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Take your Bibles and open with me this week to Hosea chapter 4. Continuing in our series through Hosea titled “God’s Redeeming Love” we are looking at this picture, this living parable wherein Hosea and his wife Gomer represent with their lives and actions the relationship between the Lord and His people Israel. Hosea serves as a reminder of the longsuffering patience and covenant love of God and Gomer demonstrates unfaithfulness and the depths of depravity that fill the hearts of sinners – specifically those for Whom Christ has died. As Hosea brings this prophetic warning from God to His people we have seen a presentation already as if Gomer was being charged in a court for her unfaithfulness. Then last week in those 5 verses of chapter 3 we explored a vivid example of what it means to be redeemed as Hosea went to the marketplace to bid and win back his wife from the slave auction. We have seen the connection and the foreshadowing of Christ’s redeeming us through the offering of His life as He became a substitute for us in the atonement for sin, buying us with His precious blood.

Now this week in chapter 4 we return to the courtroom. We change direction, leaving redemption behind, as we now stare face to face with a formal indictment against Israel. As if God had not already been clear through the prophet and the parable we see in Hosea’s life, now God bring specific charges against His people. We will see this morning that He leaves little room for excuses or explanations when it comes to the sin of His people.

Hosea is going to tell them why they are in need of redemption. He is going to explain in very clear and precise terms the sins that warrant judgment from God.

To begin then let’s look at Hosea 4:1-3.

Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away.

 Keep in mind that this rather blunt statement, “Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land”, this statement follows chapter 3 which gave such a glorious picture of God’s redeeming love. This serves as a backdrop to show the people that even though God loves them like He does, He will surely discipline and chastise them for their continued sin. God’s love and grace do not ever offer us an excuse to continue in our pursuit of sin and self. In fact, anyone who preaches, believes, or lives like grace is a license to sin will meet with the holy wrath of God in due time.

There can be no excuse here. The Lord through Hosea is making it plain for all to see what the people have done to earn the judgment that is coming. At this point, as Hosea has been preaching, the people most likely did what people still do to this day. When they are told of the love of God and how it is the “riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering”, “the goodness of God” that “leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) they gloss right over the fact that there is established here a need for repentance and they jump immediately to the so-called love of God. Never mind that their definition of love is neither Biblical nor even moderately correct. They make God a god of love in their own image, based on their perceptions and feelings, and they craft an idol who is all wishy-washy mushy infatuation and they neglect to listen to the truth that God’s anger burns towards sin and the sinner. God’s promise of redemption, predicated on repentance, is not permission to live however we want believing that in the end God will forgive it all anyway. Even for the believer, even for the one who is justified, there are still consequences for sin.

One commentator on the Book of James chapter 2, where we learn that faith that does not produce good works is dead faith, he wrote that we believe we have been “baptized, catechized, and sanitized.” We believe as long as we make some effort to keep things clean in our lives then we can live as we want. We presume upon the grace and forgiveness of God. This is the very thing that Paul warns against when we come the Lord’s Table. To fail to discern the body and blood of the Lord is to misappropriate salvation as if being forgiven means we can sin to the full with no consequence.

Hosea begins the indictment then by telling the people that they have no restraint when it comes to their sin. Our text says, “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” Now wait, did the people know God? They knew about God, just as many today, they know facts about God but they do not know Him. There is no relationship, no intimacy. And he tells us here there is no truth, there is no mercy. The people, because of their lack of a true relationship with their God, were preying on one another. Social injustice was rampant. And the Bible is clear, if we do not love our neighbor then we do not love God!

To say that there is “no knowledge of God in the land” is to make the point that if the people knew God then their lives and their land would be different than it was. And where did truth, mercy, and the knowledge of God go? What took it away? What made it absent? Verse 2 tells us. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.  Now think about this list. What does this sound like? “Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, bloodshed,” The indictment is a charge that the people are in violation of the Covenant, they are actively breaking the Ten Commandments.

Further it says that they are breaking all restraint. That is they are straining so hard after sin that nothing can hold them back. There is no thought as to the consequences of sin. There is no fear of God. There is no understanding of holiness, wrath, accountability, or any other number of truths about the nature and character of God when it comes to our living in continued sin.

The result here is that “the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away.” Their sin and unfaithfulness will bring consequences to the nation, to individuals, and to the Land itself. Creation is harmed by their sinfulness.

We see a progression here that is mirrored by Paul in Romans 1. Things are so closely aligned that some believe Paul had Hosea in mind when he wrote Romans 1 and 2. Of course the same Holy Spirit that inspired Hosea also inspired Paul as they wrote the Scriptures for us. But Paul would have been an Old Testament expert and much of what he says at the beginning of Romans matches the terminology and flow of Hosea’s indictment.

Starting in Romans 1:18 Paul writes, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”

What is lacking on Hosea 4:1? There is no truth. What does Paul say? Wrath is revealed against those who suppress the truth. They have heard the truth. They know the truth. But they choose to refuse to believe the truth. They will not walk in it. They know what is right and deliberately determine to do what is wrong.

Even in Creation, he says, we can see proof of God, attributes of God. Yet too often in the hardness of depraved hearts men do not glorify God as God. We prefer to play that role ourselves. To be our own god.

The result? Having thrown off all restraint, the people are warned that the land will be full of moral depravity, lawlessness, and as a result of these things there will even be destruction of the environment. “The land will mourn,” he says. Sin will have consequences. Consequences on our families, on our church, on our nation. There is no such thing as a victimless crime when it comes to sinning against God. We can never say that we are not hurting anyone, or are only hurting ourselves. There is a ripple effect every time we sin!

In Hosea 6:6, which we will cover in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, we read, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” What does God desire? Mercy. What is lacking? Mercy.

And in Hosea 13:4 we read, “Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no savior besides Me.” The lack of truth and mercy are rooted in the fact that they do not know God. Those in danger of judgment are told by Christ in Matthew 7:23, “‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

God says you should know no other God but Him, and yet we are warned that we don’t know Him. So what do we do? We seek to learn all about Him. This is not knowing about God. It is knowing God. When we witness we don’t need to ask people if they are Christians. Honestly, too many think they are when they are not. Instead, we should ask people, “Do you know Jesus?” Not about Jesus….but do they know Jesus?

If you know Him, you trust Him. If you know Him, you talk to Him. If you know Him, you seek to walk with Him in obedience.

In Romans 1:29-32 Paul reminds us fallen, sinful people are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

The people are being warned in Hosea, that they have thrown off restraint and are actively rejecting God and His authority. When anyone, any person or nation, walks like this, when we walk in sin and go our own way anything we touch we will ruin. Whether it be a result of our sin or as we see even in the Book of Revelation, because of the wrath of God being poured out in judgment – all of creation is affected by our sin.

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