Repentance Comes First

When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me (Hos 5:13-15).

King David 3

When the Lord rebukes Israel through the prophet Hosea, Israel recognizes that she is sick (Hosea 5:13). She can see that something is wrong. But instead of turning to the Lord who can heal her she turns to Assyria. Israel flees to man and the strength of man to cure her disease. Yet the Lord says that Assyria cannot heal her and cannot make her whole again (Hosea 5:13).

Israel was under political oppression. Their enemies were closing in. But their enemies were not the problem. Their sin was. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, their covenant disobedience, they focused on the symptoms of the problem. They thought the disease would be cured if they just had a bigger army. They thought the answer was in an alliance with other nations. The problem however, was their disobedient heart, not their lack of chariots.

The Lord says in Hosea 5:15 that he wants Israel to acknowledge their offense or their guilt.  The answer for Israel is not more chariots or horses. The answer is not getting in bed with Assyria. The answer is repentance. Here is what Israel refuses to do. They are willing to try to fix things. They are not willing to repent and confess that they are wrong.

We are all this way. God in his mercy disciplines us. He gives us consequences for our sins. It might be a broken relationship, the loss of a job, a child that is in rebellion, a rebuke from a parent or friend, a note in book reminding us that our worship is out of line, etc. But like Israel we are not interested in repentance. We are interested in alleviating the consequences of our sins. We want to remove the embarrassment of our sin, but not the sin itself.  So we try to fix things. We try to cover things up.  Instead of repenting of our sin of selfishness, we try to be more generous. Instead confessing that we have harmed our children with our anger, we try to be kinder. Instead of admitting that our worship is not in accord with the Scriptures, we run another outreach program. We do everything but the one thing necessary, admit we are wrong, confess our sins, repent, and turn to Christ. But the gospel does not begin with you getting your life together. It begins with repentance.

Idols Kill Joy

We know idol worshipers will eventually pay, but they sure have fun in the mean time. We often think of sin as a wicked thing, but a wicked thing that brings us pleasure and joy. Yes, sex can be an idol, but it is a fun idol. Yes, worshiping money is a sin, but having money is so much fun. Yes power and control can be a idol, but it it is so much fun to run the lives of other people.  I know coveting is idol worship, but boy it is such to joy to look at those things I want and long for them.
However, Hosea paints a different picture.  In Hosea 2 God accuses Israel of giving silver and gold to the Baals, the idols of the day. Israel is running around worshiping idols. This involved theft, sexual immorality, and power plays. But this does not lead to fun. Instead God says he will put an end to all Israel’s mirth (Hosea 2:11). Mirth is an old word meaning laughter, joy, cheer and merrymaking.  We look out at sin and we think, I know it is wrong, but wouldn’t it be fun. But the reality is that idol worship leads to joy evaporating. When we worship idols, feasting, merrymaking, wine, laughter are all destroyed. Two things I want to remind you of this morning as we prepare to confess our sins.

First, have you lost your joy? If so, then there is an idol somewhere that is eating at you. Find it, repent of it, and kill it.

Second, as a church one way we know we are worshiping God is the presence of joy, laughter, and mirth. Sundays are not easy days, but they are joyful days. Do you like to feast? Do you like to fellowship? It is odd, but when we laugh together and fellowship together and eat together, we are putting idols to death. 

Exhortation Before Confession of Sin: March 8th, 2015