What is the rest of your life going to be like?
Obviously, you can’t answer that, but you certainly have an idea of what you want it to be like, right? You have dreams and ambitions and are certain God shares those. For some of you, when I ask that question, you might say something like, “All I know is He has a plan for my life and has my best interest at heart.” If I ask you to defend that, you might go to a passage like Jeremiah, 29:11, where God says to Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In response to that, I would ask whether or not that was a blanket promised to all people everywhere? I would argue that to be a specific message to the exiles of Israel about a coming deliverance and not, necessarily, a universal truth for all to claim.
If I’m wrong, wouldn’t that mean that terrible things won’t happen because God has plan for all people for welfare or riches and will protect them from all evil?
Obviously, that is not the case. That cannot be the case. Not everyone prospers. Not everyone is protected from evil. If that is what God intended to say, then He has clearly failed.
I need to press this a little further: Throughout the history of the church, individuals and entire groups have undergone intense persecutions and killed in some of the most brutal ways. Does Jeremiahs 29:11 apply to those situations, as well?
Hopefully, we realize that this passage ultimately deals with future hope in Christ for eternity. Through Christ, we see this fulfilled in the people of Israel as God does bring blessing and welfare and a future and a hope for all who trust in Christ so that even if bad things happen, and they will, there is the hope of a future blessing.
It’s easy to take passages like that out of context, isn’t it, especially when we really like them?
So, this brings us back to the initial question: What is your future going to be like? Do you assume that it’s going to be good and easy? Happy marriage, good job with good pay, 2.5 kids and die peacefully in your sleep at a ripe, old age?
What if it’s not? Do ever consider that? What if God’s plan for you involves giving up on your dreams, not having the good job, never marrying or getting married and only having .5 kids and dying a painful, agonizing death for your faith? Never consider that possibility, do you? Not here…this is America! Land of the free and home of the brave! We don’t deal with that here.
But we need to ask, “Could it happen?” That, of course, leads to even more fundamental questions like…
Does God always call us to the easy? Does He owe us that?
Is His greatest concern our comfort or happiness? If not, what is it?
Does He have a right to call us to the difficult, challenging, painful and even tragic?
Then we have to consider…
What is the proper response to His call, regardless?
What is to be our primary concern: our happiness or obedience to God?
Are there limits to that obedience?
Today, we’re going to try and answer some of these questions in light of the book we’re going to be spending some time in: Hosea
The Times of Hosea
The prophecy of Hosea comes at a time of great political turmoil in Israel’s history. In about a 30 year period, Israel had six kings. They couldn’t keep their jobs because they kept losing their lives: Zechariah (753 b.c.) was murdered after only six months in power. The usurper, Shallum, was assassinated a month later. The next king, Menahem (752–742 b.c.) survived for a decade by paying a tribute to Tiglath-pileser, the Assyrian king. Menahem’s son, Pekahiah (742–740 b.c.), was assassinated by an army officer, Pekah (740–732), after only two years’ reign, then co-reigned by his twin sons, Pikachu and peekaboo…(just seeing if you’re paying attention). Actually, Pekah was killed by Hoshea, whose defeat by the Assyrians led to the end of the Israel as a kingdom in 722 b.c.
An Idolatrous People
More problematic, though, than the political instability, was idolatry that had been introduced to the people. God had chosen Israel to be His special people, had established a covenant with Abraham and commanded that they serve the Lord only. Yet they broke that commandment and began worshiping false gods.
God is a very patient God, but the true and living God is also a very jealous, unwilling to share His glory with anyone, especially a god that is both false and non-living. In the word of the Lord, then to Israel through Hosea, we see God dealing with this faithless people. The remarkable thing, though, is that in spite of His anger, we get a picture of the God who is relentless in His love and pursuit, dealing with his people harshly regarding their sin, yet with a tough-love, cutting them off only to broaden the “house”, so to speak, and bring restoration in a way the Israelites could never have imagined, and of course, in a way some Jews could never accept.
The Calling of Hosea
The job God had for Hosea was a very difficult calling that God put on his life. The crazy thing is, God didn’t seem to ask Hosea if this was what He wanted to do.
That’s our big question: “Well, what do you want to do with your life?” I think that’s our problem. We are so self-centered, we want to make our own plans with little or no consideration for what God wants, but then expect Him to bless it!
We feel as though it’s our birthright to be happy. After all, does God really have a right to call me to a life of sacrifice and suffering? Well, in Romans 9:20-21, in the context of God’s sovereign rights, Paul argues,
“who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
God has absolute right to use His vessels any way He chooses. The only control you may have is whether or not He uses you as a tool or a son. Pharaoh was used as a tool/instrument. Moses was used like a son.
Getting it Right
The question we should be asking is not, “What do I want to do with my life,” but “Lord, what do you have for my life?” We’re scared of that one, though. We’re afraid of how He might answer. We feel much better assuming God didn’t call us to do THAT! Besides, God wants me to be happy, right?
The answer is that God wants you to be blessed…and that doesn’t always come through happiness. Sometimes, the greatest blessing comes through the greatest pain.
Is that right, though? Why wouldn’t God be most concerned about my happiness if I’m His kid and He loves me?
The answer is that if God is God, the most supreme being in the universe above whom there is no one or nothing else, then God cannot be most concerned about us or He will be guilty of idolatry. He MUST be concerned about His own glory. Our happiness is secondary, at best!
What should my greatest concern be then? Well, if I’m a follower of Christ, my greatest concern has to be His glory, too! Through that, I’m also securing for myself the greatest level of blessing.
So, if God is ultimately going to do whatever He wants, what are my options? Simple, either obedience or rebellion.
In light of that, I want to suggest some things for you to consider in order to help move you to a place of willful obedience:
1. God is not capricious. He never does things on a whim or for no reason. God never conducts experiments. He DOES have a plan and it’s a good one! Trust Him in that. It will ultimately lead to your blessing. Read through chapters 1 and 3 of Hosea. Every time God called him to do something crazy, there was a “for” (i.e. “because”) that followed. God always has a reason, whether He spells it out for you like He did Hosea or not!
2. God will never call you to anything that He will not provide you everything you need to accomplish it. This especially includes GRACE.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
He reaffirms the universality of this promise in Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
3. If you submit to God and lay down your life to Him and live according to His instruction, whatever He calls you to will be a life of honorable use. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.
2 Timothy 2:20-22:
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,[d] he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
The Ball is in Your Court…sort of
So, what is your attitude going to be towards the call of God? Rebellion and self-idolatry or willful submission to a loving, holy God who, in spite of the difficulty of the call, works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Are you going to be used as a child or a tool?