Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Letting Down One’s Guard

Hosea 4:6-19

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

Israel had reached a point where nobody dared try to show them what was right, even fighting with the priests about what God said.  They were destroying themselves because they didn’t know what they were doing.    There was no shortage of information, they simply refused to accept it.  As a result God refused to intervene on their behalf, or to accept their religious activities.  He will treat them exactly as they treat him. 

“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: and 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 shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” (Hosea 4:7-11)

The bigger and more powerful they became, the less concerned they were about what God said, and the more sin was accepted.  As a consequence, God is going to use the things they were proud of to shame them.  Throughout the centuries, some of the richest “Christian” organizations have had to declare bankruptcy, and the tremendous buildings they built have become houses of worship for false religions.  This is a real danger for any large group. 

People tend to follow their leaders, their priests, and unfortunately, they also choose leaders who hold similar views.  The attitudes of the people and those of the leaders become increasingly similar.  Finally, God can no longer overlook what they are doing and is forced to punish them according to what they do.  In their efforts to maintain the status quo, they become increasingly desperate, going against God’s commands to try to prevent further losses.  These efforts fail precisely because they have ignored God’s commands.  Dabbling with other beliefs and catering to human desires distract us from serving God. 

“My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: 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 the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.” (Hosea 4:12-13)

God’s people were getting their directions from the trees, literally worshipping nature and the groves they planted rather than God, using their walking sticks or canes to determine what to do.   They have an attitude of unfaithful ness like a husband with a wandering eye.  That attitude leads them into sin, and ultimately unfaithfulness to God.  The start by worshipping in places and ways God forbade, and before long their children and loved ones have completely turned away from God. 

“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.” (Hosea 4:14)

When the children and mates go completely into sin, and upset the teachers and parents, God will not intervene to turn them back because they are just following the example that has been set before them.  Their religious leaders have not taken a stand themselves, and as result they don’t know what God wants and are destined to fail. 

“Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.  For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.  Ephraim is joined to idols: let him 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.” (Hosea 4:15-19)

We should not follow the spiritual fads and trends just because others do.  They are like a rebellious cow, determined not to go where they are supposed to.  It will be like a little lamb lost in huge field, while it looks like there is everything they could ever want, they have no protection at all.  We should not join with them in their places of worship, at Gilgal and Bethaven, nor go along with their religious statements.  They are worshipping false gods, and we are not to be part of it.  What they offer will not be satisfactory, although it looks good, and while they appear to be serving God, they are involved with others.  Their leaders seem to love but the whole emphasis is on you giving.  Ultimately all their efforts will fail and their religious activities will become a source of embarrassment.   Though Israel and Judah had much in common, Judah could not afford to go along with Israel in order to maintain their relationship.   We must not let down our guard, even to maintain fellowship.  

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