AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
MARCH 28, 2004
THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS - Hosea 14
There is great beauty in this world,
To be discerned in scene, lived in spirit,
Moulded and sent by the Lord
I. NATURAL BEAUTY
We are most familiar with the glorious graces of sunsets, the tender forgiveness of dawn, nascent almost as if new from the first, the spectacular ornament of much and the slender grace of more. Add the solemn majesty of soaring mountains, disdainful of low heights, aspiring to the clouds, and yet, for all that, somehow as in the clouded magnificences of the Rockies, merging into the skies with a friendliness bordering on marriage, and lifting now here, now there, an unsubdued but kindly seeming summit, above the clouds, only to disappear in the nobility of the vastness, quietly, with a solemnity that has a beauty of its own. Consider the slender graces of delicate waterfalls, as if wisdom were their fare, and beauty a kindly consideration, while they trill downhill, in phantom little leaps, and winding considerations, toward the rising and dispersing mists at the foot.
Nor is this to ignore the pulsing power of the dynamic giants which throw water as if it were a toy, and then crash to the rocky base, as at Niagara, with a resounding hush that seems unable quite to determine whether it is thunder or an aerial phenomenon of some kind, in comradeship with water, and knowingly contrived, to bear joint witness. The soaring sublimities and the slender tendernesses are to be found in many realms, whether in the little flowers below the oaks in their afforestation, where sun permits, or in the desert, where sun demands.
The skies unreel from their picturesque inventories, towering masses that suddenly develop into whirls and rills of vapour, moving, condensing, expanding, racing, slowing, peering, disappearing, building castles for the imagination and forms for the thought, penetrating and yet silent, modules here, giants there, arrays in other places, deranged, arranged, slipping into mackerel form or making hammer and anvil, in stratospheric iciness or in kindly warm-hearted cumulus, just waiting for a John Constable to paint them in his settled England in its rural quietness.
But now the waters ask for friendship from the light, to inspire Turner, and the rays entwine with it, glimmering, gleaming, here ephemeral in display, there comfortable in continuity, now dazzling with the abundance of light, now coming express in slender shafts, or beaming in abundance in broad blasts of light, as if in some atmospheric symphony.
II THE SPLENDOUR OF SINCERE SPIRITUAL RETURN TO THE LORD
In Hosea 14,
you see one of the most encouraging and lovely expressions
of the beauty of repentance, restoration and redemption in the Lord, so that
you become planted like a shrub in a magnificent and well-tended garden.
1. The APPEAL Hosea 14:1-2
2. The USELESSNESS of any alternative to the Lord 14:3
3. FREE LOVE is from the Lord, without charge because it is sincere, supernatural and sufficient; HEALING is from the Lord because He is gracious and able; ANGER is turned away because of the redemption shown in Hosea 13:14, His own ransom of them from the grave in His own PERSON! Hosea 14:4.
III THE BEAUTY OF LIVING AND
IN THE LORD
4. He will be like the DEW, by His Spirit enabling a certain freshness of life, a mellowness of grace and a meeting of every thirst with more than water. Such is Hosea 14: 5. Now note that like the LILY will Israel grow. What is that like ? First it is lovely in its essence, colourful but pure in its delicacy, robust in character, a feature and focus of delight. So does a Christian or body in the Lord become, fashioned by His power, growing in His grace, tended by His care, exhibiting the beauty of holiness more and more, as character forms, life strengthens and roots go down deeper into the word and work of God.
Thus, Israel shall “lengthen his roots like Lebanon”, famed for its abundant horticultural, massive trees.
5. “His branches shall spread” – we read in Hosea 14:6. RESULTS! Winning of souls, working of wonders, performance in divine strength of what pleases God, testimony of Christ in life, word and deed: all of these or some mixed assortment can come. Fruits of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, patience, forbearance come alive. Indeed, “his beauty shall be like an olive tree” – soothing but strong, rich in goodness and blessing, towering, living long in the ways of strength and stability (cf. Isaiah 33:6). The perfume of the love of God spreads, a “fragrance” (cf. II Corinthians 2:14), of life to the living, death to the dying, arresting people from helter-skelter rush to ruin, for he who abides in the Lord, who trusts in Him shall not make haste (Isaiah 28:16).
6. In Hosea 6:7, we find the effects of godly living in the Lord spreading, the welcome shade of His presence bringing others to seek the rest which He gives to those who labour and are heavy-laden (Matthew 11:27ff.).
IV THE LESSONS LEARNT AND ETERNALLY APPLIED
divine caress, nurture, care (cf. Ezekiel 34:10-13), it becomes obvious that
idols, anything and everything preferred to God and running your life, the
object of actual if not formal worship, are alien. Hearing the word of God, His
people become like green trees, full of sap (Psalm 104:16, 92:14-15, Isaiah
46:4). Then comes a highly distinctive and abundantly challenging statement:
“IN ME IS YOUR FRUIT FOUND!”
This takes us to John 15. HE is in you (Col. 1:27) and you are in Him (John 10:9), so that there is a mutuality between you and the Lord which works, like a branch in the vine (John 14:5,7). HE is the power, the resource, the wisdom and the cover for our lives, more really than any defence network or vitamin supplemented bodily care. That is for the body; this for the life itself.
8. Who is wise ? CONSIDER these things. Who is prudent ? KNOW these things. The Lord’s ways are right, good and wise: it is necessary to walk in them: as your car is for the road, so you for the Lord’s way. His sheep know it (John 10:27-28) and follow Him, and being kept by the power of God (I Peter 1:5), never perish.