Like Moth and Lion (Part Two)

Hosea 5:1-15

For I am like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. Yes, I will tear them to pieces and depart. I will carry them off, and no one can rescue them. I will depart and return to my place until they recognize their guilt and seek my face; they will search for me in their distress (5:14-15 CSB).

After exposing Israel’s lack of repentance, failure to do God’s will, and her misdirected ideas, the Lord turned to talk about what awaited his wayward old covenant people.

The Lord God previewed Israel’s punishment. First we see that God will not help the unrepentant (5:6-7). Israel thought she could satisfy God with sacrifices and ritual celebrations. Sort of like the churchgoer who imagines God is pleased when he or she says the Lord’s Prayer, listens disinterestedly to a sermon, and throws a few dollars in the offering plate. God is not held captive by religious ritual, even if it is appointed by him. Grace cannot be earned! It is always a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and such grace always comes through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

God told Israel that he would become their enemy (5:8-14). He would be like the silent destroyer. He would quietly bring ruin and decay like moth and rot do. Would you have ever imagined God picturing himself as a moth or rot? At times, the only thing that will gain our attention is shocking language. The Lord would be the ferocious predator. He would roar and attack like a bold lion, from whom there is no escape. Believers like the picture of God as a lion, boldly ravaging his enemies. But here, his enemy is Israel, his people! An uncomfortable thought! In either picture, God wanted Israel to have an “authentic meeting” with the living God. The Lord wants us out of our comfort zones to really meet him.

God declared Israel’s only escape (5:15). He corrected their wrong attitude. Israel had thought she could play religious games with the living God. “The Lord will forgive; that’s his job. Just bring him a few sacrifices once in awhile.” In our day people assume that they’re okay if they say a few “Jesus words”, even if they don’t really know him as risen Lord and Savior. However, the Lord solemnly said that he would withdraw from them, until they repented. Israel needed to have a proper fear of God and love for God.

He clarified the right way back to his favor. They needed to admit their guilt. The first step back to God is to confess openly that you have a serious problem, that you have offended the true and living God. They needed to confess their sin; that is, to take God’s side against their rebellious acts. Has this ever happened in your life?

They needed to turn to the Lord earnestly. God does not want us to play games with him. He wants a sincere, deeply-felt repentance from the core of our being (what the Bible calls the heart.) Forsake your old idols and look toward him. He wants us to seek Him, not merely His gifts. The only way back to the living God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 ESV; cf. 1 Timothy 2:5).

It is time to seek the Lord!

Grace and peace, David

The Sinner Found Out (Part One)

1 Kings 21:17-29

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Get up and go to meet King Ahab of Israel, who is in Samaria. He’s in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you murdered and also taken possession?’ Then tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, the dogs will also lick up your blood!’” (21:17-19 CSB)

In the heart of sinful humanity, there lives a delusion that God does not notice the sins of people, or that if he does, he is unable or unconcerned to do anything about it. In contrast with this way of thinking, the word of God says that the Lord will surely bring every person to an accounting for his or her sin (cf. Romans 2:5-11).

In previous posts, we saw how Ahab was filled with jealous greed for Naboth’s vineyard. His wife Jezebel thought up and carried out an evil scheme to get the vineyard for Ahab. After she had Naboth and his sons murdered, Ahab boldly went and took possession of the vineyard with all his military leaders behind him. Will Ahab and Jezebel get away with their sin? Does God care when we sin? Is he able to do anything about it?

God sent the prophet Elijah as a messenger of judgment. Notice that the Lord knew where Ahab would be before the event, and he sent his servant to meet the wicked king there. Consider the basis for Elijah’s message. He acted in obedience to God’s command (21:17, 19). Our final authority is God’s word, in which we may read what the Lord tells us what he wants us to do and what he forbids us to do.

Here are two matters we must clearly understand. First, we dare not have anything else but the Scriptures as our authority. He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules’” (Mark 7:6-7 NIV). To rest on human opinions or reasoning is perilous to one’s soul. Second, we do not need anything else. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

Will the Bible tell you how to use the apps on your cellphone? (To some, that is one of life’s great mysteries.) No, because that is not an issue of life or godliness. But it will provide you with guidelines for how you ought to use your cellphone in a godly manner. See Ephesians 4:17-5:16.

How was the message received? Ahab, like anyone else who is ungodly, did not receive God’s messenger with favor. Oh, there may be a restrained civility, but there remains a deep, inner opposition to the word of God and to those who proclaim it. When unsaved people hear a message of judgment, or something else in the Bible that they do not like, they may let you know how much they dislike it, and you for telling them about it.

The message clarified. Ahab said to Elijah, “So, my enemy, you’ve found me, have you?” He replied, “I have found you because you devoted yourself to do what is evil in the Lord’s sight” (21:20 CSB). We should make clear what our purpose in telling God’s message is. We have no personal dislike for the people. All people are made in the image of God, and should therefore be treated with respect. But we are opposed to their sin, and we must warn them of the outcome of continuing in sin.

People applaud those who warn others to get out of burning buildings. We require smoke detectors, fire alarms, exit signs, panic hardware on doors, and emergency lights. Most people will agree, though perhaps some grudgingly, “If it saves lives, it’s a good law.” But let a Christian tell someone how they may avoid eternal fire, and the world goes crazy. Why is this important in our lives? As followers of Jesus Christ, our mission is to speak out for the glory of God and the good of people.

Grace and peace, David