Exhortation for 7/11/04 - Reading Hosea 4 - Bro Manny
2004年11月7日 先知对以色列的警告 (何4)
Good morning my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. We come again to remember our Lord Jesus Christ by taking the emblems of his body and his blood. When we do so we remember his perfect life of obedience to his Father. His meat was always to do the will of God.
We have read today an extreme rebuke to God's people, the nation of Israel, by the prophet Hosea. Hosea prophesied for over 40 years to the northern 10 tribes of Israel until they were conquered by the Assyrians. So Hosea prophesied at the end of an age. He was the final prophet to these people so God's final words to the rebellious northern nation of Israel were given by him.
When Hosea began his prophecy Israel were prosperous under the reign of Jeroboam 2, but after the death of that king Israel plummeted to depths of depravity and bloodshed. Of the six successors to Jeroboam, four died violent deaths. Immorality was rampant and there was no regard for religion. We see this clearly in the chapter we read. How could this happen?
Verse 6 clearly explains why Israel failed "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge". They stopped doing the daily readings. They failed to see the benefit of knowing Yahweh their God. To know God is more than just having a knowledge o f the first principles-there must be a hunger and thirst to really know and understand Him. The truth of the matter is that when we stop knowing God we stop revealing Him. Without the cleansing influence of daily absorbing God's Word our nature takes over and leads us to sin. Paul's second letter to Timothy shows how vital it is to constantly meditate on the Word of God. A knowledge of the Word is not just to "give us eternal life", but to show us how we must live our lives now to be pleasing to God. Let's turn up 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
We must never be fooled into thinking we are naturally good people-that it is enough to live a good life without being instructed by the Bible. Maybe Israel believed this and took no heed to their priests who instructed them from the law. When the first king of Israel, the first Jeroboam, revolted from the tribe of Judah, he saw no need to have a faithful priesthood to instruct the people from God's law. He was afraid the people would return again to Jerusalem, so he set up a false religion. We read this in 1 Kings 12: 28 and 31:
"Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi."
Let's turn again to Hosea chapter 4:1
"Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land."
Because the people had no knowledge of God, they themselves had no truth nor mercy towards others. The most fundamental aspect of God is that he is a God who is merciful and a God of Truth (Exodus 34:6). The nation had forgotten this and so themselves were not manifesting this to others. If they forgot the most basic element of God's character it follows they would sink lower in depraved behaviour as verse 2 says:
"By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood".
In the Hebrew this statement is extremely graphic. It is as if that was all that was happening-it was just continual violence and immorality. They had fallen so far from the grace of God. This is the outcome of not continually absorbing one's mind in God's Word. Our Lord warned his followers of what would happen if they did not fill their minds with his word in Matthew 12:43-45:
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
What this is saying, is that when a man finds the Truth and his mind is cleansed from wickedness by the Word of God, he must then fill up his mind by constantly reading and meditating on the Word. He must regularly "fill his lamp with oil". Otherwise he will quickly sink back to his old ways, and in fact become worse than he was before-just like what happened to the nation of Israel.
Verses 4 to 6 show the people were like those who rejected the counsel of the priests. Deut 17:12 shows God's attitude to those who will not hearken to the priests:
"And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel."
The death penalty was imposed, as verse 5 of Hosea chapter 4 says, "And I will destroy thy mother". This was a figure used to represent the nation of Israel. Their nation was about to be destroyed by the Assyrians. Never again would the kingdom of the 10 tribes exist. The people's self-inflicted ignorance and their positive rejection of the knowledge which saves, had rendered them unfit to be the kingdom of priests to which they had been called along with Judah (Exodus 19:5-6):
"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
Jesus said, "To whom much is given, much is required". And they had received so much! In verse 6 Hosea tells this northern kingdom that they were no longer to be a priest to God. How could God's priests forget the law of God and still be His ministers? Malachi 2:7 says "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." Because they had forgotten God, God would forget about them.
We see in verse 7 that the nation was increased. They increased in number and they increased in wealth. These are blessings from God. However they used these blessings to sin more and failed to appreciate what God had done for them. They failed to recognise that these blessings came for God and so their hearts were filled with pride.
In verse 8, the sin they ate up was the sin offerings the people offered under the law as seen in Leviticus 6:26. The priests were able to eat these sin offerings, so they encouraged the people to sin in order that they might use these offerings to satisfy their own lusts. The people were like the priests in their ignorance of God, as verse 9 says, and God would punish them severely, firstly by taking away His sustenance and care which they were taking for granted and using to sin more, and then by the Assyrian invasion.
Verse 11 shows the people were drunk, both literally and spiritually. They had an excess of wine which God had provided for them, but they were abusing it. But they were also drunk with their idolatries. As verse 12 points out, they would go to their piece of wood which a carpenter fashioned into an idol and ask counsel of it. They would turn to their staff and use it to see into the future as if it had supernatural power. God looked on this in disgust. They were sacrificing to strange gods which were the works of their hands.
Verse 13 also says that their daughters committed whoredoms and their spouses committed adultery. This would have been the practice of the false worship of the Canaanite gods. Because our world today is so far removed from the true worship of Yahweh, prostitution and adultery is also rampant in the world around us. However God says he would not punish their whoredoms and idolotry but rather leave the sinners to themselves to follow their iniquity to their own destruction, as verse 14 says.
Our Father corrects us in this present life for our own good. Hebrews 12:6-11 shows us how our Father shows His love to us by his chastisement:
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us , and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
The worst punishment our Father in Heaven can give us is to fail to correct us, as He finally did with Israel who would not listen. We must use the chastisement God gives us to understand how we are failing and how we can serve Him better. God forsook these wicked people and left them to their own destruction.
In verse 15 God through the prophet Hosea turns his attention to Judah to warn her not to resort to the idols of Gilgal or Beth-Aven. Beth-Aven is a distortion of Beth-El. Beth-Aven in the Hebrew means "house of worthlessness", whereas Beth-El means "house of God". Israel had abandoned God's worship, rejected or corrupted His priests, and given herself to the worship of the calves. But Judah, who had the law and the temple and the service of God, was warned not to involve herself in Israel's sin. If Israel, in willful blindness, had plunged herself in ruin, let not Judah involve herself in her sin and her ruin.
在何西阿书4：15中，神通过先知何西阿告诉南方的犹大王国，警告他不要去拜吉甲或伯亚文的偶像。伯亚文是“Beth-El （伯特利）”这个词的变形。“伯亚文”在希伯来语里的意思是“毫无价值之物的殿”，而Beth-El 这个词的意思是“神的殿”。北方的以色列人抛弃了对神的崇拜，弃绝玷污了祭司，去崇拜金牛犊。但南方的犹大，有神的律法，神的殿，和神的事工，也被警告不要陷入北方以色列人的罪中。如果以色列因为自己的盲目而陷入毁灭，那么希望南方的犹大不要也犯同样的罪而毁灭。
In verse 16 Israel is compared to a "refractory' or "untamed" heifer or young cow. Such a heifer will not submit to guidance and the yoke but throws them off-she is self-willed. It is interesting that the false worship established in Bethel by Jeroboam was a golden calf. Because Israel would not submit to Yahweh they were to be taken to "a large place" and that place was Assyria where they would be taken captive.
Finally in verse 19 we read "The wind hath bound her up in her wings". When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He "bare them on eagle's wings, and brought them unto Himself", as Exodus 19:4 says. Now because they had abandoned God, God would abandon them as chaff to the wind. The certainty of Israel's doom is spoken of in the past tense as if it had already happened. Divine judgment was certain.
We see in these denunciations "the goodness and severity of God" As Paul told the Romans in chapter 11:22:
"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off"
Israel were destroyed "for lack of knowledge" (v6) because there was "no knowledge of God in the land" (v1). We know that it is life eternal to know God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3).
Let us then take note of the prophet's warning to Israel. We no longer have priests, but we have access to God's Word freely and for 24 hours every day. As we partake of the bread and the wine let us examine ourselves in accordance with His Word, and let us all now judge ourselves so that we will not be condemned with the world at our Lord's coming (1Cor 11:31-32).