“It is Time to Seek the Lord”
Hosea 10:1-15

Hosea continues to use figurative language to provide the Israelites with a wake up call. They had not been listening to the Word of God or if they had, they certainly weren’t following it. God had sent Hosea to shake things up a bit. To poke and prod the Israelites to feel uncomfortable enough to pause for a moment and do some self examination. Not that it did any good. At least on a whole, God’s people were set in their ways, not willing to give up the luxury they had acquired. Which I find quite intriguing. It seems they had fallen for one of Satan’s best tricks. Now mind you, Satan has been delivering this trick to humans since the beginning of creation. You know the one, 

“Look at that forbidden fruit. Doesn’t it look luscious? Why shouldn’t you be allowed to have it for yourself? 
In fact, God didn’t say you would immediately die, you misunderstood Him, trust me.”

While Hosea was around, Satan added, “Look at all those around you prospering. You know, what they are doing to prosper isn’t evil, they are taking care of themselves, doesn’t God say we should take care of ourselves? Doesn’t God want us to prosper? Isn’t that a sign He is watching over you?

Satan is still at it today. Our society tells us we need more money, bigger vehicles, larger homes, more, more, more to make us happy. Not only that, we need to purchase more so that we can keep the economy going so our infrastructure doesn’t collapse. Someone has to pay for the $28 trillion debt we accrued. Consumerism has become an altar. 
Much like Israel, we could use a prophet to give us an analysis of our sinful state. That is what Hosea was doing for Israel. 

Chapter 10 begins with Hosea reflecting what Israel had done with the abundance God had allowed them to gain. The more they gained the more they used that gain for themselves, for their own pleasures. Gaining more and using the abundance for our own pleasure is often seen as sinful. Case in point the Puritans. However, note the real issue. God would not allow abundance if it were sinful. With abundance God would want His people to enjoy their abundance. The point where the Israelites went awry was when they began using their abundance for idolatrous desires. There is that word idols again. When the Israelites put their abundance into items that took the place where God should have been in their lives, oops! Doomed. 
A similar thing was happening in the Christian church in Galatia. Paul warned them in Galatians 5:13, and I am reading from, “The Message,” as it provides a commentary that applies directly to us today. 

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?”

We read that their hearts were divided. That was the reason they were held guilty. 
The Hebrew word in this context can also be understood as “flattering.” So an accurate translation of this phrase could mean that their hearts were smoothly and flatteringly insincere. Remember Hosea’s wife, Gomer. She was a living illustration for the Israelites of how they were behaving towards God.  As an unfaithful spouse, Gomer would have told Hosea how much she loved him on a daily basis, all the while living a lie. She had convinced herself that it wasn’t a lie, because she probably really did love Hosea. However, she loved lust more. Definition of an idol. At this point, Hosea tells us in verse two that God has decided to “demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.”

The results were an empty throne. No king for the Israelites. No altars for the Israelites. No idols for the Isrealites. The treasures they worshipped would belong to foreign kings. 
C.S. Lewis has written an allegory, The Chronicle of Narnia,” where this empty throne is well illustrated. The siblings enter the world of Narnia and find themselves in winter. They are fighting the White Witch in order to save those she has frozen into statues. When they get to the palace, the place where prosperity once reigned, thorns and thistles have taken over and covered the things of beauty. The result of greediness and self-centeredness that had taken over the land. 

Hosea has labeled Israel’s sin and now he gives God’s council to Israel. God wanted Israel to see their sin and submit. In verse 9, Hosea brings up the city of Gibeah again. The horrific sin of this city was described in Judges 19. The story reads like a Stephan King novel complete with dismembered parts. This story would have been a story Jewish parents would have reminded their children of were they taken to sinful ways. 
Hosea was reminding the Israelites that like the city of Gibeah which was eventually taken over because of their sin, they too would be put into bonds. God was prepared to reign them in like unruly farm animals, even if they kicked against Him. 

In verse twelve, God tells Israel they need to break up the hard ground of their heart. Hosea was calling on the people of Israel to sow righteousness, not sin, so they could reap the fruit of God’s unfailing love, instead of judgement. God tells them to “break up your unplowed ground.” Farmers in Maine can definitely relate to this analogy. Any plot of land in Maine that hasn’t been plowed over in a year, quickly becomes hard and stubborn. In order to ensure a crop will grow the ground needs to be tilled once, sometimes twice. Hosea’s analogy was easily understood by those in Israel. Farmers had to work to get the fallow ground to yield a crop. 
The analogy works for us today as well. Sometimes when the word of God is spoken, we wonder why people don’t change. Often it is because of a stubborn, resistant heart. Since fallow ground is hard it probably doesn’t want to be broken up. Cutting into hard and compact ground with a blade, hurts as it cuts through. Same with the hard heart. Out of self preservation those with hard hearts find it difficult to seek the Lord. But the harder the ground gets, the more difficult it becomes to till which results in more pain when the tilling actually occurs. Hosea was calling out to the Israelites to seek the Lord, while they could. The season was passing, if they didn’t get the seed in the ground, there would not be time for it to germinate and grow.

The good news was that the Lord would come and shower righteousness, verse 12. 
However, by using the metaphor of sowing and reaping God is reminding us that the harvest doesn’t always happen immediately. There is a length of time spent on watering the seed, allowing it to germinate. 
Think about it, 
people spend years sowing the sin in their lives, 
but get frustrated, 
when after sowing righteousness for one day, 
they are not immediately reaping mercy. 
Not only is it time to seek the Lord, we need to stick with the sowing of righteousness in order to reap mercy, in due time. 

Hosea ends this chapter telling Israel the terrible results of resisting God. Because they had trusted in their own way and they were ruined. 

That principle remains for us today. When we trust in our own way, instead of God’s way, we reap ruin. Unlike the Israelites, today, we have immediate redemption from our sins. 

We remember this redemption today at the Lord’s Supper. Mind you, redemption does not necessarily mean we are forgiven of the consequences of our sins. It does mean we can return to a closer relationship with God. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have the gift of freedom from our sin and guilt created by the sins we have committed. 
Amazing Grace. 
We are also provided with a Savior who will come alongside and walk with us through the consequences. Dependent upon the decisions we make. 
As we celebrate this mercy let us take time to look at our lives, 
label the idols that have entered our lives, 
and bring them to the cross and 
leave them there. 
Then let us pick up forgiveness and 
walk away, 
and ready to make better choices
and reap mercy. 

Let’s pray.