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just unjust

In seeing how Israel has separated themselves from God by their iniquity, what else can we expect than for them to suffer the Loss of Blessing? This is what we find in Hosea 9:10-16. “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved. 11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 12 Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them to the last man. Yes, woe to them when I depart from them! 13 Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, so Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.” 14 Give them, O Lord—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts! 15 “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious. 16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb.”

With this heavy pronouncement we must first be reminded that God at times does bless the just and the unjust. In fact, without His blessing, the unjust could not live. There is a sense of blessing every day that the death of the wicked is delayed because after death there remains only judgment for them. Jesus described it this way in Matthew 5:44-46, “44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Jesus tells us to love our enemies based on the truth that God does indeed have a general love for all of His creation, the just and the unjust. Certainly He reserves His covenant love, His saving love for His children, but we cannot deny that God tells us to love our enemies based on the fact that He does the same.

We fall for a fallacy at times that we either love or hate, but the truth is that God can do both at the same time. How is that? Love and hate for God are not emotional terms, but relational terms. They refer to how He relates to us. And at its root the word hate means to “treat as an enemy, or a foe.” So we are commanded to love those we hate. To love our enemies. Why? Because God does the same. In fact, He loved us when we were still sinners, at enmity with Him, children of wrath. Love and hate then we see are not mutually exclusive.

The sin of the people here was so great that as they separated themselves from God they were losing His blessing. There in verse 10 we read, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved.” Now in this day and time, if you were travelling in the wilderness this would be to find an oasis, to find a place where grapes are growing and fig trees are producing its first fruits of the season. This refers to sweet, juicy fruits that were found in an oasis in the wilderness. God tells them that this is what they were supposed to be, to be a refreshing blessing to the world, but instead they have become a curse, an abomination, because they have separated themselves from Him. They were not abiding.

To continue in this description of losing the blessings of God, verses 11-16 say again, “As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 12 Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them to the last man. Yes, woe to them when I depart from them! 13 Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, so Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer. 14 Give them, O Lord—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts! 15 “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious. 16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb.”

We cannot gloss over the horrendous price for sin that is described here. There will be barrenness and when conception occurs children will die. And as we are quite frankly stunned by these verses we need to seek to understand what God is saying. What is God telling Israel here? God is telling the people that as they have separated themselves from Him in chasing after idols and immorality, they are going to lose the ultimate blessing on this earth. You see, the way God views it, the way it is described for us in God’s Word, we see here that to God and from God one of the greatest blessing is found in the blessing of our children.

Psalm 127:3 tells us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” In God’s economy children are a blessing from Him and yet here Israel was saying that they did not want God or His blessings.

Has our nation done that? We take the greatest blessing God can give, label it a mistake or an inconvenience, and we murder our children in the womb. The truth is that we do not see children as blessings do we, in our nation.

And in reality what we see here in not some evil proclamation from a bloodthirsty God.

Let us make no mistake, God is giving them what they want. They do not want His blessing. They do not want Him! So He will not give it to them.

What a loss that they are going to suffer. They are chasing after idolatry, there is going to be an absence of the Word of God as God is going to leave. I mentioned it last week, from Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” God is going to abandon Israel and this ultimate blessing that you have refused will be taken from you. Your future will die before they are born. Israel is going to get exactly what they want.

Romans 1:18 explains it this way, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”  They know the truth. They suppress it. Verse 28 adds, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.”

As God turns them over we also know that there will come a time in which they will have no opportunity to even hear the Word of God. They are going to lose everything. God will not be with them, He will not be blessing them, and He will not be speaking to them. Imagine the condition of a nation when God stops talking to them! That nation is doomed.

In the years to come now Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria, and then Judah fell to Babylon, and even after the return to the Land, as the prophets proclaimed the truth, even after judgment it was not long until the people hardened their hearts and refused to obey. And after the ministry of Malachi we see the fulfillment of this threat. There is no Word from the Lord from the time of Malachi until the time of John the Baptist some 400 years later. Four hundred years in human history wherein God was silent. And the first Word proclaimed from the Lord after that silence was this, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:1-2). Repent!

In our day and age we find silence when pulpits fail to preach the truth. This is judgment also, as we are turned over to false teachers and given what we want to hear. And let’s admit, there are places in our nation now where it is difficult to find a church where the Word of God is faithfully being preached! Our nation is being turned over, given over to what we want.

We may sing “God Bless America” but we need to add to that, “with Repentance!” And let’s be clear, good times and bad times do not indicate automatically either way that God is blessing or not blessing us.

Here we see God telling Israel that He is about to take away the most precious blessing on earth and their response it to laugh. They mock God.

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