joyTake your Bibles and open with me this week to Hosea chapter 9. Through this series of messages in Hosea we have seen Israel run headlong into unfaithfulness to the Lord. They have become pluralistic, mixing all sorts of religions and types of worship together into a self-service buffet of debased spirituality. In recent messages we have learned that the nation cried out for relief from judgment not to be free of their sin, but to be able to sin without consequence. The Word of God has become foreign and strange to them while they are more than familiar with false gods and wickedness. They have forgotten God, intentionally choosing to ignore His Word and His prophets. So we will see this morning that God is prepared to cast them away. He is going to turn them over, to abandon them to their sin and its consequences.

What we see here is that judgment is not only suffering repercussions from bad choices. Judgment at times includes being turned over to our sin, to be so debased that we are given over to what will kill us. There is no restraint. God is going to let His people go. We will see then the horrible results of being abandoned by God as we work through our text and examine these 5 things that God says are about to happen to them.

Hosea begins by telling Israel in verse 1 and 2 that there will be at first a Loss of Joy. He writes, “Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, for you have played the harlot against your God. You have made love for hire on every threshing floor. The threshing floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her.” This is not merely a warning, or even a command “Do not rejoice”, this is a statement that in a very short time the nation will not be able to rejoice. They will find that they have lost their joy and any reason that they had for rejoicing is gone.

The references to the threshing floors and the winepress points to places where we should find joy, in the production of wine and food. Remember, God tells us in Psalm 104:14-15, “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.” These should be places of common, everyday reasons for rejoicing. The provision of God’s good blessings to sustain and enhance life by use of His gifts to us. And yet we know that these winepresses and threshing floors became sights of pagan worship, or religious prostitution, of a compounded unfaithfulness through festivals of fulfilling the flesh.

The thinking was that by setting up idols in these places these false gods would bless their crops and give them an abundance of food and wine. Part of God’s judgment was to send famine and make raising crops difficult. This affected everyone because everyone has to eat, right? So the relief from the results of their sin was to add more sin and make these places for producing food and drink places of false worship and unimaginable immorality. Instead of depending upon God and returning to Him in repentance and faith they turned to their own vain imaginations. They tried to figure a way out of judgment without following God’s prescription for healing. Instead of listening to the doctor they went online and began to self-medicate based on what they thought sounded legitimate as a way to bring relief.

The warning from Hosea is that they will go looking for joy and reasons to rejoice and not be able to find any. The sources of their joy will be taken away. Their gladness will be turned into mourning.

Part of what they are missing here in their pursuits is similar to the ways in which we seek joy. We seek to find joy in objects, in things. But the real joy that comes from God’s blessing is not found merely in the blessing, in the object that has been given to us for our use and benefit. The real joy is discovering God’s amazing provision and seeing that He is the One behind these things that give us reason to rejoice.

We must admit that God has given us gifts to enhance our joy! As those things are enjoyed within His parameters and for His glory, we see that food and wine are sources of joy in our walk with God. As with any gift, certainly they can be abused, but just because we can abuse and misuse a gift from God does not make it less a gift. It just goes to show our propensity to ruin the most beautiful things God gives us as stewards of His creation.

On one hand when we see God’s provision and rejoice in His goodness, we are grateful to Him for His blessings. But when we seek to spend and use His gifts to us in an indulgent manner, we are ultimately seeking to serve ourselves instead of Him. He tells us how to enjoy His gifts, with moderation, self-control, without over indulgence or intoxication (being controlled by something). And again, I have to stress this, just because something might be abused does not mean that it is not a gift from God.

This also makes a point for us that we can be satisfied and find joy in these everyday provisions, but there is a warning, if what we are seeking is self-satisfaction then we have missed the point and will not find joy, but disappointment and eventually bondage. We seek God and thank Him for His gifts – if instead we seek His gifts outside of communion with Him and devotion and obedience to Him, we end up spending these things on our own demise. We will lose our joy and our ability to rejoice in His goodness and His blessing.

Psalm 63:1-5 tells us, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.”

When we are looking for joy and satisfaction, we are told here to look for it by seeking the Lord. It is when we hunger and thirst after righteousness that Jesus says we will be filled, or satisfied. It is enjoying Him and His gifts, it is not trying to enjoy His gifts without any acknowledgement of their source. We will not long enjoy gifts from Him if we try to enjoy them without Him. Part of the reason for the joy here is that they have come from Him to us and we find in that relationship deep joy and have a response of rejoicing.

When we ask a question about where to find true, lasting joy, Psalm 16:11 answers us, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Joy is found, the Psalmist says, “in Your presence.”

Too often when we mistakenly look for happiness as a substitute for joy – remember happiness is based on happenings while joy is a fruit of the Spirit produced in and through us giving us the ability to truly and deeply rejoice in any circumstance – when we substitute happiness for joy we tend to try to find it everywhere but where it is promised. We look to so many sources for gladness that end up letting us down and end up not being lasting. Usually this is simply because when we seek happiness we are seeking to please self. It is a selfish pursuit and by nature then will only fail in the end.

God tells us that there is fullness of joy in His presence and yet how many things that we chase to find happiness end up leading us away from His presence? Let me say that again – God tells us that there is fullness of joy in His presence and yet how many things that we chase to find happiness end up leading us away from His presence? We are back to the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh. We are looking for something in the wrong place by the wrong methods for the wrong reasons and wonder why we cannot have joy, or happiness!

In that list in fact from Galatians 5, we learned that the counterfeits, the counterpoints to joy are uncleanness and lewdness. Joy is defined as rejoicing, as a glad delight. Uncleanness refers to an impurity of motive or desire, and lewdness refers to unbridled lust. We so want to be glad, to have a reason to rejoice, that we run after impurity and licentiousness thinking that unrestrained fulfillment of our desires will make us happy. Amazing isn’t it that when we chase the things that we think will make us happy typically that means we won’t remember it the next morning. The only reminder is heartache and headache. You see, we think we know best and God’s Word becomes strange and foreign to us. Who knows better how to get what we want than ourselves? Yet our calling is to self-denial, and it is there that we find lasting joy.

The people of Israel here were seeking joy, looking for reasons to rejoice in the midst of their trials and hardship (brought in by the way as a result of the judgment of God upon their sin) and Hosea says they will not be able to find joy. They will not find it in the vineyard or at the winepress or on the threshing floor because fullness of joy is found in the presence of God. That was the presence they were fleeing and forgetting.

In John 15:11 Jesus reminds us, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Notice how Jesus describes joy. It is not the joy we find, we manufacture, we discover, it is not our joy. He says, “My joy.” The best joy, the highest joy is found when Jesus rejoices in us! That is why true joy as a fruit of the Spirit cannot be overcome by suffering and sorrow, sickness, pain, trials, or difficulty. True joy has as its source the Son of God. It is HIS joy in us, remaining in us, filling us up, and overflowing out of us.

What gives Jesus joy? Luke 15:10, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”