“Remember Your Maker”
Hosea 8:1-14

Hosea was a prophet for the nation of Israel. Hosea was called to tell the Israelites they were messing up again, and that God was aware of their misgivings. 
More importantly, 
He was also aware that they had no awareness of their transgressions. 
Or if they did, they certainly weren’t acting like it. 
Basically they had conveniently worked out the details of their faith so they were performing the do’s without being ostracized by their non-Jewish peers. 
They managed to find a way to fit into society and keep up with the mandates of their faith, or so they thought. 
That was the main reason they needed a prophet. Someone to come alongside and tell it like it was. 
Last week we heard how Hosea called the people of Israel unrepentant. This week, in chapter 8, we will read some of the things they will reap because of their unwillingness to recognize their sin and their refusal to repent. 

The chapter begins with the trumpets blasting. Trumpets were a tool for bringing people together, for an assembly or to call troops to battle. This trumpet was ordered to blast to call the Assyrian army against Israel as a means of judgment for their rebellion. Israel responded with cries that they had acknowledged God. But God knows their cries were not sincere. They didn’t really “know” God. Jesus made a similar claim for those of us in the church today. Matthew 7:22-23, from “The Message,”

“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our super-spiritual projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’”

Verse 3 tells us that they had rejected what was good. 
One way they did this was by setting up rulers and princes against the Lord. They were knee deep in idolatry, surrounded by idols they had created with their silver and gold. In verse 5, Hosea tells them to throw out their calf-idol. 
Israel had made beautiful idols out of silver and gold and in verse 6 we read that God would break them to pieces. 

In verse 7, Hosea returned to using figurative language to describe what was happening. The Israelites “sow the wind,” but what they get in return is a “whirlwind.” I am sure they felt the judgement they received was worse than the sin they had committed. Quite often this is true in how judgement feels. Mainly because our sin would have been sown over a long period of time, but often the judgement comes all at once. That whirlwind for Ephraim was Assyria. God promised that Israel would be conquered and go into exile. While there, verse 10b, 

“They will begin to waste away under the oppression of the mighty king.”

The next verse is quite revealing, verse 11, 

“Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning.”

The very altars they built were the very places they sinned. In their piety they presented themselves as holy and religious, when in reality it was all about what they looked like rather than what they were really doing. This becomes even more evident when we read the next verse. 

“I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something foreign.”
This isn’t as far fetched as it may seem. How many of us sit down to read our Bibles and we get to a passage that doesn’t seem to make any sense. We might check out a reference book, or commentary to see what someone else has discovered. We might skip over the confusing part. Or, we might just stop reading the Bible all together. Charles Spurgeon, a fire and brimstone preacher in England during the mid 1800’s gave a fiery sermon on this very verse. Here is a section of that sermon. 
If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of you who have not read it for the last month? “Month, sir! I have not read it for this year.” Ay, there are some of you who have not read it at all. Most people treat the Bible very politely. They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound; they put a white pocket-handkerchief around it, and carry it to their places of worship; when they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this heavenly messenger. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers. There are some of you who have not turned over your Bibles for a long, long, long while, and what think you? I tell you blunt words, but true words. What will God say at last? When you shall come before him, he shall say, “Did you read my Bible?” “No.” “I wrote you a letter of mercy; did you read it?” “No” “Rebel! I have sent thee a letter inviting thee to me: didst thou ever read it?”      “Lord I never broke the seal; I kept it shut up.” “Wretch!” says God, “then thou deservest hell, if I sent thee a loving epistle and thou wouldst not even break the seal: what shall I do unto thee?” Oh! let it not be so with you. Be Bible readers; be Bible searchers.”
https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-bible-2/#flipbook/I echo Charles’ plea, “Be Bible readers; be Bible searchers.”
Part of the reason for the inability to discern comes from the way in which the Bible is received. Paul expresses a similar idea in 1 Corinthians 2:14,
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
When we are living in sin, and focusing on the world around us, the things of the Spirit, although they may be great, they will seem alien because they are so foreign to the ear. 
We read in verse 13, the Israelites remembered they were required to make sacrifices, but all the while they continued to sin. There is something wrong with that picture. Basically it was all just an outward ceremony. 
Check point. 
Has any of your religious activities become just an outward ceremony? Maybe your heart and soul just isn’t into it. God can handle your coming to Him with that comment, especially if you want to change things so your heart and soul is into it. 
For the Israelites we read that the Lord was not pleased with them. He would remember their wickedness and would punish their sins. 
We continue to read in verse 14, Israel, the northern country had forgotten its Maker and built palaces, for themselve, not the Lord. Flat out idolatry. Judah, the southern country, was a bit more subtle and put its trust in fortified cities, to keep safe from the Assyrians. If you remember, this didn’t work, we read in Isaiah 37, that only the Lord would preserve Judah from total destruction.
It is significant to recognize, God was not condemning big palaces or fortified cities. There is nothing wrong with success and our attraction to big and nice. The difficulty arises when these things become idols. 
The key is to remember our Maker. 
Let’s pray.