The Call to Contend with the Lost
Sunday, September 21, 2014
1 Say to your brothers, "Ammi," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah."
2 "Contend with your mother, contend,
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband;
And let her put away her harlotry from her face,
And her adultery from between her breasts,
3 Lest I strip her naked
And expose her as on the day when she was born.
I will also make her like a wilderness,
Make her like desert land,
And slay her with thirst.
4 "Also, I will have no compassion on her children,
Because they are children of harlotry.
5 "For their mother has played the harlot;
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, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns,
And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
7 "And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, 'I will go back to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!'
8 "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil,
And lavished on her silver and gold,
Which they used for Baal.
9 "Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time
And My new wine in its season.
I will also take away My wool and My flax
Given to cover her nakedness.
10 "And then I will uncover her lewdness
In the sight of her lovers,
And no one will rescue her out of My hand.
11 "I will also put an end to all her gaiety,
Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths,
And all her festal assemblies.
12 "And I will destroy her vines and fig trees,
Of which she said, 'These are my wages
Which my lovers have given me.'
And I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field will devour them.
13 "And I will punish her for the days of the Baals
When she used to offer sacrifices to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the Lord.
14 "Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness,
And speak kindly to her.
15 "Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope.
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
16 "And it will come about in that day," declares the Lord,
"That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.
17 "For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will be mentioned by their names no more.
18 The birds of the sky,
And the creeping things of the ground.
And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land,
And will make them lie down in safety.
19 "And I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.
21 "And it will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the Lord.
"I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
22 And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.
23 "And I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
'You are My people!'
And they will say, 'Thou art my God!'" NASB
Last week we read the first part of Hosea's story. God told him to go marry a prostitute. This was to symbolize the relationship between God and Israel. The names of his children spoke of God's judgment on the nation who had forsaken God and went after other gods. They were committing spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods.
Here we read one of Hosea's sermons to Israel. The theme is the same. Israel is living in idolatry, that is spiritual adultery. She has put her trust in other gods. She has believed that these other gods have provided her food and water. She has deceived herself.
God will woo Israel back to Himself. He will call His people out of the wilderness and plant them in a rich land and provide for them. He tells them, you will no longer call Him Baali – or my Lord, but will call Him Ishi – my Husband.
Israel did what they were commanded not to do clear back in the day of Moses. They did not completely destroy the people of the land and those people led them astray. They inter-married with people who were serving the Baals and they began to worship their gods, forsaking the One True God who had brought them out of captivity.
Centuries later, through the period of the Judges, and through the leadership of Saul, and David, and Solomon, and through the time of the divided kingdom, Israel again and again left their love for God and served other gods who are no gods at all.
God told the people here in Hosea's message that the gold they used to make the idols they worshiped had come from Him. He was their provider when they were far from Him in their hearts. But once again God declares His love for His chosen people and says He will restore them once again.
Who is your provider? Who is your God? Who do you serve? Who do you thank when you eat your meals and go home to your nice warm houses? When you are able to get up each day and go to work, who gets the credit?
This poem, written by Hosea as a sermon to the Israelites, was a call for repentance. This poem inspired by God, is also a call to evangelism.
Hosea was calling upon those who were still faithful to God to give this message to their countrymen who had left their love for God and gone after other gods. This was a call to tell them that the gods they were trusting in were no gods at all. The source of the good things they had were from the One True God, Jehovah, Adonai, El Shaddai, the great I AM.
The message begins with a call to those who call themselves “Ammi” or “My People”, that is, the people of God. It is a call to those who recognize that they have received mercy and compassion from God, “Ruhamah”, to contend with their mother, the nation of Israel. These were they who had not forsaken their first love. They still worshiped Jehovah. They were still His people and knew His mercy and compassion. Even now, when the judgment of God was close at hand, there were the faithful who loved God and still served Him. Hosea calls on them to contend with those who had gone astray.
Their mother, the people of Israel in general, have left their relationship with God. They are no longer true to the covenant relationship with God they have known in the past. God says they are no longer His wife, He is no longer their husband. They have been unfaithful to their marriage vows to God Almighty.
She, those unfaithful to her comittment, have put their faith in false gods. They have worshipped at the altars of the Baals. Idols formed of the gold that God had provided. The food they eat was provided by God, but they were giving thanks to idols, and not to the one true God.
God, through Hosea, calls on God's people, those who recognize they have received mercy and compassion from Yahweh, to spread this message, to contend, to argue them back to their allegiance to the True God who is the true provider of their food and clothing and shelter.
This is the message for us today. This is the call of Jesus to His church, His 'called out ones', to contend with the world and call them back to worship and submission to the One True God. This is a call for the church to spread the Good News that God wants to offer compassion and mercy to the world. Jesus died to convince the world that God loves them. We are called out of the world to follow Him, and then to take the message of salvation, the message that there is a God who loves us and He must be Lord of our lives.
The good things of life do not come from false gods of our own making. The good things of life come from the One Who Created All Things. He will bless us as we come to live before Him in humility and submission. He wants to be Ishi to us, not Baali. He wants to be husband, not just master. He wants to love us and take care of us and He will if we repent of our tendency to put our trust in others, rather than the One True God.
Men, this points out the difference between a harsh legalistic husband who demands to be obeyed and a loving husband who cares for his wife and earns her love and loyalty by loving her and taking care of her, meeting her needs, even when they do not deserve such loving treatment. If you demand obedience, but do not show her respect and love, you are not leading as God has led you. You are not loving as God has loved you. Love is the difference between Ishi and Baali, between husband and lord. God cared for Israel and provided for her needs while she was far from Him in their hearts. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church if you want to get the respect and honor of being the head of your household. Love and Acceptance must precede holding others Accountable and demanding obedience.
God loves us and cares for us. He practices the forgiveness He insists we put in to practice as well. Forgiveness is the oil of any relationship that keeps it running smoothly. God was willing to forgive Israel and He is willing to forgive us. We must be ready to forgive others.
God called Israel to repentance while they were still rejecting Him, demonstrating that forgiveness was available before the offender had admitted their sin. Are you waiting for someone to repent before you offer to forgive their offenses?
God called Israel to repentance again and again down through the ages. Are you giving up on a relationship that God wants you to maintain because of one or two offenses? Continue to offer forgiveness and mercy to those who have offended you.
This message to those who called themselves “God's People” and “I have received Mercy” is a message to us today to forgive as God has forgiven us. While we were yet sinners, He reached out to us in love, sent His Son to die that we could be forgiven and brought into a loving relationship with God. If you are not following the Lord, He is calling you to accept Him as Savior and Lord. If you know Him, He calls you to share the love you have found in Him with any who will listen; with any one He puts in your path.
Accept God's love and share it with others. Contend with the Lost. Call them to repentance and trust in the One True God. This was Hosea' message to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This is God's message to His people today.