Love and Judgment: God's Dilemma (Hosea)

Scripture: Hosea 12:6, Hosea 7:11-12
Date: 04/13/2013 
Lesson: 2
"Hosea reveals more of God's love for His wayward people."
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church and thank you so much for joining us for central study hour. Wherever you are - if you're behind a screen or here warming the pews in our sanctuary, you've probably gotten through a long week - a very manic Monday - you've jumped over that Wednesday hump and you've cooked and you've cleaned all in preparation for what? The Sabbath - this special day. You - wherever you are - you are here because God brought you here and we'd like to welcome you. We're so happy that you could join us this morning. We have songs of praise to sing and a very good study in store.

Our first hymn this morning - I hope you have your hymns with you - hymn #435 - 'the glory song'. This song comes as a request from elaine in antigua and barbuda, pedro and marvin from barbados, lorraine from florida, rusti from Illinois, dave from Indiana, karim and Christopher from jamaica, nigussie from Minnesota, vern, sandie, jenny and jamie from North Carolina, kofi from south korea, mavis from england, tamah from the u.s. Virgin islands, and katherine from Virginia. We will sing the first, second and third stanzas of hymn #435 - 'the glory song'. Amen.

You know, when I think of the word 'glory' I think about the glory of the Lord revealed, right? And the glory of God - and so, a while ago when I was studying, the question was asked, 'what is the glory of the Lord?' And it came to us that the glory of the Lord is his character. So every time when I'm reading through the Bible and I see 'glory' I sometimes like to change the words and say that it's the character of God. So when we are - we're singing this song I said, 'oh, this is the character song.' And the words are talking about how character has gotten the people singing this song to this place and that place is heaven. The only thing that we will take to heaven is our character and thus we should work to perfect it through the grace of God. If you have a song request, maybe the character song or another - visit us at www. - - click on the 'contact us' link and we'll be happy to hear from you - any requests. Our next song is hymn #46 - 'abide with me, 'tis eventide'. This is one of our songs as we're working our way through the hymnal. If you're already familiar with the tune good job! We'll need to hear your voices as we're singing. Hymn #46 - stanzas 1, 2 and 3.

Let's pray. Dear Heavenly Father, this morning we ask that you abide with us - in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. We ask that you abide with us in our hearts, in our minds, within every - every bit of our beings, Dear Lord. Events happen in this world and things happen in our lives that might cause us to think that you are no longer with us, but I know that you told me you would never leave me or forsake me - and even if you did leave, you said you went to prepare a place for me and if you're leaving to prepare a place for me, you have to come back to take me with you. Lord, we ask that your spirit be with pastor chris this morning - that we may discern spiritually the things in Your Word.

We love you and we ask that you bless us and keep us and help us to bless others. I thank you for the opportunity to share with song and I praise you for who you are. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen. Our lesson study this morning will be brought to us by pastor chris buttery - our family life and evangelism pastor at Sacramento central.

Good morning. Good to see you this morning. Happy Sabbath - yes - turned on - very good. Good to see everybody this morning and a special thank you to our musicians and performers or choristers - not performers - choristers - and a pleasant Sabbath to each one here in the sanctuary this morning and those that are watching us online and on tv or listening to us here this morning by radio. A very special welcome.

We are launching in into our second lesson in the quarterly. 'Major lessons from minor prophets'. Now, of course, these prophets are not minor - they're not insignificant, but they're minor in the sense that their books are somewhat smaller than the other prophet writers. But we're going to be tackling lesson #2 here reviewing it for us this morning. And the title to this lesson is 'love and judgment: God's dilemma'.

And before we get into our study, of course, I want to make sure that our special offer is offered. It's offer #132 and this particular study guide has helped thousands - I would say even millions - understand or get a better understanding of the judgment. When we think of the judgment we think of fire and we cower, perhaps, in fear. But for the believer, judgment is good news. And so, interestingly, the Bible writers mention judgment about a thousand times or over a thousand times and so this is a very important subject - a very important topic to review and understand - so we want to make sure that our special offer goes out to you.

Call in to 1-866-study-more - that's 1-866-788-3966 - call in for offer #132. Well, we are going to look at our memory text here this morning, so if you have your Bibles - and I'm sure you do - be so kind to turn with me to Hosea chapter 12 as we look at a summary text for our study this morning - Hosea chapter 12 and verse 6. I'm reading from the King James version here this morning - Hosea chapter 12 and verse 6. The Bible says, "therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God" - what does that word say? - "Continually." And we'll talk a little bit more - briefly, I suppose, about this verse, but we'll come back to it. Really, this particular study - this particular week - is really about making sure we have a right understanding of the character of God because a right understanding of the character of God attracts people - attracts us - and attracts people to return to God who, in turn, will emulate his faithfulness, his love, and his justice.

I read a story that's - was a little humorous - farmer joe - I don't know why farmers are called 'joe' all the time, but this was farmer joe. Farmer joe decided that his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company who was responsible for the accident to court. So in court the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer joe. 'Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, farmer joe that 'I'm fine'?' Well, farmer joe responded and said, 'well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, betsy, into the.

..' 'I didn't ask for any details.' - The lawyer interrupted - 'just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, you were 'fine'?' Farmer joe said, 'well, I had just got betsy into the trailer and I was driving down the road.' The lawyer interrupted again and said, 'judge, I'm trying to establish the fact that at the scene of the accident this man told the highway patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now, several weeks after the accident, he's trying to sue my client. I believe he's a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.

' By this time the judge was fairly interested in farmer joe's story about betsy and so he said, 'i'd like to hear it. I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule.' So joe thanked the judge and proceeded. He said, 'well, I was - as I was saying, I was loading betsy onto my trailer and onto my truck - my favorite mule into the trailer - and I was driving down the highway when this huge semi-trailer ran a stop sign and smacked right into the side of my truck. I was thrown into one ditch and betsy was thrown into the other and I could hear her moaning over there and I was hurt really bad; however, I couldn't get to old betsy. Shortly after the accident a highway patrolman came on the scene.

He could hear betsy moaning and groaning so he went over to her and as he looked at her he took out his gun and he shot her between the eyes to put her out of her misery. Then the patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and he looked at me and he said, 'your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?' It was then that I said, 'I'm fine.'' Israel, at the time of the prophet Hosea, was not fine. They were not fine at all. As a matter of fact, just a brief review - brief history - because I know it was reviewed last week - but Israel's predicament at the time of - the time of Hosea, all started when king jeroboam, you remember, who was the King of divided Israel, set up two golden calves to be worshiped.

The first departure from the established form of worship led to gross forms of idol worship and then the alluring practice of nature worship and exaltation of nature above the God of nature, the worship of the creature above the creator severed Israel from anything that was noble and leaving them an easy target to temptation. Now, of course, with no defense of the soul, no barrier to sin, the heart just simply ruled the day. The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful and wicked above all else, who can know it? And so when you're just letting your heart lead you it's just not a good thing and this was the history of Israel: whatever felt good, tasted good, appeared good - to them was good. It wasn't necessarily good. There was about a hundred and sixty years between jeroboam - that jeroboam - and jeroboam the second.

This is the King that was reigning at the time - in Israel - at the time of the prophet Hosea. Every king in between jeroboam I and jeroboam ii did that 'which was evil' - the Bible says - 'in the sight of the Lord.' Now Hosea lived at the darkest period. This was just prior to the assyrian captivity. God had sent Hosea on a mission to warn his people and to bring them back - seek to bring them back to him. His ministry - Hosea's ministry - covered the span of four Judean Kings - josiah, jotham, ahaz and hezekiah - and, of course jeroboam ii.

And the dates are around to 753 b.c. He ministered to the northern kingdom, Israel, but all throughout Hosea - the book of Hosea - you'll notice the name ephraim. Ephraim is used and ephraim was the largest tribe in the northern kingdom and, therefore, when you see the word or the name ephraim you can know that it's talking about Israel the northern kingdom. This was a period of great prosperity and growth more than - so at any other time after David - after king David and Solomon - yet inwardly there was huge moral corruption and spiritual adultery and materialism, commercialism, social evils, political corruption and misrule actually ruled the day. It looked all good on the outside, but inwardly it just wasn't good at all.

Consider - consider with me for just a moment that new Kings that rose to power ended up killing their predecessors. You had shallum killed zachariah, menahem killed shallum, pekah killed The Son of menahem, pekahiah and hoshea killed pekah. I mean, it was just atrocious what was happening in the northern kingdom. One murder - one assassination after another. When we come to jehoahaz, who was the grandfather of jeroboam ii, he was continually oppressed by the syrians all the days of his reign.

And then you had jehoash, who was The Father of jeroboam, he recovered three cities from the syrians - syrians had taken three of the cities from the kingdom, but he was able to recover three of them. You remember, it was Elisha the prophet who was about to die, he came to - this king came to Elisha - jehoash - also known as joash and he - he asked him what was going to happen and Elisha reassured him that God would deliver syria into his hands. And he asked him to take those arrows - do you remember? Smite them on the ground and however many times he struck the ground would be how many times he would strike syria. But joash struck the ground just - do you remember the story? Three times. And so he was able to recover how many cities? Three, that's all.

If he had struck the ground more times - five, six, seven, eight times - exhibiting his faith in God's promise then he would have smitten syria, but he recovered just three cities and he troubled the King of judah, amaziah, all of the days of his reign. It was a miserable situation. We're just getting some context here and timeline for Hosea. Now jeroboam ii is ruler and 2 Kings chapter - 2 Kings chapter , verses 23 and 24 says that "he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord as well." Yet, interestingly, God prospered Israel under his rule. And I suppose God did this in the hopes that he would entice his children to come back to him - to enjoy his - not temporal benefits and blessings, but his eternal and his everlasting benefits promised on condition of repentance and obedience.

It's an interesting thing. I'm going to share with you some - some of the - I have the teacher's lesson here and it relates some of the conditions or - throughout the book of Hosea shares the Spiritual situation of God's people and I'm going to go through this relatively quickly. All throughout the book of Hosea you get glimpses as to the true spiritual condition of Israel at the time of this writing. Here it is. In Hosea chapter 4, verses 1 and , it says that "there is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.

There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed." If you jump over to Hosea 4, verse 6 it says, "my people are destroyed from lack of" - what? - "Knowledge." And then over to verse 7, "they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful." Verse 12, "a spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God." And then verse 14, "a people without understanding will come to ruin!" Jump over to chapter 5 and verse - chapter 5 and verse 4. It says, "a spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the lord." Chapter 6 and verse 4, "your love is like the morning mist, they have broken" - verse 7 - "they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me." And it continues on - it continues on. There's a Bible text that I would like someone to read for us here this morning - 2 Kings chapter 14, verses 25 to 27 - you have that? Okay, we're going to come to you in just a moment. Fantastic. It's a phenomenal thing - we're going to keep reading some of these conditions but God, irrespective of the condition, God had great compassion on them and we're going to read that in just a moment in 2 Kings chapter , verses 25 to 27.

I'm going to continue on here with the - with the list here. Hosea 7, verses 1 and 2, "they practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them." Verse 4 of chapter 7, "they are all adulterers," verse 7, "none of them calls on me." Verse 10, "Israel's arrogance testifies against him, ...he does not return to the Lord his God or search for him." And then verse 13, "they have rebelled against me." And then verse 16, "they do not turn to the most high;" and it continues on with the atrocities taking place in the church. It's a fascinating proposition. We can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Israel was in dire straights and in trouble and Hosea was sent to warn them of impending judgment.

Now we have the text - 2 Kings chapter 14, verses 25 to 27, if you could read that for us - fantastic. He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of hamath to the sea of the arabah, according to the word of the lord God of Israel, which he had spoken through his servant Jonah The Son of amittai, the prophet who was from gath hepher, for the Lord saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and whether bond or free, there was no helper for Israel. And the Lord did not say that he would blot out the name of Israel from under the heaven; but he saved them by the hand of jeroboam the son of joash." Thank you very much. Interesting passage of Scripture - just prior to that we're told that - we're told that jeroboam is ruling and he did all that is evil in the sight of the Lord - and that's in verse 24 - and then he goes on to describe God's compassion and patience with his people. God - it says here that God saw their affliction.

Of course, God doesn't permit the fires of affliction to burn any hotter than is necessary to burn off the rubbish - the dross. He saw their affliction and he saw that there was no helper in Israel at all - they'd lost their power - it dwindled and she had been left defenseless because of her spiritual condition. And then a fascinating statement: he would not blot them out. He would not blot them out. It seems to me that this passage is harkening back to Deuteronomy chapter 32, verses 36 to 43 - you can just jot it down, we're not going to go there, but Deuteronomy chapter 32, verses to 43 it talks about when God's children get into straits - into distress - that he will stand for them.

He will come and deliver them. He'll help them and it's a fascinating read and in your spare time take a moment to read it. But it seems like the writer here in 2 Kings is referring to that passage of Scripture irrespective of their sin - irrespective of their disobedience and recalcitrance - God says, 'I'm not going to blot them out.' He's going to have compassion. He's going to have mercy on them. And interestingly he says, 'I will save them by the hand of' - who? - 'King jeroboam.

' This is number 2 - the one that is ruling at the time of Hosea. He would save them through the hand of jeroboam. Prosperity came to them in spite of their wickedness. This didn't indicate, of course, God's approval for their behavior, instead they were - these blessings were to be an invitation to his people to return to their original calling and to return to their original purpose. So God was good to his people.

God - how did God communicate his message to his people at this time? I remember a friend of mine came to me - we were - it was back in college and he'd come to me kind of distressed. He was trying to help out a fellow student from his own country - it was kind of an international cosmopolitan school that we went to - and, apparently, this guy had gotten into a bit of depression and was a little discouraged and, anyway, my friend came to me kind of distraught and not knowing, really, how to help his friend. And I remember - I always remember what he - what he said to me. He said, 'look, I've tried. Chris, you cannot believe - I've tried every single method, every single approach that I can use on this guy and it doesn't seem to work.

I've gotten angry at him - not because I was angry but showed a little anger to see if I could snap him out of it. I showed, compassion, mercy - I told him some stories - I've tried all types of different approaches to try to reach him but it didn't work.' When we come to - when we come to the old testament and when we look in the book of Hosea, God is using a variety of methods to communicate his message to his - to his people - through Hosea's experience with gomer that was studied last week. It was a living, acted-out parable and then, throughout the rest of the book of Hosea, and particularly chapters 7 through 14, which we'll be looking at here, God's Word came to them through metaphors or through comparisons so that - so that he could communicate his message. In essence - in essence - in a sense - Hosea, God - God's Word - through Hosea God's Word became flesh in a sense. After all, how do you explain to human beings what's on the mind of God? How do you take divinity and boil it down so we can understand what's on God's mind and what's in his heart? Through Hosea, God used comparisons to communicate his intentions and will for his people so that they would understand clearly because a misunderstanding of the character of God could drive a person deeper in their recalcitrant ways; yet, a right understanding of the character of God has the ability to attract people to him and to emulate - and, in turn, they will emulate his faithfulness, his love, and his justice.

And that's what this week's lesson is really all about. One more thing before we get into Sunday's lesson. I don't think you can avoid seeing a major theme in these - throughout the book of Hosea, especially chapters 7 through 14 - that you reap what you sow. It's one of the major, major themes here that I picked out in the book of Hosea. You reap what you sow.

Some of you may have heard of sir robert watson-watt. He was known as the inventor of the radar. Hopefully none of you have gotten too close to or experienced the radar. He was driving on highway 401 through toronto - if you've ever been to toronto, that's the huge highway that runs straight through - kind of goes from windsor kind of all the way out east to Kingston and close to ottawa. He was driving on highway 401 and he got caught.

How did sir robert watson-watt get caught, he got caught by his invention - radar trap. And so, he wrote this poem afterwards. He said, "pity sir robert watson-watt, strange target of his radar plot, and this with others I could mention, a victim of his own invention." Sir robert was right. And in the case of Israel they had fallen victim of their own invention - they'd fallen prey to the inventions of their own devisings. The Scripture reminds us well that whosoever - 'whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.

' So keep this in mind as we review the lesson together today. Okay, we're going over this Sunday's lesson - Sunday's lesson - and we're going to be talking about some of the ways God communicated to his people - different metaphors or comparisons that he used to communicate to his people. There are several here - I'd like someone to read Hosea chapter 7, verses 11 and 12 - okay, we're going to come to you in just a moment. There are four metaphors in Hosea chapter 7. Look with me - look with me there in verses - verse 3, "they make the King glad" - excuse me, verse 4 - "they are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.

" And then we jump down to verse 6 - it says, "for they have made ready their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire." And so, Israel's condition is likened to an oven - or more specifically, their heart is likened to an oven. The fire represents their unholy passions and desires that are burning hot and the dough that is rising represents their evil intentions and their evil purposes. So God likens his people to oven, fire and dough. That might not be one metaphor - kind of three - but you get the idea - there's one. Look at verse 8, "ephraim" - or Israel - "he hath mixed himself among the people; ephraim is a cake not turned.

" Now we - we would consider that to be a good thing in our culture - you bake your cake, you put it the right way up and you don't want it to turn, you want it to stay the right way upright but I understand that this cake referred to here - or more like a - more like a pancake - kind of like a flat bread or more like a pancake - a sweet bread - it needed to be cooked on both sides so you heated one side quickly and then you turned it to the other side. If you leave it on one side long enough - if you've ever cooked pancakes, you know what this is like - it gets all crispy and it gets burnt on one side and - and if you - well, you know, it just is not good. My kids hand me the burnt pancakes if they end up getting burnt and I'm the one who does the cooking I need to make sure you know that it's not jennifer doing that, but it's not good when one side gets darkened and burned and the top side is left uncooked and that's the - that's the allusion here or the metaphor being used. 'You are like a cake not turned.' You were left in the oven - and Israel became ruined by the heat because they were not penetrated by the heat. They were ruined by the heat because they weren't penetrated by the heat.

Because of their mingling with the nations around them they became a kind of hybrid. They weren't purely, cleanly God's people - his peculiar, distinct people. When you looked at them they just looked like anybody else that were doing the same things as everybody else - they were a cake not turned - half baked - cake not turned. And then the - another metaphor is - jump down to verse 16, "they return, but not to the most high: they are like a deceitful bow:" - like a deceitful bow - "their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt." And so, another metaphor is they are a deceitful bow. If you've ever gone - used a bow and arrow before - I want to say go bow hunting but maybe you've done that too - it's no good if your string isn't tight, right? No good - I mean you can do all you can to try to pull that thing back and see that arrow fly, but all it's going to do is just kind of flop and drop down in front of you.

It's just not going to hit the target, you understand, and so like a loose bow string that has no tension and the arrow misses it's target, Israel missed its high destiny and its high calling because it continued to intermingle with the nations around it. They were a loose, deceitful bow - metaphor - verses 11 through - thank you brother - if you can read that for us. Hosea 7, verses 11 and 12, "ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense they call to Egypt, they go to assyria. Wherever they go, I will spread my net on them; I will bring them down like birds of the air; I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard." Okay. So another metaphor that God uses to liken his people to is a silly dove - a dove that is silly - easily deceived.

Now, it's okay to be as harmless as a dove - didn't Jesus say that? To be harmless as a dove - it's okay to be harmless as a dove without any gall and not to hurt or to injure anybody - it's commendable - but to be foolish as a dove without understanding that knows not how to defend itself or provide for its own safety, that's another story altogether and so God likens his people to the silliness of a dove. I understand - several things I'll share with you about that - I understand the silliness of a dove can be summed up in a few ways. A dove doesn't get upset by the loss of her young that's been taken from her but, apparently, the dove will go back and build the nest in the same place where her children were taken out from - the silliness of a dove. So Israel continued to go to their enemy. In this case it's Egypt and assyria - Egypt on the south side, assyria on the north side.

The main thoroughfare came through palestine - these two countries would have loved to have possessed that - would have loved to have taken that over. And yet they continued to go to these countries that continually did them harm. The silliness of a dove. The dove is also easily enticed into a net, as was read here in Hosea chapter 7 and verse 11. It has no understanding to discern danger so they're easily enticed by the net - the doves - and Israel often was drawn into these leagues with neighboring nations when God had told them to come out and be separate.

The continual leaguing up watered down who they were. They didn't remain God's peculiar people as he wanted them to be. And then another area, the dove, when it's easily frightened, doesn't have the courage to stay in the dove house - in its headquarters - in its nest. Instead it will fly around, it will flutter and hover seeking shelter first in one place and then another and thereby it exposes itself in its fear. And so, Israel, when they were in distress, didn't seek God but threw themselves open or out of God's protection and then asked Egypt to help them.

They hurried over to assyria to seek help for which - by - through simply repentance and prayer they would have found such in their God, but they didn't. In a senseless - it's a senseless thing for those that have God in heaven to trust in creatures for refuge and for relief which only can be had in the creator God. So what happens next? God spreads out a net upon them or he seeks to discipline his people - we read that in verse 12 - it's common for those that go away from God to find a trap right where they thought shelter was. It's very common for those that leave God or walk away from God thinking things are going to be better here, but they find themselves caught and in a trap - very common. Also, the disappointments we meet with other fellow human beings - we put a - we put confidence in, is a necessary discipline or chastisement from God that we might learn to be wiser next time and not place as much confidence in them as we should, but place our confidence in the God of heaven.

It's okay - it's okay to get counsel - it's okay to get support from others, but if we place our total dependence upon others, we're putting ourselves in a fix and Israel is a classic example of fleeing God's refuge and finding themselves trapped when they leave the sight of God. Let's go to Monday. Another metaphor God uses - I have Hosea chapter 8 - rather Hosea chapter 10, verses 11 and 12. Who's got Hosea 10:11 and 12? Right here. We're going to come to you in just a moment.

Hosea chapter 10, verses 11 and 12. Just to give you an idea of some of the other metaphors used, in Hosea chapter 8 and verse 9, God likens his people to a wild donkey. I don't think I need to explain anything - anything when it comes to that. Another metaphor - he likens his children to - this is - this is a good one - he likens his children to grapes and figs found in the wilderness. Now, this wasn't their current predicament, this was when he founded them and called them out of Egypt, you understand, and brought them into the wilderness to take them into the promised land.

He said they were like - back then - they were like grapes and figs in a wilderness - but it wasn't that way at this point. Another metaphor he - in Hosea chapter 9 and verse 16, he likens his people to a fruit tree whose roots are dried up - all dried up - selfish and reprobate lifestyle had caused Israel to cumber the ground - to take up valuable space. And then another metaphor - in Hosea chapter 10 and verse 1 - that they were an empty vine - not empty as in not producing fruit, but the fruit that was produced was for itself and not for the benefit of others - no fruit of righteousness revealed. Then we come to Hosea chapter , verses 11 and 12 and we have another metaphor that God uses to - to compare his people with. Thank you.

And ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make ephraim to ride; judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you." Thank you very much. So another metaphor God uses - likens his people to a trained heifer or an ox. So a heifer would often be trained to read out or to tread out the corn. Oxen were often employed in threshing grain and they would do so either with their feet or they would have a cart and they would go over the - over the grain to thresh the grain.

And these ox were never muzzled so that they could - they could take a bite here and a bite there at their own leisure - at their own pleasure - you understand. And God likens his people, Israel, to an ox that's not muzzled - that's threshing the grain. They were placed in an easy and in a comfortable circumstance like a heifer that was allowed to eat at pleasure; yet, tragically, these material comforts lead Israel to become sinfully self-sufficient and rebellious. And so what did God say? He said he would put a yoke on them - he'd put a yoke on them. In other words, he would bring some burdensome and maybe some distasteful labor - he was going to bring that and impose it upon them - hopefully - and in the hope that they would be brought back to their senses and be turned - turned back to him.

God knows just how much hard labor they could take - God knew that and God knows just how much discipline was good for them. He knows just how much discipline is good for you and for me so that hearts may be turned to him, you understand. Coupled with this yoke was a call to repentance - in verse 12 - a call to repentance and reformation - to break up the fallow - the hardened ground so that the seed of truth could be planted in it, you understand, and so it was a call for repentance and reformation. Of course, when we talk about yokes - the lesson brought this up - it reminds you of the yoke that Christ is inviting us to take - to take up, right? Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 and 29 - Jesus says, "come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.

" We can't bear the yoke alone so Jesus says, 'hey, we'll bear it together - we'll bear it together - we'll plow together, we'll work together, we'll serve together. You can't do anything without my help.' And that's one of the other themes of this - of these chapters but Jesus invites us to yoke up with him. Another metaphor - we go to Tuesday's lesson - metaphor #10 - this is my counting, my reckoning - metaphor #10 - this is in - yes - Hosea chapter 11, verses 1 through 4, "when Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them." And so, another metaphor God uses to describe his people is that of a son. It's really a metaphor of God, too, isn't it? He is The Father - he is the parent of the child. And I love verse 3, where he says God takes the child up in his arms - a picture of God's loving care over ephraim. Just as parents teach their children to walk and takes them up in their arms when they - if they fall, God taught his son, Israel, to walk. As a parent is patient with a child, so God was patient with his children.

As parents discipline their children, so God disciplines his people. There are several verses we want to look at related to that. Someone has Revelation 3 and verse 19 - Revelation 3 and verse 19 - we're going to come to you in just a moment. Look at Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 5. I'm just going to go over these relatively quickly - Deuteronomy and verse 5 - talking about discipline.

It's not a popular word today but when we talk about discipline and we're talking about disciplining children, we're not necessarily referring to pulling out the belt and smacking the child, discipline is a lifestyle where we're educating and teaching the children within the context of love and in the context of affection. And, yes, there are times when privileges must be taken away because they do something that's going to hurt them. Sometimes some discipline is a little harder than others. But discipline is a good thing and God's people needed that at this time and God's people sometimes need that even today, don't they? You know, when God issues discipline - I should say too - when God issues discipline it's not - it's not because - well, let me put it this way - I was reminded the other day and I was surprised - I didn't know this - my dad told me, he said 'when you were really small a man had - a man had placed his car at our house. We were looking after his car while he was traveling and I got home from work one day and I found the car had a big line all the way around the car.

' And he said, 'you know I was really - I was ropable - I was mad. And then I found out that it was you.' And I was, perhaps, maybe two or three - didn't know any better - I'd taken a rock - I don't remember it - I'd taken a rock and I'd gone all the way around the car and put a big line all - oh ay. Now dad did not - did not come after me. He did not send me to my room because I just didn't know any better. I was really, really small.

Now some years later, my sister and I found a red tube of paint. At this time we were living in northern australia and we were living in a row of apartments - there were four and they were all white - and we figured that these apartments needed a little color. So we found this red tube of paint and we decided we'd just splatter it on the walls of the driveways of these apartments. When dad came home - I say no more. He made it red hot in one area to register - so it would register here from that point on.

Alright here - Deuteronomy 8:5 - God says, "you should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you." Proverbs 13:24, "he who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Hebrews 12, verse 6, "for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives." Revelation 3 and verse 19 - thank you. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." You would question the love of God, wouldn't you? If he didn't discipline us? If he didn't take interest in us? Didn't correct us at times? You would question his love. I think children question the love of their parents when their parents just let them do whatever they want to do. The children are ruling their own homes and running their own homes and the parent is not anymore. That's the day and age in which we live, unfortunately - very telling in society.

A parent who loves their children will discipline them - will correct them - even rebuke and reprove them and God is our father and he's happy to do so. Not because he delights in, perhaps, some discomfort it might bring us, but because he knows it will be for our good and our eternal betterment, you understand. Sometimes we - it's hard to figure out - sometimes why they got the discipline is because of a sin in the life - sometimes it's hard to figure out whether the discipline is just because God is trying to prune some things off just to help us to produce more fruit, so to speak. How do you know the difference? First of all, acknowledge that God is trying to get your attention, that's number 1. Number 2: trust that your loving Heavenly Father will reveal to you whether you are experiencing discipline because of sin or discipline because he just wants to see more fruit in your life.

: Ask God - ask God, 'do I have a major sin in my life or are you just wanting to see more fruit?' And God will answer that prayer, there's no doubt about that. Pray and be specific with God. If you conclude that it's a sin problem, you know what you need to do, right? Fall on your knees, ask God to take it, repent, and move on. Or if it's an issue of pruning where God wants to grow you and develop more fruit in your life, your response is just as vital. You need to allow God to do that work in your life and be patient and wait for him to do that work.

God will help you through that if you're not sure what the issue is, but be specific - pray and ask God for clarity. I want us to go over now to Wednesday's lesson. We're going to see if we can get through some of this here. Wednesday's lesson: 'compassion stronger than anger'. You can be sure that God's love for his people - his compassion, rather, for his people is mightier than his anger.

Hosea chapter 11, verses 8 and 9 - notice these fascinating words: God says, "how shall I give thee up, ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as admah? How shall I set thee as zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the holy one in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city." Admah and zeboim were among the cities of the plain that were destroyed at the time of sodom and gomorrah and God says, 'hang on, I can't give you up like that. I can't turn you over. I can't see you destroyed as they were destroyed.' Although Israel could have been considered just as worthy of destruction as those cities. You see, greater accountability is brought upon a person when they know better and do not do it.

You are more accountable - more responsible for knowing the right thing to do and not doing it and this was Israel's condition for sure. In the adult lesson it highlights in several areas and throughout the book of Hosea, God's faithfulness to his end of the relationship - his part of the covenant. All throughout the book he says, 'I will heal. I will bind up your wounds. I will revive you and restore you.

' He says, 'as surely as the sun rises the Lord will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains.' And on and on the message goes. God's care and concern for his people - he appeals to his people - he reaches out to his people. He does not want them destroyed. 2 Peter 3, verse 9 - who's got that? We'll read that one - Peter 3 and verse 9.

God's desire is to save, amen? God's desire is to save, never to destroy. You know, one thing that's fascinating when you read something like this? This is dealing with God's people - people who knew better - and yet God was very patient with them. He didn't call for there to be another coming out of his people. He didn't say, 'hey, separate yourselves from these guys - from these guys here and lets form a new party, form a new church, form a new group of my people' - he never called for that but continued to lead his people to repentance and reformation, you understand. Peter chapter 3 and verse 9 - we're just about ready - also, all throughout the lesson - all throughout the lesson you have repeated appeals of God to turn to repentance and reformation and we'll get to that in just a moment.

Peter 3 and verse 9 - thank you. "the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." What a wonderful promise that is. God desires to save and not destroy. Hosea chapter 14 - this is the last chapter in the book of Hosea. Really it is a repeal - an appeal to return to God.

We won't read it all for time, but it's an appeal to return to God. God offers repentance, God offers - encourages confession - even gives words - offers words to say when - in returning to God. He offers forgiveness and healing and grace like the dew - to grow as the lily, which is a sign of beauty and purity and rapidity of growth - to grow as the olive tree, which is the crown of the fruit trees - it was very valuable for food and for light - a sign of glorious prospects and to grow as a flourishing garden and as a grapevine. It was an appeal of future glory - 'if my people would turn to me and repent and allow me to work in their lives.' And that's really what this message - this book is all about - Hosea - God's appeal to his people to turn to him. And he doesn't suggest that we can do it on our own, he asks us to do it with his help.

In that - in Hosea chapter 12 and verse 6 - our memory text - it says, "so you, by the help of your God, return." We can't even repent without God's help. We can't - we can't do anything without God's help. " the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on God continually." That's God's call for us - the right understanding of his character - the right understanding of the character of God. His actions attract people to return to him and emulate his faithfulness, his love and his justice. Let's be sure that we're effectively communicating the goodness of God - both through our words and through our actions in the hopes that someone will turn or return to God and receive the wonders of salvation.

What do you say today? Amen. God is good, no doubt about it. I want to remind our viewers to receive their special offer today. It's entitled - the Bible study is entitled 'case closed' - regarding the judgment of God. It's good news.

It's offer #132. Please call 1-866-study-more or -866-788-3966. You've been a great class today. I appreciate you giving me the chance to share. What a wonderful lesson.

What a wonderful God we serve, amen?

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