Desert

The way to the desert

Worship, , , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church congregation Leichlingen

Prehistory

I want to look with you today at a text from the prophet Hosea, and let's look at the prequel (Hosea 1):

1 In this book are written the words that the Lord spoke to Hosea, the son of Beeri. During this time Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah reigned as kings over Judah, and Jeroboam son of Joash, ruled over Israel.

2 When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he told him, "Go and marry a harlot. With her you shall beget harlot children. This is an emblem of the fact that the land has become a prostitute: it has broken its covenant with me and has fallen away from the Lord." 3 Then Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. She became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the Lord said to him, "Name the child Jezreel, for soon I will punish the descendants of Jehu because of the blood guilt that Jehu committed in Jezreel. Then I will also put an end to the kingship of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the military power of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel." 6 For the second time Gomer became pregnant. This time she gave birth to a daughter. The Lord said to Hosea, "Name your daughter Lo-Ruhama. For I will no longer have mercy on my people Israel. and I will no longer forgive their iniquity. 7 Instead, I will show mercy to the people of Judah and save them. I myself, the Lord their God, will give them salvation. It will not be won by their bows or their weapons; nor by war, war horses, nor mounted soldiers." 8 After Gomer had weaned her daughter Lo-ruhamah, she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. 9 And the Lord said, "Name him Lo-ammi. For you are not my people and I will no longer be there for you."

(Jezreel: God plants; Lo-Ruhama: non-mercy; Lo-Ammi: not-my-people)

Hosea probably lives in the northern kingdom of Israel, for all his prophecies are addressed to the inhabitants of the northern kingdom. He had been given a difficult lot by God, he was to marry a harlot. And this was not about a woman with a difficult past, but this woman continued to work as a harlot, as we will see in chapter 2.

In the case of the first child it still says explicitly "gave Hosea a son", whereas in the case of the other children it only mentions the birth and no longer Hosea. and no longer mentions Hosea. Hosea could not even be sure that her children were his, given her lifestyle.

That was a hard lot that God put him through.

God announces many things about the names of the children.

Jezreel" heralds the end of the current Israelite royal dynasty, which was founded by Jehu. Actually, Jehu implemented much of what God wanted, but he overshot the mark by far and killed many people. killed. In addition, he and his sons later turned Israel away from God again.

Therefore, God's mercy came to an end here, as the name of Hosea's daughter "Lo-Ruhama" indicates: non-mercy. Interestingly, however, God announces mercy for the southern kingdom "Judah". However, Judah ends many years later just like Israel.

And then there is "Lo-Ammi": Not my people! This is the statement: I will no longer be there for you.

But this statement is not for eternity, because in the 2nd chapter of Hosea (V1-3) God announces for the distant future:

1 "But the time is coming when the people of Israel will grow into a great nation. Then the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea: They will not be able to be measured or counted. And then the following will happen: In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people', they shall be called children of the living God. 2 Then the peoples of Judah and Israel will join together and set a common head over them. Together they will return from the land to which they had been exiled. That will be a great day: the day of Jezreel. 3 On that day you shall call your brothers `Ammi' and your sisters `Ruhama'.

So it will be 'God plants', 'Mercy' and 'My people'. But this is the future.

Then God speaks about the present.

Spiritual prostitution

4 But now you shall call your mother to account - for she is no longer my wife and I am no longer her husband. Tell her to remove the signs of prostitution that she has on her face and on her breasts. 5 If she does not do this, I will strip her naked - just as she was on the day she was born. Then I will dry her up like a desert or like parched land. She shall perish with thirst. 6 I will also no longer love her children, for they are the children of a harlot. 7 Their mother has committed adultery. The woman who gave birth to them has brought shame upon herself. She said, `I cleave to my lovers, for they give me bread and water, wool, linen, oil, and enough to drink.' 8 But I will draw a fence of thorns around her and build a wall before her. Then she will no longer be able to find her way. 9 She will run desperately after her lovers but will not be able to catch up with them; she will seek them but will no longer find them. Then she will say: `I am going back to my first husband. When I was with him, I was a lot better off than I am now.' 10 She has not understood that it was I who gave her everything she has - the grain, the wine and the olive oil. I also gave her gold and silver in abundance. But she wasted it on the cult of Baal. 11 But now I will reclaim the grain and the wine that I gave so generously at harvest time year after year. I will snatch from her the linen and the wool that she wanted to use for her clothing. 12 I will strip her naked before the eyes of all her lovers. No one will be able to save her from my punishment. 13 I will put an end to all her joy, her feasts and new moon celebrations, as well as her Sabbath days and and all the other holidays. 14 I will make desolate the vineyards and orchards she has received from her lovers as a reward for her service. I will make them wild brushwood - the animals shall come and eat the fruit. 15 I will punish her for the many days she burned incense to her images of Baal. She put on her rings and her jewellery and went out to run after her lovers. Over this she forgot me," says the Lord.

Fornication is a disgrace, isn't it?

By the way, it is not a question of condemning today's prostitutes as evil people. It's more a case of blaming the clients. If there was no demand, there would be no supply.

But to judge this trade as wrong, harmful and inhumane is entirely biblical and I believe that this condemnation is universally correct.

There are voices that want to see prostitution as a normal profession, e.g. in order to clarify the vague legal situation for prostitutes. for prostitutes. I find this really scary, because if prostitution becomes a normal profession, one can then also be referred to this "profession" by the can you be referred to this "profession" by the employment office? Do you then have to take part in a further training measure because otherwise your Hartz 4 would be reduced? Let's hope it never comes to that.

In other countries there is indeed slum prostitution, where people prostitute themselves in order not to starve: First comes the food and then comes morality (Bert Brecht, Threepenny Opera).

The right way, of course, is not to condemn such people, but to create a society where people are no longer destitute. people are no longer destitute.

But prostitution itself is not really the issue here, rather the real prostitution of Hosea's wife is a symbol for the spirituality of the world. is a symbol for the spiritual prostitution of Israel at that time. And for us today, it is now time to look at our lives, whether we, you and I, also have spiritual prostitution.

What is that now? At that time it was common for the Israelites to worship other gods besides God. The text mentions the cult of Baal. They asked Baal for help, they gave money and goods to the cult, because the running of the temple and the provision of the priests cost a lot. And they even sacrificed children.

We don't usually have another religion in our lives today like the Baal cult was in ancient Israel.

But what then is spiritual prostitution for us today? This question is quite central, so that this text can be interpreted for our lives today.

To approach this question, let us first look at what the prostitute, Hosea's wife, expected from her prostitution in the first place. expected from her prostitution. She says in v.7b:

`I keep myself to my lovers, for they give me bread and water, wool, linen, oil and enough to drink'.

So the first thing is the satisfaction of basic needs. She also got this from her husband, or in living with her husband they would have they would have earned all this together. Usually, the Israelites always had a small farm as well. agriculture, and most of them also produced and sold handicraft products. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes describes this. One should not make the mistake of transferring the role model "working man" and "pure housewife" so easily to the Bible. but here in the picture the focus is on her husband providing for all her basic needs. basic needs and - from a purely material point of view - prostitution was not necessary. And not only that, she also got much more, gold and silver.

She didn't realise that, or didn't want to realise it.

What basic needs do we have, and where do we think that God cannot provide for them?

Food, drink, clothing? As it says in Matthew 6:24-25;

24 "A man cannot serve two masters. He will be devoted to one and reject the other. He will give his all to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and at the same time serve mammon." 25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about what you need in the way of food and drink to live on and clothing for your bodies. and clothing for your bodies. Is not life more important than food, and is not the body more important than clothing?

For us today, money, mammon, is certainly a possible competitor for God. But how does one serve mammon? Working, earning money, dealing with one's own finances is apparently not in itself the problem, for we know from other biblical passages that this also leads to life. from other passages in the Bible that this is also part of the Christian life.

The problem is worrying and solving worries by means of money alone, because this leaves God out ( Matthew 6:31-34; NGÜ):

31 So do not worry! Ask not: What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? 32 For these things are the concern of the Gentiles 'who do not know God'. But your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Let God's kingdom and God's righteousness be your first concern, and then all the rest will be given to you. 34 Do not worry about the next day. The next day will take care of itself. It is enough that each day brings its own burden.

This is not about being lazy, blue-eyed, or having roasted doves fly into your mouth, but it is about It is a matter of being sure that God knows our needs and will show and work ways to meet them.

And that also means that God's kingdom and his righteousness - which of course means Jesus Christ - are our first priority. Jesus Christ - come first for us. We have received so much from God, gifts, talents, possibilities, and we don't want to use that for him and his kingdom? for him and his kingdom?

But not only money is a possible competition for God. Even things that are good in themselves, such as recognition, relationships, etc., can become an idol. can become an idol if you expect them to fulfil all your needs and in doing so you block out God.

Those who seek honour only for themselves and want to adorn themselves with God's feathers are going astray. Also some relationships, e.g. Some relationships, e.g. adulterous or illegitimate sexual relationships, do not work with God in the long run.

It is difficult to make general statements here for all of us, because it is not easy to see from the outside if whether someone is prostituting himself spiritually for mammon or something else. But Jesus loves each one of us and will certainly make that make that clear to us personally.

In the text from earlier, Hosea 2:14, it also says that the prostitute also received vineyards and orchards from her suitors. This goes beyond basic needs and wine is often a symbol of joy in the Bible.

For example, with a lot of money you can do a lot of things that would otherwise not be possible. For example, I wouldn't mind the hobby of sailing around the world in my own yacht. yacht around the world. But does that satisfy the deeper need for happiness in life? Perhaps one mutates into an ass who lives according to the motto: "Your poverty pisses me off"?

God also says that he will ravage the vineyards and orchards of the suitors. Joy and fulfilment past God is nothing really permanent. The deep questions and longings, the eternity in the heart described in Ecclesiastes 3:11, will not be satisfied.

Desert

How does one come back to God now?

16 But now I will speak kindly to her. I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart there. 17 From there I will give her back her vineyards and make the valley of Achor the gate of hope. There she will confide in me as she did in her youth when she came out of Egypt.
(Achor: Valley of Misfortune)

"I will lead her into the desert." Let's watch a film about this (asharen.avi). (Comment while playing).

The desert: it is sandy, dry and lonely. There are storms that change everything beyond recognition.

Sometimes you have to think about your life alone to realise where you stand. And then you realise that you can't or don't want to talk about it with anyone. Proverbs 14:10 suggests this (NL):

Every heart has its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

You don't really enjoy everything any more, life feels dry somehow.

God wants to show us the right way out, he wants to speak to our heart. And most importantly, he wants to speak kindly to us. He means well with us.

Maybe he will send people who understand us, maybe our eyes will open when we read the Bible, or when we hear a sermon, or read a book, or hear a song that speaks to us.

I don't know how long one has to be in the desert, nor does everything that feels like desert have to be wrought by God. At this point it is again difficult to make general statements. Do we want to hear the friendly talk? Do we close ourselves off or open ourselves up? This is a personal question for everyone, because God's God's address can be very individual.

God continues with Israel in the book of Hosea like this (v.18-25)

18 The Lord says: "On that day you will no longer call me 'my Baal', but instead you will call me 'my husband'. my man'. 19 I will make you forget the names of the Baals. Their names shall no longer be mentioned among you. 20 Then I will make a covenant for you with all the wild animals, with the birds of the air and with the beasts, that creep on the ground, so that they will hurt you no more. I will break all the weapons of war, the swords and bows, and take them out of the land. Then you will live in peace and safety. 21 I will make you my wife forever. I will make you my wife by right, and I will give you my steadfast love. I will show you my steadfast love and mercy. 22 I will be faithful to you forever, and you will learn to acknowledge me fully as your Lord. 23 In that day," says the Lord, "I will hear the supplications. The heavens will cause rain to fall on the earth; the rain will prepare the earth to be fruitful. 24 Then grain, grapes and olive trees will be able to flourish on the earth. And all will rejoice: `Jesreel' - `God is planting!' 25 Then I will sow it in their land, and it shall be firmly planted. I will love those whom I once called `non-beloved'. And to those whom I called `Not-My-People', I will say, 'You are my people'. And they will answer, `And you are our God'."

There will be peace, certainty of God's nearness, the seductive power of idols will wane and there will be fulfilment and joy. there will be.

Jesus Christ expresses it this way in John 4:14:

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again. The water I give him will become in him a spring that flows continually, even to eternal life." -

Summary

Summing up: