In verses 6 and 7 of Hosea 5 then we see that the people are seeking. Just because we say that they are not seeking God does not mean that they are not seeking something. Hosea tells us, “With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.”

 The people are worshipping false gods and worshipping God falsely, continuing in their unfaithfulness, and Hosea tells them that they are going to take their flocks and herds, animals to offer as a sacrifice, and they are going to think that when they offer these sacrifices that they are seeking the Lord – they are seeking to find peace with God by means of something that they can do for Him, to appease Him. Again, this is a works based salvation. So they are not actually seeking the Lord – they are seeking the benefit of sacrificing to the Lord. They are serving God for what they can get from Him. They are seeking to save themselves.

The people here are seeking their own comfort. They are seeking to sooth their sore conscience. They are seeking a relief from their guilt. And God says they will seek but they will not find. They are not truly seeking after Him. And so He has withdrawn Himself from them. He is turning them over to their sin. He is giving them what they want. What a frightening thing, for God to give you over to what you want.

The Word tells us in Isaiah 55:6 to “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” There is a time when He cannot be found? Yes, sometimes we find that it is too late to seek Him. One instance to be sure is that after death there remains no more seeking. Some say that God will give us a final opportunity after death before being condemned, but the Bible is clear that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Some also say that they will live however they want with this assurance, a moment before they die they will repent and cry to God for salvation. That is the very definition of what it means to presume upon God. Who knows that they might fall dead of a heart attack in a split second? Even then, we know this to be true, a life lived in defiance of God and His Word is not likely to change course in its final moments. Is God able to save people on their death beds? Certainly. But we must never presume or assume that we will have an opportunity for salvation tomorrow. The Word says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2). Why now? Why today? Because “you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14).

Our text continues. They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, and this is a reference to the fact that while they are offering sacrifices from their herds, all too often, they were cheating! They were offering animals they had stolen from other flocks, or animals that were sick and unfit. God commanded an offering of the first and best and He accuses His people through Malachi, “And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil?” (Mal. 1:8).

 Hosea also says here, “For they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.” Their false religion will be their undoing, in other words. Their children have been turned away from the Lord and their religious ceremonies built around the New Moon will serve to consume and destroy them, not save them as they had hoped.

Now what does the Bible tell us about those times that we seek the Lord but cannot seem to find Him? After all, Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). So what if you ask and don’t receive? Some say that you don’t have enough faith. Really? How much do we need? As little as a mustard seed? The amount of faith is not the issue as long as the object of that faith is Jesus!

Sometimes when we ask and don’t receive it is simply a matter of timing. It is not time yet for the answer to be given or found. So we persevere with patience and faith.

At other times it is that we are asking for the wrong things and God needs to change our hearts so that we might ask for the right things. And that takes time!

But if we do continue to ask and seek and we don’t receive or find, then let’s look to James 4:2-4. “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Here in Hosea we are dealing with Israel and their spiritual unfaithfulness, their spiritual and physical adultery. Interesting then that James the brother of Jesus tells us that when we ask based on our lust, as we want to get to fulfill our own pleasure, we are asking for the wrong things and are adulterers and adulteresses! We ask and don’t get when we ask for ourselves, to please self. Not for God’s glory and pleasure, but for our own selfish ambitions.

Seeking God is not accomplished by going to Him to ask for what we want. It is deeper than that! A professor of mine said that all too often when we seek God we seek His hands – we seek to get – while God tells us to seek His face – to seek to get to know! It is about relating and communing. It is about fellowship. It is about living this life not for what we get out of it, but for the glory it gives God.

When we seek Him we learn that the Word of God conforms our desires. It changes our wants. When we delight in His Word, He gives us the desires of our heart – not the things we desire, but by His Spirit through His Word He implants within us right desires and so then He has no hesitation to give us what we want because when it lines up with His Word we want what He wants for us to want! That is what Psalm 37:4 is all about. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

May God protect us from thinking we are seeking God when we are actually seeking for our own peace and pleasure.