alarmToday in Hosea 8:1-3 we find the first way that the people of Israel are disobeying God described in detail.  We read there: Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the Lord, Because they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law. Israel will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’ Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him.’”

Here in the first three verses, we see that Israel is Breaking God’s Covenant.  They are being disobedient.  And when He says here, “Set the trumpet to your mouth,” literally, this is, “Blow the alarm, sound the alarm, do whatever you have to do to get people’s attention, because things are desperate.  Things are dreadfully wrong.”

It says here, “He shall come,” meaning the Lord is going to come, “like an eagle.”  And the word for “eagle,” by the way, can be translated eagle or buzzard, in Texan.  This is either a bird of prey or a carrion bird.  This is a bird that’s going to eat dead things.  These are the birds that are gathering because there’s about to be flesh available to consume.  In other words, “Sound the alarm, because judgment is close.”

Now how close was it?  Well as Hosea is preaching, and we look at what happens to Assyria coming and taking Israel into captivity in 722 B.C., we’re probably only 15 or 20 years, maybe 30 at the most, from that at this point.  And God says to the people, “The birds are gathering.”  Look, if you’re driving down the highway and you see the buzzards circling, you know exactly what that means, don’t you?  “Something out there is dead,” God says to this nation of Israel, “the birds are already circling.”  Notice He’s not calling for them to repent here anymore.  He’s telling them judgment is coming.  It’s sure.  He says, “You have transgressed My covenant.  You continually break My law.  You’re rebelling against Me.”

And “Israel,” He says, “will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’”  Remember this was the accusation—“You don’t return to Me and you don’t really know Me.  You think you know Me; you know about Me, but how much do you know about God, if you’ve set up a golden calf to worship Him right next to the Asherah pole and the groves?  How much do you really know about God, God who’s a jealous God, who tells us, ‘Don’t have any other gods before Me.  Don’t make any graven image to worship Me’?”  These things are fundamental.  These things are basic.

And the people say, “This can’t be true.  We can’t be in danger of any judgment.  We know You.”  Did Jesus encounter anybody who said this when Jesus preached?  “But, but, but, but…we’re the children of Abraham.  We’re special.”  And what did Jesus tell them?  “You’re of your father the Devil.  That’s why you don’t believe My Word.  If you were of My Father, you’d hear Me, you’d embrace Me, you would understand, you would hear My voice and you would know what I’m saying.”

They’re crying out, “We know You,” but this no assurance—just because they know about Him, just because they can recite, just because they can go and sacrifice, because they can fulfill all of the duties of worship.  They’re messing it up.  They’re rebelling.  They’re being sinful in all of this.  And this is a false claim.  He says, “Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him.”  You’re going to be pursued; you’re going to be condemned; you’re going to be judged; you’re going to be taken into captivity.  There are going to be consequences for your sin, because sin will affect every relationship in your lives.

This is what we need to understand.  So often when we’re tempted to sin, we’re tempted to get alone, to be alone, and to do it alone, and people will say, “Well, if it’s not hurting anybody.”  You’ve heard of Libertarians, right?  What do Libertarians believe?  “Well, as long as I’m not hurting somebody else or infringing upon their rights.”  Too many Christians think that way.  “Well, as long as it doesn’t hurt somebody else.  If I’m just hurting myself, what does that matter?”  Sin is sin, and you’re never just hurting yourself.  It will affect you, it will affect your relationships, it will affect the people around you even more so.

If we are ever tempted to think that my sin only affects me, we’re forgetting something.  My sin nailed Jesus to the cross, so at most, it’s affecting two people—Me and Jesus.  My sin comes at a price.  That means, then, that grace should never motivate us to sin more.  It should raise our dread of sin, because that sin put Jesus on the cross.  They’re breaking God’s covenant.  They’re not understanding that this is going to affect every relationship within the nation.

Luke 6:46, Jesus says, 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  You say you know Me, you say that I’m your Lord, you say that I’m your Master, but then you’re not being obedient to Me.  So Jesus rebukes them just like Hosea rebukes them.  “You keep saying, ‘But I know You, but I’m Yours, I called You Lord.’”

These are frightening verses in the New Testament, when Jesus turns to those on His left and says, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  “But we did all these things in Your name!”  They did all these things, but they didn’t know Him.  There was no relationship.  What they did, they actually did to serve themselves.  That’s what Israel’s doing here.

Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”  You see, the Christian life is about obedience, not obedience so that we can be saved, but now that we’re saved, we can be obedient.  It’s the application of grace to empower us to do what we need to do, to do what’s right, to walk in righteousness and in holiness.  Because here is the truth: God must not just be worshiped; He must be obeyed.

You see, here’s what we claim.  We claim that we’ve done our duty if we show up, meet with the church, if we worship, if we sing, read God’s Word together, pray together.  We might meet at other times throughout the week, home-to-home, we might have services.  We’ll do all of these different kinds of things.  And sometimes the Christian life just becomes a matter of getting to the next church meeting, doesn’t it?  “Well, it’s church time again, it’s Sunday time again.  I’ve got to go.  I’ve got to get up and go.  I’ve got to be there.  I’ve done my duty.  I’ve worshiped this week.”

If we’re not living this, if we really do believe that we’re just here to worship and we’re done, and then we go and we live our lives, and we have our week—that’s not how this works.  God is not only to be worshiped, God must be obeyed.  He is Lord.  He is Master.  He’s bought us with the blood of His Son.  We are His.  So obedience is expected.

The people are breaking the covenant.  They’re walking in disobedience.  They call Him “God” and they say that they know Him, but they don’t live like they have a clue.  Everything outwardly screams that they are deceived.  And they don’t see it.  They’re blinded to the truth.  They’re missing what they’re doing.  He says that they’ve rejected the good, and so the enemy’s going to pursue him.