
So the negative Lo is taken away in chapter 2.
And say to your brother, my people; and to your sister, having obtained mercy. Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her in a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully; for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, and my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up the way with thorns, and make a wall, and she shall not find her path. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but she shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for it was better with me than now (2:1-7).
So Israel’s period of desolation, the period of wondering and wandering until she says, “I’m going to return to my first husband. I’ll return to God. It was at least better for me then that it is now.”
For [the Lord said,] she did not know that I gave her the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness (2:8-9).
Failed to realize that their blessings had come to them from God. So often, as a nation is blessed of God, they forget the source of blessing. “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” But we forget that. We begin to extol the merits of democracy, the value of the free enterprise system. And we begin to attribute the greatness of America to many other things, forgetting that it was God who gave us the corn, the oil, and the wine, the gold, the silver; it was God that made us great. And we’re prone to forget these things. And when you forget the true source of the blessing in your life, the result is the misuse of those blessings. Taking those very blessings that God has bestowed and misusing them, using them against God.
So the children of Israel were taking the wine, the oil that God had given, and they were offering it as a sacrifice unto Baal. They took the gold and the silver that God had blessed them with and they made little pagan idols of Baal or Molech and they worshipped them, taking the very blessings of God and turning them against God, as we so often see today. People who have been talented by God, given beautiful voices to sing with, and yet they are singing songs of blasphemy, suggestiveness. People have a marvelous talent for writing and they’re writing pornographic material. Taking the very assets that God has given to them and using them against the Lord. Men that God has endowed with great brilliance, powerful intellects, and they use that intellect to try to prove that there isn’t a God or to destroy the faith of others who may believe in God. Taking the very blessings of God and turning them against the Lord.
Now this, of course, God said, “I’ll come and take I’ll take away the corn in its time.” You see, if you abuse those blessings of God, God will take them away. How many have lost those very things that God had given to them because of their misuse of them?
Now God said,
I will discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of my hand. I will also cause her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all of her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines, her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them (2:10-13),
Baalim, of course, being the plural of the Baals, the various lords, the various gods that they were burning incense to.
and she decked herself with earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me, saith the LORD (2:13).
And thus, God’s indictment against Israel worshipping all these false gods, going after these false gods and forgetting the Lord.
Therefore, behold, [the Lord said,] I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her (2:14).
This is a prophecy of that time when during the Great Tribulation God will bare a portion of the nation of Israel down to the wilderness where He will protect them for the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation period. In Revelation, chapter 12, we read where God will give them wings of an eagle that they might be born to the wilderness place where they will be nourished for three and a half years. Jesus mentioning this said, “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, flee into the wilderness. Don’t bother to go back to your house to get your coat” (Matthew 24:15-18). And God will preserve them and keep them. Isaiah 26, “He will hide them until the tribulation is over, until the indignation is overpast” (Isaiah 26:20).
“Therefore, behold,” the Lord said, “I will allure her.” God is going to begin to deal again with the nation of Israel as He preserves them from the man of sin during the Great Tribulation period. “I will bring her into the wilderness, and there I will speak comfortably to her.”
And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope (2:14-15):
Now the valley of Achor is that valley that comes from Jericho up through to Bethel. It was in the valley of Achor the trouble (the word Achor is “trouble”) is where, when they had conquered the city of Jericho and the children of Israel were moving into the land where there was this little town of Ai, and some of Joshua’s men said, “Hey, don’t send the whole army. We’ll go over and we’ll wipe out Ai and we’ll bring you all of the loot.” And so they went over and the men of Ai came out against them and began to defeat them. They came running back to Joshua and Joshua fell on his face and began to pray and the Lord says, “Why are you crying unto Me? Why are you praying now? If everything was all right you would have had victory, but there’s sin in the camp.” And so the Lord revealed that Achan, one of the men of Israel, had taken some of the loot from Jericho, which was all to be given to the Lord. He said, “You know, the first belongs to Me. The rest, as you go into the land, you can divide among yourself, but the first belongs to Me.” Firstfruits always unto God. Jericho, the firstfruit, as they conquer the land, all belongs to God.
Well, Achan saw this beautiful Babolonish garment and he hid it in his own tent and all. And so the Lord reveals the sin of Achan, and it was dealt with there in the valley of Achor, the valley of trouble. They called the place Achor after the trouble that Achan, he said, “For you have troubled Israel.” And so this valley where Israel was troubled, of course, coming up out of the Jordan valley into the land again will be the door of hope to the people.
and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt (2:15).
As in, after the Great Tribulation period when the Lord returns and these people then come from the wilderness, they will make their way back up into Israel through this valley of Achor and there they will be singing as they did years ago in the times of Joshua as they were coming into the land that God had promised, with singing and rejoicing. So, therefore, they shall come and sing in the heights of Zion and this glorious day in the future.
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [that is, my husband]; and no longer Baali (2:16).
Now Baali is, of course, is lord but it is using that pagan term Baal. So you don’t call him, “My Lord,” but you’ll be calling him, “My husband.”
For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely (2:17-18).
That’s equivalent to Isaiah’s prophecy where they will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks and all. And they will make a covenant with the animals. The animals will no longer be vicious. The lion will lie down, or the lion will eat grass with the ox and a little child shall lead them. The animal kingdom will again be at peace. In those days you women won’t have to have that abhorrence of snakes or all anymore or worried spiders or things of this nature. God is going to bring peace over the whole earth. No more wars and people will lie down in peace and in safety.
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever (2:19);
God is going to just restore forever.
yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. And I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD (2:19-20).
This is a prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. Still in the future when this glorious work of God is wrought upon the people of Israel and upon that nation.
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God (2:21-23).
And so the restoration. And this of course, you remember, as Peter was speaking in the book of Acts, he said, “As the Scripture in all places speaks of the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). This is that restitution that Peter was speaking about. Not a universal restitution of all men, but the restitution of the nation of Israel to God and the restitution of this relationship where they say, “You are my God,” and God says, “You are My people.” And God betroths them again in faithfulness and in love and in mercy and all. This undying love that God has for these people. God’s incurably in love with them. In this glorious time when they are restored, when they acknowledge God, He acknowledges them.
Then said the LORD unto me (3:1),
Hosea is speaking here.
Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine (3:1).
In other words, God is saying, “Now go take your wife again, love her again though she has become a prostitute and has left you. Go, and take her, love her again.”
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver (3:2),
Now the normal price of a slave was thirty pieces of silver. So this fifteen pieces of silver indicates how completely destitute she had become, probably sick, anemic and all through her wasted life; lost her beauty, lost her desirability. He was able to purchase her for half the price of a slave, fifteen pieces of silver.
and for a homer of barley, [or about eighty-six gallons of barley] and a half homer of barley [animal food, barley]: And I said unto her, You shall abide with me for many days; you shall not play the harlot, and you shall not be for another man: so will I also be for thee (3:2-3).
And so in the restoration you’re just to abide for many days. You’re not to be for another man and I will keep myself for you.
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, without an image, without an ephod, without the terephim: And afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; [or their Messiah] and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days (3:4-5).
Now it is true, Israel has gone many days without a king and without sacrifices, without the priesthood, for those ephods and terephims and all are a part of the priestly garments. And they have gone without these things for many days, many years, and yet God is going to restore these things to them as Jesus Christ comes again, sits upon the throne of David, orders it and establishes it in righteousness and in judgment forever.
So, it is interesting how that Hosea commanded of the Lord to go and now purchase his wife. Sort of reminiscent of the story of the gingerbread man. For the little girl baked this gingerbread man and as she was taking it out of the oven, admiring how handsome he was, and she began to put on the raisins and all for his face and buttons and these things. And finally when she was all through, he jumped out of the pan and began to run away. She began to chase him, and he cried, “Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man.” And he was right, she couldn’t catch him and she went home sad and crying for her gingerbread man had run away. But the next day, as she was walking down the street looking in the store windows as she passed the bakery shop, there looking and smiling at her through the window was her gingerbread man lying on a tray. So she went in to the proprietor and said, “I want my gingerbread man. He’s there in the window.” And he said, “He will cost you ten cents.” She said, “Oh no, no, you don’t understand. He’s mine. That’s my gingerbread man. I made him.” The proprietor said, “He costs ten cents.” So the little girl went home and she got her bank and she shook the coins until she got her ten pennies and she ran back to the bakery shop and put her pennies on the counter and she said, “Now I want my gingerbread man.” And the man took the gingerbread man out of the window and handed it to the little girl and she began to clasp him close to her as she walked home and she said, “Now, you are really mine. First of all I made you and now I bought you.” What a picture.
God with Israel, “Now you’re really Mine. I made you, now I purchased you.” Story of redemption. As the Lord clasps you close to Himself and Jesus says, “Now you’re really Mine. I made you. You’re Mine by the divine right of creation, but now I’ve purchased you. You ran away, but now I’ve purchased you. I redeemed you.”
And so the wife now redeemed, abiding for a period of time after the redemption. Jesus came and redeemed Israel. But even after the redemption you’re going to abide a period of time without a king, without a sacrifice, without the priesthood. And so the nation Israel has been abiding.
Now, turning ahead to chapter 6, and this is next week’s lesson so we’re going to just take a look here. The declaration of Israel in the last days: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, but He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).
Peter tells us that a day is as a thousand years to the Lord and a thousand years is as a day. Here they speak for two days, after two days He will revive us. It is very interesting and very significant that Israel remained without the sacrifice, without the priesthood for almost two thousand years now. “But after two days He will revive us and in the third day He will raise us up and we will live His sight.” That third thousand-year period being the great millennium when the blessings of God are restored upon the nation Israel and they live in His sight. So that is quite a remarkable prophecy of Hosea, ties in with chapter 3 in a sense. That they shall abide for many days without these things after the redemption price is paid, but then they will be restored. “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and the Messiah David their king; and they shall fear the Lord and His goodness in those latter days.”
Now we enter into the second part of the book of Hosea, where he declares:
HEAR the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land (4:1),
God’s controversy is this:
there is no truth, there is no mercy, there’s no knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood touches blood (4:1-2).
God’s indictment against Israel, God’s controversy with them. As we look at these indications that created the controversy and we think of our present situation: no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land, but by swearing and lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery the land is polluted, blood touching blood.
Therefore [the Lord said] shall the land mourn, and every one that dwells therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fish of the sea and also shall be taken away (4:3).
Have you been reading lately how that there are so many various species that are becoming extinct? This is what this particular prophecy would seem to indicate, the extinction of various species, they’ll be taken away.
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Therefore thou shalt fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. For my people [the Lord said] are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (4:4-6).
I think that one of the tragic things about even the church today is the lack of the teaching of the Word of God, which brings a resultant lack of the knowledge of God in the hearts of people. People really do not know the Lord, and the reason why is that it is hard to find a church that really teaches the Word of God. I wish you could read my mail for a week. I wish someone did. But it breaks your heart, the letters that I receive of people who have been transferred from this area or have moved to other areas of the country and have searched and searched for a church where they could just be fed the Word of God, to get some in the kind of environment where there wasn’t a lot of hype and all but just the teaching of the Word of God in simplicity, in purity. And they write back and they tell of the dearth in the land for the teaching of the Word. And I have so many letters, “Would you mind praying about starting a Calvary Chapel here?” We’ve got a stack of letters from people all over that would like to have us start a Calvary Chapel in their community where they can again just go and simply hear the teaching of the Word of God.
My people [God said] are destroyed for the lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing that you have forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (1:6).
You see, the whole problem with Israel began with the priesthood and with the prophets--the corrupted priesthood not teaching the people, not being responsible to teach the people the law of God. They themselves didn’t know the law of God. You have forgotten the law of God, how can you teach the people if you’ve forgotten it yourself?
And as they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. And there shall be, like people, like priest (4:7-9):
And so it is, the people have become like the priests.
and thus I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and yet not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Whoredom, wine, new wine take away the heart (4:9-11).
These things take away your heart from God.
The Lord declares:
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares unto them (4:12):
And they’re no longer seeking counsel from God, they’re seeking counsel from these little wooden idols that they were making.
for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of mountains, they burn incense upon the hills, and under the oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good (4:12-13):
The superstitions of, “Oh the shadow of this elm is good, you know, for your divinations and all.”
therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, your spouses shall commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall. Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth (4:13-15).
Gilgal used to be the center of worship; it became the place of pagan worship. Bethel, the house of God, became name as Bethaven.
For Israel is sliding back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to her idols: let him alone (4:16-17).
How tragic it is when God says of a people, “Just let them alone.” Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, joined herself to her idols. “Just let her alone. Don’t warn her anymore, don’t speak to her anymore, don’t pray for her anymore.” God said to Jeremiah, “Don’t pray anymore for their good. If you do, I’m not going to listen to you.” As we said this morning, God has warned, “My Spirit will not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). There is a line. You can go beyond those limits of God’s grace. “Let them alone. Ephraim joined to her idols; just let them alone.”
Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye. The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices (4:18-19).
And so, God’s indictment against Israel, “Hear the word of the Lord,” the Lord says, “Ye children of Israel,” and this is God’s indictment against them. Father, teach us Thy ways. Our hearts thirst after Thee oh Lord, that we might walk before Thee in truth. Father, help us that we might learn from history and from the evil of Israel in forsaking Thee, in allowing other interests, other loves to exceed their love for You. Oh God, keep our hearts pure that we might serve Thee and worship Thee and follow Thee. Help us, Lord, to remember that it is You who has blessed us with the corn, and with the oil, with the abundance, and may we then use that which You have given to us not to defile Thee but to glorify Thee. And may we glorify You with our substance, with our lives. Oh God, we pray that You’ll help us be drawn into an ever closer fellowship with Thee as Your Spirit works within our hearts. In Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.