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 Katz; Hosea



Hosea: A Word to the Church
Art Katz


The book of Hosea contains the heart cry of God for the apostasy and backslidden condition of His people Israel. My sense is that the Church at large today stands in very close proximity to the condition of Israel when it fell from relationship with their God. One of the marks of that apostasy, both in Israel and the Church, is a spirit and discernment so dulled that we are not even in a position to appreciate our own condition.
Ironically, in our fallen condition, we purport to celebrate God, and think that we are in a commendable relationship with Him. It is a condition that compels God to send prophets to convey things as He Himself sees them, which is often, if not invariably, different from the way that we see them. Truth is everything as God sees it, and it is often painful to make the adjustment from our seeing to His, but I can tell you, as a descendant of a people who failed to make that adjustment, the consequences for us have been exceedingly tragic.


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Lars Widerberg

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 Re: Katz; Hosea



2. The heart of God is grieved while ours is not. We may be saddened, we may be disappointed, we may be perplexed, but we are not grieved. It is a deep grief that needs to come into us, a grief of the kind that God Himself feels as He looks upon the pathetic state of the Church. The fall of many of its prominent leading celebrities is only the symptom and the statement of a much deeper and extensive ill. In my opinion, our great sickness is due to the lack of the authentic knowledge of God, and if we lack that, then how authentic are we? The scriptures are given for our admonition upon whom the ends of the age have come. God’s intention was that we, as the Church, should be instructed by Israel’s experience, by His dealings with them, especially in the severity of His judgments, which are much harsher for those who are called and appointed to be sons of the Most High.


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 2004/3/22 16:29Profile
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 Re: Katz; Hosea



3. The Church is at a place very close to experiencing the judgment of God, and if we are clucking our tongues over the fallen state of some of the evangelical and charismatic stars, and think somehow that their condition is unrelated to us, we need to look more closely at ourselves. These fallen stars are the visible symptom, sign and statement of the whole Church of which we, and they, are a part, and whose manner of life and lifestyle we have made possible, and have condoned and would secretly enjoy having for ourselves.

The world is absolutely vile and abysmal beyond every description. It is steeped in blood and violence. All of society has had a part in this; it is complicit; it is involved in the evil itself by the very nature of the thing. God commanded His priests to teach the people the difference between the holy and the profane, but if God’s priestly people do not know the difference between the two, then what shall we expect of the world? We need to be reminded that God’s judgments begin in His house before they will begin in the world. In many respects, the world is the statement of the Church’s failure. There has not been an objective standard of truth made visible by God’s people that the world can see; it therefore takes its liberty, for it has nothing with which to align itself and there is very little calling it to accountability.


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Lars Widerberg

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 Re: Katz; Hosea



4. Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness [truth] or kindness [mercy] or knowledge of God in the land.
There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky; and also the fish of the sea disappear.
Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; for your people are like those who contend with the priest.
So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children (Hosea 4:1 – 6).

How is this appropriate to us as the Church? One of the severest pronouncements against Israel, at one of the lowest points of her backslidden history, was that the knowledge of God had been rejected. Nothing will keep us or save us other than the true knowledge of God. God is holy, awesome, fearful and righteous! If there is no knowledge of God, then there is no knowledge of truth or mercy. God is truth and mercy. If we miss Him, then we have missed everything, and we can miss Him even in the very moment we are ostensibly celebrating Him. We can be guilty of the lack of a true knowledge of God while we are invoking His name and singing His praises. We can enjoy everything that we are doing, experiencing the euphoric lift, while that very thing betrays and conceals from us what, in fact, our real condition is.


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 Re: Katz; Hosea



5. Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord (Hosea 5:4)

This is a statement about Israel, the same Israel who was given the commandments and the revelation from Sinai, the statutes, the ordinances, the prophets and the great King. God’s indictment is that they have not known the Lord, but instead have followed after harlotry, and the two things, harlotry and not knowing the Lord, are in relationship. The spirit of harlotry can express itself in various ways to the degree that a person does not know the Lord; the one is the counterbalance and the antidote to the other. The knowledge of the Lord is the only thing that will keep us from the spirit of harlotry, which we will act out in exact proportion as we have ability and financial wherewithal.

Our human frames are vulnerable. It is one thing to be hit from the blind side, and that is why we need each other, to protect one another from that blindness, from that unexpected temptation that comes in the moment of weakness. That is one kind of falling and one kind of sin, and there is certainly not an excuse for being a partaker of that, but how many of our leading evangelists have become powers unto themselves with extraordinary wealth, pompous lifestyles, and have surrounded themselves with staff who dare not contradict them lest they lose their well-paid jobs?


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 Re: Katz; Hosea



6. If you want to guarantee a fall for yourself, then all you need to do is to live sensually, and that does not mean looking at erotic pictures. It could mean living in a house with 8,000 square feet of living space, believing that you have got it coming to you. We need to grieve over the celebration of charismatic personalities and performers whose lifestyles we have all condoned, if not helped pay for. If we allow our leaders a lifestyle that finally erupts into sin so visible that they are brought down, then what shall we say about ourselves? Is our condition better than theirs? What do we do with the measure of wherewithal that we have? What kind of sensuality and gratification are we allowing ourselves, thinking somehow that it is legitimate because we are serving God?

What is there in our hearts that has never yet been revealed because we have never chosen to let the Lord arbitrate and determine our lifestyle and bring us into that earnest and intensive relationship with saints by which we might have been found out? Holiness comes with a price.

What should determine the lifestyle of the people of God? The income which is theirs, the availability of goods and riches and the talents which they can employ, or what? Jesus had not a place to lay His head. Paul had no certain dwelling place. Apostolic poverty characterized the early Church. Peter and John spoke to the lame beggar, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have, I give to you: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk! ’”. (Acts 3:6). What they had was power, glory, great grace, and unspeakable richness in the reality and knowledge of God. What do we have?


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 Re: Katz; Hosea




7.
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).

God actually desires for us to have the knowledge of Him, but that knowledge is not easily obtained; every force of hell and power of darkness seeks to prevent God’s people from obtaining this knowledge. The whole world seems to be involved in a conspiracy against the knowledge of God. The phone will ring, the kids will cry, the dog will bark, our future plans, the job, marriage, the clothes that need to be washed, the machine that is broken, there is the roof that needs to be fixed. Things will crowd in upon our consciousness the moment that we set ourselves to seek the Lord so as to find Him. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, and we have made the Christian walk too casual and too cheap. We are a generation that mistakes our concepts about God for the authentic knowledge of God, for if we knew Him, we would fear Him, and we would not so much as contemplate, let alone do, the things that have scandalized His name throughout the world.


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 Re: Katz; Hosea



8. What men and women think, when free to think what they will in the privacy of their own minds, in the reverie and the fantasy that they will allow themselves, is the statement of where they are in God. It is what we do with our ability to do it that tells what we really are, even though the act, in itself, may not be patently sinful. Perhaps it is only an indulgence like buying two king-size hamburgers, and feeling as though maybe I should, but knowing that I do not need them; it is an indulgence to the flesh that will not benefit the spiritual life of the inner man, and yet I am financially able to afford it.

Do we predicate our conduct on the basis of what we are able to do, or what the Spirit is prompting? Are we in a position to deny ourselves things that are available? Are we resisting sin unto the shedding of blood, and do we recognize that the whole world is steeped in the evil one, the father of lies; it is bathed in deception, permeated with the spirit of sensuality, and it will take, on our part, a rigorous determination before God to resist it. Are we fighting that fight? The knowledge of God has much to do with the degree to which we are surrendering and succumbing to the spirit of the world. Heaven and earth are opposed to each other in every point and particular, and he whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.


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 Re: Katz; Hosea



9.
But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; there they have dealt treacherously against Me.
Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, tracked with bloody footprints.
And as raiders wait for a man, so a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; surely they have committed crime (Hosea 6:7-9)

Do we see every sin as a treachery against the knowledge of God? Can you believe that the priesthood of God could ever come to the place where they themselves would become murderers, and engage in lewdness? That was Israel’s experience and example before us, and who, today, thinks that he is made of better stuff than the Israelite priests of old? And by what means does a holy priest come to a place of both lewdness and murder? Does it take place in one fell swoop? Or does it come by a process, by degrees of corrosion and the subtlety of day-by-day condescension and compromise? The Bible exhorts us to keep our hearts with all diligence, and to exhort one another daily while it is yet today. Are we in relationship daily with people who exhort us? This is something that cannot be put off; tomorrow could be too late. Is our privacy and time before the television more valuable than seeing the glory of God being made manifest in all the earth?


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 Re: Katz; Hosea



10. Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, yet they have neither returned to the Lord their God, nor have they sought him for all this. So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense; they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly. Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me. And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn away from Me (Hosea 7: 10-14).

We are in trouble when insincerity passes for sincerity, and we cannot tell the difference. They have made a seeming show that impresses men, but it does not impress God.

They turn, but not upward, they are like a deceitful bow; their princes will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed My covenant, and rebelled against My law. They cry out to Me, “My God, we of Israel know Thee!” (Hosea 7:16 – 8:2).

They cry to Him when His judgment comes in proportion to the iniquity and sin of His house. Is it not pitiful that there is nothing like judgment to wake us up? There is nothing like calamity to break us from our slumber and to bring us to the understanding that our God is a jealous God.

How far will God go to judge His people, and to expunge sin, compromise and contradiction from their lives corporately and personally? He drove Israel out of its land and allowed six million of them to go through the labor camps, the gas chambers and the ovens of Auschwitz as a continuing statement of judgment for their unwillingness to turn to Him, and He says that these people are the apple of His eye. We should fear and recognize the goodness and severity of God! Paul warned us that if He did not hesitate to break them off, He would not hesitate to do the same to us. If we do not know God in His severity, then how can we know Him in His goodness? How can we know Him if we do not know Him as a God who will judge?


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