Hosea 13:9

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”

Like most of the prophets, Hosea’s job was to warn Israel against their idolatry. Many verses in Hosea reveal God’s heart about it. For example, consider these verses from Hosea 13:2,3, “And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.” Fog, the dew, chaff before a tornado, and smoke are nothing. The fog soon vanishes, the dew evaporates, the chaff can never be found, and smoke is blown away. This was the result they endured for ignoring God.

From the time that Israel left Egypt, God warned them about idolatry. He told them to get rid of the idols of Egypt, which they had brought with them. This is told in Ezekiel 20: 6-8, “…in the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt…” They did not obey, and Ezekiel, too, was sent to warn them.

Before God, Israel’s situation was dire. And, as Hosea said, they had destroyed themselves: it was of their own making. In spite of God’s frequent warnings, Israel continued rejecting Him. Hebrews 10:31 states, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” This is where Israel stood before Him. They had ruined themselves. They knew what God expected of them and they turned their back on His ways. When He gave them the 10 commandments, as recorded in Exodus 20, They said, “All that the LORD has said will we do.” But they did not keep that promise. And by the time of Hosea, even long before that, they had destroyed themselves.

To this very day, the Ten Commandments are the standard of behavior which was given by God Himself. While they are actually so much more than that, we know that this is how we ought to behave ourselves. Yet many refuse to obey God’s commands, or acknowledge Him. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) But this command is disobeyed, along with all the others. And what is the result? Mankind is destroying itself. The daily news reveals that this is true. Murder, drug addiction, alcoholism, kidnapping, suicide, and multiple other problems, which are beyond mankind’s ability to repair, are evidence of this fact.

But, continuing in the verse above, God made an appeal to Israel concerning their situation. In the last half of the verse He said, “but in me is thine help.” How astounding! God was the One they had offended. His commandments were what they had broken. He was the one that was replaced when they took up their idolatry. Imagine, changing the living God for a chunk of metal or wood or stone. But His appeal was that they turn to Him: to look to Him for help.

In Amos 4:6-11, the LORD listed a number of trials that He had brought upon Israel. But He ended verses 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 with, “…yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” This shows His purpose in sending the trials. His intent was to get them to look to Him. He was seeking to have them turn to Him and away from their idolatry.

This is God’s character. He stands ready to help His people. All He wants is for them to look to Him. The same appeal that ends Hosea 13:9 holds to this day. God is appealing to mankind in the same way He did to Israel. “but in me is thine help.” 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Even to this day He wants people to turn to Him and His ways. And, since He made us, He does know what is best for us.

But, 2 Peter 3:10 brings a warning: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” God has a timetable and a plan for this world. By His plan, events will unfold and this world will come to an end. He will make a new heavens and a new earth. He won’t put off Hs plans forever. Opportunity to turn to Him is limited.

Echoing Hosea 13:9, Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God is gracious and kind and good. He yearns for us all to turn to Him no matter what we have done, just as He did in the days of Hosea.

Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. (Charlotte Elliott)

James 3:8-11

“But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”

The teaching in James 3:1-12 concludes with these four verses. In this passage James discusses the tongue. Here he calls it an unruly evil full of deadly poison. With the same tongue we bless God and curse men who are made in God’s likeness. This shouldn’t be so.

Our Lord Jesus Christ referred to the tongue in Matthew 15:17–20 where He spoke about what defiles a person. The apostles had been accused by the Pharisees of not following the law because they had not washed their hands before they ate. To the Pharisees, this would make them unclean. The Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the accusers pointing out that it is what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what goes in. Later, while explaining it to His disciples, he told them, “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

The problem with our tongue is our heart. According to Jesus’ words, what is in our heart will spill out of our tongue. We don’t want to be known as guilty of any of those things that Jesus listed. But Jesus said it is what fills our hearts. We have a sin nature that is untamed before God and refuses to have anything to do with Him or His ways. So, the tongue is untamable.

Jesus’ comments regarding this are nothing new. In Genesis 6:5 we read, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” This was said before the flood. After the flood, God said, in Genesis 8:21, “…for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” This is what our hearts look like to God.

In Exodus 15:22-24 we read, “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

God had mightily led the Israelites out of Egypt. He defeated the army of Egypt in the Red Sea. He led them in their journey day and night by a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud. In leading them He brought them to the place called Marah. And what did they do? They complained about the lack of water. God provided them so much and in so many ways that they should have realized that He was also well able to provide them drinkable water. But their tongues wagged and complained about God and His care for them.

This shows what was in their hearts. It wasn’t God’s provision that was at the top of their mind. It was their need of water. Yet Jesus revealed (it should be obvious) that God knows what we need (Matthew 6:8). He made us, and He is good. He certainly didn’t lead Israel into the desert to let them all die. His goal was to teach them to look to and trust in Him.

Our tongue often gets us into trouble. The evidence James gives is how we treat our fellow man with our tongue. So long as they are agreeable to us, we speak nicely. But if they cross us, the things we think to say are embarrassing when we reconsider them. Sometimes we say what we think, and afterwards we wish we had not. By then the damage is done, and, perhaps, a sincere apology will begin to make things right. Sometimes, there is no repairing the damage.

To fix our tongue, our heart needs to be fixed. Romans 10:9,10 tells us, “…that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” And 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

When God makes a change in our lives, He starts with the heart. When we accept His great gift of salvation through Jesus, our heart is changed, and our tongues will reveal that change. It is a life-long process, but through the change in our heart, God tames the tongue.

Savior, lead me, lest I stray,
Gently lead me all the way;
I am safe when by Thy side,
I would in Thy love abide.


Lead me, lead me, Savior, lead me lest I stray;
Gently down the stream of time,
Lead me, Savior, all the way.

Thou the refuge of my soul
When life’s stormy billows roll;
I am safe when Thou art nigh,
All my hopes on Thee rely.


Savior, lead me, then at last,
When the storm of life is past,
To the land of endless day,
Where all tears are wiped away.

Refrain (Frank M. Davis)