Posted by: Brad Beaman | December 21, 2010

God’s Call for True Repentance

The prodigal son gives us a great picture of repentance. The prodigal has messed up big time and ended up in a terrible situation, eating slop just to survive. That situation made him turn back to his father. But you don’t have to wind up on skid row to need repentance. A Sunday only Christian with a superficial, spiritually shallow Christianity has the same need for true repentance.

Read Hosea 5:1-6:11

Having spiritual shallowness was God’s complaint to Israel. It was Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees too. As a matter of fact Jesus quotes from this part of the book of Hosea to rebuke the spiritual shallowness of the Pharisees.
It is a stark warning to Christians not to simply go through the motions. It is a call back to God for the supernatural power of the early Christians who turned their world upside down. That will never happen with superficial religion. It will happen only with a deep and genuine commitment to Christ.

God’s call to Israel 5:1-7

God sends a wake-up call to the sleepy Israelites. Listen up! Hear! Pay attention!
The songwriter Keith Green in his song Asleep in the Light  gave a wake-up call to Christians. He asks “How can you be so dead when you have been so well fed? Jesus died on the cross and you can’t even get out of bed.”
Sin deafens our ears. A shallow spiritual life makes us hard of hearing to God. That was the problem in Israel. Will anybody listen? Priests? People? Government?

In Vs 2 God speaks of discipline for his shallow people. The purpose of the discipline is to help them listen and turn back to God. When God’s people turn a deaf ear to Him then He uses drastic measures to bring them back. That is because He loves them. This nation paralleled Hosea’s domestic life with Gomer.

His wife committed adultery, prostitution was sold on the salve block and produced the prophet Hosea illegitimate children. Hosea subjected his wife to a life of discipline after he bought her back from the slave block.

These verses lay out the reasons they would not return. These same problems can keep Christians in a spiritual shallow condition.

Chapter 5 Vs 5 Arrogance. Their pride kept them from repentance. Chapter 5 Vs 4 Their deeds will not allow them to return to God. They were living lives of immorality with no moral standards. Chapter 5 Vs 4b A spiritual harlotry in the form of worshiping other gods, idolatry.

Chapter 5 Vs 7 The people brought children into the world which knew nothing of God’s Holy character. Children born into spiritually perilous times.

Impending Judgment vs. 8-15

When there is a disaster, whether it be a flood an earthquake or a famine we need to be careful in attributing it to God’s judgment. But God has and does use disasters as Judgment to get the attention of an entire people. A nurse once told me that my injury from a bicycle accident, a broken shoulder was the judgment of God because she said I was “too fond of my bike”. I did not even really know her. I had led her nephew to the Lord. But it gave me cause for reflection. When I looked at what I wrote in my prayer journal I really sensed she was wrong to attribute my accident to the judgment of God in my life. But it was certainly worth reflecting on. Any disaster is worth doing some soul searching and asking God if this disaster was His Judgement.

The Prophets and the holy remnant suffered and it was the sin of the people that brought it on. In this case the disaster was the judgment of God for the sin of the people.

Chapter 5 Vs 8 Sound the trumpet of alarm. People need to know. The building is on fire in a spiritual sense. They need to know. They need to hear the warning.

Chapter 5 Vs 15 the Judgment of God is with the goal of bringing His people to true repentance. To turn them back to God. The affliction was so that they would seek the face of God.

5 Vs 14 The nation of Assyria might be the claws and teeth that tears Israel apart, but God ultimately God would be the one who tears them apart as a wild animal tears prey. But God has a much different reason. God’s purpose is to discipline them in love. To bring them back from their practice of spiritual harlotry and religious superficiality.
5 Vs 15 Maybe judgment would bring them back to see their spiritual need. 5 vs 12 The moth eats an expensive garment quiet and subtle. Drifting into a serious spiritual condition can happen in a way that goes unnoticed for a long time.

5 vs 6 The Lord has withdrawn his presence from them. This should be the ultimate tragedy for them. They should be begging God not to withdraw his presence. They are blind to their spiritual need. When Moses was faced with God withdrawing His presence (Ex 33:3 Vs 14-17) he begged God not to withdraw His presence. Moses knows he needs God’s presence (33:12-13) and God gives that presence (Ex 34:14).

A call to repentance 6:1-3

Chapter 6 Vs 1-2 There is a call to know the Lord. God will receive those who genuinely repent. He will forgive them. Chapter 6 Vs 3 if repentance is genuine God will cleanse and heal. The image is like rains to a parched earth. Hosea makes the plea to the backslider return to God. Vs 4:3 Their root sin is a lack of knowledge. They must renew their faith in God.

Shallow Repentance not good enough 6:4-11

The reactions of the people are superficial. Israel is ok on Saturday and living the rest of the week as pagans. Israel made the mistake of equating religious activity with true heartfelt spirituality.

There is no use in the Sunday only Christians. Like the lukewarm Christians that Jesus references in Revelation 2. They make the Lord sick. Anything is better than the superficiality of the lukewarm Christian. Be either hot or cold but not the lukewarm. Worship should be a reflection of what is in your heart, a love for God.

There is a contrast in what God desires (Vs 6) and what is found (Vs 7). God’s chief concern for you is that you are properly related to Him.

Jesus called Matthew the tax collector to leave his tax collector booth and follow him. He went to the house of many tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees saw this and asked why Jesus eats with Tax collectors and sinners. In that context Jesus Quotes Hosea 6:6 (found in Mathew 9:13).

Again Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 when the Pharisees question Jesus about violating Sabbath (Matthew 12:7). There is a common sin of the people of Israel here in the time of Hosea and the Pharisees. Trying to have an appearance of being spiritual and always judgmental of others while all the time having a heart far from God. We must beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. The superficial Christian who looks great on Sunday but is far from God needs a true repentance.
Going through the motions is never enough. What God desires is true repentance. In simple terms repentance is doing a u-turn. When the military officer commands, “about face” what happens? The soldiers turn and march in the opposite direction.

God’s Call for True Repentance means an about face from spiritual superficiality, shallowness and ritualistic religion. Human solutions fall short of true repentance. It is turning to Jesus Christ for genuine relationship with God. Jesus died the just for the unjust to bring us to God. God calls those who are separated from him to trust Christ for initial salvation. With true repentance and faith in Christ God offers full forgiveness of any spiritual harlotry.

God calls the Sunday only superficial Christian to true repentance. Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord.”

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