Pastor Donna Schultz continues the Sermon Series on the Fruit of the Spirit with “Faithfulness”:
Contrast is a great tool to work a truth into our lives.
We look at faithfulness in a book of the Bible which gives us an excellent picture of God’s faithfulness contrasted against man’s unfaithfulness.
The book of the Bible (Hosea) not only explains how they differ but also gives a living example enacted.
Hosea opens with the Lord instructing Hosea to marry an adulterous wife and have children with her.
The Lord tells Hosea why because this whole land has committed flagrant harlotry.
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him
God “set his affection on you”, isn’t that an interesting word picture.
It speaks of permanence. If I set something on this table when the table moves whatever is set on it moves with it as well. It is hard to set something on someone that will move with it unless it is clothing. That is when a jacket of acceptance, love, commitment comes to my mind.
That affection was not set on them because of anything they had done.
But God choose the fewest number of people to set His affection on.
God moved His hand and brought a worthless group of slaves out of bondage. A group of people who had no hope, no future, no drive, no initiative and clothed them with this mercy and grace, set His affection on them.
How did this same group of people come to the place that they were playing the harlot; removing the cloak of affection which had been set on them? By following after and worshiping other gods and neglecting the covenant God had made with them.
In this book of Hosea we witness God stooping down to this assembly of people because He is a faithful God.
He had made an oath with their ancestors that he would make a great nation out of this people. God can only be faithful to His word as he himself his faithful.
Promise to Abraham – I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
2 Timothy 2:11-13
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
If we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
Message – there’s no way he can be false to himself.
“For the Lord is good; his love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Ps. 100:5
His love and faithfulness brought them out of bondage for them to be a people for himself, to give them a land of their own and to bring redemption for the whole world through them.
Hosea and Gomer have 3 children as the Lord directed Hosea to do.
- Jezreel , God sows – pay day is coming for the murders committed at Jezreel by Jehu 2 Kings 10:1-14
- Lo-ruhamah , no mercy or unpitied – because of Israel’s harlotry the Lord will have no mercy
- Lo-ammi , not my people – God temporarily set aside the national election of Israelites as his own people.
The three children represent the Lord’s position towards His people.
He is stating that there will be recompense for the many lives lost at Jezreel. The Lord has come to the place where he is not showing any mercy to this people who had repeatedly turned their back on God and gone after other gods and pleasures.
He has come to the place where He does not even acknowledge the people as His own.
These children of a harlot are pictures of what God is saying about his people as they have been a people born with no love for their God who chose them, cared for them, provided for them and protected them.
As a husband would care for his spouse so God has cared for His people but they have not returned their love to Him.
Before the first chapter is finished God cannot go on without ejecting a word of hope and a resplendent word of a good future.
One day my people will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore which cannot be numbered.
These people who are said not to be my people will be known as the sons of the living God.
Chapter 2 begins with renaming two of the children from Lo-ammi to ammi; meaning a people once again and Lo-ruhamah to Ruhamah; to love deeply , have compassion.
Gomer is being confronted for her harlotry. She is being accused of showing off and seeking attention and pleasure from anyone other than her husband. Even her children will be left to fend for themselves and they will be shown no mercy.
The Lord is saying even as Hosea’s wife does not stay faithful to him but goes after other lovers so too has his people.
Gomer just does not know it was her husband who gave her a good life. He provided for her comforts, provisions, protection and love. Not only did he give them to her they were lavished on her.
God’s people have amnesia and have forgotten who delivered them, who lead them, carried them, fought for them, clothed them and fed them.
His people in going after other gods, celebrating their feasts and offering sacrifices to them have allowed them to replace their affection and have forgotten God.
“And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.
“At that time”—this is God’s Message still—
“you’ll address me, ‘Dear husband!’
Never again will you address me,
I’ll wash your mouth out with soap,
get rid of all the dirty false-god names,
not so much as a whisper of those names again.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.
In Chapter 3 the Lord said to Hosea that he was to go and buy back his unfaithful wife. She had made the choice to live the life of the life of a Harlot once again.
Can you imagine walking into town to retrieve your wife from the grips of prostitution after she has openly turned from your love and the offer of a new life?
He literally paid to get her back.
The life, security, protection and love that she had originally shunned is being offered to her once again.
Hosea must have felt defeat, betrayal, anger, resentment, a sense of being taken advantage of and yet he goes after her.
The Lord had Hosea do this to give a real life visual of what He was experiencing.
Romans 3:3-4 Message
So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same:
Your words stand fast and true;
Rejection doesn’t faze you.
Only a faithful, loving, covenant-keeping God could respond in this way.
In the following chapters of Hosea, God outlines the many ways the Israelites have sinned.
“Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed”
At the top of the list there is no faithfulness.
We have already looked at the faithfulness of God in setting His affection on the Israelites:
- Freed them from bondage in Egypt
- Led, protected, nourished, through the wilderness
- Won the battles in the promised land
- Now willing to allure this faithless, adulterous people back to himself
The list of sins are plentiful:
- No love
- No acknowledgement of God
- Prostitution & Drunkenness
- Murder & Deceit
- Cheating and defrauding
These are some of the word pictures he uses to describe the people:
- A drunkard –no understanding, who asks questions of a dead tree
- A stubborn heifer – how can God lead them, not sheep in a pasture
- Hot as an oven – with lust, devouring rulers, none call on God
- Half-baked bread – mixed with other nations, other nations sucked them dry
- Like an easily deceived dove – bird brains, chirping after Egypt, after Assyria
- Like a faulty bow – turning here and there but missing the mark
- Like a worthless thing – among the nations and no one wants her
- A wild donkey – wandering alone and paying to get lovers
“…God chose a weak, unattractive enslaved people to be the object of His love, and care and faithfulness.”
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, For my anger has turned away from them.”
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”