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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"They Know Not the Lord"

Sermons on the Minor Prophets:  Hosea (4)

As a prophet called to his office by YHWH, Hosea functions as a divine process server to God’s covenant people, Israel.  Hosea brings the people of Israel the list of the charges which YHWH has against them.  The list is long and quite detailed.  Israel’s sins are great and the nation is about to come under judgment.  But why is Israel in such terrible spiritual shape?  Hosea reveals that God’s people are perishing because of a lack of knowledge of YHWH and his word.  In Hosea’s indictment of Israel, one group in particular is singled out as the chief offenders, the religious leaders, i.e., the priests and self-appointed prophets.  These men are held responsible for Israel’s current spiritual condition, which was graphically illustrated by Gomer’s promiscuity in the enacted parable of Gomer-Israel in chapters 1-3.  Because the people and the nation no longer have a proper knowledge of YHWH and his ways, they now face the supreme covenant sanction, expulsion from the promised land at the hand of Assyrian invaders.

As we have seen from our study of those prophets YHWH sent to Israel (the Northern Kingdom), Israel had become as pagan as their Canaanite neighbors.  The priests of Israel should have known what God’s law required of them.  They were assigned the task of leading the people to worship and serve the Lord as he commanded.  But they were also to warn the people about the dangers of idolatry instead of leading them to engage in it.  At this point in Israel’s history, the nation finally crossed the line into judgment. Israel’s priests (who were not descendants of the tribe of Levi) did not know God’s law, were indifferent to God’s law, or willfully disobeyed God’s law.  With the full approval of Israel’s kings (the House of Jehu), it was the priests who led the people of Israel astray to worship and serve the false gods of their pagan neighbors–especially Baal, the Canaanite weather and fertility god.  If the people will perish due to a lack of knowledge of YHWH and his ways, responsibility for this deplorable condition falls upon the priests, the teachers and guardians of YHWH’s word.  The priests have failed.  The people will perish.  

Then as now, YHWH holds the leadership of his people (i.e., the priests in the Old Testament, pastors and elders in the New) accountable for the health of his flock.  Those called to preach, teach, lead God’s people in worship, and then shepherd God’s flock, bear greater responsibility than do the sheep for whom they are responsible.  When such people use their positions to gain prestige, power, and wealth, or when they remain indifferent to the plight of God’s people, or worse, lead them astray through false doctrine, YHWH holds them accountable.  The harshest words in the Bible are directed to false teachers and Israel’s priests.  The greater judgment they will receive, reflects the gravity of their sin against YHWH.

We have completed our study of the first half of Hosea’s prophecy (chapters 1-3), the enacted parable of Hosea’s marriage to the promiscuous Gomer.  We have seen that Gomer’s bearing three children–only one of whom is identified as Hosea’s, are symbolic of the nation as a whole.  In the Israel-Gomer parable, Israel’s behavior mirrors that of Gomer–unfaithful, constantly seeking other lovers, and then bearing their children.  In the enacted parable, Hosea’s son with Gomer is to be named Jezreel, a name which recalls that familiar place in Israel’s history associated with bloodshed and death.  Gomer’s daughter is to be named Lo-Ruhamah (“no mercy”), a name which indicates that Israel’s covenant status has changed.  Israel will no longer be the recipient of YHWH’s mercy.  The third child mentioned, a son, is to be named Lo-Ammi, which means “not my people.”  His name is the strongest indication yet that YHWH has divorced Israel and the nation now faces certain and imminent judgment with the Assyrian invasion.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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