Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com Sun, 22 Apr 2018 21:47:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Sermons and other audio from Grace Evangelical Church in Wyoming, MN. Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN clean Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN matadams7@gmail.com matadams7@gmail.com (Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN) Copyright 2016 Grace Evangelical Church, Wyoming, MN Sermons from Grace Evangelical Church in Wyoming, MN. Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Grace-ItunesArtwork.jpg http://gracewyoming.com matadams7@gmail.com TV-Y Wyoming, MN 120400554 The Lord Has A Controversy - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/the-lord-has-a-controversy/ Sun, 22 Apr 2018 21:47:12 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3481 Read more about The Lord Has A Controversy[…]]]> Hosea 4:1-3 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; 2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

INTRODUCTION
As you’ve likely heard me mention more than once, the first major section of Hosea, Hosea 1-3, contains an abbreviated version of the entire message of Hosea. God determined to communicate that message through what’s been called, “enacted prophecy”—that is, through the marriage of Hosea and his wife, Gomer. In the first section, in the marriage of the prophet, we find the unfaithfulness of God’s people (referred to as harlotry) and its subsequent warnings of judgment and promises of restoration. The warnings and promises are close together and often alternating. We also find the primary message delivered in prose.

This morning then, we are set to begin the second section of Hosea. In it Hosea speaks plainly to Israel concerning her unfaithfulness and its consequences. That message fills verse after verse and page after page. Compared to the first section, there is very little relief from God’s accusations and judgments upon Israel. At times it can feel like an unrelenting tide. There are small traces of mercy and grace sprinkled throughout, but they are relatively few and far between. While the first section is primarily delivered in prose, this section is primarily delivered in poetic language.

Hosea 4:1-3, our text for this morning, serves as the introduction to this new section. In it we see four main points: 1) God addresses his people, 2) God addresses his people because he has a controversy with them, 3) God has a controversy with them because they have been unfaithful to him, and 4) The result of all of this will be suffering for everyone and everything. It is my hope that as we plumb the depths of sin’s grip on mankind (and all of creation), we will be left even more amazed by the grace of God that reached us in our depths. Let’s pray that it would be so.

GOD ADDRESSES HIS PEOPLE
Way back in Jr. High all of my classmates were given the opportunity to write a question about drugs. This was during the time of the former first lady, Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” campaign. My question, along with three others, was chosen from the rest. The four of us each received a giant piece of candy and the chance to meet NBA All-Star, Detroit Pistons point guard, Isaiah Thomas. What’s more, my question was selected to be asked directly to Isaiah Thomas. This was when the Pistons were known as the “Bad Boys” and won back to back NBA titles. In other words, this was a big deal for me. I was in awe that I was able to shake Isaiah Thomas’s hand and talk to him—even briefly.

Before we get too deep into the text, I want you to consider something remarkable. The God of the universe, the one who holds the oceans and galaxies in the palm of his hand, the one who knows every grain of sand and every hair on our heads, the one who speaks and the dead come alive, the one who governs all things according to his sovereign will, and the One who made all things and holds all things together (including every NBA All-Star), that God speaks directly to his people.

Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel…

Grace, let’s not take this for granted. God is under no obligation to speak to us or to interact with us on any benevolent level; especially in light of our rebellion against him…and yet he does. In love he has revealed his will to us, the blessings for living consistently with it and the consequences of failing to do so, and He has told us how his people can be reconciled to him when we fall short of it. In addition, he’s spoken to us concerning everything we need to know about his nature and ours, his creation and our place in it, how and why we are to gather together, why evil and suffering exist, and on and on. Indeed, the Lord of All has chosen to make known to us everything we need to know about life and godliness.

Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Grace. Let us learn from the Israelites and not think too lightly of the fact that God has spoken or of His demand that we listen. God addresses his people.

GOD ADDRESSES HIS PEOPLE BECAUSE HE HAS A CONTROVERSY WITH THEM
Before we get too deep here, let’s consider something else; let’s consider what God said to his people here.

Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.

Could there be any more dire words spoken? Hosea wrote, God himself has a problem with you, Israel. He has a case against you. Tremble at the thought of hearing these words, Grace. I’ve had a controversy with parents, siblings, friends, teachers, police officers, and countless others. None of it was pleasant. Indeed, the consequences, at times, were significant. And yet, of course, none of that (not all of it combined and multiplied by 1,000,000) can come close to the consequences of having controversy with God.

In the words that follow we’ll consider the specific nature of God’s controversy with the Israelites. Here, however, consider with me the fact that from the Garden (just three chapters into the bible), God has had a controversy with all of mankind. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. And the wages of that sin is enmity with God leading to death.

Romans 8:5-8 Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…6 To set the mind on the flesh is death… 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Grace, perhaps the most important thing you will hear in this message is this: apart from divine intervention you are an enemy of God and all that awaits you is God’s wrath. God has a controversy with you and if he doesn’t act on your behalf its end is only and certainly suffering and death.

What we know and Hosea only hoped for, however, is that God has intervened on our behalf. He has sent his Son to atone for our sins and reconcile us to God. By trusting in God (not ourselves) and turning from our sins, we can be saved. God’s controversy with us will be turned to commendation in Christ. Repent, therefore, and be rescued. Listen to God and place your hope in Christ. The Israelites refused to do so and were crushed. Let us learn from them and be redeemed.

What, then, was the specific nature of God’s controversy with Israel?

GOD HAS A CONTROVERSY WITH HIS PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY ARE UNFAITHFUL
The answer to that question and the overall message of this second section of Hosea is that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been persistently unfaithful to God—acting as a prostitute with foreign nations and their fake gods. This kindled God’s jealous love white hot. They would therefore incur God’s severe discipline. God has a controversy with his people because they have been playing the whore for generations.

But how, specifically, were they acting unfaithfully?

Unfaithful by Omission
As you may know, it is helpful to have at least two categories for sin: 1) sins of omission, and 2) sins of commission. Sins of omission are good things that we fail to do—like a husband not keeping his wife warm (truly cherishing her). Sins of commission are bad things we do do—like a husband yelling at his wife. Most of us tend to think mainly (or even exclusively) in terms of sins of commission, but Hosea provides a list of each type that were at the heart of God’s controversy with, and jealous love for, Israel.

There are three things specifically named by Hosea that the Israelites were failing to do. These three omissions were the absolute spirit of all of God’s requirements.

There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land…

  1. Failing to be faithful. The very heart of being God’s people meant hoping in God, trusting in God, being devoted to God—being faithful to God. As we’ve seen the Israelites were devoted to the enemy nations and their gods. They believed they would survive and thrive by dedicating themselves to them rather than God. This was among their most grievous offenses.
  2. Failing to be steadfast in love. The primary expression of faithfulness or devotion to God is love. Where they failed to be faithful, then, it should be no surprise that they failed to love. Their hearts were carried away by the promises of others. They wanted to be like the nations, not like the one true God. Their affection was for the creation rather than the Creator. Again, their spiritual adultery was seen clearly in their lack of love for God.
  3. Failing to maintain knowledge of God. Finally, Hosea mentions that there was no knowledge of God in the land. The truth about God’s nature and purposes and covenant had been distorted and lost and forgotten. The people had neglected and rejected the Word of God for so long that truth was indistinguishable from lies. Just as in the book of Judges, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Absent these three dispositions—that is, in committing these three sins of omission—in what way could the Israelites claim to be God’s people? What would it mean to be God’s people if it didn’t mean these things? Faithfulness, love, and knowledge of God are at the very heart of being distinct from the world and the very center of God’s covenant with his people. They are the essence of the first commandment (Exodus 20:3).

And yet, how many of us are believing (or have believed) in a version of Christianity that is just like this? How many of us, if we’re honest, have claimed to have faith in Christ but are really trusting in our health or savings or family? How many of us claim to love God, but find more joy in a hobby or TV show or kid or friend? How many of us claim to know God, but don’t study the bible and in reality have fashioned a God in our image?

Looking from the outside into the Israelites folly and adultery, it can be easy to think, “Stupid Israelites. I’m sure glad that I’m not like them.” But Grace, this is us. We are the Israelites. We too are faithless and unloving and ignorant at times. Our hope cannot be in our ability to avoid these sins of omission—we have already committed them. Instead, our hope must come from outside of us, in the person of Jesus Christ who was perfectly faithful, loving, and true. That doesn’t mean that we don’t give ourselves to those things, but it does mean that our salvation can never come from obeying them.

As bad as that was, it got worse. Hosea has more to say about the unfaithfulness of Israel. Because Israel failed to keep the spirit of God’s covenant with them, it is no surprise that they also failed to keep the letter. And that leads us to Hosea’s list of Israel’s sins of commission.

Unfaithful by Commission
Look at verse 2, “…there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

Swearing in this sense is most likely synonymous with taking the LORD’s name in vain and is therefore a violation of the Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7). Lying is common and expected whenever knowledge of God has been lost. It is also a violation of the Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:9) and one of God’s charges against Israel. Murdering was a violation of the Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13) and another mark of the Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. “You shall not steal” is the Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:15) and one of Israel’s sins of commission. And in committing adultery they were violating the Seventh Commandment (Exodus 20:14) and pairing their spiritual unfaithfulness with physical, marital unfaithfulness.

These five things Hosea sums up at the end of 4:2, “They break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” Breaking all bounds meant that their sins were not limited to the ones explicitly mentioned by Hosea and therefore their sins piled up one upon another; indeed, bloodshed followed bloodshed.

Through sins of omission and commission Israel had forsaken the LORD their God. And thus, God charged Hosea to speak on his behalf and declare his controversy against her; namely, that she had violated the terms of the covenant and were thus liable for its consequences. What, then, did that mean for the Israelites and the land God had given to them? What would become of her and it? Look with me at verse 3 for the answer.

THEREFORE, THERE WILL BE SUFFERING FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING
Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

There are three quick notes I want to make concerning this verse. First, we can’t help but notice that it is reminiscent of Creation; but in reverse. In Genesis 1 and 2 we read of God making the heavens and the earth and the animals of the sky, land, and water. This time, however, instead of being very good and bearing fruit, creation is morning and languishing and being taken away. Hosea, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, spoke in such a way as to draw the Israelites attention to the very beginning, the very foundational act of God, as a way of showing them the treacherous nature of their sin. Not to make light of this, but it’s kind of like the Bill Cosby father-threat, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it.” God made this world, and he will end it if it refuses to honor him as God.

Second, this is reminiscent of the Flood; but worse. Everything was destroyed in the flood except Noah, the people and animals he took with him on the Arc, and, evidently the fish of the sea. Here, however, God promises destruction for even the fish. Sin is this serious. God is not mildly bothered by sin. It is not a petty nuisance to him. Sin, all sin, any sin, is full treason. We love to think of the power of the whole of the divine being of God being spent on his love for his people—and we should, because he does in Christ. But the reality is that He also spends the whole of his divine being burning in anger at his enemies—and at that we should tremble because it means there’s a fierceness unknown to mankind. Therefore, God has and is and will seek out every last iota of sin and punish it with the fullness of his might—either on Christ for those who hope in God or in eternal conscious torment who hope in anything else.

Finally, we need to understand that this is still the case today. We are still experiencing the effects of this judgment. In Romans 8:22-23 Paul wrote, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Have you ever wondered why life can be so difficult? Have you ever wondered why there is cancer and earthquakes and drought? Have you ever wondered why there is such sadness on earth? The answer is that all mankind, like Israel, has forsaken God. Since Adam we have been under a curse. Again, it will remain this way until Christ returns. For all who are hoping in Jesus, we have the promise that we will be redeemed and that all things will be made right, but that promise is not for this life. In this life, along with all creation, we will inevitably experience times of morning, languish, and lack. Sin has thoroughly corrupted the world as a result of God’s judgment. As Christians we need not fear this, but we also cannot deny it. We need not worry that it will end in our ultimate demise, but we must engage it with our eyes wide opened and our gospel glasses on.

Israel’s sin and unfaithfulness means that there will be suffering for everyone and everything.

CONCLUSION
As I mentioned in the beginning, these three verses serve in many ways as the introduction to the second section of Hosea. It’s important for you to understand that the structure of the second section is part of how it teaches. What I mean is that for virtually 8 straight chapters all we find is one continuous pronouncement of guilt and promise of judgment. There is some hope scattered throughout, but for the most part week after week we’ll come together to hear about the depth of our sin.

This, of course, is on purpose. God means for his people to read it and feel the nature and weight of our sin.

As I preach I won’t to pretend not to know about the cross and the salvation that Jesus won for his people on it, but I also won’t allow us to miss the seriousness of Hosea’s message. As Christians we must not allow knowledge of the depth of our sin to drive us to despair or hopelessness, but we absolutely must allow it to drive us to the cross.

Here’s the key: your depth of experience of God’s grace and love is directly proportional to the depth of experience of your sin and God’s hatred of it.

All of that to say that in Hosea 4-13, which we’ll be in for the foreseeable future, we will have an opportunity to learn about sin in its many temptations and perversions. We’ll have occasion to see clearly how God views sin and rebellion. We’ll have the chance to truly examine our hearts and grow in holiness. And we’ll be able to learn more of our need for Jesus and the amazing grace he won for us at Calvary.

This means that for those of you who are here hoping to hear generic words of spiritual encouragement, you’re in for a rough stretch. But for those of you who are here to know the great depths of your sin in order to know the greater depths of God’s grace in Christ, this stretch of Hosea will be an awesome gift.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.

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Hosea 4:1-3 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; 2 there is swearing, lying, murder, INTRODUCTION

As you’ve likely heard me mention more than once, the first major section of Hosea, Hosea 1-3, contains an abbreviated version of the entire message of Hosea. God determined to communicate that message through what’s been called, “enacted prophecy”—that is, through the marriage of Hosea and his wife, Gomer. In the first section, in the marriage of the prophet, we find the unfaithfulness of God’s people (referred to as harlotry) and its subsequent warnings of judgment and promises of restoration. The warnings and promises are close together and often alternating. We also find the primary message delivered in prose.
This morning then, we are set to begin the second section of Hosea. In it Hosea speaks plainly to Israel concerning her unfaithfulness and its consequences. That message fills verse after verse and page after page. Compared to the first section, there is very little relief from God’s accusations and judgments upon Israel. At times it can feel like an unrelenting tide. There are small traces of mercy and grace sprinkled throughout, but they are relatively few and far between. While the first section is primarily delivered in prose, this section is primarily delivered in poetic language.
Hosea 4:1-3, our text for this morning, serves as the introduction to this new section. In it we see four main points: 1) God addresses his people, 2) God addresses his people because he has a controversy with them, 3) God has a controversy with them because they have been unfaithful to him, and 4) The result of all of this will be suffering for everyone and everything. It is my hope that as we plumb the depths of sin’s grip on mankind (and all of creation), we will be left even more amazed by the grace of God that reached us in our depths. Let’s pray that it would be so.
GOD ADDRESSES HIS PEOPLE

Way back in Jr. High all of my classmates were given the opportunity to write a question about drugs. This was during the time of the former first lady, Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” campaign. My question, along with three others, was chosen from the rest. The four of us each received a giant piece of candy and the chance to meet NBA All-Star, Detroit Pistons point guard, Isaiah Thomas. What’s more, my question was selected to be asked directly to Isaiah Thomas. This was when the Pistons were known as the “Bad Boys” and won back to back NBA titles. In other words, this was a big deal for me. I was in awe that I was able to shake Isaiah Thomas’s hand and talk to him—even briefly.
Before we get too deep into the text, I want you to consider something remarkable. The God of the universe, the one who holds the oceans and galaxies in the palm of his hand, the one who knows every grain of sand and every hair on our heads, the one who speaks and the dead come alive, the one who governs all things according to his sovereign will, and the One who made all things and holds all things together (including every NBA All-Star), that God speaks directly to his people.
Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel…
Grace, let’s not take this for granted. God is under no obligation to speak to us or to interact with us on any benevolent level; especially in light of our rebellion against him…and yet he does. In love he has revealed his will to us,]]>
Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN clean 44:50 3481
Sunday, April 22nd 2018 - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/sunday-april-22nd-2018/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:52:00 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3479 3479 Grace Lavished Upon Us - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/grace-lavished-upon-us/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 02:56:46 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3472 Read more about Grace Lavished Upon Us[…]]]> Intro
Good morning Grace Church. I’m glad you made it this morning. It is always good to be with you, especially on Sundays for gathered worship. And it’s an incredible honor anytime I get to preach God’s word. My name is Mike Maruska and I’m a member here. If you are new to Grace, we are excited you are here and would love for you to stick around a few minutes after service so we can meet you. It gives us a chance to learn more about you, how you found your way here today and answer any questions you might have about Grace church.

This text is probably very familiar to many, if not all, of us. It’s an incredible passage with loads of glory, but there’s a danger that we simply assume we already know it. It can be tempting to skate ahead and not think about how amazing this text is. We hear about a miracle Jesus performs, nod or heads in agreement and quickly explain it away. It’s Jesus, of course he can do that. Kids, have you ever seen your mom or dad turn water into wine? Ask them to try when you get home today. This doesn’t happen very often. so please pray with me. Pray that I would faithfully reveal the truth in this text and it would hit us all freshly.

This morning we are obviously taking a break from Hosea. In the few times I’ve been able to preach here at Grace I’ve tried to pick a text that strikes a balance to wherever Pastor Dave preaches from. So I wanted to go to the New Testament, and find a text where Jesus would amaze us. As I searched and studied and prayed, it was hard for me to get beyond John’s gospel. Why John? As many of you know I love Biblical theology, which is simply a way of seeing how all of the threads of scripture run through the whole story of redemption. And in the book of John we find these kinds of threads all over the place. Biblical theology can also simply look at the themes within one book, which John does really well.

To give a picture of what Biblical theology, and specifically John’s gospel is like, here’s an illustration: Kids, imagine it’s the morning of your birthday. As you get up, you notice there’s a small gift and a string tied to your door knob leading down the hallway. You open the first gift and it’s a bell. So you follow the string to the next room where there’s a slightly bigger gift. Inside is a helmet. And as you keep following the string and find more presents until you reach the end of the string and sitting there with a big bow on it is a new bike! All the other gifts were clues that built to this final, glorious gift.

That’s what John’s Gospel is about. When we start pulling on the string, John is going to lead us to the glory of Christ in increasing amounts. He builds his book around a series of miracles that John calls signs. And John isn’t hiding anything either. He makes his point clear at the end of his book.

20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Keep this idea in the back of your mind as we go through our text. The entire purpose of John’s book is for us to believe in the Son and gain eternal life.

John could have chosen a number of other stories, but he arranged his book to include these signs. We will look at the first of those miracles in our text, but it’s important to remember that all the signs are connected.

The main point of our text is this: Jesus abundantly satisfies our greatest needs. And there’s more to come.

And to be clear, our needs are not based on what we think we need most. If we defined what we need, we’d settle for far less than what Jesus, the Creator of the universe knows we need.

The text is is composed of three interconnected scenes: The Deeper Problem, The Satisfying Solution and the Glorious Result.

I. The Deeper Problem (v 1-5)
First, a little background: Jesus lived in Nazareth, a small town in the region of Galilee. He grew up with his mother and brothers. It is likely that his father, Joseph, died sometime before his public ministry. It was in this same region that Cana was located. This story is connected to the previous chapter where Jesus calls his disciples. That was another possible connection to this wedding. We don’t know who was getting married, but it was likely that Jesus was invited because it was either family or a friend. Notice also that verse one says Jesus’ mother was there. And then that Jesus was invited. Some scholars note this to say that Jesus’ mother was there to help with the wedding in some capacity like serving or preparing the feast. This could also explain why she knew that the wine had run out.

However Jesus’ mother found out, she comes to her son and says, “they have run out of wine.” So of all the problems that John could highlight, he chooses this to include in his gospel? Of all of the miracles we see Jesus perform in the New Testament, this makes the list of Jesus’ greatest concerns? No one is sick or dying. No one is starving or blind. There is no pressing problem where Jesus must intervene. But of course there is more going on here.

First, weddings at that time were week-long feasts and the groom, rather than the bride’s family, was responsible for paying for it. If the wine ran out, it was considered a great embarrassment in that culture. It’s not clear exactly what Jesus’ mother expected, but this is probably what concerned her. She sees the tangible problem and wants to take care of it. Isn’t that where we often go? Our bank account is low and our bills are high. My kids won’t behave me. My boss keeps interfering with my work. I”m tired of this weather. I only got ten likes on my Instagram post. That’s not to say God doesn’t care about these kind of worries. Of course he does. It’s just that Jesus might have something else in mind that he wants you to see. Something deeper. And if we have that deeper need satisfied, our temporal concerns might find their proper place.

Second, a few notes on wine in the Bible.

The Bible is talking about real wine, not grape juice. It was fermented and had alcohol in it. I realize people have a range of associations with wine and drinking and I want to be sensitive to that. Some struggle with drinking wine because of overindulgence, some abstain because they know of these tendencies. Others either drink in moderation or abstain on principle. Some just have no taste for wine or alcohol. And that’s not the point of this text or this sermon. I just want to make sure that we are not distracted from the idea in this passage by something like actually drinking wine. I am primarily addressing what the image of wine stands for in this passage and in scripture.

There are several ways that scripture uses wine. It is used as a drink offering by the priests in Israel. Proverbs warns about abusing wine. It is used in celebrations to represent joy and blessing.. And several times prophets like Isaiah, Joel and Amos warn about the impending doom as a result of their disobedience. Isaiah, after warning specific nations of God’s wrath, now warns all nations of judgment. Chapter 24 describes the situation like this:

5 The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.

11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dark;
the gladness of the earth is banished.

The party is over. Isaiah is describing a party where the wine has run out. Judgment is coming on account of man’s sin and rebellion. Hearing about God’s wrath should sober all of us up. It’s what every person ever created deserves. And yet, the major hope in the prophets is the promise of a future Messiah. And now in our text we are at a feast, and the Messiah is present.

Look at Jesus’ response in verse 4: Woman, what does this have to do with me? It doesn’t hit our ears right, does it? It sounds harsh. In our culture, saying ‘Woman’ sharply sounds chauvinistic. But that can’t be the tone of Jesus here. Indeed he uses this same address several times in John’s gospel. He speaks gently to the Samaritan woman in chapter 4:21 “Woman, believe me…” Later when Jesus is nailed to the cross he cries out to his mother, “woman, behold, your son.” And when the tomb was rolled away after his mighty resurrection, he speaks to Mary Magdalene, ‘Woman, why are weeping?”

Taken with that broader context, it is easier to understand how Jesus was not being harsh with his mother. But the address is a softened rebuke. Listen to both parts of his answer:

“What does this have to do with me?” This it reveals a crucial detail: He is not calling her mother, but woman. It’s impersonal and helps make a distinction. He is accountable to a higher power than even his own earthly mother. He ultimately must obey his heavenly Father. Put another way as John does in chapter 5, “I can do nothing on my own. I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” this is made even clearer with the second half of his response.

My hour has not yet come. The Father’s will is to send Jesus to die. Jesus’ time or hour would come at Calvary. Again John uses a phrase like this and pulls the string all the way to the cross. Jesus escapes the Pharisees multiple times. Why? Because his time had not yet come. By the time Jesus celebrates Passover with his disciples in the upper room, his hour had come. And he did indeed go to the cross in order to bear the wrath of the Father, die a real human death and pay the price for sin. Remember John’s purpose for his gospel? He wrote so that all who would believe would have eternal life. After this took place, Paul looks back at the cross and notes, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” In other words, God timed everything to happen at just the right time. And this story occurs before that time.

II. The Satisfying Solution (v 6-8)
After addressing her son, Jesus’ mother turns to the servants and say, “do whatever he tells you.” In other words, obey Jesus. That’s the drum beat of the entire Bible: Obey and find blessing. Disobey and be cursed. Now as we’ll see in a minute, we can’t lose sight of the proper place of obedience. We don’t obey to gain God’s favor. That alone comes from God. But we are saved in order to do good works in the power of the Holy Spirit. We respond to God’s gracious salvation by living lives of obedience.

Whether Jesus’ mother fully understood who her son was, she’s seen enough by this point to know that he has a unique authority. Think about all that she witnessed as Jesus’ mother. From the conception and birth to teaching with authority in the temple as a boy, Jesus was unique. Further, he was the only child in the family who never sinned. Can you imagine how that must have stood out in their home? We are so used to living in a fallen world that it doesn’t surprise us when someone sins. Rather it’s a bigger deal when someone actually obeys. Parents, imagine if just one of your kids obeyed every single second of their life. It would be such a stark contrast to the rest of us who are soaked in sin.

Further, Jesus’ mother may not have known, but as people who can look back on the cross and have the entire story we also know that Jesus has authority because he is Creator. John 1:3
So because Jesus is the sinless Creator, he has authority. If he commands anything, which is everything that the Bible commands, we should do it. As you read through scripture in your quiet times, at family devotions or together in discipleship groups, pay attention to what scripture commands you to do. Then do it.

Does it seem strange that right after rebuking his mother, Jesus still does something? While Jesus says his time has not yet come, he does use this opportunity to reveal his glory. It’s not to the full degree of glory that we see at the cross, but it’s glorious. It’s a semi-public announcement that the Messiah has come. So he does act.

Now there were 6 stone water jars. These jars were part of the purification custom in Jewish culture. They were stone because water in earthenware jars were unclean according to Leviticus. They were used for handwashing, so at a wedding feast like this, the people would need to wash their hands.

What John is highlighting here is that the stone jars were part of the Old Covenant. The Law can’t save us. Ritual cleansing can’t clean our filth. While we can wash our hands and be temporarily clean, it can’t truly make us clean before God. And it’s because our hearts are filthy, not our hands.Our problem is much deeper. It’s on the inside. We want control and seek our own glory. We try to take what rightfully belongs to our Creator. And we can’t fix it through simply trying harder or obeying well enough. We don’t simply turn a dial and make small adjustments. We need transformation.

This is what Jesus is getting at. It’s a deeper need than his mother understood and just as promised the Messiah has come to transform us.

Fill the jars with water. Jesus tells the servants what to do and they obey in faith. They trusted that Jesus was going to do something. Now if they brought a cup of water to the wedding party, the embarrassment would be on the servants. They obey Jesus before the water is turned into wine. They may not have known exactly what Jesus would do but they heard his mother’s words and in faith, they obeyed.

And as a result of their faith, the servants got to witness Christ’s glory. The same is true for us. If you want to see Jesus work in your life, trust him. And then do whatever he tells you.

III. The Glorious Result (v 9-11)
Here’s where we see the transformation. Jesus turns water into wine. He shows he’s the Messiah who transforms curse into blessing. God had Moses turn the Nile to blood as a curse. Jesus turned water to wine as a blessing.

Jesus produced gallons upon gallons of the best wine around. 180 gallons for a wedding feast. I worked out the math and it would have been over 900 bottles of wine! What could you possibly do with all of that wine?

Let’s go back to our birthday example. You have a bunch of family and friends over for your birthday party. You are eating a store bought cake, but you run out of pieces. Someone at the party says, hey, we have some rice cakes. But then a visitor pulls up and their pickup is loaded with the largest birthday cake you’ve ever seen. And it’s moist and delicious and just the right amount of sweetness. You could never eat that much cake. Or maybe you’ve run out of Legos to play with your friends. Your cousin finds some popsicle sticks to build with. But then your uncle comes and backs a dump truck of Legos up to your house. How could you possibly play with all of those Legos?!

That’s the abundance of grace that we have in Christ. We get what we don’t deserve because Jesus took what we deserved. When we find ourselves focused on lesser things, there is grace.

We all have particular sins that we keep falling into. Sometimes we can doubt whether God will keep forgiving us. Maybe he will lose his patience with us. It’s not a tiny bit of grace, or barely enough, but an absurd amount of grace. A dump truck full. But that abundance of grace means no matter how many times we sin and make a mess, there’s more grace waiting for us. As John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.

I think this idea is clear. Start with the fine vintage, let people know what a great feast it is, and then as people got drunk and wouldn’t know the difference, out comes the cheapo, boxed wine. Jesus flips that so that the best comes at the end.

With Jesus there is always something better to come. He not only gives us more than we deserve, he gives us increasingly great gifts. Let’s tug on the string that John set out for us. Look at his series of signs:

  • He turns water into wine. Pretty cool.
  • Then he heals an official’s son, from long distance no less. That’s a little better.
  • He heals a man who was invalid for 38 years. Get up and walk.
  • Then he feeds the five thousand and shortly after walks on water.
  • Later in chapter 9 he heals a blind man.
  • then he raises Lazarus from the dead. Now that doesn’t happen very often.
  • Finally, to top even that, he raises himself from the dead.

In each of these stories it leads to belief. That was John’s purpose. Remember the equation? We see it here in verse 11. First Jesus’ sign reveals his glory. In other words, Jesus is proving he is the Son of God. People, in this case his disciples, believe. And belief in Jesus results in eternal life. And this is where we begin to see beyond our temporary troubles. Because Jesus still has more glory to come.
Even after all of the signs in John’s gospel there’s more. Jesus has promised to return in glory for his people. He is coming back to set everything right. We will no longer struggle with sin or dulled affections. Our focus will be perfectly set on him.

And then we’ll have a huge wedding feast with Christ as the bridegroom. In Revelation 19 this is what John saw:

7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Christ will be there as the bridegroom. And just like the bridegroom in our story, he will be responsible for all of his guests to eat and drink. And he will again provide an everlasting supply of wine. The Old Testament prophets wrote about that day:

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Amos 9:13 “the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.

When you go to a wedding, do you expect to pay for food and drink? Not if it’s a decent wedding. And the ultimate wedding between Christ and his church will see no end to the supply of food and drink. Abundant grace.

Here is the remedy for our temporal desires. A wedding feast that will usher us into eternity with Jesus Christ as our groom. That’s what is promised to all believers. We will enter into his presence for eternity. Like any wedding, the supper of the lamb will be the beginning, not the end. And it will not be harps and clouds and formless bodies. It will be a tangible place where our sin and our failing bodies won’t hold us back. I encourage you to start imagining what this will be like and put your hope and attention towards that eternal reality.

So John asks, Are you invited? And the answer is yes. That’s the gospel call: Believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died on the cross as a substitute for you. He took your sins and gave you his righteousness. And all who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus will be saved and seated at the wedding. Have you responded to the invitation?

Jesus abundantly satisfies our deepest needs. And Grace church, there is more to come.

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Intro Good morning Grace Church. I’m glad you made it this morning. It is always good to be with you, especially on Sundays for gathered worship. And it’s an incredible honor anytime I get to preach God’s word.
Good morning Grace Church. I’m glad you made it this morning. It is always good to be with you, especially on Sundays for gathered worship. And it’s an incredible honor anytime I get to preach God’s word. My name is Mike Maruska and I’m a member here. If you are new to Grace, we are excited you are here and would love for you to stick around a few minutes after service so we can meet you. It gives us a chance to learn more about you, how you found your way here today and answer any questions you might have about Grace church.
This text is probably very familiar to many, if not all, of us. It’s an incredible passage with loads of glory, but there’s a danger that we simply assume we already know it. It can be tempting to skate ahead and not think about how amazing this text is. We hear about a miracle Jesus performs, nod or heads in agreement and quickly explain it away. It’s Jesus, of course he can do that. Kids, have you ever seen your mom or dad turn water into wine? Ask them to try when you get home today. This doesn’t happen very often. so please pray with me. Pray that I would faithfully reveal the truth in this text and it would hit us all freshly.
This morning we are obviously taking a break from Hosea. In the few times I’ve been able to preach here at Grace I’ve tried to pick a text that strikes a balance to wherever Pastor Dave preaches from. So I wanted to go to the New Testament, and find a text where Jesus would amaze us. As I searched and studied and prayed, it was hard for me to get beyond John’s gospel. Why John? As many of you know I love Biblical theology, which is simply a way of seeing how all of the threads of scripture run through the whole story of redemption. And in the book of John we find these kinds of threads all over the place. Biblical theology can also simply look at the themes within one book, which John does really well.
To give a picture of what Biblical theology, and specifically John’s gospel is like, here’s an illustration: Kids, imagine it’s the morning of your birthday. As you get up, you notice there’s a small gift and a string tied to your door knob leading down the hallway. You open the first gift and it’s a bell. So you follow the string to the next room where there’s a slightly bigger gift. Inside is a helmet. And as you keep following the string and find more presents until you reach the end of the string and sitting there with a big bow on it is a new bike! All the other gifts were clues that built to this final, glorious gift.
That’s what John’s Gospel is about. When we start pulling on the string, John is going to lead us to the glory of Christ in increasing amounts. He builds his book around a series of miracles that John calls signs. And John isn’t hiding anything either. He makes his point clear at the end of his book.
20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Keep this idea in the back of your mind as we go through our text. The entire purpose of John’s book is for us to believe in the Son and gain eternal life.
John could have chosen a number of other stories, but he arranged his book to include these signs. We will look at the first of those miracles in our text, but it’s important to remember that all the signs are connected.
The main point of our text is this: Jesus abundantly satisfies our greatest needs. And there’s more to come.
And to be clear, our needs are not based on what we think we need most. If we defined what we need, we’d settle for far less than what Jesus, the Creator of the universe knows we need.
The text is is composed of three interconnected scenes: The Deeper Problem, The Satisfying Solution and the Glorious Result.
I.]]>
Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN clean 38:24 3472
Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/sunday-april-15-2018/ Fri, 13 Apr 2018 19:03:39 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3465 3465 Bought For A Price - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/bought-for-a-price/ Sun, 08 Apr 2018 21:41:07 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3459 Read more about Bought For A Price[…]]]> Hosea 3:1-5 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

INTRODUCTION
If you’re just joining us, Hosea 1-3 is an “enacted prophecy”. That is, God called Hosea as a prophet and then commanded him to marry a prostitute as an example of how Israel was acting toward God. God also commanded Hosea to name his three children according to God’s imminent judgments upon Israel: Jezreel (which means bloodshed), No Mercy, and Not My People (those are some serious names/judgments). In other words, God commanded Hosea to act out God’s message to Israel in his marriage and family.

All of that happens in chapter 1. Chapter 2, however, waivers back and forth between Hosea and Gomer and God and Israel (it is at times difficult to tell who is really being addressed). Chapter 3, our text for this morning, includes some of the same wavering as in chapter 2. There are clear references to Hosea and Gomer and clear references to God and Israel.

The main point of all of this, once again, is that Israel had long been acting unfaithfully to God and, consequently, God sent Hosea to plead with Israel to understand that and repent from it.

This morning we’re going to wrap up the “enacted prophecy” section of Hosea by looking at all of chapter 3—a truly remarkable chapter. If you were listening carefully to chapter 2 (or last week’s sermon), you probably realized that it raises a very important question. In the first half of chapter 2 we saw the promised punishment that God would bring upon Israel. In the second half we saw the promised blessings that God would later (on “that day”) lavish upon a remnant of Israel. The important question this raises is: how do we get from promises of total destruction to unimaginable blessing? What made that shift possible? The main point of this text and sermon, one again, is answering that question. Let’s pray that God would grant us all the gratitude and repentance a right understanding of this passage requires.

GOMER’S REDEMPTION
Again, how do we get from the promised punishments of 2:2-13 to the promised blessings of 2:14-23? We find the answer immediately in chapter 3. Look at the first two verses.

Hosea 3:1-2 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.

In these verses God commanded Hosea to continue (“go again”) to remain faithful to a woman (whom I believe to be Gomer), who was having an emotional and sexual affair with another man. We don’t know the details of the relationship—when or how or why it began or how she ended up in a place where she needed to be ransomed from it; we don’t even know for sure if this is Gomer or a different woman—but we do know three things:

  1. First we know that God’s command to Hosea was not merely to refrain from handing her over for punishment (for her sin under Jewish law) or even to merely allow her to come back home or even to merely help her out of the difficult situation her sin had landed her in. God commanded him to go again and love her. “Go again and love a woman who is loved by another man…”.

    How often do we respond to the sins of others against us as if God’s primary command to us is to execute justice upon them? To make sure they know the sinfulness of their sin and face the consequences? How often do we dole out punishment (emotional, relational, financial, etc.) on them as if that were our job?

    We are not, of course, to enable or minimize or deny the sins of others. But the godly alternative to those things isn’t joining the justice league. It is love. It is giving ourselves to finding joy in pursuing that which is best for those acting as our enemies.

    Matthew 5:43-46 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

    Again, the first thing we know from this passage is that God unimaginably called Hosea to love in response to Gomer’s unimaginable sin.

  2. Second, we know that Hosea obeyed God and, in love, redeemed Gomer. “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.” Hosea’s love became incarnate. It wasn’t merely a feeling. It was a disposition toward God and Gomer that didn’t stop working for Gomer’s good regardless of her sin.

    Imagine the indignity and injustice of having to pay money to your husband or wife’s adulterous lover in order to rescue them from their betrayal of you. That transaction makes no sense according to earthly logic. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it. God would never require that, would he?

    1 Peter 1:18-19 … you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold [or barley], 19 but with the precious blood of Christ…

    Grace, becoming a Christian is entirely dependent on forsaking earthly logic. Christianity rests on gospel logic. What Hosea did for Gomer is what God has done for us. We are to respond to the sins of others against us, not as we think they deserve or justice demands, but as Jesus did on our behalf, ransoming us with his blood. The second thing we know from this passage is that Hosea’s love worked itself out, giving to Gomer mercy and grace and rescue, not justice.

  3. And third, once again, we know that all of this was not ultimately about Hosea or Gomer, but about God and Israel and us! “Even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”

    Grace, once again, we are Gomer. We are Israel. We are unfaithful. We have sold ourselves into adultery. We are treacherous. We need mercy and grace. We need rescue. Our only hope is that another would love us in our sin and purchase us from it—we cannot do that on our own.

So how did Gomer get from the promise of severe punishment to the promise of unimaginable blessing? She got there through Hosea’s love and redemption at the cost of silver and barley. How did Israel and how do we get from the promise of severe punishment to the promise of unimaginable blessing? We get there through God’s love and redemption at the cost of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ—or, as we saw last week, we got there through Easter.

Consider this afresh. Consider this in prayer and humility. Consider this and run to mercy and grace and love.

But that’s not all. Having purchased Gomer back from her sin, Hosea charged her to return changed. And, once again, this is a picture of God’s charge to his redeemed people. We see this in v.3.

GOMER’S CALL TO REPENTANCE
In my opinion–and I’ve tried to say this a number of times over the years–one of the most dangerous misunderstandings surrounding the gospel is that it is indifferent to our own good works. As good Protestants this is an easy pit to fall into. It’s easy because of how hard we’ve fought historically to highlight the bible’s absolutely essential teaching that our works have no place in our election, call, regeneration, justification, or adoption. By injecting our works into any of those we deny the gospel.

However, as tragic and deadly as it is to add our works to any of those, it’s equally tragic and deadly to keep them out of our conversion, sanctification, or perseverance. If we do not do the good work of choosing to believe in Jesus we cannot be saved. If we do not do the good work of fighting for holiness we cannot be saved. And if we do not do the good work of continuing in faithfulness we cannot be saved.

It is God’s grace that gives us desire, strength, and joy in these things, but his grace always works in and with our works in them (unlike in election, call, regeneration, justification, and adoption, which he does entirely on his own).

The practical result of this is that many Christians are entirely too casual or even indifferent to holiness. Often times we act as if God doesn’t care about our sin or that our righteousness is unconnected from our salvation. Similarly, we often act as if God’s love means that he will tolerate our sin and that loving others means being OK with (or even encouraging) their sinful choices.

The bible is clear though. God is not indifferent to even the smallest, most hidden sin. Every single sin will be punished with his infinite wrath; either in us in hell or in Jesus on the cross. There will not be one un-dealt-with sin. What’s more, believe it or not, this is love. Love, as I mentioned, is never indifferent to what’s best for another. And sin—in any amount—is never what’s best.

All of that brings us back to Hosea. Hosea loved Gomer even in her sin. He purchased her back from her sin before she had turned from it at all. He provided the payment that she entirely lacked. He welcomed her back into the family she had willingly forsaken. And he also called her to repentance.

Hosea 3:3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”

Hosea was not inviting Gomer back as a roommate, he was inviting her back as a wife. And so it is with God. He has no roommates—people who help themselves to his blessings while living on their own terms. He only has enemies and lovers. We will come to him on his terms—including forsaking the sin that separated us from him in the first place—and receive the blessing of his favor and faithfulness and fellowship, or we will remain his enemies. There is no other loving alternative.

Let us see ourselves in this and therein turn from our sins to God. Let us realize that this is what’s best—this is love—and the only way we will know God.

ISRAEL’S FUTURE RESTORATION
God, through Hosea (and his marriage to Gomer), was calling Israel to rescue and repentance. Israel would continue to refuse this offer of Grace. She would not immediately accept God’s offer of rescue and reconciliation. God would soon, therefore, give her over entirely to the effects of her sins. There were promises for future restoration, but what did that mean for Israel in the mean time? Let’s look to vs. 4-5 to find out.

Hosea 3:4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.

Within a few years of Hosea’s prophecy the Assyrians would entirely wipe Israel out as an expression of God’s judgment. A few survivors would make their way to Judah (the Southern Kingdom), but Israel (the Northern Kingdom) would “dwell many days” (even to today) “ without king of prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.”

There would be no rulers (kings and princes) or religious practices (sacrifice, pillar, ephod, ad household gods) because there would be no nation. God would see to it that nothing was left of the land or the people as a people for “many days”.

What may not be obvious to you and I is that this is not merely a pronouncement of punishment. It is that. But it is also a severe act of grace. By removing all of these things, God was ultimately removing everything that was keeping Israel from God. It was their hope in their kings and princes, the kings and princes of the foreign nations, and their hope in religious practices that kept them from hoping in God. God would do away with all of them and insodoing make a clear path back to him.

That thought made me wonder many times this week…how often do I/we despise God’s blessings because they come in prickly wrapping paper? How often are the harder things in my life really God’s blessing in disguise? How often to I pray against the very things God is using to draw me to himself?

Israel was about to be destroyed, but it was ultimately for her good; and, as the next verse makes clear, her destruction was temporary.

Hosea 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

There would come a time when God would turn Israel’s heart back to him as a faithful wife. The remnant of the Israelites left at that time would seek God even as we saw God would seek them in chapter 2(:14). The Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, would rule over them and they would rightly fear God so that they would dwell in his goodness in those (latter) days.

This life is not where God’s promises will ultimately be fulfilled. Comfort and security on this side of Jesus’s return cannot be what drives us. In fact, it is often by forsaking those things temporarily now that we make most certain that we will receive them eternally in the future.

Redemption, repentance, future restoration, and finally, strength.

HOSEA’S STRENGTH
I want to close by very briefly coming at this text from a different angle.

We are mainly meant to see ourselves in Gomer, not Hosea, but there’s an important lesson we can learn from Hosea here as well. To that end, I’d like to ask you all to step back for a minute and consider the reality of this situation from Hosea’s perspective. He had been called by God to be his spokesman, to be his prophet.

A prophet was to be a man of exceptional integrity and holiness. Prophets were often tasked by God to speak hard, sharp messages to God’s people, messages they typically didn’t want to hear and would received in anger. That is why Jesus would one day say to the Jews, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed (Luke 11:47). A prophet’s character and integrity were crucial to his credibility therefore.

Consider again, then, the big picture of what Hosea was being told to do, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress.” Obeying that would go against everything he’d believed as an Israelite. It would irrevocably hurt his credibility, making his already difficult and dangerous job even more difficult and dangerous. And, of course, on a personal level, being married to an adulterous woman would have caused pain and sorrow and embarrassment and anger and frustration and betrayal in unimaginable ways.

Where then would Hosea find the strength to overcome all of this? How could he possibly do what God commanded without bitterness and resentment toward both Hosea and God?

In the first six words of this passage we get two answers: God’s presence and His Word.

God’s Presence
As we know, Hosea did obey God and therein experienced nothing but persecution and suffering because of it. How and why did he do it, then? It seems to me that our answer is found in the first few words of the chapter, “And the LORD said to me.” Hosea’s knowledge and experience of God’s presence were sufficient.

Hosea knew that God was with him and that that was all he needed. God’s absence + every blessing in this world = an infinite loss. God’s presence + the worst suffering this world has to offer = an infinite win.

That was Paul’s heartbeat in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Grace, God’s presence is all you need for all that he’s called you to—no matter how difficult, dangerous, embarrassing, or overwhelming it might be.

And that leads to the second source of Hosea’s hope and strength…

God’s Word
The second source of Hosea’s hope and strength was his certain knowledge of God’s will. “And the LORD said to me.” Hosea didn’t have to wonder what God wanted. And he knew that where there is clarity of God’s will, there is certainty of goodness, safety, and blessing. It is in God’s word alone that certainty of God’s will is found. Hosea’s feelings were not sufficient and neither are yours. Hosea’s wisdom was not sufficient and neither is yours. Hosea’s friend’s counsel was not sufficient and neither is yours. Hosea’s subjective impressions were not sufficient and neither are yours. The writings of the saints were not sufficient for Hosea and neither are they for you. Christian radio and movies were not sufficient for Hosea and neither are they for you. God’s word alone was sufficient to know God’s will for Hosea, and it alone is sufficient for you.

Grace, when we know God’s will—and only when we know God’s will, as revealed only in God’s word—we can walk with 100% assurance that no part of it will be in vein. Even if it leads us to our death, we have only gain.

God’s presence and his word were sufficient motivation and direction for Hosea to obey at a cost most of us will never know. It is the same for you and I. God’s presence and word are sufficient, come what may. This is the good news of the gospel, purchased at the cost of the blood of Jesus. Let us, therefore, accept God’s rescue, repent of our sins, look to our future restoration, and find hope and strength in God’s presence and word until “afterward” comes. Amen.

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Hosea 3:1-5 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins. INTRODUCTION

If you’re just joining us, Hosea 1-3 is an “enacted prophecy”. That is, God called Hosea as a prophet and then commanded him to marry a prostitute as an example of how Israel was acting toward God. God also commanded Hosea to name his three children according to God’s imminent judgments upon Israel: Jezreel (which means bloodshed), No Mercy, and Not My People (those are some serious names/judgments). In other words, God commanded Hosea to act out God’s message to Israel in his marriage and family.
All of that happens in chapter 1. Chapter 2, however, waivers back and forth between Hosea and Gomer and God and Israel (it is at times difficult to tell who is really being addressed). Chapter 3, our text for this morning, includes some of the same wavering as in chapter 2. There are clear references to Hosea and Gomer and clear references to God and Israel.
The main point of all of this, once again, is that Israel had long been acting unfaithfully to God and, consequently, God sent Hosea to plead with Israel to understand that and repent from it.
This morning we’re going to wrap up the “enacted prophecy” section of Hosea by looking at all of chapter 3—a truly remarkable chapter. If you were listening carefully to chapter 2 (or last week’s sermon), you probably realized that it raises a very important question. In the first half of chapter 2 we saw the promised punishment that God would bring upon Israel. In the second half we saw the promised blessings that God would later (on “that day”) lavish upon a remnant of Israel. The important question this raises is: how do we get from promises of total destruction to unimaginable blessing? What made that shift possible? The main point of this text and sermon, one again, is answering that question. Let’s pray that God would grant us all the gratitude and repentance a right understanding of this passage requires.
GOMER’S REDEMPTION

Again, how do we get from the promised punishments of 2:2-13 to the promised blessings of 2:14-23? We find the answer immediately in chapter 3. Look at the first two verses.
Hosea 3:1-2 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.
In these verses God commanded Hosea to continue (“go again”) to remain faithful to a woman (whom I believe to be Gomer), who was having an emotional and sexual affair with another man. We don’t know the details of the relationship—when or how or why it began or how she ended up in a place where she needed to be ransomed from it; we don’t even know for sure if this is Gomer or a different woman—but we do know three things:

*
First we know that God’s command to Hosea was not merely to refrain from handing her over for punishment (for her sin under Jewish law) or even to merely allow her to come back home or e...]]>
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Sunday, April 8, 2018 - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/sunday-april-8-2018/ Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:24:11 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3456 3456 All Things New - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/all-things-new/ Sun, 01 Apr 2018 22:47:02 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3454 Read more about All Things New[…]]]> Hosea 2:14-23 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

INTRODUCTION

Welcome, good morning, and happy Easter. This is the day on which Christians around the world, for centuries, have celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and all that it means for those who hope in him. In his jealous love, God sent his one and only Son to die for those who had rejected his love. But not even death could hold him; for, on the third day after his crucifixion he rose from the dead, defeating death and winning life for all who would follow him. What an amazing story. What an amazing reality.

Our passage for this morning, Hosea 2:14-23, points to all of this without fully understanding it. Hosea knew that God would one day rescue his people. But he didn’t know when or how or through whom. The Apostle Peter worded it this way, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

I didn’t anticipate continuing on in Hosea to convey this message, this morning. I imagined that some NT passage would be more suited for Easter. However, as I read over it, I couldn’t think of a better passage to stir us toward joy and praise at the means by which God would fulfill his Hosea promises—Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection. The simple message of this passage (and Easter) is this: God makes all things new in Christ. This morning, then, we’ll consider the new courtship, promise, covenant, relationship, and blessing that God promises, Jesus secured, and we now celebrate. Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to behold these and the still subsequent glories in Jesus—those things into which angels long to look.

ALL THINGS NEW

Last week, from Hosea 2:2-13, we saw another round of divine promises of punishment delivered to Israel for her unrepentant faithlessness. This morning we will see another round of God’s promise of resurrection and restoration of Israel after she receives her due punishment. That is, God would destroy Israel because she refused to turn from her sins and back to God. But God promised, nevertheless, to one day make all things new. This renewal begins with a new courtship of his people in verses 14-15.

New Courtship (2:14-15)
If you’ve been here at all over the past few weeks you know that God’s primary charge against Israel was her spiritual adultery. Israel as a nation had been chasing after protection and blessings from other nations and other gods. God likened this to harlotry. Consequently most of Hosea announces God’s plans to put her out. She had broken the terms of the covenant and had, therefore, separated herself from God.

The “therefore” at the beginning of v.14 might seem out of place in light of this. Let’s back up a bit so I can show you what I mean. A description of Israel’s treachery is found in 2:2-5. V.6, then, begins with the same word as 2:14, therefore. “Therefore, I will hedge up her way with thorns and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.” Similarly, in 2:7-8 Israel’s spiritual adultery is described and then we find another “therefore” in v.9. “Therefore, I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.” In other words, to this point, following Hosea’s description of Israel’s various sins, we find a “therefore” she will be punished.

A similar pattern seems to be starting in 2:10-13. Hosea again describes Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s perspective on it. And in 2:14, sure enough, we find another “therefore.” What we expect is another round of promised punishment. What we get, however, is much different. This time, instead of promised punishment, we find promised blessing. Israel has been unfaithful and God’s jealousy is rightly kindled, “therefore”, God will be merciful and gracious and make all things new. This is a different kind of logic. This is gospel logic. This is a kind of logic only made possible by Easter.

Grace, you must know that you can only come to God on his terms, but you must also know that his terms are infinitely greater than anything you could ever imagine. Just listen to the promises of these two verses in light of Israel’s sin and know that the same promises are for you and me and for anyone who will turn to God in faith—no matter how broken and wretched we are, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “

In 14 and 15 Hosea declares that God would one day pursue Israel again. That is, one day in the future, Hosea wrote, God would begin a new courtship of Israel. At that time he would seek to woo or allure her back to himself. To “allure” or “entice” meant “persuade irresistibly, to overwhelm the resistance and will of another” (Mays, 44). In other words, God would remind Israel of why she first chose to honor him as God and enter into covenant with him.

What a promise! After centuries of repeated rejection of God, after centuries of failing to heed God’s warnings, after centuries of spiritual whoring of the most vile kind, God would not merely allow Israel to come back back, he would woo her back with kindness. God would lovingly and tenderly seek her to win back her affection and faithfulness.

Interestingly, Hosea mentions two locations in which God would renew his pursuit of Israel. Both of which would have been unmistakable to Hosea’s audience. The first is the wilderness outside of Egypt. God would bring her back, as it were, to the place of greatest victory, to the wilderness outside of Egypt where he had miraculously rescued them from slavery and bondage. God’s reasoning behind this one isn’t hard to understand. It’s almost like a husband taking his wife back to the place where they first said “I love you” to one another.

The reason behind the second location mentioned by Hosea is a bit less obvious. It is the Valley of Achor. You can read the entire story in Joshua 6 and 7, but the upshot is this. God was in the process of giving the promised land over to Israel by giving them victory over the current inhabitants of the land. One of the primary rules of war given to them by God was that they were not allowed to take any spoils of war. One man, Achan, however, “took some of the devoted things” and therefore “the anger of the LORD burned…”. Once he was caught he was taken to the Valley of Achor stoned, burned, and then buried with stones. In other words, the Valley of Achor was a place of sin and trouble and judgment. And yet, it is there that God will pursue Israel again. It’s almost like a husband taking a wayward wife back to the place of her worst transgression and saying “even for this I forgive.”

God would repeat the blessings of the Exodus and reverse the curse of Achor as he drew Israel back to himself. In the wilderness and in the Valley of Achor God would speak tenderly to Israel (to her heart) and remind her of his glory and love and blessings.

Of all of this one commentator (Tim Chester) writes, “[After the time of Hosea’s prophecy] God’s people would limp on until we reach the time of Christ. Christ is the true faithful people of God. He is our representative. But what happens to him, the true people of God? ‘Achor’. ‘Trouble.’ He is made sin for us, and He experiences defeat and judgment. On the cross, the people of God are utterly defeated and destroyed. But the Valley of Achor becomes a door of hope. On the third day, Jesus will rise again. His death is our death, the death we deserve. His resurrection is our life, the reward He deserves” (Chester, 71).

What an amazing picture of God’s plan to make all things new…beginning with a new courtship made possible by Easter. But it doesn’t end there. Within the new courtship, there are new promises. Let’s turn to vs.16-17 to see them.

New Promise (2:16-17)
16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.

As we’ve seen a couple of times already, Israel had forsaken God as her God and husband. She had instead taken on an adulterous relationship with the fake god of the Canaanites, Baal. This was bad enough, but as we’ve also seen, not only did Israel abandon God for Baal, but she also attributed God’s blessings to this new “lover” (2:5). In essence, she called Baal, “God” and God, “Baal.” One day, however, God will open her eyes to see that he is God; he and no one else. He will so overwhelm his people with his glory and blessing and love that Israel will not even remember the names of her sinful lovers.

The new promise was that God would eventually reveal himself in such a way that his people would be able to see him as he truly is and all things in light of that. It is not that heaven will be absent the things we’ve made idols out of; it’s that we will finally see God such that all things are necessarily put in their proper place. We won’t even remember that or how or why we used to worship them instead of God; the notion will be utterly absurd (as it should be now).

Have you ever lamented with the Apostle Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. ” (Romans 7:15, 19)? We do so because even as Christians we still have blurry spiritual vision. Things often don’t appear to us as they truly are. But God promised to change the fully and finally!

What a gift, Grace! God has made a new promise to his people; a promise that we will one day see beautiful things as beautiful and ugly things as ugly. We need that so desperately and God will grant it to us. What God knew but Hosea didn’t, was that all of this was secured at Easter. It was in Christ—his death and resurrection—that God would be able to keep his promises to destroy unfaithfulness and save his unfaithful people. But that’s not all. There will be new courtship, new promises, and a new covenant as well.

New Covenant (2:18)
Look at v.18.

18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.

Having a renewed courtship and promises, God promises Israel a new covenant with new blessings. Reminiscent of the Garden of Eden before the fall, God promises to give his people all things to keep and be nourished by. What’s more, as was the case prior to Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden fruit, God promises an everlasting time without war or even weapons of war (for there will be no need) since all his people will know is rest and safety.

Again, consider how remarkable of a proposition this must have been for a nation in such turmoil—having continually struggled with famine and miscarriages, having churned through king after king in bloody internal revolts, and having constantly felt the external pressure of nations who wanted to wipe Israel out. In many ways that’s why Israel had forsaken God in the first place—to get all of these things. How ironic it is that they left God to get things that could only be found in God; and that only on the other side of being deprived of all of them would they truly receive them on account of God’s mercy.

Let us learn from their mistake, Grace. Let us stop leaving God to get the things that can only be found in God. The resurrection—the very thing we’re celebrating today—proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is trustworthy and that his promises will come to pass.

What is it that you want, Grace? Safety? Health? Security? Provision? Love? Life? Joy? Peace? Rest? Advertisers may promise these things in products, we may experience them temporarily in things, and other philosophies and religions may teach alternative paths, but they are only ever truly found in God. And God offers all of them in himself eternally for all who will hope in him alone; to those who believe that Jesus’ secured them for us in his life, death, and resurrection from the dead.

New Relationship (2:19-20)
New courtship, new promises, new covenant, and a new relationship. Look again at 2:19-20.

19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

Three times in two verses Hosea uses the words “I will betroth.” God will betroth his people forever, to himself in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness. Betrothal in this sense is not like a proposal or the beginning of a courtship or wedding. On the contrary, it marked the end of the process, the final step. It included “the payment by the man of the bride-price which binds the arrangement…it is the public legal act upon which the validity of the marriage rests…nothing remains but the actual cohabitation” (Mays, 50).

Through Abraham and Moses, God had offered himself to Israel as a faithful husband. Israel accepted the proposal but almost immediately acted in faithlessness. God promised to punish her for her treachery. But God also promised to remain faithful to her throughout. What’s more, on the other side of her discipline, God promised to win back her affection and offer himself to her again.

Here, in 2:19-20, we see that God will again take Israel as his wife. This time it will be forever. This time it will be in complete righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness, all as a result of God’s mercy. Indeed, God would make all things new to the extent that he offered the greatest gift possible: himself. “And you shall know the LORD.” In Hebrew, this is one of the most intimate statements that can be made. Of course God is not offering to be physically intimate with Israel, but it is the same language as the bible regularly uses to describe that kind of intimacy.

God promises his people that they will not only be able to have a relationship with him again, but that it will be an entirely new kind of relationship. One free from the effects of sin. One full of everything necessary for eternal faithfulness and satisfaction. One entirely dependent on God to keep all the terms of the covenant. One that results from the greatest bride-price ever paid, the death of the God-man, Jesus Christ. That is, for this to happen, for God to keep his word, Easter had to happen. His people needed not only to be held accountable for their sins, they needed One to truly rescue and restore them. That is what Jesus did on the cross as proven by his resurrection from the dead.

But that’s not all still. A new courtship, new promise, new covenant, new relationship, and finally, new blessing.

New Blessing (2:21-23)
Finally, then, consider 2:21-23.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

Much like v.18, we see God promise new blessings for Israel. Sit back and consider the nature of these blessings. God will cry out to the heavens and they will answer. He will cry out to the earth and it will answer. He will cry out to Jezreel and he will answer. What will God cry and what will the answer be? God will call the heavens and earth and Jezreel to explode with blessing for his newly betrothed. And they will answer with grain and wine and oil–meeting all her needs and filling her with excess as well. And God will add to all of that that mercy and fellowship. And all of this will be without limit and without end.

In this new marriage, all things will be made new. All the effects of sin will be gone. Every act of faithlessness will be atoned for and forgotten. Every experience of want will be a distant memory. Every tremor of pain will be gone. Every mere act of obedience will be entirely replaced with eagerness and loving-devotion.

Truly, all things will be made new.

Grace, marvel at this; wonder at this; be amazed at this; praise God for this. When you sit down to eat this afternoon or otherwise gather around family and friends, be thankful for the food and fellowship; be thankful for your needs being met and excess to share; be grateful for all you have; but do so in the full knowledge that we deserve 2:2-13 but we get 2:14-23 only because of Easter, only because of Jesus. As you remember that, turn your greatest gratitude and greatest hope and greatest satisfaction to the cross and the empty tomb. Don’t let your affection end in earthly things—that’s what got Israel into so much trouble. Let it continue through God’s blessings to the One who gives all good things.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, you may have noticed the phrase “on that day” (16, 18, 21). All things will be made new “on that day.” It seems pretty important to ask, then, when exactly is “that day”? As I’ve noted several times already, “that day” was made certain when Jesus came to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. Truly, “that day” was secured 2000 years ago at the coming of the Son of God. But that day, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises in our passage this morning and all of God’s promises in Christ will be finally realized when Jesus, the God-man comes again. “That day” will make every other day pale in comparison and on it we will have our own Easter, we will rise with Christ, body and soul into all new things.

In that knowledge, let us celebrate what God has accomplished for us in Jesus and all that is yet to come for those who long for his coming.

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Hosea 2:14-23 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her ... 16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”
INTRODUCTION
Welcome, good morning, and happy Easter. This is the day on which Christians around the world, for centuries, have celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and all that it means for those who hope in him. In his jealous love, God sent his one and only Son to die for those who had rejected his love. But not even death could hold him; for, on the third day after his crucifixion he rose from the dead, defeating death and winning life for all who would follow him. What an amazing story. What an amazing reality.
Our passage for this morning, Hosea 2:14-23, points to all of this without fully understanding it. Hosea knew that God would one day rescue his people. But he didn’t know when or how or through whom. The Apostle Peter worded it this way, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
I didn’t anticipate continuing on in Hosea to convey this message, this morning. I imagined that some NT passage would be more suited for Easter. However, as I read over it, I couldn’t think of a better passage to stir us toward joy and praise at the means by which God would fulfill his Hosea promises—Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection. The simple message of this passage (and Easter) is this: God makes all things new in Christ. This morning, then, we’ll consider the new courtship, promise, covenant, relationship, and blessing that God promises, Jesus secured, and we now celebrate. Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to behold these and the still subsequent glories in Jesus—those things into which angels long to look.
ALL THINGS NEW
Last week, from Hosea 2:2-13, we saw another round of divine promises of punishment delivered to Israel for her unrepentant faithlessness. This morning we will see another round of God’s promise of resurrection and restoration of Israel after she receives her due punishment. That is, God would destroy Israel because she refused to turn from her sins and back to God.]]>
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Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/sunday-april-1-2018/ Sat, 31 Mar 2018 03:51:09 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3450 3450 She Did Not Know That It Was I - Grace Evangelical Free Church // Wyoming, MN http://gracewyoming.com/she-did-not-know-that-it-was-i/ Sun, 25 Mar 2018 20:48:13 +0000 http://gracewyoming.com/?p=3448 Read more about She Did Not Know That It Was I[…]]]> Hosea 2:2-13 “Plead with your mother, plead- for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband- that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; 3 lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. 4 Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. 5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ 6 Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ 8 And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. 9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. 10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. 11 And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. 12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. 13 And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.

HOSEA INTRODUCTION

If you’re just joining us, welcome. Welcome to Holy Week and welcome to Hosea. Holy Week is the time from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection. Hosea was a prophet of God. This book that bears his name is a collection of the prophecies he made to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The overall message of the book concerns God’s fiercely jealous love, and its implications for unfaithful Israel. Consequently, the overall tone of the book is harsh, severe, and highly emotive. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, though Israel’s unfaithfulness has led to her impending destruction, there are glimpses of grace and mercy and hope sprinkled throughout.

In the first three chapters of the book all of this is portrayed through an enacted prophecy—a real-life physical representation—in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. That is, God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, to have kids with her, and to name them “Jezreel” (which was synonymous with Bloodshed), “No Mercy,” and “Not My People.” God did this as an unforgettable way of teaching Israel about the horrific nature of her disobedience, unfaithfulness, and idolatry. In other words, in chapters 1-3 Hosea represents God (in his faithfulness in the midst of unfaithfulness), Gomer represents Israel (who has given herself to spiritual adultery), and the kids represent God’s judgments on Israel (their blood will be shed, God will not show them mercy, and God will no longer accept them as his people).

In our passage for this morning, we find three sections: context, content, and consequences.. In the first (context), Hosea is pleading with his children. In the second section (content), we find the content of Hosea’s plea. And in the third section (consequences), we find the consequences of Gomer failing to do so.

Through Hosea’s words to his children for his wife, Gomer, we are really listening in on God’s perspective on and plans for Israel. And in that eavesdropping, we will find several very important messages for ourselves as well. Let’s pray that God would use this passage to wake us up to our spiritual whorings in time to run to safety in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CONTEXT: PLEADING FOR GOMER/ISRAEL TO RETURN (2:2A)

1:2-9 is presented in the third person. It is as if someone from the outside is recalling the early events of Hosea’s prophetic ministry. Beginning in 2:1 there’s a shift to the first person. It is as if Hosea himself is now speaking. There have been various attempts to explain this shift, but none of them change the situation or do much to help us to understand it. The simple point of this section is this: Hosea charged his children to make a plea to their mother (as a provocative way for God to communicate his plea to Israel).

“Plead with your mother, plead…

This is an interesting approach to say the least. Why Hosea pleads with Gomer through her children is not entirely clear (especially since part of his message is that the children will be punished as a result of Gomer’s unfaithfulness, v.4). Hosea doesn’t tell us why he does this and therefore, once again (like with the shift in person), it’s probably best not to put too much stock in speculations. The main thing I want to draw your attention to here is the seriousness and concern with which Hosea introduces his message—it is a plea.

He didn’t call on his children to gently approach their mother whenever they got around to it. He didn’t tell them to casually bring it up the next time they saw her. He charged them to “Plead with your mother, plead…”. Emotionally appeal, beg, implore, entreat, beseech!

Hosea’s message was so significant that it required far more than a simple request or encouragement. Let me ask you, what would it take for something to fall into that category for you? What is big enough or important enough for you to beg, implore, entreat, beseech, plead with someone to do (or not do) something? When is the last time you pleaded with someone and why?

Perhaps more importantly, what does it take to raise God’s emotions to the plea level? What kinds of things does God feel the need to plead for? In this passage we find one answer to that question: Both God and Hosea reached their pleading point in the unfaithfulness of their love.

THE CONTENT OF THE PLEA: TURN FROM WHORING (2:2B, 5)

What, specifically, was Hosea’s plea to Gomer and God’s plea to Israel? It was this:

2:2 Plead with your mother, plead – for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband- that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts

Just as Israel was acting unfaithfully toward God, Gomer was not acting like Hosea’s wife. (That’s the essence of “she is not my wife, and I am not her husband”—it didn’t mean that they’d been divorced.) Instead, she had whored herself out to other men, even as Israel had whored herself out to other nations and gods. What, specifically, did that mean? For Gomer, beyond the obvious, it also meant three things that were even worse.

First, as we see in v.5, Gomer’s whorings were such that it was she who sought out other lovers—they did not seek her. That is the most likely meaning of “that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts.” She had put on seductive makeup and necklaces and jewelry for the expressed purpose of enticing men who were not her husband.

Second, and even more serious, was the fact that she attributed Hosea’s blessings to the men with whom she committed adultery. That’s the meaning of the second half of v.5, “For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'” Likewise, she attributed her vines and fig trees to her lovers, “‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.” But the reality was that “…she did not know that it was [Hosea] who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold…” (2:8).

Grace, consider how disgusting this is. Gomer had a husband who loved her and provided for her and was faithful to her. She had no need to go after any other man. What’s more, her adulteries were not accidental encounters. She sought them out, on her own, with nothing external compelling her to do so.

Elijah Patz eating ice cream off the ground at Nelson’s.

Third, and most serious yet, Gomer not only played the whore, sought out men to be unfaithful with, and attributed Hosea’s blessings on her lovers, she also used her adulterous relationships and Hosea’s blessings to worship false gods. She took the lavish amounts of grain, wine, oil, silver, and gold given to her by Hosea, wrongly gave credit for them to her lovers, and then, together with them, used them “for Baal” (2:8) worship.

Gomer really did these things. She really committed these atrocities. And yet, as bad as they were, they pointed to something much, much bigger. Israel as a nation had done these things to God. Israel had everything she needed (and infinitely more) in God. God sought her out when she was nothing. Ezekiel describes it like this,

Ezekiel 16:4-6 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. 5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born. 6 “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’

And yet, rather than live in the love and safety and blessing and family that was offered to her, Israel chose to run after other nations and other gods for these things. She chose to align herself with God’s enemies, who were after (and eventually caused) her destruction, rather than God who was after her joy. She chose to believe that she, the surrounding nations, and their gods were the source of her prosperity and protection instead of God. She chose to use God’s blessings as instruments of prostitution.

This is Gomer, this is Israel, and this is all of us. We are Gomer and we are Israel. We are born with appetites and desires, not for God, but for things that will kill and destroy us. We constantly take credit for or wrongly attribute God’s blessings to others. We take delight in the things that God has made without acknowledging God as the one who made them. Do you see this in yourself, Grace? Is your spiritual harlotry plain to you?

The question, then, is: Where did that leave Gomer? Where did that leave Israel? And where does that leave us? The fact that Hosea calls his children to plead with her, along with the conditional clause in v.3 (lest), together indicate that there is still time for Gomer/Israel to truly repent, but also that the time is fast running out.

The rest of our passage for this morning does not tell us how Hosea or God felt about these things (we’ll see more of that later). It simply tells us what God will do. That is, it tells us four consequences that Gomer and Israel (and we) face when God’s plea is ignored.

THE CONSEQUENCES FOR IGNORING THE PLEA: DESTRUCTION (2:3-13)
If you’ve been a part of Grace Church for any length of time you know that we are committed to what is known as expositional preaching. One of the practical results of this approach to preaching is that we end up in passages like this. Another practical result of our commitment to expositional preaching is that when we come to passages like this—passages of sin and punishment of the most serious kind—we don’t try to soften the edges or make excuses for God’s behavior, or try to make it more palatable for visitors or non-Christians. We don’t pretend that we don’t know about the gospel, but we also don’t pretend that anyone can begin to understand it apart from knowing the fierce jealousy of the God of the gospel.

There is a danger in reading passages like this apart from knowledge of Jesus and the forgiveness and rescue he offers. To do so would almost certainly leave us in despair and without hope. It may also wrongly make it seem like we need to earn our way into God’s favor. But there is also great danger in reading passages like this and moving too quickly to grace. To do so would leave us with a too-tame view of God’s holiness and wrath and jealousy, and a too-soft view of our sin and its offensiveness to God.

My encouragement, therefore, is to listen carefully and truly fight to understand and accept the facts that God is still this holy and jealous, that we are still this sinful and adulterous, that this and more is still the punishment that we deserve, that everyone (even people who claim to be hoping in Jesus) who persist in this type of unfaithfulness will still receive these (and more) consequences, and that our only hope is God’s mercy and grace.

With that, let’s consider the effects of God’s jealous love on his faithless people.

Remove Every Blessing (2:3, 9, 11-12)
Because of how difficult it is to untangle how each of these consequences uniquely apply to Gomer and Israel, and because they are all ultimately for Israel, in this final section I will simply focus on Israel. Again, then, what will happen if Israel does not heed God’s plea through Hosea and repent?

First, we see in several places that if she persists in her unfaithfulness, God had determined to remove every blessing that he had given to Israel.

Israel must turn from her whoring or else God will 3 …strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst.

9 …I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.

11 And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. 12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them.

As we saw earlier, Israel wasn’t even aware that God was the source of her blessings. She thought they had come from those with whom she had prostituted herself—the pagans and their false gods. Israel had come to believe that Baal, not God, was able to provide the things she most wanted and needed. In particular, Israel, desperate for crops and children had turned her hope to Baal, a Canaanite god of fertility.

It was precisely because she most wanted those things and believed that they were found in anything other than God, that Israel was arousing God’s jealousy and anger—that was the essence of her adultery. And so you must ask yourself, Grace, what do you want most? And where do you think it comes from? When you receive blessings, do you delight in them as ends in themselves, or do they point you to the Giver of all good things?

By failing to want God above all things (even his blessings) and accepting that God alone can provide what she needed, Israel had incurred the promise of God’s wrath in the form of the removal of every blessing.

Punish Even Her Children (2:4)
Second, we see that for her persistent unfaithfulness even Israel’s children will be punished.

4 Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom.

But what does that mean? The most likely interpretation of this passage in relation to Israel is that Hosea was referring Israel as whole as the mother (Gomer) in this passage. And he was referring to the children as individual Israelites. The point he’s making, then, is that the nation as a whole will be punished and so will each child of Abraham for their complicity—for their sins of omission in the face of such serious sins of commission.

Here’s a significant point for you and I: we are not only responsible for our own actions. When we accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness, we are brought into his kingdom and family. That is, we are saved into a people. Consequently, the NT is filled with corporate commands. In particular, the NT is filled with commands for Christians to be concerned for the sins of the Church.

Matt 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him…

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

You and I cannot sit back and feel safe if members of our church are walking in unrepentant sin. We will be held accountable for those in our congregation even as the “children” of Israel were.

Block Path of Return to Lovers (2:6-7)
The third explicit punishment that God promises is found in 1:6-7

6 Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them.

Israel had gone to the Egyptians and Assyrians and Baal instead of God. She had temporarily and counterfeitedly found some protection and provision in them. But God determined to cut off her path to them.

As a result Israel “shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.'” But here is where Israel’s heart is truly put on display. God was never her love. Neither were the enemy nations or gods. Israel was using God to get stuff. In the same way Israel was using the Assyrians and Egyptians and Baal. In other words, Israel didn’t love God (or even the enemy nations or false gods), she loved what they could give her.

Again, is it easy for you to see that it is different for you? Is it God or his blessings that your heart longs for?

Turn Lovers Against Her (2:10)
Finally, God promised to expose Israel’s shame even to her lovers.

10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.

Not only would God block Israel’s path back to her lovers, he would also cause her lovers to no longer want her back.

Imagine giving up your entire family for an adulterous affair only to be quickly dumped by the one you left your family for. Imagine forsaking your friends for drugs only to lose the ability to get high. Imagine losing your job because of your time at the casino only to be banned from it. Imagine choosing to gossip and slander someone only to become the object of their gossip and slander. That is what God promised as punishment.

God alone can truly satisfy for we were truly made for God alone. What a terrible curse it is to have left God for something or someone that summarily leaves us. Sin only promises what it can’t deliver and it can only give what we don’t want.

All of this is perhaps best summed up in 2:13, “And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.”

Grace, may we run from such irrational and deadly idolatry. May we run from such foolish depravity. May we be faithful to the One who made us and loves us and offers to rescue us from our adultery against him.

CONCLUSION
What a perfect segue into Holy Week. What a perfect message for Palm Sunday. It is because we are Gomer and Israel and it is because the consequences for that remain the same that Easter is so amazing. Easter is the good news that God rescued and redeemed his adulterous people. Easter is our reminder that we will not get what we deserve for our unfaithfulness because of the faithfulness of Another—Jesus Christ. Turn to him, therefore, Grace. Turn to him in faith and be rescued from the wrath to come, forgiven, washed clean, and risen from the dead. Amen.

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Hosea 2:2-13 “Plead with your mother, plead- for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband- that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; 3 lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, HOSEA INTRODUCTION
If you’re just joining us, welcome. Welcome to Holy Week and welcome to Hosea. Holy Week is the time from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection. Hosea was a prophet of God. This book that bears his name is a collection of the prophecies he made to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The overall message of the book concerns God’s fiercely jealous love, and its implications for unfaithful Israel. Consequently, the overall tone of the book is harsh, severe, and highly emotive. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, though Israel’s unfaithfulness has led to her impending destruction, there are glimpses of grace and mercy and hope sprinkled throughout.
In the first three chapters of the book all of this is portrayed through an enacted prophecy—a real-life physical representation—in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. That is, God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, to have kids with her, and to name them “Jezreel” (which was synonymous with Bloodshed), “No Mercy,” and “Not My People.” God did this as an unforgettable way of teaching Israel about the horrific nature of her disobedience, unfaithfulness, and idolatry. In other words, in chapters 1-3 Hosea represents God (in his faithfulness in the midst of unfaithfulness), Gomer represents Israel (who has given herself to spiritual adultery), and the kids represent God’s judgments on Israel (their blood will be shed, God will not show them mercy, and God will no longer accept them as his people).
In our passage for this morning, we find three sections: context, content, and consequences.. In the first (context), Hosea is pleading with his children. In the second section (content), we find the content of Hosea’s plea. And in the third section (consequences), we find the consequences of Gomer failing to do so.
Through Hosea’s words to his children for his wife, Gomer, we are really listening in on God’s perspective on and pla...]]>
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