July 04, 2022 Grace United Church Northampton

Destroyed for a Lack of Knowledge

Destroyed for a Lack of Knowledge

In Hosea 1-3, we’ve seen the thoughts and emotions of the Lord God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, as He loves a people who disregard Him, turn their back on His love, and cast their hope on counterfeit gods.


Yet for three chapters, the Lord has pursued Israel.


God pursues His people, not as an angry king tracking down a disloyal subject but as a loving husband set to win back His unfaithful wife. 


And if your faith and your heart is turning from God and trusting other things that cannot save, He pursues you with the same love.


For those who think of God as distant, transcendent, and unaffectionate, God speaks to our hearts and shares His hurts quite vulnerably with us.


His love affords us the terrible power to wound His heart as much as a prodigal son hurts his dad or an adulterous wife can wound her husband.


Such is God’s love.


We see God's love most wonderfully on the cross, where God endured man’s sinful hate literally while redeeming our sin with His great love.


In chapter 4, the scene shifts to a courtroom. The Lord, who is both prosecutor and judge, spends seven chapters recalling Israel’s sins and crimes. 


Hosea 4:1 Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, for the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land [the holy land, the promised land], because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land… 


Then the Lord lists His people’s crimes, but He starts with the fact His people have no real relationship with Him. For there is no knowledge of God. His own people don’t know or trust His character, His deeds, His promises.


And it shows in their lives. Where knowledge of God fails, so does godliness, faithfulness, sacrifice, love. Without God, good is called evil, evil is called good. 


Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…


Our culture, our schools, mainstream media, social media, political theater all exalt man’s theories, opinions, and postulations, over the divine wisdom and eternal truth of God’s Word. And this has a damaging effect on us… 


If we lack knowledge, relationship with God, we still seek meaning, purpose, worth and identity through the idols and ideologies of the world.


Hosea 4:12 My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God.


When people their time and energy consulting their idols, the spirit of harlotry causes them to depart from God. Hosea warned—you give lip service to the Lord but you have a different god for every aspect of your lives. 


Yet they stubbornly held to their gods and idols, and denied any wrongdoing. So God is going to act. He’s been warning them of Assyria’s invasion…


Hosea 5:9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke; among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure. 10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; on them I will pour out My wrath like water. 11 Ephraim is oppressed; crushed in judgment, because he was determined to follow man's command… 14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, [the God who loves them] will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry [them] away, and there will be none to deliver. 


God vows to pull away from Israel, crush them in judgment, tear them to pieces, and have them carried off to captivity. Praise God we’re not Israel. But we learn about God’s character here.


So, let me ask, why will God do all this? 


God will do this this to them because He loves them.


What’s God’s goal? It is not judgment or even justice. God’s goal is restoration, forgiveness and healing, relationship, influence, transformation…


Hosea 5:15 I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek me.

  

In God's fierce love, He is unafraid to do the right thing, even if it hurts us for a bit. Even if it hurts Him. This is why He wants us to know Him and trust Him. So that we trust Him, walk with Him, and experience His love and power even when bad comes. Even when He allows sin to do what sin does. Even when He disciplines us.


Here is the response God’s discipline will bring about. Then they will say,


Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day [He will give us resurrection life] that we may live before Him. 


This is why God wants us to know Him. Whatever you face, you can face it knowing He will heal you. He will comfort you. He will raise us up with Him.  


What does it say about God that He is willing to go through all this just so that you and I and the people He loves return to Him?


Here’s the application so far in Hosea 6:3:


Hosea 6:3 So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD...


Meanwhile, God wrestles with the evidence and the demand for justice:


Hosea 6:4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? [You’ve rejected every attempt He’s made to kindle your faithful love.] For your loyalty [your steadfast love] is like a morning cloud, and like the dew which goes away early. 5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets [the prophets cut them a new one]; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth. 6 For I delight in loyalty [lit., “I delight in your steadfast love”] rather than sacrifice [i.e., I delight in your love rather than your apologies], and in the knowledge of God [being known, trusted, loved] rather than burnt offerings.


Here again is the problem: there is no knowledge of God! My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge! You've rejected knowledge! Relationship.


But that's the question in 6:4, What shall God do with Judah and Israel for their sin? The prosecution has built the case for divorce for seven chapters, highlighting Israel’s sin and unfaithfulness. Yet the Judge is overcome with emotions, overcome with love. Listen to God's heart of love in verses 8-9:


Hosea 11:8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? [Both of those cities were destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah!] My heart is turned over within Me. All My compassions are kindled. 9 [NO] I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again…


All of the facts are in. His people are found guilty of adultery. "Crucify her!" 


But God blurts out, “I can’t! My heart is going all over the place. I am flooded with compassion for you. I can’t abandon you to My justice or to My fierce anger.” He’s angry. But He won't do it.


Why not? God, you have every right. You have the power; the law is on your side. It’s what any of us would do! Why wouldn’t you do this?


Hosea 11:9 I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. [But why not?!] For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. 


Why won’t God destroy them considering all the pain and heartache that their sin and unfaithfulness deserves? For I am God, not man. Because I’m not like you. I am holy. God will not destroy them, God will forgive them and us because He’s the Holy God in our midst!


This is why we need to KNOW God and grow in the grace and knowledge of of our Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing Him as He is will draw us to love Him. 


We may think of God’s holiness in negative terms. His holiness is what makes Him judgmental, angry, full of wrath—scary. Yet here, God’s holiness makes Him forgiving and full of grace and mercy. Better, it is God’s forgiveness, love and mercy that make Him so very holy.  


God is holy, meaning He is set apart from us because He chooses to forgive those who hurt Him. Our Lord is holy, so very different from us, in that He chooses to love those who hate Him.


When God demonstrates His grace toward sinners, He shows how holy He is.


And the holiness of God rather than repeal us, draws us to Him. The holiness of God's love utterly attracts the humble and needy to Him. This is why we need to know the Lord our God:  


Hosea 11:8 How can I surrender you? My heart is turned over within Me. All My compassions are kindled. 9 I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim because I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come in wrath. [He will come in love and mercy and power as Lord…]


Hosea 11:10 [And] They will walk after the LORD…


Then God makes this great declaration of hope and a promise. And it reminds me of the end of Lion King, when Simba climbed to the tip of Pride Rock and roared and all the animals roared back and bowed before him.


Hosea 11:10 … He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west. 11 [From all of the places they’ve been scattered!] They will come trembling like birds from Egypt; and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.


When Christ returns Israel will turn to Him in love and submission! They’ll KNOW Him and follow Him. And, verse 11, “He will settle them in their houses…” He will establish them and welcome them into His kingdom.