Several chapters back in Genesis we read the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau. We heard God saying to Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob, that Jacob would be the stronger and Esau would be the weaker. The reversal of the birth order would happen. This was a blessing upon Jacob that he would receive while still in the womb of his mother. What precipitated this blessing? Nothing but divine prerogative.
Then Jacob and Esau grew up and Jacob preyed on the weakness of his brother to get the birthright. Years later, Jacob lied to his father, pretended to be Esau, and managed to secure Isaac’s blessing and the conferral of the promises of Abraham to himself. And we are left thinking. Is God going to give him all these things and let him get away with all his deception and lies?
Then we see Jacob having to leave everything to leave home. A small setback because on the way God appears to him in a vision and encourages him and confirms the fact that he is the chosen one. Then he arrives and Rachel almost literally falls into his lap and he falls in love. Did God care about Jacob’s sin? Is he being rewarded for evil? Are there consequences for his sin? That’s what we find in the story today.
We look at our Western culture and we see the approval of sin that once was frowned upon. The sin was happening but it was more or less hidden. The culture decades ago, in general, said that what is happening today was immoral. And now they feel that they are throwing off the shackles of a backward and oppressive morality and are stepping into a more enlightened era. But is this true? Has culture evolved to a higher standard? No, that is foolishness.
The world has and always will be evil. The standards they live by, unless they coincide with God’s, are evil. And even living by God’s standards apart from faith in God is meaningless for it is only by faith that you can please God. Whether sin is practiced openly or in the closet, whether sin is given a month of national recognition or is still taboo to the culture matters little to the judge who sits on his throne and whose eye sees all.
Thankfully, for the child of God, he does not tread out his wrath on us, but he does discipline us as the unruly children that we are. Today we are going to see the Answer to Sin in verse 21-30 and the Blessing Amidst the Discipline in verses 31-35.
If we want to have a right view of holiness we must start with a right view of sin. Wrong views of holiness usually begin with wrong views of sin. Right knowledge of sin is at the root of the doctrine of salvation and its parts such as justification, regeneration, and sanctification. If you don’t know the nature and severity of the disease of your soul you can’t apply the correct remedy.
Hosea chapter 8 is like the chapters that have come before in that it describes both the sins of the people and the punishment that will come upon them. The badness of their sin is shown to them that they might see it, be repulsed, and repent. And the prediction of the consequences of their sin is likewise given by God so that they may see what awaits them, fear, and repent in order to avoid the destruction that awaits them. This had immediate implications upon the people that the prophet Hosea was raising the trumpet call to. Israel was on the verge of destruction and they were pretending all was okay. We live in a culture that has followed reprobate Israel. The accusations leveled at Israel could easily be taken up by God against us. We must pay attention and learn from these words or we may suffer the same end. I’ve followed the paragraph division in the ESV translation to help us break this chapter down so that we might digest these warnings and consequences. In verses 1-3, we find a false confidence in the people because it is in themselves. In 4-6, there is a description of more sin and we are hit with the question can Israel attain innocence? In verses 7-10 we find the imagery, which may be familiar to you, of sowing wind and reaping the whirlwind which is a description of the foolishness and consequence of sin. And finally, we will examine 11-14 where, above all these other sins, Israel has disregarded God’s word, his law, and treats it as a strange thing.
Back in chapter 18, we saw God revealing his plan to Abraham to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sin and wickedness. Abraham through the leading of God prayed for the wicked cities. Abraham began to fulfill the promise that he would be a blessing to the nations. He stands as a type of Christ as he intercedes on behalf of the people who are completely lost in their sin and have sunk to a debased mind. He pleaded for mercy if there were as few as 10 righteous people in the city.
In chapter 19, we witnessed a graphic example of the sin that the cities were involved in. The actions of the men of the city were just one sin amongst a sea of sins that demonstrated to us that God does not bring his judgment arbitrarily. God is a just judge and only brings judgment upon those who deserve it. Sodom would stand as an eternal symbol of God’s eternal judgment against sin. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah, Paul, Jude, and John all use Sodom as a standard of depravity and an example of judgment. This is why this story has been recorded for us in Scripture. It was a warning to all those that reject God, reject Jesus, that a worse destiny awaits.
Now we come to the end of Genesis chapter 19 and another disturbing passage. Most pastors these days have resorted to preaching topically random passages of Scripture. Some do this out of the fear of man because they want to please the people. Some do it out of ignorance because they do not know how to handle the text. Others will never preach from this passage because it doesn’t fit their “vision” or agenda. Other preachers skip this topic because they don’t think their people can handle it. You will never hear them preach on this passage. I read that even some bible commentators have skipped over this section. This is one of the beauties and the difficulties of preaching expositionally through a book of the Bible. We are forced to look at and consider some things that we would otherwise skip over. Yet, this is the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness. Rest assured if you learn from this lesson you will be closer to being complete, equipped for every good work.
This passage breaks down into three main parts. First is the setting of this story in verse 30 where we will consider the messes we make. The second section is verses 31-35 where we read the story of Lot and his daughters play out and we’ll consider how we open the door for sin. Finally, in verses 36 -38 we see the commentary on the story and we’ll think about how we, through this story, are instructed and encouraged.
And now we arrive again at one of those moments in Abram’s life where his feet almost slip. And why? It’s not because his enemies are gathering around him. It’s not because he is an enemy of God. It’s because of his own doing. Let’s look at what happens and as we do I want to ask four questions. Do we trust enough? Who is good? Does God care? Can we wait?