December 6

Hosea 4:1–5:15

The LORD brought charges against His people Israel…and what heavy charges they were!

No truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God in the land. Killing, stealing, adultery, they lost all restraint, it was bloodshed upon bloodshed. God would therefore bring judgment so severe, that even the land would mourn.

The priests were off, the prophets stumbled, they did not know the Lord, as a matter of fact, that’s why they were “destroyed,” – – and they all paid the price.

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

We must know the Lord, and much of that comes by knowing His Word…from the heart.

The northern kingdom of Israel didn’t worship according to the Word of God, they did not have the Temple of God, so it makes perfect sense that their “priests” were not of God. The more priests they had, the worse it was (Hosea 4:7-8 numbers are not important) – the priests followed the people rather than leading them closer to God – so God would judge them both.

When we have no relationship with God, we will become slaves to sin. In this case they were slaves to wine, they had become idolatrous alcoholics, foolishly asking counsel from lifeless idols. They did religion their way, and the world’s way, and they fell far away from God.

Much of the blame was because of their leaders – from the king all the way down to the so called priest and prophets.

Hosea 4:18–19 (NLT) “When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking, off they go to find some prostitutes. They love shame more than honor. 19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away. Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.”

Jesus told us what would happen in situation like this:

Matthew 15:14b (NKJV) “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

Hosea 5 continues to warn Israel and extends his words to Judah as well. Sometimes people think they can hide their sin from God, and yet He sees everything!

Hosea 5:3b (NKJV) “…Israel is not hidden from Me.”

The writer to the Hebrews said the same thing, and added the logical warning:

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Jews were under the spell of the spirit of harlotry, they could not turn back, they did not know the Lord, their pride led to their fall.

NKJV Study Bible, “The OT frequently uses prostitution as an image of the sin of idolatry. Israel was pledged to serve one God (Ex. 20:3), so idolatry was like marital unfaithfulness against the Lord. Jeremiah and Ezekiel develop this image in graphic detail (Jeremiah 3; Ezekiel 16; 23), and Hosea actually married a prostitute as a living symbol of God’s patience with Israel’s infidelities (see ch. 1).”

Sometimes people think they can play with sin and get back on track after they’re through having “fun.” But here we see it doesn’t work that way. They couldn’t find their way back, and then, when they did seek the Lord, it was too late, He had withdrawn himself from them.

Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV) “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”

It got so bad that Israel began to enter into pagan marriages, and raise pagan children (Hosea 5:7). Desolation was therefore the future of this nation (Hosea 5:9), “…because he willingly walked by human precept.”

It’s tragic to see that God’s people looked to help from this fallen world, entering into a treaty with Assyria. Bible Knowledge Commentary, “This probably refers to Hoshea’s alliance with Assyria (2 Kings 17:3) at the time he usurped the throne of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 15:30).”

Why is it that some people have to learn the hard way? God allowed Assyria to be taken away in 722 B.C., and Judah in 586 B.C. – it wasn’t until then that they would finally seek God earnestly.

Hosea 5:14–15 (NKJV) “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

The purpose of God’s discipline was to drive the people back to Him. We must acknowledge our offense…and seek God’s face (His pure presence) earnestly. This is what Jeremiah also wrote to the captive Jews in Babylon – in those infamous verses:

Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NKJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

2 John 1:1-13

The Apostle John writes this brief letter as an Elder, to the “elect lady and her children.” Some believe the elect lady is to be taken literally and refers to a sister who opened her home for God’s people to meet for fellowship (the early church often met in houses); while others believe the elect lady to be a reference to the church as a whole, as the bride of Christ.

The motive is love – John loves the people and wants to protect them from false teachers.

We don’t know the whole scenario, but somewhere along the line John ran into a few people from the fellowship and he rejoiced greatly because they were walking in truth. We’ll see later in 3 John 4 John says there’s no greater joy than when you see that…children walking in truth. 

I’m speculating here, but maybe those children informed John about some of the people who were attending the fellowship and bringing the Gnostic heresy into the church. Maybe that conversation spearheaded this little letter of warning about deceivers who do not confess Jesus Christ as “coming in the flesh.” Now, this is an interesting statement in the Greek language because it speaks not only of Jesus’ incarnation in the flesh, but also His resurrection in the flesh, how even when He rose from the dead He had a body that could be touched; Jesus even ate with them. The Jehovah Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus and so, even though there are many “nice” Jehovah Witnesses, their teaching is heresy, we must not welcome them in to Christendom with this doctrine.

John warns the church, “Look to yourselves,” watch out, or you may not receive a full reward when you stand before Jesus Christ! We don’t want to lose the things we’ve worked so hard for…all these years, through a moment of indiscretion, wherein we think it’s loving to be inclusive with the cults. That’s not love. True love warns, it makes a stand, it holds to the doctrine of the disciples found in the pages of Scripture. We are not to allow false teachers into our fellowships, into our homes to study with, or into our churches so that they can have a platform to propagate their lies and potentially deceive others. This is why I as a pastor need to be so very careful in who I associate with or allow to speak from our church pulpit.

Jesus also warned us in:

Matthew 7:15 (NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Friend, test everything you hear, and protect yourself, your family, and friends by not fellowshipping with false teachers.

John closes the letter with a wish to see everyone in person – that would bring him joy and bless his heart. Nowadays we like letters, text messaging, or maybe phone calls, but the best fellowship is face to face, and heart to heart.

Psalm 125:1-5

The Songs of Ascents continue. These would be the songs the pilgrims would sing on their way, as they journeyed and ascended to Jerusalem.

If we trust the LORD, we’re compared to Mount Zion, a mountain that can never be moved. I think of  a couple of passages that touch on God’s part and ours:

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Not only Mount Zion, but now think of all the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. This is a picture of the way the LORD surrounds us, His people – and not just now, but forever more.

The Psalmist knew that Jerusalem would not end with the reign of the wicked – but along the way there would be good as well as bad in the world of men and even in the city of God – so he prays.

Do good to the good…Lord, to those who trust You. (Psalm 125:4)

Deal with the disobedient accordingly, Lord, hear me, don’t let them be. (Psalm 125:5a)

Ultimately, Lord, please, bring peace to Your people. (Psalm 125:5b)

Proverbs 29:9-11

Proverbs 29:9 (NKJV) “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.”

The fool won’t listen to the wise man, and whether the conversation ends in rage or laughter, any hope for peace will be superficial at best. Until a person surrenders his or her heart to Jesus Christ they will never be part of a good and “full” life, it will only always be a “fool” life.

Derek Kidner, “The general sense is clear: there is no arguing calmly with a fool.”

“Trying to win a court case with a fool (’ěwil, “an arrogant, hardened fool”) should be avoided because he follows his emotions rather than logic (Proverbs 27:3) as he keeps things in turmoil (no peace) with his angry (Proverbs 29:11) ranting (raging and scoffing).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

NET Notes, “The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge.” In the Niphal stem it could be passive, but is more frequently reciprocal: “to enter into controversy” or “to go to court.” The word is usually used in connection with a lawsuit (so many recent English versions), but can also refer to an argument (e.g., 1 Sam 12:7; Isa 43:26); cf. NAB “disputes”; NASB “has a controversy.”

Proverbs 29:10 (NKJV) “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, but the upright seek his well-being.”

Just as love is the fruit of the Spirit of God, hatred is the fruit of the enemy of God. The Devil and his hellish hosts hate all those created in the image of God, but especially those who follow completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly after God…the blameless.

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

A fool who vents just opens up and lets it out, they shoot the lip from the hip, there is no wisdom whatsoever, nothing good comes out of their mouth, just the yuck, like vomit – it’s heartbreaking to think that many times it’s verbal abuse.

I honestly believe that the taming of the tongue is one of the primary keys to victory in all of our lives.

1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) “For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.

James 1:19–20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

“A fool (kesîl; see comments on 1:7) readily gives in to anger (cf. 15:1; 29:8, 22), but a wise person maintains self-control (cf. 14:29; 16:32). Keeps himself under control is literally, “calms it back” like stilling a storm. The verb is used only here and in Psalms 65:7; 89:9 where it refers to calming the sea’s waves.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Derek Kidner, “…the stilling of a storm, speaks of anger overcome, not merely checked.”

There is a difference.

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