STEWARD OF THE LIGHT [Taken from Sermon Central]
In the nineteenth century, lighthouses on the U.S. coasts were tended by lighthouse keepers and their families. If a man who tended the light took ill or became disabled, often the work was picked up by his wife or children. Such was the case of Hosea Lewis.
Having become, in 1853, the keeper of the light on Lime Rock Island at Newport, Rhode Island, Lewis suffered a stroke four years later, at which time his teenage daughter Ida assumed responsibility for the light. Each day included cleaning the reflectors, trimming the wick, and filling the oil reservoir at sunset and midnight, along with providing for her father’s care.
With long and demanding tasks, Ida was unable to continue her schooling, but daily delivered her siblings to class, whatever the weather, by rowing the 500 yards to the mainland. In the mid-1800s, it was unusual to see a woman maneuvering a boat, but Ida became well-skilled and well-known for handling the heavy craft.
The teenager gained a measure of fame at age sixteen when she rescued four young men after their boat capsized. She rowed to their aid, hearing their screams as they clung to their overturned craft. On March 29, 1869, Ida saved two drowning servicemen from nearby Fort Adams. Public knowledge of Ida’s courage spread as far as Washington, inspiring President Ulysses S. Grant to visit Ida at Newport later that year. Ida rescued another two soldiers in 1881, for which she was awarded the U.S. Lifesaving Service’s highest medal.
In early February of that year the two soldiers were crossing from Newport to Lime Rock Island on foot when the ice gave way. Ida, the lighthouse keeper, came running with a rope. Ignoring peril to herself from weak and rotten ice, she pulled one, then the other to safety. All told, Ida Lewis personally saved something like 25 people in fifty-plus years of keeping the light. Her last reported rescue came at age 63 when she saved a friend who had fallen into the water on her way to visit Ida on the island.
Asked where she found strength and courage for such a feat, Ida answered: ’I don’t know, I ain’t particularly strong. The Lord Almighty gives it to me when I need it, that’s all.’
Ida Lewis was a faithful steward. But the reason she was so faithful in her task is that she realized there were always people that would need to be saved [
And today, that is literally what we are doing. When I preach the gospel, and when I read the gospel and hear the gospel, it is designed as a rope that is pulling people out of breaking ice and freezing water. When someone is pulling you out of the water, are you focusing on rope burn? No! Nothing else matters except you not freezing to death. In the same way, each person in here is charged with telling people on the outside of the Christian faith that Christ is their rope, and they are in freezing ice. There is NO neutral spiritual territory on this planet. Either you follow Christ, or you follow Satan. The book of Hosea relates to the story about Hosea Lewis, his teenage daughter Ida, and the lighthouse and the ice because The name “Hosea” comes from the same verb as “Joshua” and “Jesus,” meaning “to save or deliver” (Hebrew. yasha’). So just like Ida was a savior and deliverer for many people who came to her lighthouse, so the prophetic message in Hosea today is a wake up call for us that is still hot off the presses, even 3,000 years later.
Hosea ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel during the latter half of the eighth century b.c., the most difficult time the nation had ever faced. Israel had forsaken the Lord and was worshiping Baal instead. Hosea understood that this was why the Lord intended to judge the nation. God commanded Hosea to marry, but warned him that his wife would be unfaithful to him. Hosea married Gomer, who indeed became unfaithful to him. When Gomer left Hosea, God instructed him to reclaim her. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, her unfaithfulness, and their eventual restoration were thus a parable of the Lord’s relationship to Israel.
Hosea 1:2 New Living Translation (NLT) 2 When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute. So that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”
God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute, whose name is Gomer, and Hosea is to allow that prostitute to have illegitimate children. Then the Lord tells Hosea that his marriage to Gomer is supposed to illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshipping other gods.
We see from the text that Hosea prophesied during the reign of Uzziah and Hezekiah, so this means he prophesied around the same time as Isaiah.
Isaiah ends with hope, and triumph, and with visions and glimpses of the Messiah. In the same way, Hosea ends with visions of God’s mercy and love.
How does God’s call for Hosea to marry a prostitute apply to us? Well let me put a disclaimer in here….this was a one-time event in the Bible! This was a one-time event in history! No other prophets or apostles were married to ladies of the night. But…let’s just say hypothetically, what if God told you do to it? What if he told you to marry a serial cheater? Is he crazy? No. Is he cruel? No. God was trying to show us through Hosea that when we chase everything but HIM, whether it’s career, or romance, or whatever, it’s like we’re serial cheaters! God doesn’t like it when there’s competition for our hearts.
God is grieved when he has to compete for our affections
Let us not be spiritual serial cheaters. God desires all of our affections all to himself. The thing is….God hates to compete. He has to be #1 in our hearts and minds. Let’s pray for the grace of God, that he would reign supreme in our hearts. We are all cool with Christ the Savior, but are we cool with Christ as Lord of our lives?
2 Peter 3:2 (NLT) I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.
Lord AND Savior..a landlord has complete authority over a group of houses or apartments or other property, right? Christ will allow room for NO OTHER LOVERS (things we make more important than him)! See it’s got to be money or Christ, career or Christ, but both can’t be Lord of our hearts.
Oh how scandalous!! That a man of God was told marry a prostitute was unthinkable, but even worse, this instruction came straight from the mouth of God!! What would the other Israelites think about God? And what would the surrounding nations and countries think? See in today’s world, in the East, other gods may be physical, but in the West, more often than not they are attitudes that we need to tear down.
So we see in the first couple of verses that Hosea was called to marry a promiscuous girl, and the next few verses give a name and identity to this lady.
Hosea 1:3-9 (NLT) 3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.” 8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God.
Hosea goes on to marry Gomer, daughter of Diblaim. Gomer’s first child was named Jezreel, to illustrate God’s judgment on Jehu and his dynasty for what happened in Jezreel, which I will explain more here later. Then Gomer became pregnant again and named the daughter Lo-ruhamah, because the Lord said he was through showing love to the people of Israel, but would lavish his love on Judah. He would free Judah from their enemies by His power. After Gomer weaned Lo-ruhamah and then had a second son named Lo-ammi, which meant, “not my people.”
The children born to Hosea and Gomer have symbolic names, the first being Jezreel, apparently referring to an event several hundred years earlier, Jehu was ordered to kill Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel, but Jehu went further and killed Ahab’s seventy sons, and then close relatives and friends of the family, he was only supposed to finish off Ahab’s family line.
There is a logical relationship between the names of the children. The sin brought to mind by the name “Jezreel” is followed by judgment echoed in the name “No Mercy” (Hos. 1:6–7); mercy to Israel is over, yet Yahweh will save Judah in his own way. Following “No Mercy” comes “Not My People” (vv. 8–9). The names reflect Israel’s renunciation of the covenant, and as coming verses show, justify a divine declaration of divorce. See…at this point in Israel’s history, this was between 800 and 700 years before Christ. Israel was actually split into two nations like the U.S. was during the Civil War, the north and the south. The northern kingdom was called Israel and the capital was Samaria. The southern kingdom was called Judah and the capital was Jerusalem. So Hosea is writing just before the kingdom of Assyria sweeps through the northern kingdom of Israel and destroys the capital Samaria. Assyria is modern northern Iraq; the capital of the Assyrian Empire was Nineveh, which is right where modern Mosul is right now, where Iraqi and Kurdish forces are fighting a huge battle with ISIS over Mosul.
You see, in verse 8, even though the majority of the nation of Israel was rebellious, so rebellious that they caused a national split, yet God spared a remnant, and that remnant exists today. So God will never abandon his true followers.
God will never abandon those who are truly His
See, Israel became unfaithful. The southern kingdom of Judah tried to hold on, though. Northern Israel never recovered from the Assyrian invasion. But yet the Lord said he would free Judah from it’s enemies by his power.
Now fast forward to the future. In the middle of Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, Christ has spared a remnant of his faithful people. The Christians of these regions have been crying out for deliverance. Remember that Hosea lived before Christ, and we live after the resurrection and crucifixion of Jesus. Today we live in a world where Islam, and especially Islamic extremists like ISIL and ISIS, are terrorizing Assyrian Christians, just like the Assyrian government used to terrorize the region.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOCLUv0PYrw) Matthew VanDyke: Help Wanted Training Militias to Fight ISIS (Episode 2) | History NOW
This is terrorism. ISIS is pure evil. They can’t be negotiated with because what they are doing defies logic and reason. This region is exactly where Hosea prophesied years ago, and God is determined to preserve his remnant, he is determined not to abandon his people! Even though God had harsh words to say in Hosea, and even though God had every right to divorce his people if he wanted to because they violated his covenant, he did not, he would not. And he goes further and prophesies again about the people of Judah and Israel:
Hosea 1:10 (NLT) 10 “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’
God says that one day, the people of Israel will be like the sands of the seashore, so many in number that they cannot be counted! Judah and Israel will unite, and they will return from exile together. God will gather his people together again.
This is not the end of Israel’s hope, however. Hosea 1:10 declares that, after the exile, the glorious restoration will result in the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his spiritual descendants would be too numerous to count. So for us today, we need to know that God’s covenant love will not falter. He loves us so much that he will often protect us from ourselves. So when doors slam shut in our faces, it’s only because he is protecting us. God knows us better than we know us….we say we won’t abandon God if he gives us what we want…but God knows better.
Everything that Israel had, they were giving either themselves, their military might, or false gods like Baal all the credit. So for this reason, God says….
Hosea 2:6-8New Living Translation (NLT) 6 “For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way. 7 When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.’ 8 She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has— the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.
God declared to Hosea that he would Judah and Israel in with thornbushes. He would block her path with a wall to make her lose her way, so that even if she chased after other lovers, she wouldn’t be able to catch them. So then Israel would return to her husband. Israel had forgotten that all her blessings came from her Creator.
Everything we have comes from the Lord. Sometimes the answer to that prayer is “NO” so he can get us to focus on what really matters, eternity. I hope and pray that God heals you physically and emotionally and mentally and all that. But if you don’t get every answer to every prayer in THIS life, know that in eternity, in heaven, God will restore you physically, emotionally and mentally, 100%. So just remember….don’t focus on what you don’t have; focus on what you DO have. And most importantly, remember who it is that gave it to you, and remember who you belong to.
Don’t ever forget who you belong to
I love this passage from James right here:
James 1:17 (NLT) 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father. If there is a dark shadow over God’s plan for your life, in other words, if you are struggling to come to grips with it, ask Him for grace in accepting and saying, “not my will, but yours be done.” Hosea was simply trying to remind the people of Israel of this truth, the truth that their blessings and their identities were found in the Lord. Anyone outside of a covenant relationship with Christ is not a child of God, they are an enemy of God, this is told to us in Ephesians. But to us who believe…
John 1:12-13New Living Translation (NLT) 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So let’s get more into this covenant between Israel and the Lord during the time of Hosea, and between Christ and the Church….
[SERMON CENTRAL] THE COVENANT OF FAITHFULNESS
In modern times we define a host of relations by contracts. There is a difference between a covenant and a contract. Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, “Where were you? Why didn’t you show up for your appointment?” He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract. According to the Bible, however, the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment.
If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he’s cared for. One member’s failure does not destroy the relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the unconditional commitment to love and serve.
SOURCE: Bruce Shelley
See, the entire ordeal that Israel was allowed to go through and that Hosea prophesied through was to cut out those parts that did not bear the fruit of righteousness and salvation. In our relationship with the Son of God, he died while we were yet sinners. In that spiritual condition where we could not be consider his people, Christ died for us, and then called us children of God through faith in Him. Let’s have no other gods before Him. Let’s have no other lovers, but let’s only chase the Lion. After all, he is constantly chasing us…
God says that loves us so much that when we do chase other things besides Christ, he will put thorns in our way in the hopes that we will come back and remember our husband, our Bridegroom, Christ Jesus. He says this about us, that after he hedges us in with thornbushes……
Hosea 2:14-17New Living Translation (NLT) 14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.16 When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again.
He will win us back, he says. He will never stop chasing us. He will never stop calling us. He led us to northern Japan, this little tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and he is speaking tenderly to us here today. Christ is not trying to be our master, but our husband. And he wants all false ideas and dreams removed from our lips, and removed from our minds. Today, just like Hosea, and just like our Assyrian brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, let’s remember our Bridegroom, Christ Jesus our Lord and our Savior.