Today I am venturing away from the usual blog posts to talk about things I have recently heard in church. Yes, I still attend church with my family. It is all I know to do right now. My children are young and would not understand how their father and mother could believe different things about God. I do not understand it either. I prayed and prayed numerous times for God to change the heart of the one who is wrong; and to this day he has ignored my plea. But I digress.
We began searching for a new church basically due to my loss of respect for our former pastor and his wife. This new church is not much different. They claim to be non-denominational, but admit to being reformed Calvinists. The current sermons have been on the book of Romans. When the pastor reached Romans 9 recently, he mentioned the book of Hosea as being “The Gospel.” When pastors say things like this, it makes me wonder how much of the Old Testament they have studied. It seems as though modern day pastors are completely oblivious to the history of the Hebrew people. No, the Old Testament is not about Jesus. It is about the nation of Israel being split in two. It is about God dispersing one nation while keeping the other in the covenant. According to prophecy, in the end of days, he will call the nation of Israel back to himself, with no dying and rising savior-god, and Israel and Judah will dwell forever in the land.
is was one of my favorite books in the Bible. It is the pinnacle of the redemption of the nation of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Israel found herself deep in idolatry, worshiping the gods of the Canaanites. God divorced her and sent her away. He calls on Hosea to live a life that is parallel to the relationship between Yahweh and the Northern Kingdom.
*Note: from here on out, I will be using the name “Yahweh” in place of LORD. In English Bibles, the Hebrew letters yud hey vav hey (YHWH) were replaced with a more generic term “LORD.” Whenever you see LORD in all caps, that is where God’s original name was written.
Hosea Chapter 1
The word of Yahweh that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
When Yahweh first spoke through Hosea, Yahweh said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Yahweh.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
And Yahweh said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And Yahweh said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by Yahweh their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And Yahweh said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
The first chapter basically lays in all out. The Northern Kingdom of Israel went after other gods. Yahweh divorces them and has the people dispersed among the nations. The majority of the Old Testament prophets speaks of their eventual return. Paul, in Romans 9 writes as though Hosea is speaking of a people separate from Israel, namely the Gentiles.
Romans 9:6; 24-26
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
…even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’
In Hosea, Yahweh is speaking of the Northern Kingdom of Israel only. He never mentions any dealings with Gentiles. Those who were called “Not My People” were Israelites, not Gentiles. Yahweh says he will restore the nation of Israel and unify it with the nation of Judah. Yet Paul twists the prophecy to support his new religion of Christianity. And the Church buys it, hook, line, and sinker.
Today in church, the pastor spoke on Romans 11. He spent 20 minutes or so explaining how salvation works, then he topped it off with a push for evangelism. He encouraged Believers to witness to people around them. Upon closing the sermon, he said, “Now, I know you are probably saying to yourselves, ‘What about the tribe in Africa?’” He continued, “Stop worrying about the tribe in Africa, and worry about the tribe in [this city].”
I really think smoke started coming out of my ears. I could not believe what I was hearing. But at the same time, I could. It confirmed what I told a former associate pastor of ours as he was preparing to move across the globe for evangelical work. “At least you are living out your faith.” I said, “I respect that. If everyone actually believed what they say they believed, they’d be doing what you are doing.”
And that’s the truth. This pastor confirmed to me that the majority of Christians in America simply hold on to a belief in Hell just so they don’t feel as if they might go there. They don’t seem to really believe it deep down. They believe in it enough in order to hold onto the Gospel, “just in case.” If their belief went through their core and into their every being, as it should, they should be overwhelmed at the idea of a tribe in Africa going to Hell.
Someone once told me that it is not practical for everyone to be missionaries. Oh really? Why not? Is the Gospel practical? Absolutely not! Did Jesus call you to be practical? On the contrary. He called you to die to yourself, to abandon your family, to hate your father and mother, to leave the lives you know, to follow him and become fishers of men. There is nothing practical about the Gospel.
But there I sat, listening to a pastor make his congregation feel better about living their luxury lives in the Bible belt, where there is a church on every corner, instead of challenging them to actually do what their savior commanded. At least I know that people in that church will sleep well tonight.