Stand, Or Stumble?

August 2                                          Stand, Or Stumble?
Read Hosea Chapter 14
Hos 14:9 Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
The book of Hosea is a book calling the people of God to repentance. As successful societies always do, God’s people had become careless in their dedication to their God. They had begun to allow foreign gods to infiltrate their ways of thinking and worshiping. In the process, they became self-reliant, forgetting that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who had given them all of the blessings they enjoyed over the years. People who trust in themselves forget God. Hosea’s experiences were meant to show Israel that they must turn away from rebellion and return to the One who established their prominence in the world.
In this last verse in the last chapter of Hosea, there are some stark realities stated. 
  1. Who is wise? – The wise ones are those who take to heart God’s plea for repentance and heed the warnings and symbolism of Hosea’s life. The wise are those who believe God when He speaks, and do not slough off His wisdom.
  2. Who is discerning? – Obviously, the same people who are wise will discern the truth and purpose themselves to live by it. They will understand what Hosea and God are trying to tell them. They will know that God is always right.
  3. Who are the rebellious? – They are the men and women who refuse the message which has the power to deliver them from death and destruction. The truth is a stumbling block to anyone who doesn’t like to hear truth. They stumble and fall because they fail to heed God’s warnings.
Let’s apply these ideas to the struggle against same-sex attractions. Obviously, those who are wise and discerning will listen to God when He repeatedly warns against living a gay life. The Old Testament clearly conveyed God’s message on this issue and the New Testament confirmed that message. While some of God’s edicts were relaxed in the NT, the issue of homosexual behavior was not changed in any way, except perhaps the order to stone an offender.
How did the Israelites get so far off track? How has modern society gotten so far afield in the area of sexual misconduct? Just sixty years ago, it was difficult to find one person who believed that homosexual behaviors were natural and normal. Almost everyone knew, with any doubt whatsoever, that homosexual actions were contrary to God’s word and that they were sinful. Even non-Christians knew it was not normal, as attested by that inner compass placed in the hearts of all mankind. For that matter, it was hard to find anyone who believed any kind of sex outside of marriage was a not sin.
But something happened over the span of those sixty years. Modern mankind began to shuck off the authority of God and His word. More men and women decided that God’s word was too restrictive, too repressive. They had two choices. They could either reject God and His word as untrue, or they could decide, in their own human wisdom, that His word had been misinterpreted from the beginning of its inspired writing. Behind both options lies one common bond. Both are bound in rebellion against God. I imagine that same process, that same way of thinking, happened to the Israelites.
All this leads us to see how the Spirit-inspired words from Hosea are so relevant. The rebellious will stumble over truth. Truth must be believed whether a man likes the truth or not. A man will either heed the warnings found in truth and live, or he will reject truth and stumble. More often than not, he will stumble right into eternity without God. But the wise and discerning will walk in God’s ways and find salvation for their souls.
Prayer: Lord, we have a difficult time seeing ourselves as wise or discerning. Ironically, it is the wise and discerning who realize that they have no wisdom or discernment of their own, and are forced to turn to You for infinite wisdom and discernment. Father, do not let us fall prey to believing that we have so much wisdom and discernment that we believe we are smarter than You and Your words. Thank You for showing us the truth and the way to eternal life.
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