Saturday, February 16, 2008

The First Step—Repentance

Hosea 14:1-9; John 20:11-18 / Psalm 49:1-20
Dr. Edwin P. Elliott

I. Hosea Pled for Israel To Repent

A. Israel’s iniquity had removed the people from God; sin trips people and nations. “O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.” (Hosea 14:1)

B. Make an honest confession to God, accept the blame for the problem, and talk with God about what must be done. “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” (Hosea 14:2)

1. God is willing to make repentance profitable; sin never works to anyone’s best interest. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

2. David demonstrated how the process of repentance works. “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Psalm 51:2-4)

C. Think through how sin cannot solve problems and God can; then explore the moral inventory with God. “Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” (Hosea 14:3)

D. Rented help and helpers who are themselves perishing are useless. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:” (Psalm 146:3-5)

II. God Promises New Life

A. When people turn from their sins to God, He heals and He restrains His anger; it is possible to start over and to be healed.I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” (Hosea 14:4)

B. What is ugly can become beautiful and stable. “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:5)

In ancient times a fragrant white lily grew without cultivation, often producing 50 bulbs from a lone parent plant.

C. Disappointment will become productivity. “His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:6)

1. The ancient cedar forests of Lebanon drew visitors from all over the world in the days of Solomon. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:12)

2. Hosea points to the future which John records at the end of Revelation. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

D. God protects the people who return to Him. “They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:7)

E. Repentant people and nations can be stronger than they were before they first shattered their lives. “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.” (Hosea 14:8)

III. The Wise Understand What God Proposes

A. The options are either repentance and new life or death; the wise choose life. “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” (Hosea 14:9)

B. People who know what is in their best interest give up substitutes for God and learn God’s lovingkindness by living as He directs. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” (Psalm 107:43)

C. Just as sin progressively destroys, repentance progressively restores. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:18-19)

D. Under God’s instruction getting by becomes getting better. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Psalm 19:7-8)

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