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In verses 8-11 then we have our final point this week from Hosea 6. The people of Israel are facing being Ruined without Restoration. Hosea writes, “Gilead is a city of evildoers and defiled with blood. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; surely they commit lewdness. I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people.”

Hosea’s warning about sure and certain judgment is based on the fact that he says that the land is full of complete corruption. When he says “Gilead is a city of evildoers and defiled with blood” this means that the city is full of footprints that have tracked through the blood of the innocent that has been shed. They shed innocent blood and track it all over the city. Everywhere they go is this evil and evidence of their sin.

The people run to sin, they pursue sin. They rob and murder, even the priests on the road to the high place set up for worship at Shechem are murdering while on route. The phrasing here is that literally you are on your way to make an offering to God, see someone along the way who has something that you think would be good to offer God, so you kill them and take their things, and offer those things to God in worship at the top of the hill! This reveals the heart of worshipping self, of the idolatry and iniquity in the land.

You covet, steal, and kill all in the name of offering something to God in worship. This is depravity. This is what it means to be defiled. This is twisted and beyond an abomination. When it says “Surely they commit lewdness” the term means every manner of moral impurity and uncleanness – all in the name of the worship of God. Think of it this way, “lewdness” here is a category of worship style, so we have the Seeker Church, the Traditional Church, the Contemporary Church, the Rock and Roll Church, the Country Church, and the Lewd Church. In reality all of these are lewd because all of these seek to fashion worship after the wants and desires of the worshippers instead of the One being worshipped!

And so God says, “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled.” I am glad that this is limited to Israel, aren’t you? I mean to know how wicked and vile and evil they were back then, I am sure glad that we do not have the same problems or perceptions today, because by now we have the Scriptures figured out always offer to God worship that is pleasing in His sight, right?

Lest we come down too hard on Israel – and note, we cannot be any more hard than God and His Word, which He tells us is a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces – we do need to remember what Paul wrote in Romans 3:10-18. Here we are all, we being all mankind, we are all in the same boat. 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Acting in this manner is an evidence of a lack of the fear of God. Should we, as His children fear God? We, as His children, should fear Him more than most because we know Him and His holiness and His power, and His righteousness.

These things are addressed to God’s people. This is the list of their wickedness: they are defiled, evildoers, who are quick to murder, steal, and walk in lewdness. The final term is that they are full of harlotry. Unfaithfulness.

Yet what did God see through the harlotry and defilement? Just as Hosea had done for Gomer, even as the people were suffering because of their sin, God provided for them and cared for them. Discipline ultimately is an expression of love, is it not? When Gomer sank to the point of being sold at auction who was there with the highest bid? It was Hosea, as a picture of God, who so loves the world that He have His only begotten Son.

God sees us in our sin and loves us even still. The lie we believe is that the better we live the Christian life the more God loves us. No. God’s love for us is not based on what we do. It is based on His character and nature and on what Christ has done to demonstrate that love for us in that while we were still sinners He died for us. And now because of His love and because of what He gives us we can live in a manner that is pleasing to Him, not so that He will love us more but so that we can love Him more!

Before moving to chapter 7, Hosea here makes a side comment to Judah in verse 11. In about 30 years time from where from where we are in Hosea, the nation of Judah will see the nation of Israel taken by the Assyrians. Then they will see God stop the Assyrians as God strikes down their forces in the night and sends Senacherib back home defeated to face assassination by his own children.  And at some point I am sure that Judah thought that Israel got what they deserved, after all, Israel abandoned the Temple and so there is no way that they would have been rightly worshipping God. Surely Judah was okay. Surely they were safe. They had the Temple! Their worship pleased God, right? In light of this, God says, “Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people.”

There is a harvest for you also – and remember, harvest is judgment. And it has already been appointed for Judah. There will be no escape from the consequence of their sin. Judah will be held to the same prophetic Word, to the same Law, to the same standards of righteousness, to the same judgment as Israel.

In Jeremiah 51 as the prophet preaches to Judah we read there in verse 13, “O you who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your covetousness.” Secure in their treasures and location, the end had come according to the measure of their covetousness. And in Joel 2:1-3 we read, “Blow the trumpet in Zion,

And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;

For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand: 2 A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations. 3 A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them.”

Hosea, Jeremiah, and Joel all testify to this truth. When it comes to the sins and unfaithfulness of God’s people, judgment is sure. And there is only one hope, one way of escape, one remedy – we find it when Solomon prayed at the dedication of the Temple. In 2 Chronicles 6:36-40 we read, 36 “When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; 37 yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’; 38 and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: 39 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. 40 Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.

The cure? Repent with godly sorrow. Return with all your heart. Rejoice, God will hear!

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