The Hopes And Disappointments God [Feels For Us]
Evil In The Sight Of God
1. The prophet Hosea saw the condition of Israel in its final days when it was torn by wars and domestic discord, wounded, and very sick. The nation there was in need of restoration. There were people then in need of healing. The Lord spoke the following through Hosea to the Israelites when they were in such a state.
Though I want to restore the people
And heal Israel
But instead Ephraim's unrighteousness,
Samaria's evil is visible.
To be truthful, they plan their lies.
Men steal into homes
On the outside hordes of highwaymen attack people.
I keep in my mind all their evil deeds.
But, they could not care less.
Now, they are surrounded by evil
Their condition is [clear] in my sight," (6:11b-7:2).
3. What the Lord was hoping for was not that the Israelites would be destroyed. It was restoration and healing that the Lord wanted to give them. But, true recovery and healing didn't mean just going back to the way things were before. The ruined nation wasn't just to recover its prosperity again. It wasn't just going to depart from its critical condition or have its suffering taken away. It wasn't just that he should bring back their political peace and stability. The Lord saw that their wounds and sicknesses themselves were not the real problem. The problem lied in a deeper place. It lied in the sin of humanity. The problem was precisely in their unrighteousness and evil.
4. It is in the heart that one plans lies and deception. It is hidden from the view of others. When a thief steals into a house it isn't done in front of people where they can see it. He does it slipping past the public's attention. This is another hidden thing. When a pack of bandits attack someone it is on the outskirts of town. They do that so as not to be caught themselves, legally judged and inflicted with punishment upon them. This is how human unrighteousness and evil are always done in places hidden from the public eye and its judgment process.
5. But, even though it is hidden from the public eye it is not hidden from God's. The Lord says, "I keep in my mind all their evil deeds." But, the text goes on to say, "But, they could not care less." Humanity's problem lies in that they "could not care less" about God's seeing them. They pay attention to what people see. Their fear is for their evil to be exposed to the public eye. But, they are not afraid of God's eye on them. They live with contempt for God. In this way, the real root of their evil is in the very fact that a righteous relationship with God has been lost. It lies in the fact that society has lost God, people's lives have lost God in them. People have problems with unfortunate things. They have problems with suffering and sickness. But, they don't have any concern for where the root of it all lies. They seem to grieve only after the leaves have fallen after the tree has dried up. In truth, since the root is rotted out, the tree is dried up and the leaves are falling. The Lord sees the issue here in that the root is actually rotten. He says, "Now, they are surrounded by evil; their condition is in my sight."
No One Calls On The Lord
6. The Lord gives a picture of the reality in which their roots are rotted as follows.
"They take pleasure in their king with evil deeds
In their high officials with their lies.
All of them are partakers of adultery
They are like burning furnaces.
When bakers of bread knead flour,
They wait patiently stoking the fire until it thickens.
On the day of our king's celebration
The high officials become powerless from the fever of wine
The king joins hands with those who work conspiracy
He draws his heart near to the plotting like a burning furnace.
Their wrath, which was asleep during the night
Spurts forth a blaze like a fiercely burning fire when morning comes.
They all get hot like the furnace
It burns up those who rule them.
The kings are altogether fallen
None at all are there who call on me," (7:3-7).
8. It sounds like the blaze of human desire, as trapped in sin, is a burning furnace. Certain ones of them snuggle up to the authorities of this world and seek power to rule. Some seek pleasures and never tire of them. Israel is filled with unrighteousness and the spirit of adultery rules them. Also, the word for "adultery" as we see in verses five and following may be indicative of political intrigue. At any rate, what motivated them was no different from the blaze of a fiercely burning lust. In such a situation one change in government after another took place. It is believed that that "they consumed in fire the rulers over them" points to that situation. The blaze of lust destroyed by fire those who ruled over them. It was so they would become rulers of themselves. In this way one king after another was toppled. There were eighteen kings who reigned over Israel. About half of their number were murdered off and [so] ended their dynasty. This was the reality in which Israel stood. And at the time of Hosea, the monarchy was on the verge of dying out exhibiting symptoms of its last stage.
9. However, the situation that was really sorrowful has been recorded at the end of verse seven. The Lord says, "None at all are there who call on me." The people who killed off the others and became kings were themselves definitely in search of a politically stabilized society. But, it says that there wasn't a single one among them who sincerely called out in search of God. It wasn't only the kings like that either. Along with the public the ones who newly arrived on their thrones were certainly desirous of the governmental regime taking place of [the old one] and having a new society, and restoring prosperity and peace again to the state. But, there was not even one person to call upon God. Even though they sought for restoration and healing, there was no one to call upon God. No one discovered the real problem was in that their relationships with God were broken, and there was no one who would be repentant of their sins or sincerely call upon God. It just may be the same among us today. That's where the deep disappointment and groaning of the Lord lies.
The Cake Baked But On One Side Only
10. Therefore, the Lord states the following while groaning within regarding the actual state of the Israelites.
"Ephraim has mixed in with other nations
Ephraim has become a cake baked on one side only.
The peoples of other nations have eaten up their strength, but they don't see it.
His hair has become so gray, but [Ephraim] doesn't realize it.
It is their own haughtiness that has let Israel fall into sin.
They do not turn to the Lord their God
Even though they have all this, they refuse to inquire of the Lord.
Ephraim is like a dove.
It is foolish and has no insight.
They seek help from Egypt
Or trust in Assyria.
When they try to leave
I will spread a net upon them
[And] when I hear the sound of their getting caught in the net
I will pull them down like a bird of the air and they'll be caught," (7:8-12).
12. The Israelites would not go back to the Lord. Instead of seeking God, they sought for help from Egypt or they turned to Assyria. If you look at this from the human perspective, it might have been the best political policy of that time. But, the Lord says of them the way they were that they looked like a foolish bird with no intuition or insightfulness. So, it is believed that when Israel was ultimately destroyed by Assyria and when Egypt at that time thought that they wouldn't be needed for anything, the message of the prophet had become true.
13. If someone doesn't ever seek God, then it is only natural for them to think when in a crisis, "What am I to do?" And so they look for an easy answer to their problems. They go round and round looking everywhere for a simple way to get things back the way they were or to be healed again. But then isn't the way they are moving here or there and thinking only of "What should I do now?" just like that of a foolish, senseless dove? And actually I think we often times fit the bill.
14. Israel's similar condition is described as a "cake baked on one side only." If you were to bake a cake without cooking the other side, what would that be like? Even if one side was baked to a nice color brown the other side might end up burnt all black. Israel may have set its house in "order" as a nation in a way similar to that, and although the crisis before them may seem to have been eluded, they are essentially [still] not heading for deliverance or salvation. Of course, they are heading for destruction. It may not seem like it, but they are already burnt up completely black. In trusting foreign nations, the truth is their strength is sucked out of them. They are heading to a state of senility and decay. By looking for an easy salvation, they instead invited destruction.
The People Not Seeking The Lord's Help
15. Thus, this is what the Lord says to Israel, the one sided baked cake.
They have departed from me.
Because they turned their backs to me, they will be destroyed.
No matter how much I wanted to save them,
They told lies on me.
They refused to seek my help in their hearts.
They will cry out tears upon their beds
They will hurt themselves in seeking their grain and new wine,
But [still], their backs are turned to me.
I told them that my arm was mighty,
But, they plotted evil against me.
They came back, but
They came to vain [idols] like a twisted bow.
The high officials were toppled by the sword because of the cursing words they belched out.
In the land of Egypt, they became laughingstocks," (7:13-16).
17. Crisis situations themselves do not bring destruction. The fact of turning one's back on God is the very thing that brings destruction. The Lord says, "Because they turned their backs to me, they will be destroyed." The Lord would save them. God is hoping that they would truly turn to the Lord and call upon the name of the Lord. But, the Lord says as though in despair and disappointed for them that "They refused to seek for my help in their hearts."
18. Of course, it doesn't mean that they didn't seek for "help." Rather, they sought fervently for assistance. They cried tears upon their beds. They sought hard so as to be able to obtain their harvest again and even went so far as to wound themselves bodily. That's what they did and how far a person will go in order to be healed or to be restored! But "the help" they were looking for was not necessarily "the help that comes from the Lord God." What we have written here in the Bible is a typical attitude as seen in Baal rituals. They cried tears and cut themselves. At first glance it seems fervent. But, even though they were fervent in order to obtain prosperity and help, the object of their much praying, to get to the point, could have been any ol' thing at all. It didn't matter to them what they prayed to as long as it got them help. This is a special feature of idol worship. This type of attitude and posture is seen all too often in this country. But, the Lord God says about people like this that "they are turning their backs on me."
19. [People might be] fervent [even when] chaos and decay are within a nation, [or there is] a catastrophe that comes from foreign policies based on human expectations, but these are all one and the same condition of idol worship wherein a real relationship with God has been lost. People have been doing the same thing over and over in all time periods. But, there is no real restoration or healing in doing as they have. We must turn our ears to the grieving voice of God. We people living in these modern times must firmly keep in our minds what the problem is [that we have seen] in this [lesson].
20. Finally, let's read one other passage from the New Testament. The apostle Peter wrote the following to the church. "Even though (Christ) was abused verbally, he did not return abuse, even though he was made to suffer he did not threaten anyone, but he entrusted himself over to the one who judges righteously. And he hung on the cross and bore our sins on his very own body, so that we might be dead to sin and live in righteousness. By the wounds that he received you were healed. You have roamed about like sheep, but now you have returned to him who is the shepherd of your souls and who is your supervisor*," (First Peter 2:23-25).
21. There is true healing and restoration for us in turning to the Lord, the true shepherd of our souls and our supervisor. Christ came for that purpose and bore our sins for us on the cross.
*Kantokusha means superintendent, warden, governor, someone who has responsibility over you.