“Why Do We Wait for Affliction Before We Change?”
Hosea 5:1-15

We are reading through the book of Hosea. Like most prophets, Hosea was called by God to proclaim to the people of Israel the good news. 

God loved them, God wanted them to remain in covenant with Him. God understood their shortcomings and was willing to work with them, up to a point. 

Therein lies the thought for today…. Up to a point.

Where is that point? 
Why is there a point in the first place? 

For the people of Israel listening to Hosea, the point was proclaimed in chapter 5. 
“Hear this, you priests!
    Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house!
    This judgment is against you:”

God had had enough. 

Last week we read the charge God had against Israel, 
There was no faithfulness
There was no love
There was no acknowledgement of God in the land. 
Today’s chapter of Hosea presents the judgement. The character of God presented in this chapter may sound, on the outside, different from what 21st Century evangelicals may believe. I have grown up in the church and the overwhelming message provided is that God is a God of love, forgiveness, for everyone. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ saved us from judgement. 

Here is where I fill in with, “Yes, but no.” 

Yes, those of us who have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will be proclaimed free at the final judgement. 
However, until then, no. While here on earth, our actions determine the amount of judgement we receive. Which begs the question of my message, “Why do we wait for affliction before we change?” 

This is a legitimate question for those of us who are raising children. Our prayer is that our children will come to know God and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, for themselves, not just because we are Christians. However, for many the path for getting to know God on a personal level involves pain and sorrow. I have been on my knees praying that my children would be able to skip the pain of affliction, and go directly to trusting in God. 
I have some theories of how that is going, and would love to have coffee and conversation with anyone at another time. For now, it is enough to comment that when many people share their testimony it often involves affliction and turning to God, much like the Israelites. 

Remember, the Bible is a narrative of who God is and how He has presented Himself throughout time. Let us read it in such a way that provides us with insight and direction and allows us to learn from the past.  

Hosea chapter 5 begins with the proclamation that both the priests and the political leaders were not leading in a godly way. Are you sure Hosea isn’t speaking of 2021?

Verse two reads, 
“The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.”

God calls these people, “rebels.” This word reveals that the problem wasn’t simply that the leaders had stumbled. The real issue was that they did not respond when God rebuked them for their stumbling. 

James 4:6
“But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Verses 4-9 describe how unhumble Israel really was.

Verse 5, “Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;”

All rebellion is centered on pride. Israel was no different. They counted on their own opinions and desires  and arrogantly thought what God said didn’t matter. However, in verse 6 we read, 

“When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord, they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them.”

Back in chapter 4, verse 17 we read that God promised to leave rebellious Israel alone. Even when they take their flocks and sheep and make superficial gestures of repentance, when they go through the motions, they will not be able to find God. 

Again, this idea of God not being able to be found is a foreign one to today’s evangelical Christian. Haven’t we been told that “seek and you will find,” Matthew 7:7? This is true, however, taken out of context. The verses just before Matthew 7 read, 

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

One who really wants to find God will surely find God. The problem is people think they know who God is before they begin looking so they miss Him along the way. Here is an example, a person may say, “I grew up in the Baptist church and couldn’t find God there. So I went to the Methodist church and couldn’t find God there. Then I went to the Pentecostal church, but couldn’t find God there. Now I’m at the Presbyterian church and can’t find God. He doesn’t exist.” That person may have imagined they have searched hard for God. However, whenever God started to get close to them at the Baptist church, they left and became a Methodist. When God started to get close at the Methodist church, they became Pentecostal. The pattern continued. 
The superficial search for God that backs away whenever they really start to get close. Why? God may have been asking them to change. 

Verse 6 of chapter 5 is still possible today. We can be so set in our sin and rebellion, that God just leaves us to ourselves. We may not notice it at first. Then comes the day when we are stuck in the muck up to our knees and begin to blame God and the results of pushing God away begin to sink in.

Hosea continues in verses 10-13, to reveal that even when Israel and Judah realized they were stuck in the muck, their first response was to look to other humans for deliverance, rather than God.
Verse 10 claims that the southern kingdom of Judah was just as corrupt. Their political leaders were like those who moved boundary stones. They were also changing the boundaries between wrong and right, between true and false religions. Whatever would work for their advantage. 

Today they are manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts. 

These things occur whenever humans decide to live by human standards and opinions instead of God’s.
Ephraim, the northern kingdom, went to Assyria for help, who eventually became her conqueror. 

Verse 12 tells us that God would be like a moth, who eats and corrodes what Israel and Judah had. Silently, slowly eating away with truth. 
We read in the next verse, that God would bring destruction in more obvious and unmistakable ways as well, like a lion. In verse 15 we read God’s purpose for doing so, 
so they would admit their guilt, 
seek His face, and 
earnestly seek Him. 
God’s objective was not destruction, but restoration.

Today as we participate in the Lord’s Supper we remember the very epitome of what humans meant for destruction, God used for restoration, the death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Sadly, us humans often only earnestly seek salvation when we have exhausted all of our own ideas. It is through affliction, when we are stuck in the muck and unable to pull our own boots out that we turn to God. 

Let’s choose to learn from the Israelites and their mistakes. May we seek the Lord before affliction forces us to do so. 

Let’s pray.