Tuesday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hosea 5-7 (NKJV)
5:1 “Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For yours is the judgment, because you have been a snare to Mizpah and a net spread on Tabor. 2 The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, though I rebuke them all. 3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry; Israel is defiled.
4 “They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD. 5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them. 6 With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. 7 They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.
8 “Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah! Cry aloud at Beth Aven, ‘Look behind you, O Benjamin!’ 9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure. 10 The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water. 11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept. 12 Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness.
13 “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jareb; Yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound. 14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
6:1 Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. 3 Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.
4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away. 5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth. 6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7 But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me. 8 Gilead is a city of evildoers, and defiled with blood. 9 As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they commit lewdness. 10 I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled.
11 “Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people.
7:1 “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud; A thief comes in; A band of robbers takes spoil outside. 2 They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; Now their own deeds have surrounded them; They are before My face.
3 “They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their lies. 4 They are all adulterers. Like an oven heated by a baker—he ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough, until it is leavened. 5 In the day of our king Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers. 6 They prepare their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait; Their baker sleeps all night; In the morning it burns like a flaming fire. 7 They are all hot, like an oven, and have devoured their judges; All their kings have fallen. None among them calls upon Me.
8 “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. 9 Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. 10 And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.
11 “Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense—they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. 12 Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them; I will bring them down like birds of the air; I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard. 13 Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. 14 They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds. They assemble together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me; 15 Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me; 16 They return, but not to the Most High; They are like a treacherous bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.”
On this very special day, October 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, our reading from Hosea begins with two important words, “Hear this.” Take a moment to think about those words, “Hear this.” What does one hear when another speaks? One hears words.
There is an old children’s rhyme which says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” But as we know, things said by others can and do hurt, not the least of which is God’s Word of Law. When God speaks to us through His Law, it does, indeed, hurt. In fact, it does more than hurt, it kills the Old Adam within us. But such “killing” must take place for sin must die within us daily if the New Man is to rise up and serve Christ because of the grace and mercy shown to us by God in Christ.
The “Solas” of the Reformation encapsulate our great heritage as Lutherans. Sola Scriptura, “Scripture Alone”, which is the very Word of God, tells us of Sola Gratia, “Grace Alone”, which is the reason God gives us Sola Fide, “Faith Alone”, to believe that we are saved Solus Christus, by “Christ Alone”, bringing us back to He Who is the Word made flesh.
So when your conscience feels the burden of the Law remember Hosea’s words: “Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.” Indeed, though broken by the Law, Christ will always heal you!
Dear Lord Jesus, You have suffered the pains we so deeply deserve. For Your own Name’s sake, relieve my conscience burdened with sin and keep ever before me the joy of forgiveness. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.