Hosea 10: The God who Judges
I wonder if you can cast your mind back
to this moment? – can you remember where you were? When Beckham missed that penalty? Or when
Or perhaps Cricket is your game – and you know all about snickometers, or Tennis, and you keep a keen eye on cyclops
Or on a more serious note – Perhaps you’ve
got your opinions on the Wall in
And on a variation on a theme – what connects these 5 things? – Fairness - Justice
It’s a cry we’ve all heard – one we’ve probably given ourselves – that’s not fair.
And there are plenty of glib and ready answers – who said anything about fair? Is one of my personal favourites.
We want things to be fair. We want things to be just. In the Soham murder trial – in the Belgian paedophile case – we want to see justice done.
Tonight we’re thinking about fairness and justice, as we look at The God who Judges from Hosea 10 – it’s on page 906 of the bibles in the chairs if you’ve missed your place.
We’re thinking about God judging
Hosea 10: 10 When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against
them to put them in bonds for their double sin. 11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to
thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim,
Ephraim will be punished by the nations
– and that means exile to
There are plenty of other examples in
this passage. God will judge
We’re concerned for justice – we’re concerned for fairness – and so tonight we can see how Just God’s Justice is.
But at the same time, if we just stand on the outside looking at justice – debating line calls or off sides or appeals for catches – then we can miss the game. We could, like John Macenroe of old become distracted from what’s important.
Because as well as seeing why God
Look at verse 9:
Hosea 10:9 "Since the
days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O
The days of Gibeah refers back to an incident way back in the book of Judges.
Now this is definitely ancient history for us – and was pretty ancient history for the people in Hosea’s day – it was an incident that had happened perhaps 400 years earlier.
You can read about in Judges 19 – it’s
not a pretty tale. It’s about sexual
immorality and the abuse of human beings for sexual purposes, and it results in
civil war within
Why bring it up now? Because Hosea expected
They should have learned from history – from God’s word. And we as God’s people now should do the same – learn from God’s dealings with his people in the past as we seek to understand the present.
So we need to look at Why does God Judge Israel – and what should we learn from this?
We’ll look at this under three headings as we go through the passage:
Now these themes are closely related, and Hosea comes back to them again and again – so we’ll pick them up at various stages in the passage.
1. Worship God alone (v1-2, 5, 8, 14-15)
Look at the description of
NIV Hosea 10:1
The very prosperity which came from God was used to worship false gods.
Then look on to verse 5:
5 The people who live in
Rather than fearing God, the people
were worried about the idol that they had made in Beth Aven – (that’s Hosea’s
The calf-idol will be taken away – after all, it’s only a bit of precious metal – treasure for the Assyrians.
And then verse 8:
8 The high places of
wickedness will be destroyed-- it is the sin of
Judgement comes – and that means the
destruction of the high places, the places where
And then finally verses 14 and 15:
Hosea 10:14 the roar of battle
will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated--
as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed
to the ground with their children. 15 Thus
will it happen to you, O
Hosea describes a time when
But God had told his people to gather
Bethel was a symbol of how the Israelites didn’t worship God as he desires – but made up there own rules – mixing in a bit of pagan practice, worshipping the Baal’s as well. That’s why Hosea calls it Beth Aven – House of Wickedness.
They thought they knew what they were doing - they thought they knew where they were going.
The other week I was playing Cricket for the diocese – we won – and I was involved in a partnership of 40 runs, of which I scored precisely 0. I hung around for a bit, and blocked a few balls.
All was going well – until I decided it was time to play a few shots. So, next ball, I advanced confidently down the pitch, watching the ball carefully as it came towards my bat. With a gently – yet elegant – backswing I moved forward to confidently dispatch the ball to the offside boundary.
With only one slight problem. I had missed the ball, and the ball had not missed my stumps.
Everything about the shot was looking good – or so I thought – except for one minor detail – I missed the ball, and hitting the ball is an essential part of a good cricket shot.
Worship God alone.
When we pray to God – we are talking with our Lord and Saviour. Through Jesus Christ, we have direct access to God.
We don’t need to be in a certain place, or holding certain things – or holding our hands in a certain way, or praying certain words, or holding the bible in a certain way – we have direct access to God in prayer.
We don’t pray through saints, and we don’t need to be in the company of special holy people – we have access to God through Jesus Christ.
Yes, we might find certain things help us to focus – sometimes – but we must avoid the things becoming the focus, and choking our relationship. Our focus should always be on our Lord and Saviour, and upon worshipping him alone, with the whole of our lives.
2. Rely on God (v1, 6-7, 13-14)
Look again at verse 1
NIV Hosea 10:1
Nothing wrong in that.
And given that
Later on in the passage, Hosea turns to the rulers of the nation – look at verses 6 and 7:
Hosea 10:6 It will be carried
The ‘it’ of verse 6 is the calf-idol of Beth Aven, carried away as treasure.
A foreign policy which was not only foolish – but also against God’s will. Look on to verses 13 and 14:
Hosea 10:13 But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, 14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated-- as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
Imagine the scene.
You are at a wedding. It’s been a good one – the food at the reception was nice, and the service wasn’t too long. Your settling in for a nice evenings entertainment, beginning of course with the speeches.
And the groom stands up to make his speech.
‘Tonight, I’d like to thank myself for all the hard work I’ve put in to making this such a wonderful day for my wife. And I’m sure she would like to thank me too.
‘Bridesmaids – you know just how privileged you are in being allowed to be our bridesmaids, and father and mother – what a son I am – I know I don’t come to see you often - but I know your grateful when I do show my handsome face – and isn’t my wife lucky to have me.
A toast – to the groom’
A silly scene. I’m sure that would
never happen at a wedding. But
A silly scene. We’d never do anything like that would we?
We need to rely on God. We need to recognize that all good things come from him.
This is easy to say – and we know it – but do we not have a tendency to think of things as ours – since we’ve put all the hard work in to getting them – forgetting that it is God who has made us, and enabled us to prosper in the first place.
It can be so easy to think of our money as well – ours – and perhaps to give to God as a favour – rather than from thankfulness. We need to remember all that God has done for us – and not to just thing of that in terms of a ticket into heaven to file in the bottom draw, a get out of jail free card to stick under the edge of the monopoly board, but as something which affects the whole of our lives.
We are saved by grace – and so we live different lives.
3. Listen to God’s Word (v2-4)
Hosea 10:2 Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.
At their core, God’s people were deceitful, and this could be seen in how they lived as a nation, verses 3 and 4:
3 Then they will say, "We have no king because we did not revere the LORD. But even if we had a king, what could he do for us?" 4 They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
They find themselves without a king – and then begin to recognize their problem – they have been deceitful, and have not feared God.
Instead, they have lived as habitual liars. Making oaths and promises, and not keeping them. And so instead of Justice being like a crop in a healthy field, lawsuits fill the field, like poisonous weeds.
They disregarded God’s word. There national life was full of deceit, of broken promises, of dishonesty.
Governments loose elections because they brake promises. Companies loose orders, go out of business, because they have a dodgy reputation.
And yet you and I know it isn’t always like that. Or at least it doesn’t seem to be like that. Cheats seem to prosper.
And a contract isn’t a contract until it’s written down, checked by the lawyers, and signed. Why shouldn’t the contract contain clauses that work to our best advantage – it’s the responsibility of their lawyers to spot them.
Sometimes deceit can seem just a part of life. I don’t tell you the truth – and you don’t tell me. It keeps us talking to each other. It oils the wheels of life and business – it’s just part of life.
But deceit doesn’t oil the wheels - it loosens them. They might run easier for a while, but they’ll eventually fall off.
Friends, I believe that in our society we take deceit to be just a part of life – particularly in business, but also in our relationships. But we need to work at honesty, at being honest with one another, and honest in our business dealings.
Look on to verse 12:
Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
In the midst
of this passage of rebuke and condemnation, God shows to
Sow righteousness and reap unfailing love – we have seen the practical righteousness which Hosea was talking about – Worshipping God alone, relying on God and His word.
It is time to seek the LORD – until he comes.
Hosea looked forward to the coming of the LORD – to the coming of the LORD Jesus, as we look back to it. The day when Jesus showered righteousness on us.
We’ve talked tonight about approaching God through Jesus Christ, about having a close relationship with God.
But if we
We are like
But if we seek the Lord, if God calls us to himself, we find Jesus, the one who died in our place on the cross and took the penalty we deserve, the fair penalty for all the things we, like Israel do against God.
We meet Jesus when we seek the LORD, and we come to him saying sorry for what we have done wrong, and trusting him, not only to forgive us, but also to enable us by his Holy Spirit to live different lives as we rely on him.
So that, when, as 2 Peter tells us, the Lord returns and the final judgement comes, we will be ready to face our Lord and Saviour, and to join him in the new heavens and a new earth
Let us pray
25th July 2004