Come back. That is the simple two word big idea of Hosea the prophet.
It was the word of God through him to Israel in the 8th century BC …Come back.
And it is the simply stated word of God through Hosea to you now 2800 years later…come back.
· You have wandered from God… Come back.
· You are living in sin… Come back.
· You have fallen and are far from God… Come back.
· You have forgotten your first love of God… Come back.
· You have become lazy with your faith… Come back.
Some of you are parading your rebellion like a marching band. Some of you are silently corrupt…spiritually slipping away with none the wiser… regardless of how open you are with your rebellion…Come back.
Let’s see together how those two words play out in one of the most unusual and uncomfortable books of the Bible…Hosea 1:1
· Israel - 8th century BC. >100 years after the separation with Judah
· Like Judah, Israel was a hot mess…far from their spiritual roots
o breaking the first of the 10 commandments every day (no other Gods before me)
o baals – regional Caananite gods – not just religions
§ steeped in sexual immorality
§ murder and human sacrifice
o made treaties with pagan nations for their safety
o all the while depriving many hurting people of justice…awash with meanness and committed to neglecting the poor.
· So God sent prophets to get their attention – ambassadors of Tough Love
o Missionaries of the great message the God keeps hi promises…though you have sinned and ar far from me…I want to bless you and redeem your life.
And one of those guys was Hosea…
1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel: Hosea 1:1
· may well have known and walked the same streets as Amos
· nothing particularly unusual about him except for one thing…
2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." Hosea 1:2
· God told Hosea to use his marriage as a giant object lesson…like some of the other prophets
o lay on your side
o walk around naked
o east food cooked over human waste
o and here…marry an unfaithful woman
§ might have been a woman who became promiscuous
§ or might have been an actual known prostitute
Why? …because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD
· God - when the people hear about and see her they will see themselves
· oh and by the way give your kids weird names:
o place where a massacre happened
o not loved – unloved
o not my people – not mine
So Chapters 1 -3 are this odd mix of actual story and poetic prophecy. The story culminates in Chapter 3 with these words:
1 The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes." 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you." 4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.
· After your wife leaves you again – go get her and buy her back (humiliating and merciful love)
· why again? To illustrate what God will do for Israel.
o within years Israel would lose it all…be sent away…but God will buy her back.
The Hosea and Gomer story is the same as the God and Israel story is the same as the God and you story.
It follows a very simple outline. A very stark but simple message from God:
I hate your sin.
I love you dearly.
The rest of the book of Hosea follows that outline … let’s do a tour of the book together to explore it. And as we do…think about you and God. And keep in mind where we are headed by the end…Come back.
4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. 2 There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying.
This is God through Hosea saying: I hate your sin.
Now note a few things:
· the list of sins of course: faithlessness, lack of love, turning their backs on God, cursing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery…
· but notice the impact: the land mourns, all who live in waste away, animals are dying
· there is no such thing as isolated sin. Biggest lie – no one is getting hurt.
o when you sin everybody pays the price!
o you may not be aware of it but your marriage, your family, your business, your world suffers when you live in sin – you’re just too selfish to notice
And God hates that.
4:12 A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.
· spirit = a wind…or a wind storm
· what may have been occasional forays into sin becomes a driving windstorm…much harder to fight and recover from
They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind…Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like a worthless thing. Hosea 8:7-8
The point – stop downplaying your sin…it could turn into a nasty out of control whirlwind that envelopes your whole life and all around you.
God hates that. And you want to know how much he hates it?
13:7 So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. 8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart. 9 "You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper.
13:16 The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open."
O.K. THAT’S uncomfortable to read and to hear. That’s God being honest.
I hate your sin. That’s the tough part of tough love.
Thankfully there is the love part of tough love…
I hate your sin.
I love you dearly.
11:8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? (Sodom and Gomorrah) My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. 9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man-- the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. 10 They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. 11 They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. I will settle them in their homes," declares the LORD.
Don’t miss this…Absolutely remarkable insight into the heart of God:
· My heart is changed – repented
o Yes I hate your sin but I won’t let that hatred to allow me to obliterate you. because…
· My compassion is aroused – I love you dearly!
· I am God not a man…I will not respond stereotypically like a human being who is unable to see through his or her anger.
I love you. I do not want to crush you!
I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. Hosea 14:4
· freely – willingly…not out of obligation
· God’s is not a machine or an algorithm that just spits out responses to stimulus…he is a living, feeling, thinking, passionate being who responds to us out of great desire for relationship.
Yes, he hates your sin! but…
Yes, he loves you madly!
So there is only one right response to this God of ours who changes his mind about us…whose desire is to limit his hammer of justice and open his arms to us in love…
6:1 "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
· Vs. 3 – let us press on to acknowledge = let’s get after it.
o come to our sense and pay attention…notice this God who loves
· Vs. 1 – let us return = come back.
· …and when we do…he will heal us, he will bind up our wounds, he will revive us, he will restore us and we will be in his presence once again.
STOP and hear these words again FOR YOU!
Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Remember God keeps his promises…if you come back to him…
· He will redeem your life. He will bind up your wounds.
· He will heal, He will revive you. He will restore you.
· He will come near to you.
· He will shower you with righteousness.
· He will give you rest.
But first you must Come back.