Chapter 4 marks off a new section in the book as God presents his case against his people:
Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
Here’s how I sought to apply this beginning section to someone who might be inclined to excuse themselves from this list that characterized the Northern Kingdom:
Do you watch the news? Often I hear believers talk about the discouragement that they feel when they see the reports of murder, adultery, deception, etc that characterize our country…very much like this list. If you are hear this morning and you are not a Christian, I want to make something very clear this morning…that sort of thing is not really what you should compare yourself to. We tend to, although it’s discouraging, subtly pack ourselves on the back after the news is over because, after all we’re not that bad.
The Bible really doesn’t have a category for the “really bad” sins and the other, more normal ones…In fact it often doesn’t even distinguish between actions and attitudes. For example, we read in Proverbs 27:14 that an inconsiderate word is basically like blasphemy [Proverbs 27:14 Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.] Jesus tells us that claiming to know God and yet living contrary to his word make us liars [John 8:55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.] When was the last time you saw the headlining story of a newscast be something like, Mr. Smith declared that he hated his boss this week—he has been sentenced to death by lethal injection.” [1 John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.] Did you see the news last week that talked about a man who was not giving to his local church? He was arrested on charges of theft [Malachi 3:8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.] Thinking about committing adultery; cyber adultery; taking a second look…is ADULTERY [Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.]
Don’t judge yourself by the news, judge yourself by God’s word. You are in great need of a savior. There is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God…but those are the very things that God has provided for you…Jesus perfectly, faithfully obeyed God’s law…he had compassion on his people in dying in their place…and through his life, death, burial and resurrection we have the perfect knowledge of God—he succeeding where we all have failed. Repent of your sins and trust in him today!
Listen to the whole thing here.