13 Aug 2023
God is extremely patient with Israel. Despite their sins racked up over the centuries, He still appeals to them through Hosea to return to Him. He confronts them about their sins, warns of severe punishment, and offers the hope of salvation. And if only Israel will listen, they will not be ravaged by the Assyrians. God is also extremely patient with you and me! Despite our sinful rebellion against Him, He still appeals to us through the Bible. He confronts us with our sins, gives warning of His wrath and judgment, and offers the hope of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His son! And if only you will listen, you will be forgiven of your sin and saved from His holy wrath. So, what exactly has God done to save you? And how are you to be saved? All these and more can be found in the sermon here. Come and learn about God's love for you today!
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Well, today we come back to Hosea, and we are covering two chapters today, chapters 13 and 14, and you may be fearing, wah, so many verses will take a long time. I think not really, we'll go through it quite swiftly.
Let me start with a picture. This is a lady named Zhanna Samsonova. She's a well-known Russian social media influencer, and she is most famous for her diet, a very exclusive diet of just raw fruits and vegetables, nothing else, not even nuts, and not even water, apparently.
So she puts up her pictures, her food, her diet on social media, and over time, people realize that she is getting a little bit too thin, too thin and gaunt. Her friend would remark, it was scary to look at her, to be honest. Her hands were thin like those of my 12-year-old sister. The 39-year-old's friends have revealed that they were horrified at her emaciated appearance and begged her to get help from doctors, but she refused and carried on with her diet.
I got to know about her from, well, my son saw this picture, and he told my wife. Later on when I asked Winnie, Winnie asked me, why, why is this picture on, not this picture, but another picture with her in swimsuit lah, and she asked, why are you having this picture? My son said, I thought Daddy's cheating on you.
But no, no, no, I, I'm just finding out, I, I saw the news, and and I got to know about her because she passed away last week, or actually 2nd August, this past week, and there was a report that says she chose this path, she did not listen to me. And it seemed like the people around her have been, have been trying to get her to listen, to change her obstinacy in sticking to this very extreme diet. To be fair, nobody really knows for sure if she actually died from starvation and exhaustion, but from the perspective of her friends and her mom, they wished that things would be quite different if she had only listened.
I come to the book of Hosea, and when you read the book of Hosea, you also probably would have this sense that as you read about God's warnings and appeals to Israel to repent, to turn, that if only Israel had listened, they wouldn't be destroyed as a nation. They wouldn't be cap... led astray as captives by the Assyrians.
So in our final sermon today, I thought chapters 13 and 14 brings us to familiar themes of their sin, their suffering, the salvation that will be offered, and that will be the way we'll look at these two chapters. If only they had listened.
Chapter 13 opens with a declaration of their sin once more. This is a repeated idea in Hosea and indeed in the prophetic books. God is clear and unapologetic about stating their sins. We read, when Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. This refers to the chief tribe, the most numerous and prominent tribe in Israel. He was exalted in Israel, so the trembling here probably speaks about the fear that he commands and the exalted position he enjoys.
But the problem with Ephraim is that he incurred guilt through Baal. He worshipped false gods, false idols, false, false Baals, lords of the lands, and therefore suffered a demise, he died spiritually.
In verse 2, and now they sin more and more and make for themselves metal images, these idols or statues skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. So they indulged and they were deeply entrenched in idolatry. It is said of them, those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves. Now, this is not an easy sentence to kind of translate. It could really be translated as such, they offer human sacrifices, probably following the paths of the Canaanite worship styles, they offer children as sacrifices to gods like Moloch.
That could be way, the way ESV has translated it, or it could be a little bit more general in that they, among men who offer sacrifices, kiss calves. So basically saying that these worshippers, who offer sacrifices are worshipping it to idols, kissing the statues, the calves that they have built. In any case, it is very clear the issue here is idolatry, the style of the Canaanite people.
Therefore, they shall be like the morning mist, or like the dew that goes early away. We have kind of looked at it. This speaks about how they will be destroyed, very quickly, like a chaff that swirls from the threshing floor, or like smoke from a window, they will be blown away. But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt. You know no God but Me, and besides Me there is no savior. It is foolish for you really to go after the Baals of the land. It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. I brought you out of the wilderness into the promised land. But when they had grazed and they had become full, they were filled and their heart was lifted up, therefore they forgot Me.
It's interesting. I'm preparing ahead of time for sermon series and I was looking at Deuteronomy chapter 8. And in Deuteronomy chapter 8, there are several, 8 and 9, there are several, many uh, repeats of the phrase, remember and forget not. Remember, forget not. Remember, forget not. It is almost God saying, I know that when you enter the promised land and when you have your fill, you'll be tempted to think that you did it all with your own hands. But right now, before you enter the promised land, let me remind you, when you go there, remember Me, do not forget Me. Despite those clear instructions in Deuteronomy, as generations go by, Israel ultimately forgot God here.
When I was growing up in secondary school, we learned Chinese proverbs and one of the proverbs is yin shui si yuan. You drink the water, you remember where that source is from. It speaks of the value or virtue of gratitude. And that's not an unchristian value. It's important, even for the Christian life. Just as God has blessed us, just as God has blessed you, oh Israel, never forget your God. But they are treacherous, they forget God, they are lifted up in pride, and they go whoring after false idols, sadly, statues that they have made with their own hands.
So God confronts Israel with their sin.
And then we read on that God is going to tell them about the suffering they will have to go through. He says, so I am to them like a lion, like a leopard, I will lurk beside the way. So God pictures Himself like these beasts, who are ferocious and vicious. And He says, I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs. I've never tried to take any cubs from a bear, but I, I'm quite sure that if you try to do so, the mother bear would come to you with a vengeance. And that's the idea. God will go to Israel with a vengeance.
I will tear open their breast, speaking of the very graphic picture of killing and destroying, and there I will devour them, eat them up like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them apart, apart or open. He destroys you, oh Israel, for you are against Me, against your Helper. In the Hebrew, it can also be translated, I will destroy you, O Israel, for you are against Me, against your Helper.
Where now is your king to save you in all your cities? Where are all your rulers? Those of whom you said, give me a king and princes. So at a time when God is going to judge, there will be no one who can save Israel out of God's judgment.
I gave you a king in my anger and I took him away in my wrath. Just as I set him up, I can easily take him down. The iniquity, the sin of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store. His sins are stored up over the generations and now I'm going to pour My wrath upon them because Israel is stubborn. The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son, for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb.
So you know that when contractions come, you expect the baby's head to show at uh, okay, the cervix and it's supposed to be the place where you see the, the crowning of the baby, the head shows up more and more. But if the contractions come, but the baby's head is on the other side and it's not engaged into the pelvis, the mother and child may both die. Because the baby cannot get out of the womb and in those days, they do not have surgeons who can perform cesarean section for you.
So this is a picture of failure to progress. The baby's head's not engaged and it is a picture of how Israel is stubborn. When it's time to obey, you still won't do it and you are rebelling to your own destruction. So there is a suffering that is given or that is prophesied for the people of Israel and very severe suffering, actually, if I may add.
If there's one thought that Winnie and I, my wife and I, would be guilty of with regards to my children, I think one of them, or I think there may be many, but one of them would probably be that we are too nice to them. I, I just heard my wife say that yesterday, we are too nice to you. You see, when they do something wrong, we know we have to punish them,we know we have to discipline them. But our hearts are too soft. Every time we want to inflict a more severe punishment, we, we feel like, oh, they, they will be so cham` and we kind of uh, tone down a little bit and we do not give them what we think actually they should get. And as a result, I think they don't learn as well. I think my kids may not agree, uh but that's how I think we might do better in our parenting.
But God does not do that. God gives Israel, I think, just what they needed. The language is strong. He does not hold back. And mind you, He's not giving this suffering to ultimately destroy Israel, because that is not His plan. His plan is ultimately to bless and to save Israel. But He does not hold back on necessary sufferings, and trials, and pains, because He wants their ultimate good. These sufferings are given so that Israel may learn and turn and repent unto God. I hope you see this is all in the context of gracious love still.
We move on then to verse 14, which is a promise of amazing salvation. It says, I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol, which is the place of the departed dead. I shall redeem them from death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? This is a verse that speaks about the promise of salvation.
Now, I must admit, this is kind of a conditioning you to accept that verse 14 is a statement of promise of salvation. I say that because if you were to read Hosea 13 by yourself, if you were to read this before the sermon, before I give you the subheading of salvation, you may read verse 14 as a passage for judgment, as a threat of impending judgment.
Why? Because the context is overwhelmingly about judgment. The verses before, verse 14, verse 1 to 13, is all about their sin and suffering, correct? And then if you read on after these statements, it will still be at least two or three verses more about suffering. So if you read contextually, suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering, verse 14, one verse, the next few verses, suffering, you would immediately think this should be also about suffering. And that is the position many commentators actually adopt.
And so when they read the Hebrew, they, they look at the first two lines, and because the Hebrew language there is not absolutely definitive, they say we should really not translate the Hebrew to read, I shall ransom them in the declarative form, declaring it form, but in the interrogative form, in the questioning form. So they say it should be translated, shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? That's the way they feel, they should be read, because this passage is overwhelmingly about judgment.
So if I may say, a lot of commentators say, God is speaking about the sin of Israel, the suffering that will come on them, come unto them, so God asks, shall I really ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I really redeem, redeem them from death? Of course not! The rhetorical question. Instead, God would say, O death, where are your plagues? Come upon Israel. O Sheol, where is your sting? Come upon Israel. That is the way many have taken this passage to read. And I can understand why, because of the context.
But the reason why I think it should be translated, not in the questioning form, but in the declarative form, I shall ransom them as a promise of salvation, is because someone said, this is a passage of hope and salvation. Who is that someone? Wah, very dua bai ah. If that someone is Pastor Paul, uh or Charles Spurgeon, or John MacArthur, I may say, never mind lah, bochap lah. Context more important lah. But the person is the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul quotes this passage in 1 Corinthians 15:55. And because the book of 1 Corinthians is part of the canon of Scripture, every single word in 1 Corinthians is written, not just by Paul, but by God. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. And the inspiration of God is precise down to its very word and letter.
And in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul states this verse as a taunt against death. It's saying to death, because of the promise of resurrection, the glorious resurrection body given because of Jesus Christ, we need not fear death. Therefore, in 1 Corinthians 15, the, the tone is, O death, where is your victory? Where is your plagues? Where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? So death, personified as a tyrant, that holds all of us captive, is now taunted because its power is destroyed or broken by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So because of Apostle Paul, and he can't be wrong, we then have to look at this text, and though it is contextually a kind of a break from suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering, it is how God has intended it to be. And that is not unusual because in the prophetic books, you would see how God talks about sin and suffering, and all of a sudden, there will be a bright hope of hope, oh bright, light of hope, and then goes back to suffering, and then later on, a sprinkling of hope once again.
I think therefore, okay that was a long five-minute kind of explanation, I hope you're not lost, but at the end of the day, I hope you will see that verse 14 is indeed a passage about the promise of salvation.
Just to allow me to continue that thought in verses 56 and 57 in 1 Corinthians, the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. The reason why we fear death is because of sin. If you are sinless, you do not fear death. because it's just going to be meeting with God and you're right with God, there's nothing to fear. But the reason why we fear death is because we have sinned and God is holy, He will judge our sin.
And sin is accentuated or clarified with the law. But we do not fear death and the law anymore if we are in Jesus Christ, because Jesus fulfilled all the law. He's absolutely righteous. And then He went to the cross to give His life to die for your sins. The Bible tells us that Jesus took on the sins of His people, suffered and died in order to credit to us, His righteousness.
So now we need not fear death and sin because the victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, Sheol, where is your sting. We don't fear death anymore. You don't have to look at death as if it's the ultimate thing in life. No, it's not a full stop to your life. It's a comma that ushers you into a glorious eternity with God.
A little boy saw a bee that was buzzing all around him and he was really terrified. He says, Mommy, mommy, help me because if I get stung, I will die. He's not wrong. You may die from a bee sting. But the mommy said to the boy, No son, you won't die. But mom, I know bees can kill. Son, you won't die. Not from this bee anyway. And she opened up her hands and showed him that the bee had already stung her. She had absorbed that sting. And the bee can do nothing to him anymore. Jesus took on that sting of death, of sin on the cross for you and for me. Thanks be to God for the victory that is in Him.
So, in a very interesting way, whilst God rains down severe sentencing and judgment upon Israel, right in the middle, in verse 14, He gives that bright hope of saying, even though your nation is going to be in exile, even though your nation is going to be ravaged, I'm not done with you. I still love you, I will save you. I shall ransom you from the power of Sheol. I shall ransom you from death.
Now, this is a long-range promise, in that, I don't think, any time from the Assyrian captivity, even up to today, there has been a time for national salvation upon Israel. But I believe, according to Romans 11, there will come a day where Israel in great numbers will be saved, as we have already explained in previous sermons. But it's a long-range promise. And it stems and is rooted in the hesed, faithful, steadfast love of God.
Having explained all that, I hope it's clear for you. We have this tricky verse, compassion is hidden from my eyes, aiyah jialat. Compassion is hidden from my eyes seems to lead me to think that this should be a judgment text. Right? I'm not going to be compassionate on them, I'm going to judge them. That will be the way you will read this text again. But, hey, go back and check your Bible. Go back and check the words here. And you will be in for a surprise.
When it seems puzzling, it's good to go back and check. Now, we don't all read the Bible in the original language. Very few people can actually do that. But when something is fishy, something doesn't quite fit, then it may be necessary to go back and check what the Hebrew really is. So, the interesting thing is the word compassion here in the Hebrew is actually the word repentance. It's the technical word for repentance.
So, it's not saying that God will not be compassionate on Israel. That's the, that's unfortunately, I would say, I do not know why the ESV translators translated that way, but that's how they translated it. But if you look at some other translations, they do have the word repentance because that's what that word in Hebrew really means.
Repentance is hidden from our eyes, God is saying, I will not repent. I will not change my mind. What? With regards to what? With regards to saving Israel. So, instead of saying God is not going to be compassionate, it is actually saying God will not change His mind on showing mercy and love upon the people of Israel.
Alright. Get you back, wake up. So, just a big idea. This is a passage, passage about the sin of Israel, about the suffering that is to come, and about a glorious salvation that is promised in the midst of it all. But before all that, there will still be that Judgment upon Israel in that they will be led away by the Assyrians, though he may flourish among his brothers, the east wind, probably referring to Assyria from the east, the wind of the LORD shall come rising from the wilderness and his fountain shall dry up, his spring shall be parched, it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing.
So Ephraim or Israel will be destroyed, Samaria shall bear her guilt because she has rebelled against the God, they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces and their pregnant women ripped open. These are some of the fiercest, most severe statements in Hosea. But let's remember in the midst of their suffering, there is a glorious salvation that is promised.
Finally let's come to chapter 14. Don't worry, chapter 13 a bit longer, chapter 14 not so long, alright? So chapter 14, I just have one point and that is the solution that God offers to Israel. So you are in sin, you will suffer, I promise you salvation, here is what you need to do, here is the solution for you. Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
So what God wants, is for Israel to come back to Him. How does Israel come back to God? God actually gives the formula, God gives the path. He says, take with you words and return to the LORD, say to Him. I, I trust all of us will understand that God is not saying, merely mechanically say these things as if like Aladdin and the genie in a bottle, just say magic words and God will have to oblige you. No, no, I don't think any one of us would think that. But the words that you will read later on are supposed to be things that they believe, understand, feel for and therefore express.
So in returning to Me, this has to be your understanding, this has to be your conviction, this has to be what you are submitting yourself to. And what are these? Say to Me, take away all iniquity. It's a phrase that asks for forgiveness. LORD, forgive us. Take away our sin. We cannot take away our own sins. We cannot help ourselves, but you can. So LORD, have mercy, take away all iniquity. Accept what is good or accept us graciously.
So maybe one of the translations that may be helpful for you is take away our iniquity. It's not easy to translate the Hebrew, I think. So take away our iniquity, receive us graciously or graciously receive us. Out of Your grace, out of Your goodness, allow us to come back to You. So we will render the calves of our lips, probably referring to the offerings of sacrifices from the lips.
So God is saying, return to Me. How so? When you humble yourself, admit your sin, acknowledge your own impotence to rid yourself of sins and just confess them and ask for forgiveness. Look to My grace, look to My mercy, that you may then properly worship Me and honour Me. Say to yourself, say to Me, Assyria shall not save us. We will not ride on horses and we will say no more, our God, to the work of our hands. In other words, in returning to Me, not only must you confess your sin, you must commit yourself not to look to other gods and other helps. That you worship Me and Me alone.
And then in verse 3, in You the orphan finds mercy. So if you are to rid yourself of all these false dependences, you are going to be like an orphan left to yourself. But you trust that your God loves the weak and helpless. And probably the orphans are the most oppressed, they are the most helpless. But God is a specialist to show mercy to people who are helpless. So have that confidence in Me, in My mercy.
So how does one come to God? In summary, one comes to God with a broken, humble, contrite spirit, recognising that he's a sinner, recognising that he is not able to save himself, recognising that he has no other gods who he can look to and recognising that God is a merciful God who will save those who cry out for mercy. In that, you return to Me.
And if you are able to do that, if you say that in your heart and in your lips, then God says in verse 4, I will heal you. I will heal their apostasy, they are falling away from Me. I will love them freely, for My anger has turned from them. Amazing, right? Every other religion tells you, you've got to do something of worth to prove to your deity so that he will love you. Show that you are worthy to be loved. But you know the Bible tells us God doesn't love us because we are worthy, God loves us freely. He loves us when we are unworthy.
This is a verse that a famous preacher named Spurgeon spoke much about. He said, this sentence, I will love them freely, is the body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning is a theologian and he who can dive into its fullness is a true master in divinity. So the sentence of interest is, I will love them freely. I, I guess that's the emphasis, how can God love us freely? And if you understand how He can do that, Spurgeon thinks you are a theologian. I, I'm not sure if I plunged all the depth of what Spurgeon was trying to unearth or mine out. I try. And as I explain to you, I hope you'll understand. And then after that you can walk out and say, I'm a theologian. But let me put it very simply.
Think about this. If God damns every single human being on earth for all history, He will still be just. Let me just say that first. If no one gets saved and everyone goes to hell, God is still just. Why? Because we are all sinners. There is no unrighteousness with God in punishing rebels, sinners. Wah, so jialat meh? Yes. You do not think that we are very jialat because you don't understand the depth of our sin and the hideousness before the sight of a Holy God. But from God's perspective, there is no unrighteousness when God damns everyone.
But if He should damn everyone, then nobody in this world would know of that mercy and grace and love of God. Not even the angels. So if God damns everyone, no one would know His mercy and that's not what God wants. He wants His full attributes to be on display. But if God just closes an eye to sin and lets people get into eternal life, get forgiven of their sin, then there will be that eternal scandal that this God is not serious about sin. He does not pay for sin.
So suppose this is the whole world and God chooses to save a segment here. I do not know why I choose you. But, if God chooses to save a segment here and say, okay lah, never mind lah, all these go to hell lah. But this group ah, I, I close one eye. I know you are sinful but I just sweep your sin underneath the carpet, let you into eternal life.
Well, you may enter into, into eternal life but for all eternity, people, you and angels will be saying, you know, tsk, tsk, tsk during your water cooler talk, you know, not in a business meeting, cannot say before God, but in a water cooler, you know ah, God ah, last time, don't know why, He say He's serious with sin but these people, their sins are just swept under the carpet leh, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. You know, in heaven, if you hear tsk, tsk, tsk, not very shiok ah. And God will not allow it.
If God just closes an eye to sin, He is unjust. He's unrighteous because sin must be dealt with. So, to love freely, to forgive you your sins, someone has to pay for your sins. And this whole mystery is solved when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die and to pay for our sins. This is already in God's mind before creation. It is expressed on that day when Adam and Eve sinned against God. When God said, the serpent will crush the Offspring of Eve's heel and the Offspring of Eve will crush the serpent's head. Jesus, that Offspring of Eve, would have to suffer and to die.
We often say, Jesus died for me. Jesus died for you. There's nothing wrong with that, in that Jesus died so that you may be saved. But it's equally true, if not more so, that Jesus did not just die for you, Jesus died for God. What do you mean, Jesus died for God? According to Paul, Jesus had to be sacrificed. Jesus had to die so that He, that is God, might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. How can God justify this group of people and still be just? Only if He had already punished that sin on His Son, Jesus Christ.
So I will love them freely is not to be taken too lightly. It is laden with this doctrinal reality that in order for God to save us, He cannot just sweep it underneath the carpet. He has to pay for it with the cost of His Son's life. And we are grateful recipients of this amazing grace.
So Israel has sinned and have stored up iniquity. There will be a suffering and a judgment and affliction given to them. But that will not be the final story in their life, in their history, because God will save and God calls Israel to return to Him in repentance and humility. And when God heals them, God will be like a dew to Israel. He shall blossom like the lilies. He shall take root like the trees of Lebanon, his shoots shall spread out, his beauty shall be like the olive, his fragrance like Lebanon." Very agricultural, horticultural kind of picture, the abundance and flourishing of the land. They shall return and dwell beneath My shadow, they shall flourish like the grain, they shall blossom like the vine, their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. They will be a prosperous, blessed people and land.
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? How would you even compare with, Me with idols? I'm the One who answers and looks after you, I'm like an evergreen cypress, from Me comes your fruit. So quit going to the idols.
And finally in verse 9, whoever is wise, let him understand these things, whoever is discerning, let him know them, for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
When you end reading this book of Hosea, you must be wishing Israel will listen to God. If only they will listen, then we wouldn't read about the Assyrian captivity, we would not read about the destruction of Israel. And that has to be the kind of sense we get when we read this prophetic book. God so mercifully, I mean to me, He's so patient, He's so elaborate, giving so many words, so many pictures, so many persuasions for the people of Israel to turn and yet they will not listen. How tragic.
But there will come a day where Israel will listen, there will come a day where God is going to show His mercy and love to the people and we long to see that day someday.
But like I've always been saying, the book of Hosea, and indeed the Bible, is not just a historical record for others, about people in time past, but the Bible is written for you and for me, isn't it? The Bible tells us so, that it's written for us. So I like to have a little twist to the title and say, if only you will listen. It's about you. If only you will listen about your sin. I know it's not politically right to talk about sin all the time in some people's minds, but I think it is absolutely disastrous if you come to church, if you hear the preaching of the Bible and no one tells you about the biggest problem in the world and that is sin.
There is one problem in this world, the root cause of it all, and that is sin. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is breaking God's law. Sin is having anything else as your God apart from the God of the Bible. And God is open and unapologetic about the issue of sin. So I find it really strange that when you, there are some churches today that probably want to skirt around the word sin. They, they find that, oh, maybe let's not turn people off about the, the word sin. Let's, let's talk about it in other ways. And maybe they focus even on issues like mental health, sickness, struggles in life. Now, I'm not saying that these problems are not big problems, they are. But they are not the ultimate problem.
The ultimate problem is man is alienated from God because of sin and today I'm telling you, you are a sinner. I guarantee you are a sinner, just like I am, because that's the verdict from God, all have sinned. Why should you listen to the message of the Bible? Some of you say, I have a good life, I have a good family, I'm well-to-do, I stay in a big bungalow, everything is done for me, I'm happy in life, why do I need the Bible? Let me tell you why. Because you are a sinner before the eyes of a Holy God. And God will judge you for your sin.
And that judgment may not come only after you die. Even today, the wrath of God is being revealed that in many ways we suffer in this life. Not all sufferings are directly because of our sins, but a lot of it can be traced perhaps to that. You are a sinner, so am I, and we stand before a Holy God. I hope you'll listen.
I hope you'll also listen today perhaps to sufferings. Again, sufferings is a mystery in the Bible. Not that we cannot understand everything about sufferings as taught in the Bible, but it's not possible to always know why we suffer that specific suffering in that point of time. But, one of the reasons I think God gives sufferings, is perhaps to turn your gaze away from yourself unto God.
And that suffering can be retrenchment, miscarriage, cancer, COVID, a relational breakdown. And, and God uses these things to show you that you're not the master of your own life. To show you that there is nothing that really ultimately satisfies. To show you how small we are and that there is a great God that you must know and you must reconcile with.
I hope today you will listen. Maybe you're in church today, you're listening to the Scriptures today, because you are going through sufferings and you are trying to find out why. Well, one of the reasons is so that you may turn and find salvation.
The Christian message really revolves around the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Christian message is not about you going to earn your way to God. The Christian message is not do, do, do, do, do, do, do in order for God to accept you. The Christian message is done. It is fully paid for by Jesus. And what God wants is not for you to give lots of money or to do 10,000 charitable acts, but for you to return, to confess your sin, to worship Him alone, and to have confidence that He's the God who shows mercy to those who would be humble before Him. So I hope you will come to God today in such a manner.
The book of Hosea ends off, therefore, with a message of glory. Chapter 14, wonderfully, is really glorious. I hope you'll walk away thinking, wah, Hosea is not very jialat, but Hosea is very positive. Hosea is really encouraging. Hosea is about the glorious, hesed love of God. May you come to know God's love today. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
I really, really hope and pray that as we go through these sermons in Hosea, we would have that hesed love of God deeply imprinted upon our hearts. And that this morning, as you hear Israel and how God is going to deal with Israel, you will see yourself in it as well. I hope today, you will humble yourself, acknowledge and confess your sin, and look to God alone and what His Son has done on the cross to save you from your sins.
It is our prayer in this church, I am 100% confident that many of our people today are praying for people right now to see their sin, to see Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. We are praying for you. We're praying that you will not just hear a sermon, but that you will humble yourself and come to God. We're praying that you will not just sit here, come here to church, but you'll come here to Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we are fearful to turn back because we're not sure if the people we turn back to will receive us or not. But I say to you, God today is opening wide His arms, can't you see? In Hosea, He opens wide His arms to treacherous, unfaithful people. He is still opening His arms, His arms wide. And today, God is still inviting you to turn and to come home. To come home to Him, that you may be saved.
You know, throughout the book of Hosea, I have applied this book by and large to seekers, to sinners, to unsaved friends in our midst. Because I think that is the emphasis, the weight of Hosea. It's to an unbelieving people. But as I close today, I want to say a word or two to my brothers and sisters in Christ. And I draw that encouragement from Paul, when he referred to Hosea 13, O Death, where is your victory? O Sheol, where is your sting? The Apostle Paul goes on also to say to the Christians there, in the light of that glorious resurrection body, in the light of that glorious hope of eternal life with God, today, as Christians, let us be steadfast and immovable. Let us not be easily shaken from the confidence in the Gospel. Let us not be assaulted by doubts in such a way that we will fall away. But let us hang in there, hold on. Be steadfast and immovable with regards to the Gospel hope.
Trials may come, afflictions may come, sickness may come, pains will come, but let us hang on. And then I say to you, like Paul would say, be always abounding in the work of the Lord. Because you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Sadly, most of us give God our leftovers. Because we abound in our career, we overwork in our jobs. And then whatever is convenient, whatever time we have left, we then say, God, let me give you my offerings. But in the light of the glorious resurrection, Paul says, let us be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let us overdo. Let us put in all our energy, our strengths, our passions in serving Him. Today, as we are reminded about the hesed love of God, let us pray that we will know it deep in our hearts. Knowing God's love is not just an intellectual exercise, it is a spiritual gift.
Ephesians 3 tells us we need to pray that the Spirit will strengthen us in the inner man, that we may then be able ultimately to comprehend the magnitude of God's love. May we know God's love deeply today as we pray, so that we may be filled with the fullness of God, so that we may be growing in maturity, and so that we may be abounding in God's work. May that be true for many Gospeliters today.
So Father, thank You again for this morning. Thank You for the conclusion of this series. May Your hesed love be burned deep in our hearts. May sinners be saved, may saints repent and turn back to You, and may we all love You and serve You, for You are love. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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