Until We Acknowledge Our Need of God
Sunday, October 12, 2014
1 Hear this, O priests!
Give heed, O house of Israel!
Listen, O house of the king!
For the judgment applies to you,
For you have been a snare at Mizpah,
And a net spread out on Tabor.
2 And the revolters have gone deep in depravity,
But I will chastise all of them.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot,
Israel has defiled itself.
4 Their deeds will not allow them
To return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them,
And they do not know the Lord.
5 Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him,
And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity;
Judah also has stumbled with them.
6 They will go with their flocks and herds
To seek the Lord, but they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn from them.
7 They have dealt treacherously against the Lord,
For they have borne illegitimate children.
Now the new moon will devour them with their land.
8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,
The trumpet in Ramah.
Sound an alarm at Beth-aven:
"Behind you, Benjamin!"
9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure.
10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary;
On them I will pour out My wrath like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
Because he was determined to follow man's command.
12 Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim,
And like rottenness to the house of Judah.
13 When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria
And sent to King Jareb.
But he is unable to heal you,
Or to cure you of your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
15 I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. NASB
God knows us better than we know ourselves. Verse 3 says “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from me.” God knows us and sees what we do, what we think. You cannot hide from Him.
Adam and Eve tried to hide. They knew no shame before they took for themselves the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their nakedness did not bother them. They stood open before God with nothing to hide. When they fell to the temptation and sinned, they now knew shame. They tried to hide and cover their nakedness. But God knew them better than they knew themselves.
When Hosea wrote this message to Israel he was showing us our condition. Our fallen state. God knows us, but our deeds will not allow us to return to our God. We stand in shame when we have sinned. We hide from God the things that bring us shame. We know in our inner man that we are wrong, but cannot bring ourselves to admit the truth. We deceive ourselves and tell ourselves it does not matter. But it does.
When Israel turned to Assyria for help instead of turning to God they were already defeated. Our help comes from the Lord, we must turn to Him. We must be open with Him and let Him in to those closets we have shut off from Him, hoping He will not insist on looking into those dark places in our hearts. Fear not. He loves us. He will forgive us if we confess our faults. If we stand open before Him, admitting our guilt, He promises forgiveness. He loves us.
We must nurture our relationship with God. We must turn to Him when it is most difficult to do so, when we have fallen prey to the temptation that pulls us away from Him. We must confess our failure to trust Him in every circumstance and do what He says.
He is faithful and just to forgive us when we do so. The forgiveness for all our sin was paid at Calvary. He knows us but we turn away from Him when we eat that piece of pie that we know will hurt us. When we linger longer on that television station or web site that is not good for our relationship with God and our spouse, we are failing in our trust in Him and we must confess that sin and return to fellowship with Him. When we are short in our temper with others and berate them and belittle them we are failing to love them as God commanded. We can only love them in the way He loves us when we have accepted His love and forgiveness; When we have trusted Him to love us.
When we are at the end of our ability to love someone, we must trust God to help us love them beyond our own abilities and desires. Turn to Him and look up to Him as Stephen did when the Jewish crowds were stoning him for pointing out their sin. He saw heaven opened and Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. He knew God loved Him and he committed himself to God and trusted God to be with him in the face of death and great pain.
God will deliver us. Trust Him to help you love others as He has loved you. If you are in a toxic relationship you may need a little distance, a little break from the relationship. But do not give up. Keep praying for the one who abuses you. Love them even though they do not deserve it. Is that not how God loves you? Their sin does not excuse yours. Their treatment of you does not give you the right to refuse to love and forgive them even when they do not deserve it.
In the last verse of this chapter in Hosea God said, “ I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
When we face difficulties it should bring us closer to the Lord. And it will if we are trusting Him and if we are nurturing our relationship with Him. Whether the difficulties are a result of our own sin, or just those things that come to us because we live in a fallen world; Those difficulties should bring us to our knees before the Father who loves us so much He died for us.
We suffer the consequences of sin: Ours and the sin of those who have gone before us. Our children will suffer the consequences of our sin as well. This was part of Hosea's message. Look for it back in chapter 4.
God allows us to suffer, to feel as if He has left us until we acknowledge our guilt and seek His face. Our afflictions drive us to earnestly seek Him. Part of seeking Him is to confess when we did not seek Him and instead we relied on our own wisdom and sought help from other sources. He wants to meet our needs and love us more than we will ever know, but He will not abdicate His throne. We must submit to His Lordship and trust Him to love us.
God loves us and He is Lord.
Our sin keeps us from turning to Him. As Hosea said in verse 5, the pride of Israel testifies against him. Our accuser will constantly tell us that we cannot be forgiven. Our pride testifies against us.
I am all for helping people develop self esteem. We need a certain amount of self esteem. But when self esteem brings us to the place that we no longer see the need of God in our lives, we have moved from self esteem to pride. Pride says, I can do this on my own. I do not need God.
Our self esteem should grow out of our relationship with God. We have value only because the Creator says we have value. The value He set on us was set for all time at Calvary. He loves us that much. But it is the relationship with Him that makes us what we were intended to be. It is our trust in Him to love us, to forgive us, to have intimate fellowship with us that makes us the wonderful creation He wants us to be.
When we act like the loving and faithful wife of our Bridegroom, we are exalted to the highest place of all. When we act unfaithfully, He will let us go so far, until our afflictions bring us to our knees and we repent and confess that we need Him as much as, NO, more than we need the air we breathe.
The other choice is to persist in our pride, to refuse to acknowledge our need of Him and refuse to live as He intended us to live. We do have that choice. Submission to Him and His love for us, or refusal to believe in Him and going our own way. Those are the only real choices we have in life.
Once you decide you will submit to the Lord of the Universe, life may not always go the way you want it to go, but it will be life lived in the presence and grace of the Almighty God who created us to love Him and walk with Him in Paradise.
Every decision we make, every day, moves us closer to Him or further from Him. Which direction are your choices moving you?
Self on the throne of our hearts, the flesh, the old man will lead us away from our source of hope and help. Jesus said we are to deny ourselves every day and take up our cross and follow Him. This is how we nurture our relationship with Him. We put off the old man and put on the new man who was created when Jesus came to live in our hearts. This new person was created to do the good works that we were created for. We can only do those good works as we walk in the spirit instead of walking in the flesh.
The flesh leads us away from trusting God and obeying Him. The Spirit leads us to trust Him and obey Him. Who are we listening to?
God wants to walk with us each day. He will do so when we are ready to admit that we have fallen short of this plan. He will do so when we admit we cannot live without Him. He is our peace. He is our hope. He is the grace that will enable us to be all He wants us to be. Without Him we are but dust and ashes. With Him we are the glorious creation of God for whom He was willing to take on flesh and die to restore us to that plan.
Perhaps you have never understood this before and you want to accept this truth for the first time. Perhaps you have been trying to live for Him, but now you see it in a clearer light. Perhaps His Spirit has brought new light to your heart and mind and you want to recommit yourself to following Him, to walking with Him.
I invite you to pray to Him, to confess that you have failed in some way to live for Him. His Spirit is tugging at your heart to give in to Him, to give up your pride and walk down to the altar, kneel before Him and start again to live as He intended you to live. You cannot be all you need to be without Him. What is He leading you to do today? Do not hesitate. Deny yourself and take up the cross. Die to your desires and live to His. Don't wait, move when He tugs at your heart.