Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hosea: Of Lovers & Whores

In June I preached a three week series from Hosea 2:14-23. These are wonderful gospel-rich scriptures about the love of Christ for his people.

Download MP3: Jesus wants our hearts - 2:14-15

Download MP3: Jesus wants us to know him - 2:16-20

Download MP3: Jesus wants us to be his - 2:21-23

The series was shaped by Jeremiah Burrough's commentary Of Lovers and Whores

Here's a freebie extract from Burroughs:

This is good reasoning and worth of one who professes the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, as the inference of the unbelieving heart is grievous to God’s Spirit, as it draws its “therefore” from the greatness of sin rather than from God’s mercy; so the profane heart taking its therefore from the greatness of God’s mercy, to the hardening of itself in sin, “treasures up for itself wrath against the day of wrath.”
Shall God make his therefore from our sin to his mercy, and we make our therefore from his mercy back again to our sins?
Where sin abounds, grace abounds; but where grace abounds sin must not abound. Because God takes occasion from the greatness of our sins to display the greatness of his mercy, let us not take occasion from the greatness of his mercy to be emboldened in the greatness of our sin.

There is a wonder in his inference to occupy the thoughts of men and angels for all eternity.  “Behold”, notwithstanding all of this, yet you men and angels, behold the fullness, the riches of God’s grace.
Will God cast us away because of the greatness of our sins? No. Let us not then reject God’s ways, even if they may bring us much suffering. This is most reasonable. You should bear with any sufferings in God’s ways, and even embrace them, as God bears with sins in your hearts, and yet embraces you.

The Hebrew word translated “allure” signifies to entice. It is often used to mean deceive by subtle enticing. Some have translated it, “I will deceive her” (LXX) or “I will seduce her” (Vulgate). God uses the word to express the sweet and gracious ways in which he intends to deal with them from his gracious affection towards them.
What God means by alluring his people, when he has been reconciled to them, may be expressed in these three things:
Unfolding beauty
Firstly, I will unfold the beauty and excellency of the infiniteness of my goodness and loving-kindness and set in array before their souls the exceeding glory of the riches of my grace.
Outbidding all others
Secondly, whereas before they went whoring from me because their hearts were allured by their lovers, giving to them various contentments, and so subtly beguiling their minds; will I not dwell with them in a more powerful manner than their lovers possibly could? I will outbid them all.
Did their lovers offer to them comfort? I will bid more than they. Did their lovers offer gain? I will bid more gain. Did they offer more honour and respect? I will outbid them in this too; so that I will persuade their hearts that they shall enjoy more in me, than they possibly could in all that their lovers could do for them. [1]
And indeed, then the gospel has the true, full and gracious work upon the heart of a sinner, when it yields to its invitations, finding that all that the world can bid is now outbidden and that there is more gain in Christ than in all else besides.
You know, when one comes to offer so much for a commodity, and another outbids him, he carries it away. So when the world and sin offer to the soul such and such contents, if God comes and outbids all, the bargain is made and God carries away the heart.
Thirdly, I will come upon them even unawares, and as it were, steal away their hearts, with a holy guile. Paul tells us that he caught the Corinthians with guile, 2 Cor 12:16. I will secretly insinuate myself and draw their hearts in such a sweet and hidden way that I will take them before they are aware.
God deals thus with many a soul, taking it before it is aware, and the soul afterwards comes to understand some of the dealings of his grace.
Indeed the sinner himself sees he is not where he was before: surely, there has been something working on my heart; I find it is different with me now than it was before; but how this has happened I do not understand at present, but perhaps I will later.[2]
Or before I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-Nadib, Song 6:12. That is, the chariots of a willing people. My heart was caught and run to God before I realized. God’s grace came in such a manner into my heart, and so ravished my soul, that it ran freely and swiftly after the Lord.
It is a blessed deceit when the heart is so deceived and allured. Thus Christ sometimes sends such a glance of his eye into the heart of a sinner, as surprises the soul, and brings it involuntarily into love with the ways and with the truths of God. His grace has a subtlety in it, as also the serpent does (Prov 1:4). It is a blessed thing to be thus outwitted. The grace of God is too subtle for our sins.
When Luther was charged with apostacy he acknowledged it saying, “I confess I am apostate, but how? An apostate from the devil, falling off from the devil, and returning to God. Such an apostate I am!”
Happy is the man who can say, “Blessed be God, I am deceived indeed, but so deceived that my sin is beguiled: I am seduced, but it is out of the ways of sin and into the paths of God and of peace.”

[1] Today we might translate: “My people pursued their lovers: They went after KPMG, PwC and Lloyds TSB, for money offered comfort and control. They went after celebrity gossip, social media status and pornography for they offer intimacy. They went after H&M and Ben & Jerrys and HDTV for retail therapy, over-priced ice-cream and Brian Cox talking Science break the numbness of life.”

[2] Burroughs insight into the workings of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart in these three ways are worthy of careful consideration. Where we might imagine that people are won by argument and brute force, it is evident that the Spirit works very differently. Seek Christ that he may win your heart again.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing these, really enjoyed listening to them