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Priests and Fathers
Thistletown Baptist Church
May 10, 2009
a.I read the kind of book this week that is not really my style of book. It’s a romance. It’s the story
of a man who comes to discover that his wife is not just having an affair – she is sleeping with anyone who will have her and charging money for it – she is a prostitute. It’s a heartbreaking book. Again and again we see this faithful husband reaching out to prosper and benefit and love his wife and she will have none of it. She is intransigent in her sin. She has her lifestyle. She enjoys her lifestyle. She seems to get some satisfaction from the way that she is living that she cannot get by being faithful to the one she promised faithfulness to. Interesting book to read as one approaches Mother’s Day. She was one of those mothers whose children would have a hard time on Mother’s Day finding anything good to say about her. In fact, her children were known in the community not to be the biological children of their father and they were called by names that constantly reminded them that their mother was sleeping around. And you read the story and you get angry and you call out to the husband as you read that he should just walk out, find someone else, wash your hands of her. But he will not. He keeps coming back and loving her and showing great patience and kindness and giving second and third chances. And in the end we see that this husband does indeed triumph over the unfaithfulness of his wife and she comes to see that the husband she has is better than the men she is unfaithful with and she eventually gives them up and returns. It’s a real tear-jerker and you read it and if you are not too cynical you can really believe that such happy endings are really possible. You want to believe that there actually is a man who would love someone as bad as his wife and be able to turn her around and make her a person who gives up all her lovers because she sees that the one she has is better than all the others who promise so much but deliver so little. In fact they only make her life worse.
b.The romance story I read was the Book of Hosea, the first of the minor prophets. The bride in Hosea represents the northern kingdom of Israel and the husband represents God.
i.The marriage – 1:2-3
ii.The children with the names that were a constant reminder of their mother`s infidelity –
1:9 (Lo- Ammi – not my people – so Hosea names his son “not mine” – that’s gotta hurt ..)
iii.Chapter 2 – threat of punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness
iv.2:14 – 23 – the promise, made out of love for His people, that God will win them back to Himself.
v.Chapter 3 – See what God tells Hosea to do and see in this the Gospel – because that is what it is. Chapter 3 is the triumph of love over sin. It is God doing all that is required to make a people faithful despite how utterly wicked they have been.
(1)3:1 – the love of God for those who do not love Him. They are idolaters. They worship other gods and that is not only idolatry, it is adultery.
(2)3:2 – We are purchased with a price – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
(3)3:3 – He brings us to His home where we dwell with Him in safety and peace. He saves us from the world we were enamoured with.
(4)3:4 – What we are outside of God’s grace
(5)3:5 – What God does for us. He brings us back. He gathers His people back to Himself in faithfulness … .
Now dear people listen. This is a great story – and if you do not know Christ it is your story. The sins of the Israel in Hosea are pictured as adultery – we are so prone to making our sins look less wicked than they are. Our sins are not sins. They are “shortcomings”. They are “weaknesses”. In Hosea they are called “adultery”. But even as we read Hosea we are so easily able to admit that their sins were adulterous but ours are less serious than that. What the Israelites were doing was worshipping other gods. “I don’t worship another god”. Dear ones – of course you do. This is your whole problem. Jesus Christ is not the One you follow. He is not the One you trust. You trust something else. You trust yourself. An idol is anything that is higher on your list of priorities than God is – your job, your money, your family, your mother. Perhaps you are chasing after a husband or a wife. Perhaps you want mental stability, freedom from your depression, peace at home … None of these things are wrong, but if they are the MOST important thing to you, then you are guilty of idolatry. God is not first in your life – that thing is, that accomplishment … .
“What I want most of all is ____________________.” That’s your idol.
“What I simply cannot live without is ____________________________. That’s your god.
And the Bible calls it adultery. You are created to be a worshipper of God and you have hooked up with something else.
And what the Book of Hosea tells us is that God seeks out those who are being unfaithful and adulterous and loves them back to Himself. And that love is the cross. The cross is Jesus Christ paying the price for sinners so that they can be God’s possession and no longer the property of sin and evil.
You have forsaken the God who made you. You have placed other things ahead of God and worshipped them. You have not loved for His glory as you were created to do.
Tell me – what do you think Hosea should have done with his unfaithful wife (Gomer)? What would you do to a spouse like that? What you wouldn’t do is sacrifice to get her back. What you would not do is pay a redemption price and bring her back into your home and cause her to be a faithful wife from now on. But that is what God has done.
The rest of the Book of Hosea is about the sins of the Israel and God’s punishment and pleas with Israel to return to God.
2.Hosea 4 – Priests and Fathers
I want to focus this morning on chapter 4. Hosea 4 tells us how it is that Israel had become so faithless, so wicked, so full of idolatry.
i.4:1-3 – the sins of Israel …
ii.4:4-6 – the cause of their sins
(1)4:4, 6, 9 – the priests. God speaks much to priests – 5:1; 6:9; 7:9
4:6 – the people do not know God or God’s ways. They are ignorant of what God requires from them and of them. They couldn’t obey if they wanted to – they do not know how or what to do.
And the reason they are in such a sorry state is because those entrusted with their spiritual care do not give them the care they need.
Verse 4 – “Let no one contend …” – this is what the priests are doing – “Look at the horrible sins the people are committing!!” “NO”, God says – it is you – priests who have the responsibility to tell them about me and my ways and you have not – and now they perish from lack of knowledge.
This theme of ignorance of God is not just found in chapter 4. It is first mentioned in 2:8 and is hinted at in 2:13. See also – 4:6 (the priests themselves have forgotten the law of God – see Mt. 6:23; 15:14), 4:10; 5:4; 6:3, 6; 7:2 ; 8:2-3, 12
This should make James 3:1 simply ring in the ears of all those whose job it is to lead a church, teach in a church, pastor a flock of God’s people.
Two weeks ago ballots were distributed to the members of this church so that they could submit names of people they think should be elders, deacons, trustees etc.
Dear ones – Put those names on that ballot with Hosea 4:6 simply ringing in your ears and heart and mind. My people perish for lack of knowledge. So much we want our pastor/elders to do. Visit and comfort and care for … And that is right. But don’t forget that it is for lack of knowledge that people perish – knowledge of the Word and what it says. Knowledge of God and what it means to live for Him.
Re: priests – church leaders, teachers (James 3:1), pastors (I Tim.4:16), deacons (Acts 6:3) [We have church officers to elect. The ballot box is in the Fireside Room right now – Don’t you vote without reading and praying over Acts 6:1-3; I Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:17]
And does this not apply to anyone who has the responsibility of teaching the Scriptures to others?
S.S. teachers, AWANA workers, Bible Study Leaders, Junior Church workers … Do your work in such a way that it will never be truthfully said of you – the children of TBC perish for lack of knowledge. Don’t be satisfied to tell your children exciting stories about the killing of giants and floods and healings and miracles. Tell them of the God of holiness and righteousness who is telling us about Himself and how far we have fallen away from Him and how desperately lost we are and how we cannot do anything to save ourselves and how it is that God is so great in His love for His people that He has done all that could be done to rescue His chosen ones form the clutches of destruction… Study this Book. Pray for your students. Be more concerned about your faithfulness to God than contending with the sins of everyone else. Teachers – Know this Book and pass on the contents and the intention and the truth contained in this Book to those who sit under your ministry. People are perishing for lack of it.
b.Priests in the world – All Christians are priests in a world that is ignorant of God. A priest was one who stood between the people and God. He represented God to the people. This is what the whole church of Jesus Christ is called to do. …
c.Fathers – It is not just priests who are responsible for the ignorance of the people.
i.4:13-14 – What an incredible thing is said in verse 14! What it amounts to is this – “these daughters of yours are just doing what they saw you find desirable. They saw daddy paying the prostitutes for sex while mommy cried at home because she needed the money for clothes or food or school. They saw daddy neglect mommy and they so wanted to please daddy and have his approval and hear his loving words that they became what they saw he wanted in women”. So God says – “Why should I punish them – they are doing what you told them to do”.
ii.Gentlemen listen – you are the priest of your home. You are the pastor of your home. You are to care for your flock. You are the spiritual priests of your home. You are to lead by example. You are to know the Word of God and teach it to your children (this is not the church’s job). You are to teach them the Scriptures. You are to pray for your children and with your children. You are not to watch anything on television that you could not watch with your kids. You are to be an example of godliness, righteousness, submission to Christ. You are to show your children what it means to be a worshipper of God between the Sundays. You are the God ordained leader of your home to make sure that as far as it is possible, your home will not be breeding idolaters; that if they do grow up to be servers of other gods it will not be because they were not taught something better when they were growing up. Do you study the Word of God? Do you share the wonders that you find in there with your children? When the children watch you and follow your example what kind of Christians will they look like?
Remember what Hosea is about – it is about spiritual adultery – unfaithfulness, prostitution. These are horrible pictures. And we do not want them to be ours. Hosea is about idolatry. We want our children to grow up being passionate worshippers of the one true God. You be a passionate worshipper of the one true God. You be without hypocrisy. You be the example that they need.
What a story the Book of Hosea is. But it is not just a story. It is what the world is about. The world is living in spiritual adultery – idolatry.
Our job – represent Christ to this world.
Our children are being enticed to this idolatry. Our job? Be the fathers to them that will show them that what we tell them is better.