Sep19ThuSeptember 19, 2019
In Hosea chapter 12 this is kind of the description that God gives to Ephraim (name given to the northern 10 tribes of Israel). For the entire book of Hosea, God has been expressing his coming judgement, yet continually offering mercy, grace, and love with a broken heart for Israel, and for their sin. From man’s point of view, Ephraim appeared to be greatly successful with a very large military, great economic power, and respect amongst other nations. God says in Hosea 12:1, that Ephraim feeds on the wind, has made an alliance with the Assyrians and is trading oil with Egypt. In other words, the people of God appear impressive- not because the power of God, but because of false power- fake power. The kind of power that when you kick the hose, the house will fall flat. The church will never be satisfied feeding on the wind or making alliance with the Syria (who represents the world), and getting oil from Egypt which is a replacement of true Holy Spirit power. The truth is that the source of your faith will be tested by life. In other words, the hose that feeds you will be kicked at some point. If your spiritual house has been only held up by feeding on wind or a pastor, all you are feeding the sheep is wind. Then, when the hose is kicked, the house will come tumbling down, and it will hurt those who are residing there. The source or display of your success or failure is not determined by the size of the house, whether it’s new or old, has many programs or few programs, or by whatever myriad of methods that you might employ. Your success or failure will be determined by what feeds your church. Do they feast on wind or do they feast on the word? A bouncy house is a neat place to visit but no one would want to actually live there and face the storms of life.
So, the question becomes clear. How do I avoid taking the church down the bouncy house trail? In Hosea 12:6, God gives Judah three important measures to help them not end up like Ephraim.
1. God-ward Perspective
vs 6. “Turn thou to the Lord thy God.” God must remain not only the focus of our ministry, but the goal of our ministry. Judah became confused because their focus went from seeing God to seeing the greatness of Ephraim. Men will get the greatest benefit from our ministries if our ministries are focused to please God as opposed to pleasing men. A God-ward perspective is not a call to or from a particular method but a call to prayer to know and see God.
2. Biblical balance
vs 6. “keep mercy and judgment” We can so easily find ourselves in the ditches that line the road of God’s will by either being too merciful or too judgmental. God would desire that we maintain proper balance of mercy and judgment so we are not derailed by our emotions or by our particular preferences. Mercy and judgment are ultimately not acts of men but acts of God, so proper balance can only be attained when it is God-given. A biblical balance is not a call to adherence to or from a particular method but a call to adherence to God’s Word.
3. Humble patience
vs 6. “wait on the Lord thy God continually” Ultimately, the power to accomplish ministry in a way that will produce generational and eternal dividends only come from God. It is a dire mistake to try to manufacture that power or pursue that power from any other source other than God. Judah was jealous of all that Ephraim had even though God knew Ephraim was simply blown up by an east wind. God’s advice is not to crave the wind but to continually and humbly and patiently wait on Him.
Like Ephraim, the Laodicean church believed something about itself that seemed true from the perspective of men but was utterly false from the perspective of God. May we always crave the praise of God more than the praise of men, so that we might feast on the Bread of Life instead of the wind.
Richard Rossiter is a husband, author and founding pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Spring Hill, Florida.