Friday, February 8, 2008

The Solution Becomes the Problem

Hosea 8:1-14; 1 Peter 2:1-10 / Psalm 52:1-9

Dr. Edwin P. Elliott

I. Listen When God Warns

A. God warned Israel that the people had violated His revealed order. “Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.” (Hosea 8:1)

B. Terror turns hypocrisy into solid doctrine; God will do what the situation requires to eliminate hypocrisy and self-induced ignorance. “Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.” (Hosea 8:2)

C. When people reject truth, they invite serious trouble; truth is the best antibody to infectious evil. “Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.” (Hosea 8:3)

II. Israel Consistently Chose Destructive Solutions for Life’s Problems

A. Benefits can become burdens and what should strengthen a culture can become the undermining force. “They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.” (Hosea 8:4)

B. The pride Israel took in its improvements over revealed worship and church administration were actually provocative to God. “Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?” (Hosea 8:5)

1. God calls to people who trust Him but He separates Himself from those who rely on other gods that are unable to save them. “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” (Isaiah 45:20)

2. The living God is either the foundation stone or the stumbling stone; there simply isn’t any other option. “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:1-8)

C. In the great culture clash, something will be destroyed; it won’t be God or the faithful church. “For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.” (Hosea 8:6)

D. Idolatry generates its own punishment; even what appears to succeed cannot benefit its perpetrators. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” (Hosea 8:7)

E. When the church imitates the perishing cultures around it, the church secures the judgment of those cultures; hired love is not love. “Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.” (Hosea 8:8-9)

F. The future is not all that mysterious. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

G. Being wrong gets painful; God guarantees it. “Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.” (Hosea 8:10)

III. The More People Support Bad Ideas, the Worse They Make Their Situation

A. Unless the doors lead to the true God, they open in hell. “Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.” (Hosea 8:11) ) “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:6-8)

B. God explains everything in Scripture but idolaters won’t rely on it; only the spiritual can see truth. “I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” (Hosea 8:120 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

C. If the system only mimics truth, it will not work; deviation from truth is fundamentally wrong.
“They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.” (Hosea 8:13)

D. There is no way to make sin work; wrong solutions to life’s problems become problems themselves. “For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.” (Hosea 8:14)

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