Posts Tagged ‘Sermon’


February 18, 2013


Hosea 5:13 – 6:6

            DTR… Defining the relationship was a term that I learned in college. It was a conversation between a guy and a gal. This conversation could happen at any point in the relationship. This conversation was to determine if a couple was more than just friends. This conversation was to determine if there was a future for the relationship, which usually meant a break up was impending. This conversation could also be used for a couple that wanted to move from dating into engaged. DTR…

            Defining the relationship… No sooner had I learned this term, I was employing the method. There was this girl who had caught my attention. I tried everything I could to get this girl’s attention. I wrote her syrupy letters. I tried every line from the movie “Hitch”. She told me over and over that she only wanted to be my friend and nothing more. When her step dad asked about me, she would tell him that I was a dork and not to worry.

            I had all but given up when she when I were doing our homework together.

            She said, “You’re making it hard for me not to want to date you right now.” Of course, we know what came next. DTR. She decided to date me! Her decision was against the wishes of most of her friends but she decided to date me!

            It was wonderful! We went to see movies. We tried to go ice skating. We went to Dairy Queen when it was minus ten degrees outside. We were having a blast!

            Then, the day after one of our best dates ever she said, “We need to talk.” Uh-oh! You know what that means! DTR.

            She broke up with me! Not because of anything I had done. In fact she rather liked me. But, her loyalty was to her friends and not to me.

            I did what any guy in my situation would do. I said I understand, I wanted to be her friend… all the stuff you’re not supposed to say. I even walked her back to her dormitory.

            DTR. Define the relationship. This is something has been going on since the beginning of time. No, not always between a man and a woman, but between Yahweh and his people. Today’s text is from Hosea. The text follows the programmatic narrative of the beginning of Genesis. Adam and Eve sin. Yahweh punishes them. Yahweh promises a way out. The discussion of Genesis 3 is DTR. This is what you’ve done, this is what will happen, this is what I’ll do. Adam and Eve’s sin defined the relationship between Yahweh and humanity forever.

            Hosea has different metaphors for his DTR conversations. In the beginning of Hosea Yahweh uses marriage imagery. Yahweh is saying that Israel, Yahweh’s bride, has cheated on him with other Yahwehs.

            Next, Yahweh uses courtroom imagery. Yahweh is bringing a rib (rieb) or a charge against his people. It is Yahweh’s relationship defined with his people in terms of legal standing. Yahweh’s charge does not stop in the courtroom metaphor. No, Yahweh brings the marriage imagery into the charges. Like any DTR argument, you draw from everything, including previous arguments.

            Hosea later brings in father-child imagery… father-children imagery… Today’s text deals with Yahweh wanting to invoke silent treatment and him also letting us know that his bite and his bark are both destructive. The rest of the section is dealing with Yahweh’s rhetoric of “what shall I do”.  My dad used to ask this all the time. Sometimes he was serious and sometimes he was joking. “What am I going to do with you?”

            Israel had a problem with Baal worship. It wasn’t something new. In fact they had a revival, turning from Baal worship, and now they had fallen back into Baal worship.

            Baal worship was Ephraim’s sin and Judah’s wound. But Ephraim did not turn back Yahweh, even when they were confronted with their sickness. Ephraim turned to the King of Assyria. Yes, Assyria, the arch Rival to Israel. Ephraim expecting healing. That would be like the Cardinals expecting the Cubs to help them get to the playoffs. Healing is not going to happen.

            Because of this, Yahweh will be like a lion to Ephraim; a lion who is understood to Ephraim as a destructive force. A lion who hides to stalk his prey and then tear him to pieces. A lion who carries away his prey back to his hiding spot, his lair, and that will be the end of the prey. There is no help for the prey.

            There is no help for Ephraim unless they return to Yahweh. Ephraim must seek Yahweh.

            So Ephraim cries out to Yahweh and acknowledges it is him who tears them apart, but the restoration language Ephraim uses is Baal worship. Ephraim wants to DTR. So Ephraim went through the motions of calling upon Yahweh, but their hearts were still for Baal.

            Yahweh calls Ephraim out on their false attempts at worship. Yahweh says that his judgment did nothing. They are as unregenerate as a piece of wood. Ephraim’s heart is far from Yahweh.

            It’s time to define the relationship. Are we like Ephraim, going through the motions? Are we calling on Yahweh, but our hearts are far away? Are we calling on Yahweh but not loving him with our whole hearts? Are we not loving our neighbor as ourselves? Are we using the world’s worship and saying “a loving Yahweh would never condemn the sinners so I shouldn’t share Yahweh with my neighbor”?

            Our worship is about the sacrament and the sacrifice. We can go through the motion of sacrifice but remain loyal to the world. We can go through the motions of the sacrament and have no faith.

            A sacrament is Yahweh’s grace to us. But Yahweh says he will bless us but he will make us a blessing to other nations. If we are unregenerate from Yahweh’s grace proclaimed to us, Yahweh cannot proclaim his grace through us to the lost and dying world. We are like a piece of unregenerate wood.

            When we define the relationship between us and Yahweh, we don’t match up. We can’t match up. We are like an unregenerate piece of wood. We don’t stand a chance.

            I had another series of defining the relationship with the same girl. Through strategic phone calls and 1 800 Flowers, I earned more DTR’s. A month later, we defined the relationship and started dating again; then another DTR and then we were engaged. Nearly two years after the first DTR we had final DTR where we committed our lives to each other through marriage. I got my second chance and it paid off.

            Ephraim gets a second chance to DTR. In the end of Hosea, he gives a glimmer of hope. Yahweh says he cannot give up his relationship with Ephraim. Yahweh defines the relationship and says his heart is turned within him. This word “turned” is the same word used for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

            The penalty for Ephraim… Yahweh took upon himself. The ravaging of the lion that was meant for Ephraim, Yahweh took on himself. Being scavenged of by a lion, Yahweh took upon himself. The tearing apart and the wounding, Yahweh took upon himself. Yahweh took Ephraim’s isolation upon himself.

            So it is for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ defined the relationship once and for all through his work on the cross. Jesus took the Yahweh’s punishment so that we can have right relationship with the Father. The penalty that was meant for us, Jesus Christ took on the cross. The wounds of a lion that were meant for us, Christ took on the cross. The tearing, the ravaging, the scavenging… the wounding, Christ took upon himself. In Christ’s words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus took the isolation and the separation that was meant for us.

            Jesus did this so that our relationship to him and to the father can be defined, once and for all. We don’t have to be afraid of Yahweh’s punishment even though we deserve it because Jesus Christ took it upon himself.

            Christ took Yahweh’s punishment for you!

            But it doesn’t end there. Christ the victim of the wrath of the Lion emerges as Christ the victor as the Lion of Judah when he is raised from the dead.

            Through our baptism we are raised to new life. Through communion we partake in Christ’s victory and are strengthened and preserved to life everlasting.

            As children of the sacrament, the blessings we have received through the waters of baptism and the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we must live as a blessing to our neighbors. We must live sacramentally so that the grace of our Lord will be manifested through our lives.

            Jesus Christ has defined the relationship between the human race and himself, and the human race and the Father. Because Jesus took the brunt of the Yahweh the lion’s destruction, we have the hope of right relationship with the Father. Because Jesus took the brunt of the destruction, there is hope of right relationship for the lost and dying world.