This is our third week looking at this lengthy passage about Jacob leaving Laban’s house. We have heard Jacob’s argument that he gave to his wives as to why they should leave. We also heard Rachel’s and Leah’s description of how they had been mistreated by their father and their agreement with Jacob that he should do what God has said. While Laban was away shearing his sheep, Jacob left with his family and headed for Gilead. But Laban found out what happened and chased Jacob down. Laban confronted Jacob and accused him of trickery and of theft. Laban searched through all the tents of Jacob but did not find his stolen idols which Rachel had hidden. After watching Laban go through all of his stuff, Jacob became angry and unloaded his anger in a short tirade against Laban. Jacob complained of the years of mistreatment at the hands of Laban and cited examples. In verses 43-55, we get to see what happens next. Will these two men settle their disagreements? Will there be peace between these two? We’ll see the answers today. In verses 43-44, we find a proposal for a covenant agreement between Laban and Jacob. In verses, 45-54 we read of the different elements of the covenant. And finally, in verse 55 is the departure of Laban.
We finally made it to chapter 11. This chapter is like coming up for a breath of air when you’ve been under the water for a while. We have heard the repeated warnings. The descriptions of all the sins of the nation of Israel. And in this chapter, we have some good news. It’s like seeing the first rays of the morning light after a very dark night. The answer to all these problems all of this sin is on the horizon, but it is coming. In this passage, we have a verse that is quoted in the New Testament and so we must go there to see the significance of what Hosea is doing writing these words. So let’s dive in.
Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.
“Those that are treacherous and deceitful in their dealings with God, and passionate and outrageous in their conduct towards men, will justly be made a derision to their neighbors, for they make themselves ridiculous.” Matthew Henry. This is a very true statement and one we must pay attention to. Now, we know that history is cyclical. It’s tempting to look at the state of our culture and nation and think that the end is near or that this is the worse it’s ever been. It might be the worse it’s been in our lifetime, but if we are careful students of history we know that things can get a whole lot worse. Some of the vile and horrific things that have occurred in the past would make our culture seem godly in comparison. It’s true. When we examine the nation of Israel at this time, we see a nation more depraved than our own. Now, do I believe our country has become more treacherous and deceitful in our dealings with God as of late? Yes, absolutely. Have we reached Israel’s level? No. We are nowhere near it. But passages like the one we have before us are a warning. They were a warning to the people of Israel and they are still a warning to us. If we continue down this path we will be made a derision to our neighbors and we will make ourselves ridiculous.
Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment is for you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter, but I will discipline all of them.
As we begin Hosea chapter 4, you’ll notice that we have moved into a new section of this book. We have left behind the drama that is Hosea’s life and move into the rest of the book which is the word of the Lord given through Hosea. The first three chapters described God’s view of Israel through a picture: the marriage of a man to an evil and unfaithful wife. Even the children that resulted were used by God as a visible demonstration of the peoples’ guilt and shame, but also of God’s amazing love. Starting in chapter four until the end, we have recorded God’s message, mainly to Israel, the northern tribes, but also to a lesser degree to Judah. Judah will be called to look at their own sin and take warning in light of the sin and impending judgment upon Israel. As we work our way through the rest of the book we will be confronted with the sinfulness and depravity of the people but we will hear also of God’s love for his people and his mercy as he calls his people to return to him, to leave their evil ways and to come back to him.