Sermon – January 21, 2018

Taking The Next Faithful Step, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

Week Eighteen – July 24-30, 2016

Hosea – Runaway Brides

Think

  • Do you ever notice the people on the side of the highway holding signs for local businesses?
  • Has that ever convinced you to turn in and shop there?
  • Do you think that this method is effective at getting potential customers’ attention?
  • What is the greatest publicity stunt or marketing campaign that you’ve experienced lately?
  • Was it effective?

Listen

After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam faced difficulties in getting everyone to accept him as the new king. Those who remained loyal to the House of David’s heir (Rehoboam) were mostly from the tribe of Judah, so that became the name of a new kingdom with their capitol still in Jerusalem. The other tribes kept the name Israel but declared themselves a new kingdom in the North. An uneasy peace developed with periods of open warfare between the two kingdoms. In Israel especially, the worship of false gods crept back into daily life as the kings and their households abused their power and served themselves above all else.

God was furious with the people of Israel for separating themselves from him and from Judah. But they didn’t seem to care too much about what God wanted. So almost as soon as they declared their independence, God called a prophet (someone who speak truth to power) to stand up for what is right and just in the face of the sin around them.

The man he called to do this was named Hosea and God had a scandalous plan for him to get Israel’s attention. He was instructed to marry an adulteress named Gomer. He bought her hand in marriage and told her that she had to be faithful to him from that point forward. But she didn’t want to marry him. She still wanted to be with her former lover! So she kept running away and going back to her old boyfriend. Each time she did, Hosea went to find her and bring her back to his home.

And here is part of what Hosea was supposed to tell other people about his wife:

She shall pursue her lovers,

But not overtake them;

And she shall seek them,

But shall not find them.

Then she shall say, “I will go

And return to my first husband,

For it was better with me then than now.

(Hosea 2:7 NRSV)

Once this scandalous marriage had gotten the attention of people around them, Hosea explained that his wife had treated him the way that everyone else had been treating God. God was like a husband who always rescued and forgave his runaway bride, waiting for the day she would eventually realize how well she was treated by him.

God promised through Hosea, that once the rebellious people of Israel came to their senses, they would be welcomed back and loved:

And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

(Hosea 2:19-20 NRSV)

  • What do your parents do to get your attention when it’s time to pitch in around the house?
  • What is something your teacher does to get you to pay attention in class?
  • Do you ever roll your eyes when they do these things?
  • Parents and teachers (or other adults in positive roles) are almost always trying to get our attention because they ultimately care for us. So why is that we often don’t want to listen or do what they say?

Remember

God is crazy about you. And God will go to extraordinary lengths to win back your love. Even when we are unfaithful and show ourselves to only be interested in ourselves and in things that are ungodly, God never forgets us or stops desiring a relationship with us. And when we do come back, even though we may have great shame and regrets, God’s grace means we that relationship is repaired and made new again. You might find the marriage of Hosea and Gomer scandalous. But we need to be grateful that God loves each of us in such a scandalous way.

Pray

Remembering that God loves you too much to ever give up on you, thank God for that kind of grace as you pray. He already knows your sins and your rebellions against his rule of your heart. Ask God to help you be faithful to him.

More.

25 of the Greatest Publicity Stunts. What would you do to get someone’s attention?