Hosea 4:1-2 There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Our text from Hosea certainly sounds modern. It could have been said by anymore today, it could summarize much of what we hear on the evening news. If leaders seem unable to lead, if good examples are hard to see, and if it seems to be getting worse – what is the answer? If you cannot find the answer, do you see the problem?
The problem is freedom perverted. The problem is affluence. There are many names, but the symptoms are the same – everyone does what is right in their own eyes. If you are concerned with survival, everyone needs to pitch in and work together – when the crisis is past, and day to day survival is no longer the issue – then rather than turning to God and trusting in his grace and mercy, we turn to ourselves and everyone makes their own decision and goes their own way – and that, is the basis of affluence, although we generally do not recognize it. Although survival is no longer imminent, there are those who have more, and so we may well tell ourselves we are still poor.
Everyone does what is right in their own eyes – so – what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what freedom is all about, that I can do what I want to do? NO! Why can’t I do what I want to do? Well, when you come right down to it, there is no freedom. Yes, that is what I said, there is no freedom!
Here is what I mean, by ourselves, each of us doing our own thing – no one is really free, for we are either in bondage to sin, bondage to the devil, or bondage to death. Here is how it works, you owe a debt, and you must work to pay that debt, if you could pay that debt you would be free – but the more you work to pay it off the deeper in debt you get – by yourself there is no escape, no freedom.
OK, you say, but Jesus has won the victory over sin, over death and over the devil – Jesus pays my debts, and I am no longer in bondage to sin, to death, or to the devil. Yes, that is correct, but you have been bought with a price, you are not your own. Jesus does give you a certain kind of freedom, but it is not a freedom to do what you want – rather the freedom we are given is this:
You see – regardless of which we choose, we either belong to God, or to sin. Regardless of what we choose, God still calls all to live according to his commandments. And God, who calls all to live according to the commandments will judge all, according to what they have done. On the news the other night, a survey showed that less than half the people in the US believe they need to follow the 10 commandments. In that way, we are quite like the people in Hosea’s day. Then as now, the 10 commandments don’t matter, but God’s word, both for then, and for now, is that they do matter – people may choose to rebel against them, but they need to know that there is judgement and that God will hold all accountable.
The answer, in the Word’s of our text is that everyone must know God’s requirements – and for that to happen someone must say – NO, the 10 commandments are not matters of freedom, but God requires all to obey, and God has written this, not only in his word, but in our hearts. It is quite simple – here are the 10 commandments, it is God’s Law – how are you going to make peace with God? It is at this point that you can tell people the rest of the story about God, the salvation that has been purchased and won in Jesus Christ. It is good news, to hear that the debt we could not hope but pay, has been paid for us. It is good news to hear that God’s plan for our life is not burdensome, but is filled with good things. And as we experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, we are moved to respond – guilt may move us to reject this gift – or – grace may move us to accept this gift.
Love moves us to respond, thanking and praising God for the freedom which is ours in Christ. Love moves us to respond, telling others both of what God expects, and also what God in Christ has done to bring us to peace, forgiveness and everlasting life. For it is only in the grace of God’s love, that we can experience freedom from the law, and from all the powers which would oppress us.