“Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
Therefore the land mourns,
This past Sunday, my pastor preached on the first fourteen verses of Hosea 4 and while I wasn’t present to hear the sermon (I was worshipping in a different city that day), I was able to listen to the sermon online this week. Yay for modern day technology! With all of the violence that has ensued in Baltimore within the last few days, and all of the restlessness and anxiety and heartbreak in the nation, I thought that this passage was more than appropriate given the circumstances. God’s providence is amazing, isn’t it? Our pastor set out to preach through the Minor Prophets several weeks ago and the week he preaches on Hosea 4 is the week that we need to hear Hosea 4.
Everyone in our country is asking why and nobody seems to have any answers. Nobody seems to want to give an answer. The more I see, the more I wonder if people really want an answer. It seems that the righteous humility of our time is to humbly admit that we have no answers to anything. I don’t know about you, but I find this woefully dissatisfying. I don’t believe the world works this way and I don’t believe we should live our lives this way. It might be the easy way, but I believe there are answers. There are reasons. And there are men preaching them. There is a Gospel that condemns our humble ignorance. Maybe it’s time we stopped ignoring it.
The next time you wonder why there is murder and bloodshed in the streets, the next time the populace breaks all bounds in a mindless rage, the next time you look at our nation and wonder, “where is the justice?” ask yourself this question, “Do you know God?” Hosea 4 tells us that the natural consequences when we fail to love, devote, and know our God is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery and bloodshed. This is what happens when we do not know God.
To quote my pastor, “You must know God. That’s the truth Hosea preaches for these fourteen verses. You must know God...but this knowledge must not be awareness or mere experience, occasional visits or glancing at His book. You must be able to say ‘I know God better than I know my children whom I bore. I know God better than the wife or husband I have been with all my life’. The knowledge of God must be deeper, more intimate, more passionate and more pure. And Hosea sets for us that high and excellent standard, that we know God, for we must.”
When we do not know God, our lives are ruined, our nation is ruined. This is the answer. This is the reason for the violence. This is the reason for the injustice. We do not know God. We do not care to know God. We are faithless; we are loveless to God and to one another. This is the hard truth Hosea was sent to preach to the Israelite nation and this is the hard truth we must preach to our nation. This is the hard truth we must preach to the church. When the Word of God is not present in the pulpit and the worship service, the church is ruined. When the Word of God is not present in the household, the family is ruined. When the Word of God is not present and supreme in our lives, we are ruined.
Can we say this of ourselves? Can we say that our lives are built on the Word of God and not our own preferences and desires? Do we know God or is He distant and unattainable? Is He archaic and irrelevant? Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is no time for moral and spiritual laziness. Yes, the Scriptures tell us that there are things in this world unrevealed to us, things that only God knows, but don’t shrug off the hard questions with the excuse that “we simply can’t understand or know that”. That is the world’s strategy and that should not be ours. This is a challenge to me as much as it is to you. Devote yourself to the Word of God, know and love your Savior.
Like my pastor said, this knowledge cannot be a simple awareness or acknowledgement. James tells us that the demons possess such knowledge of God (James 2:19). We must know our God intimately. We must love Him devotedly. We must obey Him persistently and radically. We cannot lazily brush aside the hard questions. We cannot cower and compromise for want of comfort and convenience or fear of persecution and rejection. This is where peace begins. This is where violence ends. Do you know your God?