God’s remedy for despair is hope in the future.  Jesus is preparing us a room in Heaven, our future is bright (John 14:2)

God’s Messengers

1 Kings 18 / Hosea

Do you want to die?  Are you ready to die?  Have you ever wished you were dead?

You may feel guilty as a Christian thinking this way but it is a very common thought when you are facing the difficulties of life.  Sometimes, most times, it would be easier to die.

Easy for you but then more people would be in despair – when would the cycle ever end.

I would say that the majority of us have wished to be out of this world at some time.

As a Christian it would be better – that is what the Apostle Paul struggled with.

Philippians 1:21  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

But you can’t take your own life.  Suicide is a serious issue.  People lose hope and in despair they end their pain – people struggle with mental disorders and kill themselves.

If you ever feel that way please seek help.

Sarah and I have watched a lot of I Love Lucy – a wholesome 50’s, black and white TV show – I do have some concerns – Lucy often threatens suicide when things don’t go her way – then she will say to Ethel, “Aren’t you going to stop me?”  Suicide is not laughing matter then or now.

I do understand despair – but even in the midst of tragedy there is hope.

Even the best of us struggle with wanting to die.

Job – who was blameless said,

Job 3:20  “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, 21  to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure,

Jonah – a prophet of God said,

Jonah 4:8  When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

Moses – the great leader of the Israelites wanted God to kill him

Numbers 11:14  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15  If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now–if I have found favor in your eyes–and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Elijah – the prophet of God wanted to die also

1 Kings 19:3  Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. … 4… He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

If you want to die then pray that God take you – don’t take your own life.  God’s will be done in His timing.

God blessed Job, God lightened Moses’ burden, and God showed Elijah that there was hope in the future.

The prophets Jonah and Elijah lived during the time of the divided Kingdom that we talked about last week.  So did Obadiah and Joel; Isaiah and Micah; Hosea and Amos all of which we have in our Old Testament.  There were many prophets during this 208 years that did not have any writings that God preserved.

Elijah had the unpleasant job of prophesying during the reign of wicked Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 21).

They were wicked and so was their daughter – interesting side note.

Athaliah – daughter and Ahab and Jezebel married Jehoram, King of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-18).

He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.  Their child was Ahaziah who became king (2 Chronicles 22:2).

She was so evil she had her own grandchild killed so she could keep her power, as Queen Mother.

2 Kings 11:1  When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.

It was during this dark time of Israel’s history that we have read about this week.  It is under these conditions that Elijah prophesied and under the worship of Baal that we see display of God’s power.

1 Kings 18:16f – the showdown on Mt. Carmel

Elijah challenged the 450 priest of Baal to see whose God was God

1 Kings 18:24  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire–he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

Well we know Baal never answered and the Lord God answered and amazed the people.

1 Kings 18:36  At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37  Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!”

Elijah was on cloud nine – he had literally just had a mountain top experience with God.

But when wicked Jezebel heard that all her priests had been killed she threaten to kill Elijah.  So Elijah was afraid and ran.  He ran about 95 miles away to Beersheba – that is a good 24 hours on foot.

1 Kings 19:3  Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. … 4… He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5  Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

Why was Elijah afraid – God had just answered his prayer and defeated Baal.  But Elijah was afraid God could not protect him of wicked Queen Jezebel – or he did not want to keep fighting the evil.

Elijah was exhausted – he prayed and fell asleep.

What was God’s answer to Elijah’s prayer for death?    God sent an angel

The answer to despair is sleep and eat, sleep and eat some more.

Then get up and go to the mountain of God.

(The travel to Horeb was only about 200 miles – only 5 days walking slowly.)

1 Kings 19:5  …All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6  He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7  The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8  So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Can you be someone’s angel when they are exhausted and in despair?

In the midst of grief and tragedy we need to get enough sleep and eat properly.

But you also have to get up and move.

God still had work for Elijah, He still had a message.

God still has work for us to accomplish also.

In time of seeming hopelessness God always gives hope for the future.

During this time in History (the Divided Kingdom) the whole nation was hearing the warnings of God and the destruction that was coming.  Had they listened they would have been in despair but they didn’t care what God’s prophets said but that did not stop God from calling out to his children wanting them to repent and come back.

Less than 30 years before God fulfilled His promise of the Northern Kingdom being carried off He sent Hosea.

Hosea was warning the people and he also demonstrated how much God loved His people.

Hosea 11:1  “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Matthew 2:13  When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15  where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Jesus was literally called out of Egypt and through Him all people are called out of the bondage of sin.

It has great significance to the Israelites to be called out of Egypt.

There is hope and deliverance by the powerful, loving hand of God.

God made Hosea live the love.  Hosea had to love and pursue one who did not love him.

The nation was worshipping other gods. They had turned their backs of the one true God.

But God loved His people and would not give them up.

So Hosea had to marry an adulterous wife.

Hosea 1:2  When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”

Through the names of Gomer’s children spoke what was going to happen to Israel – the evil northern kingdom.

Hosea 1:4-9

Son – “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.

Daughter – “Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them.  7  Yet I will show love to the house of Judah;

Son – “Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.

The Israelites who heard Hosea’s warning should have been devastated by the bad news.  God was going to punish them, God no longer was going to show them love, and God had rejected them as His people.

But God did not give a warning without hope.  Hosea says,

Hosea 1:10  “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 11  The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.

God’s promise was that not all Israel would be blotted out, they will be numerous.

They will be where they are not God’s people.

The Israelites were taken captive and intermarried and thus were known as Gentiles – non-Jews.

Paul quotes this passage – proving that Gentiles are welcome into God’s kingdom and grace.

(Romans 9:24-26)

Peter makes the same reference

1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Hosea also promises that God will bring the divided kingdom back together.

Hosea 1:11  The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.

Paul uses different language but the same message (Ephesians 2:11-18).

Ephesians 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, …18  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

God told Israel that because of their sin they would be punished but they will have a chance to repent and be one.  We have a chance to repent and be one with Christ.  As Gentiles will can be a part of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Hosea.

Galatians 3:26  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

As a Christian we are heirs to the promise – Wow!

If you are not a Christian won’t you come today?

Simple do what Paul said, be baptized into Christ and you will be clothed with Him.

With Christ in your life you will be able to get through the difficulties of life.   Life will still be hard but it won’t be without hope.

Remember what Jesus said to His disciples,

John 14:1  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Do you want to die?  I want to die some day and be with Jesus

But in order to die and be with Jesus we need to die to self and be baptized into Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is calling you home – will you come today?