:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hosea Chapter 11

Hosea Chapter 11

(vs. 1-11)

vs. 1-4- OUT OF EGYPT

- “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt.”

- Even when we are still young, God calls us to a greater purpose. We are not called to be slaves to sin. Or slaves to the world. We are called to be heirs in our own right.

- From the time we are conceived, God has that greater purpose in mind... Sometimes we choose to follow that calling... and sometimes... we're like the Israelites. We want to go back to Egypt. Or we decide to never leave in the first place.

- “But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me...”

- Have you ever gone through that teenage rebellion stage? Or maybe it didn't hit when you were a teen... but a stage of rebellion with your parents?

- When I had to take educational psychology, one of the traits of the teenage years that we looked at, was that time of rebelling... although, they didn't call it rebellion... they called it something like... self-identification... or self-finding... or something like that.

- Basically, the premise was that about the time you hit the teenage years, you start to feel like you need to figure out who you are... without all the extra influences outside of you. Including your parents. You hit this place where... you don't want to just be who your parents are trying to make you be...

- All of us have to eventually go through a place of finding out exactly who we are. Doesn't mean we have to rip everybody's head off to do it... but we do have to find our place in the world. A lot of times this means that we start questioning everything we've learned about the world up to this point.

- I think it's grown worse as mass media has become more prominent. Any teen movie you watch, usually has some kid who's angry with their parents, but who comes out on top of things despite their parents trying to keep them locked in their room with no phone or internet access...

- I loved the comment the one guy in my class made at the time... The instructor asked us “as teachers, how we should discipline through this stage.” And my friend said “well... I don't know about anybody else... but my parents beat it out of me... and I turned out perfectly fine... so... I think that's a good strategy.” We died laughing... the instructor found no humor in it... go figure...

- Basic point... there's a lot of ways to approach this time period as far as discipline... which we'll see in a minute...

- In finding who we are... we often find ourselves questioning our faith. Do we REALLY want to serve the God of our parents?

- I grew up in an apostolic church. Not a very strict one... but apostolic nonetheless.

- I remember getting to about middle school and starting to wonder if this faith was really real. Was God really up there? Did He really care about my life? Was it going to be worth it to follow Him?

- God proved Himself time after time to me during that time. I still felt the need to question... but because I wasn't really in a horribly rebellious state... most of my questions just ended up cementing my faith in God.

- For a while there, I tried to reason my way into proving that God didn't exist.

- I used to read a lot of books... like massive books. In middle school I read almost the entire library... and my favorite section, was the biographies and autobiographies of war generals. More specifically, I loved reading about the World Wars. Call me crazy... but that time period just drew my attention like nothing else. Still does.

- Through my reading about the holocaust and the events surrounding it... I started to question the way God loves His people. I looked at the horrors of war and thought... how can a loving God allow that?

- Those kinds of questions led me to study the bible more. I would get on a topic and start reading and borrow dad's Greek dictionary to look things up. I wanted to know exactly what the scriptures meant. What exactly God had been thinking.

- Through questions like the one above and others... I delved into study... and you know what I found? I found the answers I needed. And if that wasn't enough... God played them out for me.

- So even in the times that I was mad and said “no God... You can't exist. There's no way You could do this to me...” He was always there... and I knew it. It was rooted in my heart and would not leave. There was no tearing it out no matter how hard I tried. Even when I got to my rebellious stage in college... there was no denying God's hand on my life. He never let go... and He was very pointed about it.

- I took my grandmother to town today. Love the woman to death, she's a sweetheart, but I gotta tell this story...

- My grandmother has horrible osteoporosis. The doctor told her years ago that her bones look like cottage cheese and if she bends over wrong... she'll break her back.

- And yet this woman goes out every week to hoe in the garden and climbs up on the ladder to clean her windows and gets down and picks up pine cones out of the yard, and cleans out her furnace... and takes care of my grandfather (who lost the use of his arms about 7 years ago) and her 3 year old granddaughter.

- We go help out any way we can. But the thing is... she's so stubborn, that most of the time, she'll tell you she's not going to do that... and then go do it as soon as you leave...

- Every time we go to town, we offer to take her or pick stuff up for her. More often than not, she'll say “oh I don't need anything today. I don't think I'll go this time.” Then she'll turn around and go the next day.

- She hates driving. She can't see that well, and my grandfather is turning into a horrible passenger/navigator. He'll tell her to pull out when cars are coming... cause “she can beat them!” Or try to convince her that you can turn left on red... “Really I swear! That's the law!” oh boy...

- So no matter that we can pick her stuff up for her today... or take her today... she doesn't want to go today. She wants to go tomorrow. And generally, it has nothing to do with “well I need to cash a check that's coming tomorrow.” or “I don't feel like going today.” It's just that she doesn't really want to go today cause she has plans for something she wants to get done at the house.

- We can't go every day. To get to a store, we have to drive at least 45 minutes from our house. This is not something we can just pick up and do on a whim. So if she doesn't go the day we're not working, or the day we have to run out for an errand anyway... she's not going to get a ride. It's too hard to go every day.

- I don't know how many days we'll call and she'll say “no, I don't need anything, I just went the other day.” And then the next day, she'll call to see if one of us can drive her to town, cause she just can't drive it... and she's out of just about EVERYTHING!

- One other thing about my grandmother... she has one way. Hers. If it's not done her way... well... the world is ending... lol

- I was talking to her about something today, and basically, she shut me out. She didn't listen to a word I said, and then proceeded to explain her reasoning... with things completely unrelated to the topic.

- Now that may sound a little harsh... but she does it all the time. If her way makes a project a hundred times harder to do... oh well... that's the way she wants it done. Don't like it? Well listen to her explain it over again, and then you'll just HAVE to see it her way. She gets something in her head... and that's just how it's got to be.

- Is that not us?

- We ask questions of God... and then we don't pay attention to the answer. We want to know God more... but we interrupt Him every time He tries to tell us something about Himself. We would love to do the work of God... but... we'd prefer to do it our own way. “It's easier this way! It has to be! I thought of it!”

- And how about, “God, I'll get to that tomorrow... I don't really have time for it today.” Or “Well, I'd like to accept Your help in this... but I want to get this thing over here done first... then we can work on that.”

- How many times have you argued with God? “Well do I really have to do that today? Can't it wait until next week when I have more time?” Or how about “but God... I'm not equipped to do that job... I can't minister there. I don't have that gift!” Or how about, “God, I would really love to give more money to the church or missions... but I gotta think about my retirement fund here... what if I die early and my kids have to cover my funeral costs? I should really save up some more money just in case something happens... never know when hospital bills will pop up...”

- We turn and forget Who our Healer is... Who our Protector is... Who has ALL the answers to all our questions... and then some... lol

- “I Myself taught Israel how to walk, leading Him along by the hand. But he doesn't know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I Myself stooped to feed him”

- God has a plan. He has a perfect path. He will lead you in both if you let Him.

- He has led by example. He came and walked the walk. Talked the talk... and died to show you just how deeply He's devoted to your wellbeing. He's right there holding your hand... leading you, guiding you... showing you what you need to do... He's lightening your load... “Come, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest!”

- He has led us out of slavery. He has broken the bonds of the enemy. He has fed us with spiritual food... and in the case of the Israelites... He literally fed them... sent them manna every day...

- And yet they turned and left Him. They turned to their man-made idols for their worship.

- They turned in their season of rebellion and said “I'd prefer to do it my way... I think my way's better. I can see my way working better than Yours... it's at least gonna be a whole lot easier on me...”

- But this life isn't about how easy it's gonna be for us! It's about building a kingdom!

- When the Israelites were in the desert wandering around, you know what they complained about to Moses?

- They wanted to go back to Egypt. They were hungry. They wanted food. So God sent manna. Bread from heaven. Stuff from the very hand of God... Every day, the manna fell. The people couldn't complain about being hungry anymore.

- Oh but they could complain about everything else... “Oh, for some meat!” So God sent Quail. This huge wind came up and dropped a ton of quail into the camp. For miles around the camp. So the people went out and they hunted quail, all day and all night and then the next day. Gluttony much?

- But there's one thing I want to point out in this whole complaining mess...

- You know the Israelites just came out of Egypt. They were just freed from the harshest of slaveries. Had been slaves for generations... and now they were free! And when they came to complain... they started with asking for meat... and then said, “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”

- Rephrase: “We're so tired of bland food! We want to go back to being slaves... just so we can have better seasoned food! We had such good tasting things! Oh yeah, we were beaten within an inch of our lives, our children were murdered, our wives were taken from us, and our lives were not our own... but we had FOOD WORTH EATING!”

- .... um... yeah that makes a ton of sense... GEESH!

- To trade their freedom... for an ONION!? For a CUCUMBER!?

- There was a song by Keith Green in the 80's I think, called “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt.”

- The lyrics are great... little corny maybe... but it was the 80's after all... : )

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it's warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it's getting so hard.
Are you sorry you're out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?

Eating leeks and onions by the Nile. Ooh what breath, but dining out in style.
Ooh, my life's on the skids. Give me the pyramids.

Well there's nothing to do but travel, and we sure travel a lot.
`Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving when the sand gets so hot.
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes. We snack on manna all day.
And they sure had a winner last night for dinner, flaming manna souffle

Well we once complained for something new to munch.
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch.
Ooh, such fire and smoke. Can't God even take a joke? Huh? (NO!)

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where old friends wait for you.
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang, that what they said was all  true.
And this Moses acts like a big-shot, who does he think he is.
It's true that God works lots of miracles, but Moses thinks they're all his.

Well I'm having so much trouble even now. Why'd he get so mad about that cow, that golden cow.
Moses sits rather idle, he just sits around. He just sits around and writes the Bible.
Oh, Moses, put down your pen. 

What! Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles! Manna burgers...
Manna bagels... Fillet of manna...
Mannacoti... Bamanna bread!

- Numbers 11

- Longing for slavery... just so they could have some variety in their  food. (in their minds anyway...) 

- I Samuel 15:22-23
- Nehemiah 9:5-38
- II Chronicles 10:18-19
- Jeremiah 5:20-6:30


- If you read the story of the passage out of Egypt and finally into the promised land... there were SO many times the people got mad at God or mad at Moses and tried to go back to Egypt. They wanted their freedom... but they didn't want to have to work for it. They expected God to hand them the promised land on a platter... not to have to walk through a scorching desert to get there. Couldn't He just pick them up and move them there?

- Oh they were all for God when He closed the Red Sea on the Egyptians as they were trying to cross. They were all for Him when Moses stood up to lead them out. But the minute things started to get a little rough? Forget it. They were done. They'd rather die in the desert than walk another mile.

- They tried to mutiny against Moses. They tried to kill Moses. They tried to turn to worship Baal hoping that his yoke would be easier to bear.

- And when they did finally get to the promised land? They were afraid to go in! They didn't want to go against the giants! After traveling all that way, they still wanted to go back to Egypt... to SAFETY? What kind of safety puts you into slavery?

- So God made them march in a circle for 40 years... man if that didn't keep them complaining...

- Everything they asked for, God gave. They asked for food, they got it. They asked for water, they got it. Their clothes never wore out. And yet they still... wouldn't go up to take their inheritance.

- So... God's saying... “Fine. Do what you want!”... “But since My people refuse to return to Me, they will return to Egypt and will be forced to serve Assyria. War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates. They will destroy them, trapping them in their own evil plans. For My people are determined to desert Me. They call me the Most High, but they don't truly honor Me.”

- The rebellious stage has come to need major discipline.

- Remember I said we'd get into discipline later? Okay so here goes...

- When a child is young, sometimes rebelling can be quelled with a look. Or a word. Sometimes just a short talk about what they SHOULD be doing instead. Depending on how determined the rebellion is... perhaps a spanking...

- As a child gets older, rebellion generally becomes more pronounced... usually something has to be taken away... grounding comes in handy... as do spankings... However, if the pattern of discipline has been set as a child, usually as the child gets older, discipline isn't needed as much. Sometimes children somewhere around their teens want somebody to talk to more than anything... roots of rebellion sometimes have nothing to do with the act of rebellion, and everything to do with needed attention at this weird age.

- Now once a child reaches adulthood, acts of rebellion no longer call for discipline from a parent... the consequences of their actions fall solely on their shoulders.

- Israel went through all these stages with God. They had times where He gave them a good talking to and let them off with a light punishment. They had times of harder punishments where wars would come and they'd be taken off as slaves to serve out a “grounding”. But finally... they have reached adulthood. There's no more parenting... There's just consequences for their actions. They know right and wrong. They've lived through the punishments for their sins... now they are going to face the full consequences.

- Since Israel is determined to desert God... He's going to let them go... He'll be there when they turn around... but He's not going to smother them with mother-henning.

- The things that they have set in motion through their rebellion... are going to finally show their massive consequences.

- Jeremiah 33:6-26
- Hebrews 3:5-4:13
- Ezekiel 2:1-7

vs. 8-11- RELENTLESS

- This doesn't mean God's happy about this. Nor does it mean He's up there going “YES! I'm free of these stupid people! I'm don't have to worry about it anymore! Now I get to sit back and watch the show! They're going to be demolished! It's going to be so fun to watch!”

- Quite the contrary...

- “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.”

- (footnote- “Admah and Zeboiim were cities of the plain that had perished with Sodom and Gomorrah.” The side cities... the ones that stood by and didn't do anything to stop Sodom and Gomorrah... nor did they move out from the shadow of sin that lay around the cities... They were cities of rebellion... just not quite to the level of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were listed in Genesis 14:8 as being under the rule of the rebel kings. They had rebelled against the king of the land and refused to pay tribute to him... There were 5 cities in the plain who all joined together... they were all destroyed in the rain of fire. They were not exempt even if their sin was not so drastic.)

- Does that sound like an angry God? To me... that sounds like a broken heart. Someone who is so distraught about a situation... but doesn't know what else to do. He's at the end of His rope.

- Not that God doesn't always have an answer... but He knows... that the people's hearts have grown so hard against the things of God... that this is their last chance. If letting them face their own consequences doesn't work... nothing will. This is His last card to play.

- But even in letting them face the consequences... God still had compassion. “No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy.”

- Even though God was angry with His people... and even though He was going to stop protecting them from all the consequences... He wasn't so angry that He was going to wipe them from the face of the planet.

- Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? They got wiped out. Forget warnings... they were burned to a crisp. That was God's wrath DESTROYING something.

- God is still holding onto hope that His people will again TRULY be HIS people.

- “For someday the people will follow me. I, the Lord, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west. Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt. Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria. And I will bring them home again...”

- Not that God's holding His breath waiting on us to make a decision regarding following Him or not... But He was looking down the road... WAAAAAAAAY into the future... and He saw His people... finally coming to their senses... And He just couldn't destroy them.

- God's heart is always the same. You know, I've heard it said that “God will never leave the earth without a witness.” And I truly believe that statement. Simply because, until God looks down and sees every living heart to be cold, dark, and so hardened to the things of God... Until God has tried absolutely everything from soft whispers, to outright shouting in their face... and they still refuse to hear truth... I can't see the God I know, giving up on the souls of the lost. I can't see Him walking away and saying “well, most of the lost anyway decided to come back to me.”

- In Acts 14:16-17, Paul said “In the past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness.” Then he goes on with examples of rain to grow food, and joyous hearts.

- Even if there is no person to tell people about God... nature in and of itself screams the existence of a creator.

- In the John 8:12-20, when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, they said He was making claims about Himself and therefore, His claims weren't valid.

- According to the law system, you had to have at least one other witness in order for your claims to be accepted as truth.

- So Jesus' reply to that comment was that His claims were still valid because not only did He testify about Himself, but the Father also was His witness. So the two witnesses were God, and His Son, Jesus. Without a witness, a claim is considered void.

- So even if it's only the visible creation... There will always be a witness proclaiming that yes indeed, THERE IS A GOD. God will never be made a liar. He will always be Truth.

- In God's statements in those last few verses... I see a loving, caring, compassionate, RELENTLESS God... Someone Who never gives up on you. Who always sees the best in you. Who never sees what you've done in comparison with what you COULD do. Who always sees love when He looks at you. Who always sees something so special, He just can't bear to give it up.

- Don't we all need Someone like that in our lives? To be seen as a treasure worth fighting all odds for? To know that... He could have anything... anyone... and yet He still chooses to pursue... YOU? Man... is that not awesome?

- Remember the parable of the shepherd in Matthew 18, who left the 99 and went to look for the one who was lost. ONE STUPID SHEEP... and the shepherd still went out searching for him.

- If you know anything about sheep... they're just plain dumb. They have no common sense whatsoever. They'll wade through flood waters... just because they happen to be in the path that they usually take during the day. If they get lost... man they're LOST. They have no sense of direction and can't find their way out. A sheep can be lost... 5 feet away from the path.

- When a sheep gets lost... it wanders... so when the shepherd went out to find it? Good grief! The thing could've wandered for miles! But he went anyway. He cared enough about the mindless thing... that he went out searching in order to bring it back to safety. Sheep follow the voice of the shepherd... so in going out to find the sheep... he's going to be calling its name... a lot...

- That's my relentless God. The Shepherd who never looks at us and says “well there's just one more dumb sheep to take care of.” He looks at us and sees all our individuality. He knows each of us by name. He calls us, and we follow His voice. He doesn't just stay in the sheepfold with the other 99 and go “oh well... guess we lost one... but I got the other 99 in okay!”

- He leaves the warmth of the sheepfold, the safety of the barn... and goes out into the worst weathers to search for His lost one.

- Sound like Christ?

- He loved us so much that He came to earth in the most vulnerable form, just to die for you...

- Unfortunately, God will not always fight for us. In Genesis 6:3, God said “My Spirit will not put up with the humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh.” In the KJV it reads that “God's Spirit will not always strive with man.”

- Eventually there will come a time when judgment is imminent and there's no more that God will do... but right up until the last second before judgment... the very earth will still hold witness that THERE IS A GOD. Whether people want to believe it or not...

- Those who come to God, will be brought home just as the prodigal son was. With open arms and joyous hearts... and no condemnation. Those who wait too long... or who consistently refuse to see Truth... will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented for eternity.

- “.... Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty....” - Exodus 34:6-7

- Matthew 25
- Lamentations 4
- I John 4:13-18