Wednesday, July 31, 2019
HENEphraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. 3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. 4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. 5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. 7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: 8 I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. 9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. 10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? 11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. 13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. 14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. 15 Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. 16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.(Hosea 13:1-16)
We observe three phases of Ephraim (Israel) in today’s text:
1. The loss of glory under their previous fellowship with God (verse 1-4);
2. God’s anger at their lack of charity and kindness (verses 5-8); and 3)
3. The reminder of God’s Promise held in abeyance for Israel. (vs 9-16)
Loss of a Glorious Legacy
Ephraim/Israel enjoyed a stately and holy favor in the eyes of God as long as he lived and worshipped in a Holy fear of the Lord. But when he forsook the God of his youth in following false gods of comfort, wealth, and idolatry, he sank into the mire reserved for the worst of pagan nations. God does not share His Glory with another, either then, or now. In the ancient annals of Israel and Judah, these two were favored by God with a particular deference as long as they kept in remembrance all His blessings and benefits; however, when these sentiments and devotions lapsed, they became divided in soul, spirit, and national unity.
Ephraim/Israel is not alone in this spirit of apostasy. Please observe the beautiful land called America – “Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” Observe the extraordinary protections and material blessings with which God has blessed this favored land of His free grant to a liberty-loving people. It was populated by men and women serious about their faith in God. People willing to cast their last treasure upon the altar of liberty and conscience free of the tyrant’s boot – even unto death! What has happened to that nation of enterprising folk who only sought their livelihood at the hands of their own toil? What happened to those folk who cherished their faith so much that they were willing to risk the then-hazardous swells of the sea to enter into that haven of liberty? What happened to the nation in whose schools each day were sung the inspiring lyrics of that patriotic and Godly song whose words are included at its benediction?
Our father's God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
That nation has followed in the path of Ephraim/Israel in worshipping other gods. We have become infatuated with an unholy view of sex, of an unnatural fixation on sports, on wealth and material things without regard to honor or justice. We are fallen and decadent. I know these words will pain the patriot (yes, we still have men and women of patriotic fervor), whose desire to see the beautiful land restored as much as I do. But the truth trumps sentiment and desire. Look at us! We are culturally balkanized whereas in the past all who came hear assimilated to the fire and spirit of freedom and holiness.
Though we may learn the hard way the error of our ways, we shall nonetheless learn of it. God is kind and gentle to those who love Him and cherish His Word; but He is a raging fire to those who trample underfoot His Holy counsel. Consider the unchanging counsel given to Israel and know that the application of it applies to all nations who transgress as well as our beloved land: “Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” When Israel became swelled with pride and riches, they always forsook the God who gave them such wealth and blessing. Today, America is living on more than the credit of an out-of-control national debt – we are living on the borrowed blessings of our Fore Fathers. These will be removed in a fortnight unless we repent, and that right quickly.
As did Israel, we have lost the virtues of compassion and true love. We have re-translated those virtues into something shameful and dirty. This did Israel who paid by a permanent expulsion from the land.
Our sons and daughters, like Israel of our text, have become rebellious and disorderly. The very dress of many of our youth, and even adults, evidence a strong disrespect for others. The language heard in common places of public gathering is so coarse and profane that the offenders would have been arrested only fifty years ago.
Though self-destruction of a great nation is not such an insurmountable undertaking, saving such a nation is not in the power of man’s hand. Only God can save and restore. When our people invent wicked practices unmentionable only a few decades ago, God will often allow them free rein, and end them delusions. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12)
Do you believe the world has already witnessed the greatest of all atrocities in such men as Tamerlane (Timur), Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Mao, or Stalin? If you believe these were ruthless and cruel, you have not seen anything yet until that Wicked One be exalted. He is already attempting to rebuild the Tower of Babel as the Global One World Government. Any mention of our Lord Jesus Christ is being denounced more and more with each passing day. Why do you believe this is happening? It is because the people of God have forgotten their backbones and from whence they have come. My old friend, Matthew Henry, describes these days in the following way: “Woes, more terrible than any from the most cruel warfare, shall fall on those who rebel against God. From such miseries, and from sin, the cause of them, may the Lord deliver us.”
I pray that sentiment with Henry with this one exception: If such terrible miseries, pain, and suffering for our sins will restore us to a strong faith in our Maker, I say, “Bring it on!!
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Iam Lucis Orto Sidere. The musical score is, HERR JESU CHRIST, by the renowned composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, of the Baroque Period. (1765) Bach began each work with a notation at the first, Help Me Jesus and ended with In Gloria Deo.
Now that the Daylight fills the Sky
Now that the daylight fills the sky,
We lift our hearts to God on high,
That He, in all we do, or say,
Would keep us free from harm to-day:
Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife:
From anger’s din would hide our life:
From all ill sights would turn our eyes:
Would close our ears from vanities:
Would keep our inmost conscience pure;
Our souls from folly would secure:
Would bid us check the pride of sense
With due and holy abstinence.
Now that the daylight fills the sky, We lift our hearts to God on high, That He, in all we do, or say, Would keep us free from harm to-day: Every sunrise represents a new Creation by our Father in Heaven. It is a day created from nowhere but Heaven and unlike any other that has ever previously existed. It is the first day of the rest of our lives, and we must make a good accounting of it for the glory of God. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)
The daylight fills the sky just as it did on that first primordial morning of Genesis 1. LIGHT! It reflects the very essence of God – the Light of the World, and the sun of Righteousness. And He is the Day Star to the new believer. Our hearts are lifted each day to God in praise by the magnetic draw of the Holy Ghost. It is the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost on the Throne of the Temple of our Hearts that we govern all that we say or do to the measure of righteousness to which we subscribe as sons and daughters of the Most High King. His protecting arm surrounds us to perform His will and protect from the Adversary of our souls.
Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife: From anger’s din would hide our life: From all ill sights would turn our eyes: Would close our ears from vanities: Who is the strong man of your heart? Is it not the Sovereign thereof, the Lord Jesus Christ,at the Gate of His Temple? Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) The Holy Ghost imparts a calming nature to our hearts, minds, and tongues so that we do not blurt out vitriol at the slightest provocation. Our hearts represent Holy Ground, and we must stand in awe of the Holiness of its Sovereign. When the loud noise of the street is too deafening, what should we do? Perhaps we should close the doors and the shutters to block that noise. In the same way, the doors and windows of our hearts to the ill-winded influences of the world with its vulgar tunes and profane sights.
Consider the wisdom of Solomon: Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)
Would keep our inmost conscience pure; Our souls from folly would secure: Would bid us check the pride of sense With due and holy abstinence.It is the inward character that identifies the saint and not the outward appearance. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (Matthew 12:35)We are not able to order the furnishings of love, faith, hope and other heavenly fixtures without the oversight of God’s Holy Spirit to set things in order. We are like children before God in a toy shop of good and evil. We need the restraining hand of God to keep us safe from our own carnal proclivities for toys that will ruin us.
The pride of sense is not always spawned of bad intent. It must be based on the Divine Laws of righteousness as well as the Divine Laws of Nature. For many years, I taught or managed the training of military pilots. But I learned as a student pilot myself that my own senses were capable of great deceit. Under instrument weather conditions, a pilot must trust the instruments and not his physical senses. Our physical senses will lie to us and cause us to believe the aircraft is steeply diving when it is actually climbing; turning right when it is actually turning left. If we conduct our responses according to those false signals, we will surely crash and burn. But if we rely upon the instrument gauges to gives us the true attitude of the aircraft, we shall do well. The Holy Ghost is our ‘attitude indicator’ and our instrument panel to help us avoid false senses of the body and of the soul. Quite often, it is those things we AVOID that prosper more than those that we ACQUIRE. Abstinence is a learned and holy habit. If the Holy spirit, speaking through that instrument called the conscience, says, This is wrong. Do not do it! we will always prosper by obeying that small, still voice.
Enjoy this wonderful day – a gift of God. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
Sunday, July 28, 2019
Sermon Notes - Sixth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 28 July 2019, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
OR I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousnessof the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (Matt 5:20-26)
All religions of the world, except Christianity, are works based religions. Islam is strictly legalistic. Buddhism requires much meditation in order to become part of the great universal self (whatever that is), and Hinduism requires the adherent to satisfy the whims of many, many different gods and goddesses.
But the religion of Christ is not works based. It is not what you DO that will gain heaven.. It is what you have believed and accepted, through Grace, that will get you there.
Our own personal conduct will never be righteous enough to spend eternity in the presence of a Holy God. Men and governments have proven time and again to be incapable of a sustaining righteousness.
Blaise Pascal: Frenchman (died 1662) who was the greatest physicist and mathematician ever to live. He later became a priest.
Pascal offered a wager (bet) called Pascal’s Wager, in which he argued that it was foolish and unreasonable to believe there was no God. His wager became the first contribution to decision and probability theory in history.
Here is his wager:
1. If you do not believe in God and there is no God, you have lost nothing.
2. If you do not believe in God, and there IS a God, you have lost everything.
3. If you believe there is a God and there is no God, you have lost nothing.
4. If you believe there is a God, and there truly is a God, you have gained all.
There is no possibility to win if you do not believe in God – at best you would break even if there were no God.
There is no possibility to lose if you believe in God and there IS a God. The worst possible outcome would be to break even if there is no God.
This Wager proposition is the first application in history of probability and decision theory.
Pascal could have added more detail to make his theory complete. Simple belief that God exists is not enough, one must believe on all the attributes of God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) And he must accept the authority of God in his life.
Now we will come to today’s devotion from the Gospel of Saint Matthew which is a selection from His Sermon on the Mount –
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousnessof the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.The scribes and Pharisees attempted to keep the letter of the law. This they attributed to righteousness, however, their hearts were dark with envy, power, and intrigue. Their righteousness was not of a good character, but of the outward appearance. True righteousness springs from a heart devoted to God and full of love for Him and His Creatures.
Our righteous works are nothing apart from our love in Christ. Of our own strength, we could never attain to the righteousness of God. The righteousness of a Christian is not his own, but is the imputed righteousness of Christ which makes him righteous before God.
Christ is now about to a stricter interpretation of the law than previously considered or understood: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. This penalty of the law is still in force as are all the other Commandments of God, however, Christ adds a new dimension: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.First note the authority with which Christ speaks as the Judge and Lawgiver! He explains the deeper application of the law:
It is the heart that is judged and not the outward appearance. Only God can see the deep chambers of our hearts. Even we, ourselves, are often oblivious to what evil lurks in our heart – but God sees and He knows the means by which our hearts can be made clean and righteous. Our intent to kill is the same as the action itself in the eyes of God. Hate is our hearts is synonymous with murder! Christ provides three examples of progressive judgmental authority: 1) the judgment (lowest and first level of judgment at the time in Jewish courts). 2) the Council which was the Sanhedrin which sat at Jerusalem, and 3) Hell fire relates to the valley of Hinnom, a valley in which the Jews in time past had sacrificed their sons and daughters to the fiery arms of Molech by placing them in his red-hot arms until they fell into the hot fire beneath the idle. God has warned not to allow our children to pass through the fire to Molech. In later days, some records indicate that a continual fire was allowed to burn in this valley to consume the waste and carrion of Jerusalem. This reference by Christ to hell fire represents the final and full judgment of the wicked.
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.Therefore, or in view of, the previous statement, Christ issues this serious counsel. There is not room in the heart for both hate and love, for righteousness and unrighteousness. Therefore, when you give your alms to God, or His creatures, do so with a clear conscience. If any man has a grievance against you, settle that first, and then go with your gift to the altar. It is much more possible to be reconciled to God when we are reconciled to our neighbors.
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.Be prompt to settle disputes with others before they escalate into more serious offences. This applies as well to the confession of sins. Do not go to bed on your anger, and confess promptly to God your sins lest you perish prematurely and have no resort but hell. Confession removes walls between a man and heaven, and it is a continual process. Failure to confess a forgotten sin will not necessarily condemn a person to hell, but it will obscure our vision and service to God.
Many Christians may forget that, since sins are freely forgiven, that there remains a scar which our sins may cause. David suffered the death of Bathsheba’s firstborn because of sin. Our sins hurt ones we love, and even after God has forgiven them, the image of hurt remains.Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.Here Christ is revealing that, though there may exist a wrong between man and man, there is always a third and higher authority than any earthly court of law, involved. God will exact a penalty for all sin. The wages of sin is death.This would be a terminal indictment against man were it not for the sentence which follows: For the wages of sin isdeath; but the gift of God iseternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
So, if the wages of sin is death, and we have ALL sinned, how may we pay the sin debt? We cannot! But Someone else did! Jesus Christ died in our stead on the cross for us to pay the debt we owe. 1 There istherefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Friday, July 26, 2019
PHRAIM feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. 2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; 5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. 6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.7 He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. 9 And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. 10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. 11 Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields. 12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. 13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. 14 Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him. (Hosea 12:1-14)
Is there a spiritual or physical profit from living a life of decadence and immorality? We all know the answer to that; however, in our day, as in those of Ephraim, we feed upon unwholesome foods and soul-killing perversions. The East Wind in Israel sweeps from across the hot sands of Arabia (the Simoon) and brings no benefit but rather famine and hurt. The East Wind is desolate and represents the socially demoralized conditions which are heirs of lawlessness and licentious living. Rights without responsibility is nihilism. Even our common social language is filled with that East Wind – Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good? (Job 15:2-3)
Our multitude of foreign alliances has placed America in the web of the globalist spider. In surrendering our destinies to compacts of mutually assured destruction, we lose the rudder of our national vessel. Ephraim had made such alliances with the ungodly Assyrians that will lead to bondage as much as that of Egypt, and so will our entangling alliances abroad (as prophesied by President George Washington).
The Finger of God, in judgment, points not only to Ephraim and Israel, but also to Judah . . . and ultimately to every nation whose behavior demonstrates an abandonment of faith and truth. Jacob becomes a symbol of treachery, but even that treachery has drawn him in tears to the Lord’s side. Though Esau was the first-born of Isaac, not by much. Jacob struggle within the womb against Esau and grabbed his heal as He was withdrawn first from his mother’s womb. Later, he deceived his father in giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau. But God favored the lesser son of stature to that of the greater. Why? Because Jacob constantly strived for the better blessings of God while Esau would lightly trade those blessings for a bowl of porridge. The life of a Christian is a life of struggle – always seeking a better city. Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;A man who will wrestle even with God for His blessing is the kind of heart God seeks in us. At Bethel (bayith +el) House of God, Jacob glimpsed the Ladder leading up to Heaven and thereby glimpsed a future redemption.
The history and traditions of America have been punctuated by men of valor who have also struggled for the preeminent blessings of God. They were willing to sacrifice the comforts of easy living and the comfort of the hearth to march forth ill-clad and unshod through winter snows to confront the despot in the days of our War of Independence. Even renowned men from abroad lent a hand to that struggle such as Marquis de Lafayette, Friedrich von Steuben and TadeuszKościuszko.
Because of his struggle with the Angel of Bethel for the better blessings of God, God became Jacob’s memorial, and what a memorial that is to have one’s name written – no, etched as with the nails of Calvary – upon the Lamb’s Book of Life. Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
Are you descended from Jacob as a Christian? By all means, you are – more so than those who are simple accounted blood relatives. It is not unlike the doctrine of Apostolic Succession to which we in the biblical traditions of Reformed Anglicanism adhere. Such recognition of the Succession comes through careful examination of character and testimony and, finally, by the laying on of hands of those of like mind and calling in Christ. However, it is not the mere laying on of hands that distinguishes true Apostolic succession, but rather the adherence in total of those Doctrines that were transmitted to us through the apostles themselves. If the Succession is not Doctrinal, it is not Apostolic.
The same is true of those who claim to be Jews but are not. The may even have some trace of Judah’s blood flowing through their veins, but if they do not reflect that same faith of Father Abraham, they are not true Jews (or Israel). To the Church at Smyrna, our Lord says: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Revelation. (Revelation 2:9b)and to the Church at Philadelphia: Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.(Revelation 3:9)These were the only two churches with which the Lord found no condemnation. This He speaks to us as well as them: Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually. Waiting on the Lord requires faith and a blind obedience – the same expected of every other soldier in the field against a mortal enemy.
The Lord has a quarrel with that nation whose balances are deceitful, whose laws are turned to the advantage of any special class of people. The Lord says that He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.Oppression with an unjust and prideful nation is not something merely sought for material gain, but for prideful advantage and prestige. So Ephraim’s sons answer: And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.(Hosea 12:7-8) All the labors of man is sin. It is in doing the work of the Lord in which there is no sin, and that out of an humble and honest heart. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. (Proverbs 21:4) There is no material sin in plowing. The charge goes to the condition of the heart in all that we do. If Christ abides therein, His work is manifested through His vessels.
God answers Ephraim’s proud boast with a peace-offering: And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.God is saying, in essence, I am unchanging. I am the same Lord with whom you made convent in the Wilderness. I will not relent, but pass you through hard pilgrimages if necessary to bring you to myself. Our nation faces the same predicament.
The Spirit of God strove with old Israel as Jacob strove for Leah, but Leah was less than Jacob desired. So, He strove again for Rachel, the love of his life. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.God sustained Jacob (Israel) through many hard struggles and even episodes of apostasy by means of the constant heralds of the prophets. If we hear not the prophets, we will not believe though one comes back from the dead. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31)We have the voice of the prophets with us today to warn and guide the way. Do we listen? Is not the voice of the prophets written in a Book for us? Are we as the two men on the road to Emmaus who heed not the voice of the prophets?
Those things in which a prodigal people pride themselves shall be the very things by which the Lord will bring our fall. Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him. America has provoked the most Holy God to anger. We have bitten the hand that has caressed our weary heads through many wars and over many far-flung battle lines. Yet, we claim the victories now as our own, and deny the solace and blessing of Heaven. He will bring us to national ruin, if necessary, in order to bring our souls to a state of grace. He never ceases in His purpose to bring His elect to Himself.