Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts on Hosea 8:12

I have written to him the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a strange thing.
Hosea 8:12

A series of sermons could easily be written on this passage, but today I merely want to make a couple of observations.

First, the audience of God’s Law. In other words: To whom is God’s Law addressed? For whom was the Bible written? This is a question of great importance, but one that is seldom considered. Let me just state the truth here and then explain why it is so. The Bible was written to God’s people and to them alone. In our passage, God says that He had written His law to Ephraim. God’s Law was not written for the Amorites, the Hittites or the Philistines. It was written only for God’s chosen people.

The Bible is not addressed to unbelievers. They cannot understand its message because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). It is to them the odor of death. When an unbeliever reads the Bible it is like reading a stranger’s mail. Although you may understand every word on the page, you will never understand the meaning of the letter because you do not know the author, nor do you know the nature of the subjects it treats. As long as a man is “devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19), the Bible will be “foolishness unto him” (1 Cor. 2:14). This is, no doubt, the explanation behind many of the strange teachings that drift around in the Church. The Bible has been read and preached by unconverted men.

And incidentally, I would argue that this is why many of the modern Bible translations are unacceptable. Many of the modern translations are based on a philosophy that believes the Bible is God’s “gift to mankind.” I object! Speaking of the Old Testament, Paul says in Romans 3 that the Jews were entrusted with oracles of God. The Scriptures were not for the Amalekites or Jebusites. The salutations to the Apostolic Epistles exclusively limit their audience to “saints,” or, “elect.” And we are committing a grave offense when we try to interpret, or rather, translate Scripture in language that is understandable or acceptable to the worldly, carnal, unregenerate mass of fallen humanity. The world in which we live is overrun with a Hegelian relativism that denies the existence of absolutes, especially moral absolutes. How in the world can we translate the Scriptures, which emphatically assert that homosexuals have their part in the Lake of Fire, that sex before – or outside of - marriage is sin, that Papists, Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus – in short, that all idolaters will perish in an eternal Hell – How, I say, can we render the Scriptures in a way that is inoffensive to these people. The Bible is not ‘politically correct.’

My second observation is regarding how God’s Word is often treated. “Counted as a strange thing.” This refers to the treatment the Bible often receives – not at the hands of infidels, mind you, but at the hand of professing believers.

The Bible is often outright ignored. Charles Spurgeon once commented that there is enough dust settled on many people’s Bible that you could write the word “Damnation” in it with your finger. It’s a sad fact that many of us are more familiar with TV and movie celebrities, with sports stars and singers than we are with Bible characters. What excuse do we have for such behavior? And what could we possibly present to God on Judgment Day as a justification for such neglect of His Word?

Secondly, the Bible is often mishandled. There are more foolish, ignorant statements made in Sunday sermons every week than there are grains of sand on the seashore. I have heard pastors preach contradictory messages two consecutive Sundays. When I hear the idiocy spewed forth by the likes of Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne, Kenneth Hagin, Morris Cerrulo, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Schuller, etc… I am amazed that God does not rend the heavens and stop them mid-sentence to put an end to their enormities! But one day, He will; rest assured: one day He will. “You are judging,” someone will say. CORRECT! I am told to judge. John 7:24, Jesus says, “Judge righteous judgment.” The holy Word of God is not a plaything to be toyed with by ignorant, arrogant men.

Lastly, as our verse says, the Bible is treated as a “strange” thing. The word “strange” in the King James means “foreign.” One does not need to watch modern Christendom for very long to see that the Bible is foreign to it. How often does someone actually “turn the other cheek?” How often are we encouraged to let unbelievers mistreat us? When was the last time we heard a sermon on lending and not asking for the payment in return? There are myriads of Bible principles that are slighted, ignored and downright rejected as impractical because we have not “renewed our minds” and we are striving to live the Christian life according to the dictates of worldly wisdom and secular philosophy. This is why Christians today indulge in behavior that unbelievers of 100 years ago would never have dreamt of engaging in. It is no secret that the Church is worldly. Nearly a half century ago, A.W. Tozer wrote, “Christianity is so entangled with the world that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere. The world is white-washed just enough to pass inspection by blind men posing as believers.”

Every month, all over the world there are Christian conferences held on every subject imaginable – except the Bible! The Bible is treated as a strange thing. With all due respect to Rick Warren, why is it that millions of congregations joined in the “40 Days of Purpose” program, but never a “40 Days of Exodus 20,” or even “2 Days of Matthew 5-7?” The Bible is quoted and read out of a sense of obligation or tradition, but it really is foreign to most of us.

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