Gentle Cords and Bands of Love

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Hosea 11


I.         Most people’s view of love is very limited.

            A.        “God is Love” they declare; therefore, any sin that I may be involved in doesn’t matter because “God is Love.”

                        1.         There can’t really be a hell because “God is Love.”

                        2.         It really doesn’t matter what you believe. We’re all going to heaven because “God is Love.”

            B.        What it comes down to is a struggle many people have in seeing punishment as a loving action - Hebrews 12:6

            C.        Not that it is all that surprising, we struggle with the concept in our society

                        1.         There is a strong movement wanting to make spanking a child a crime. Supporters can’t imagine a loving parent swatting the behind of their own child.

                        2.         It may one day happen because many parents are timid about correcting a child. They don’t want to face the child’s anger. They just want to be friends. They just want a “loving” relationship.

                        3.         I think what upsets me most is that things which used to be handled by corrective discipline is now “handled” by drugs.

            D.        God’s love does not preclude severe action - Romans 11:22

II.        Hosea 11 tells the story of God’s struggles with Israel from the viewpoint of a parent dealing with a rebellious teenager.

            A.        Though it deals with Israel, there is much we can learn because we are not much different - I Corinthians 10:11-12

            B.        In the early days, God brought Israel out of bondage from the land of Egypt - Hosea 11:1

                        1.         Egypt was a nation given over to idolatry

                                    a.         Coming out of Egypt became synonymous with coming out of sin.

                                    b.         II Corinthians 6:16-7:1

                                    c.         Called out of lusts - Ephesians 2:1-10

                                    d.         Called out of sin - Titus 3:3-7

                        2.         Egypt was a slave nation

                                    a.         Coming out of Egypt was a rescue from slavery - Deuteronomy 7:7-8

                                    b.         Sin is slavery - Romans 6:17-18

                        3.         Christians are those called - Jude 1

                                    a.         We are called children of God - I John 3:1

            C.        Oddly, the more God called, the faster Israel ran in the other direction - Hosea 11:2

                        1.         They wouldn’t leave their idols behind - Ezekiel 20:8

                        2.         They didn’t leave slavery behind - Jeremiah 34:13-14

                        3.         They would not obey God - Jeremiah 11:7-8

                        4.         They wouldn’t have anything to do with God - Jeremiah 32:21-23

                        5.         Like rebellious, lying children - Isaiah 30:9-11

                        6.         Many Christians do the same

                                    a.         Do not use liberty to serve the flesh - Galatians 5:13

                                    b.         Act as free men, not as a cloak for sin - I Peter 2:16

                                    c.         Enslaved to what they had been freed - II Peter 2:18-19

            D.        God taught them, God healed them, but they didn’t know it - Hosea 11:3

                        1.         How many of us know what our parents have done for us in our childhood?

                                    a.         The sleepless nights while we had a fever?

                                    b.         The gentle guidance and solid advice given?

                                    c.         Somehow when we become teens our parents become the dumbest people in the world.

                        2.         God taught Israel

                                    a.         If they listened, they wouldn’t suffer - Exodus 15:26

                                    b.         While they wandered in the wilderness God carried them - Deuteronomy 1:30-33; 32:10-12

                        3.         God cared for them, but they didn’t know it

                                    a.         Hosea 2:8 - The goods God gave them went to idols

                                    b.         Isaiah 1:2 - They were nourished by God, but rebelled

                        4.         God continues to teach us today - Titus 2:11-14

            E.        God gently restrained them - Hosea 11:4

                        1.         He took off the heavy yoke of slavery and gave them a gentle law to live by. He made life easier and better for them. - Leviticus 26:13

                                    a.         But there were restrictions because complete freedom is not good for anyone - Lamentations 3:25-27

                                    b.         Just as our parents placed rules upon us, designed to protect us and aid us.

                        2.         Christians are offered the same - Matthew 11:28-30

                                    a.         God draws us toward righteousness - John 6:44-45

                                    b.         II Corinthians 5:14 - His love compels us

                        3.         But those restrictions include punishment when we get out of line - Proverbs 3:11-12

                                    a.         Israel had to bear trying times, but like an athlete who endures the suffering of training, it bears a benefit - Isaiah 40:30-31

                                    b.         Christians also suffer affliction - II Corinthians 4:16-17

                                    c.         It is done out of love for our benefit - Hebrews 12:5-15

III.       Despite all that God did for them, Israel was bent on rebellion - Hosea 11:5-7

            A.        God would severely chastize them because that is what they deserved - II Chronicles 36:15-16

            B.        It is here that most parents fail. They aren’t willing to allow their children to receive the full accounting of what they earned.

                        1.         Parents rescue their children from their stubborn rebellion

                        2.         It starts with children misbehaving in school and parents demanding that the schools be less demanding

                        3.         When they follow after sin (stealing, drugs, sexual promiscuity) parents wring their hands wandering what they had done wrong.

            C.        There is a time when a parent must look at a rebellious child and say, “you made the choice, you must pay the penalty.”

            D.        God will make us face the consequences of our choices - Galatians 6:7-8

                        1.         God will judge according to our works - Romans 2:2-11

IV.      But even then, punishing Israel tore at God’s heart - Hosea 11:8

            A.        You see parents? God understands what it is like to have a rebellious child.

                        1.         Even in Israel's stubborn wickedness, God still loves

                        2.         Jeremiah 31:20 - Like a parent recalling the treasured days of youth and innocence

                        3.         A rebellious child doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but most parents are willing to offer it, if they would just give up their sins.

            B.        God is letting Israel face the consequences of their sins, but God still holds out hope - Ezekiel 18:30-32

                        1.         Notice that He doesn’t bend His standards to compromise with rebellious Israel

                        2.         He asks Israel to return and if she does, He will accept her back.

                        3.         Israel didn’t deserve forgiveness, but God was willing not to totally destroy - Hosea 11:9

            C.        God treats us in the same fashion - II Peter 3:9

                        1.         He paid the penalty of our sin - Romans 5:6-11

                        2.         But God is not compromising His principles. He calls us to leave sin - I Corinthians 6:9-11; I John 1:5-10

V.        God will roar and his rebellious children will tremble and return - Hosea 11:10-11

            A.        God had to treat rebellious Israel harshly because He loved them too much to let them go

                        1.         Like a strong voiced father who tells his wayward child what he must do, God roared at Israel and they would come trembling back.

                        2.         God wasn’t afraid to scare them. He wasn’t afraid to break their will. He wasn’t worried about their ego or their self-esteem.

                                    a.         They needed to be taken down several notches.

                                    b.         It was their will that got them into trouble in the first place.

            B.        The cure for rebellion is a broken spirit - Psalm 34:18-19; Isaiah 66:2

                        1.         God then lifts them up from their own mire - Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15-16

                        2.         Then He restores blessing - Isaiah 61:1-3

            C.        Parents, it is perhaps the hardest thing to do, to put your foot down, to let your child suffer the results of his own choices.

                        1.         Like God, we must be willing to endure until the will is broken and the child finally, humbly asks to be rescued

                        2.         As in the parable of the prodigal son, the father did not chase after his rebellious son.

                                    a.         He let him go

                                    b.         But when the child came back broken - Luke 15:21

                                    c.         Then the father raised him up - Luke 15:22-24

            D.        God doesn’t want to lose you. He has prepared the way back to righteousness.

                        1.         How long will you remain in rebellion?

                        2.         God won’t force you back. Instead, He will let the ruinous effect of sin break your stubborn spirit.

                        3.         He is waiting, even now, for you to come back so He might lift you up.

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