It’s Time to be Offended In the House of God Again

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea, and more specifically, is found in the fifth chapter of the book. Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the prophetic writings contained within the Old Testament, is that there were specific prophets who thundered in the land like prophetic hammers which struck the hearts and minds of the people. If you read the words of the ancient Hebrew prophets, you will discover that there was absolutely no shame in the message(s) they proclaimed to the people. You will discover the ancient prophets heard the word of the Lord whispered in their ears, and they could not remain silent, nor could they alter what they heard the word of the Lord speaking. More specifically, if you read the prophetic writings of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and especially Hosea, you will find the house of Israel being likened unto a whore and a harlot in the earth. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah to hear them being likened unto and compared to a whore, or a prostitute, or a harlot within the land. The ancient Hebrew prophets had absolutely no shame or reservation in comparing the houses of Israel and Judah to whores and harlots within the land, for the words which they spoke were not their own. It wasn’t the prophets themselves who were speaking of the houses of Israel and Judah as whores and harlots, but the Lord God Himself—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It was the God of Israel—the God who delivered them from Egypt, led them forty years in the wilderness, and brought them into the land of Canaan who was speaking to them as a promiscuous whore and harlot within the land. The prophet Hosea was instructed by the Lord to take for a wife a woman of harlotry, for the Lord had taken for Himself a wife of harlotry, a woman who was adulterous and promiscuous and unfaithful in her ways. There is such a scandal and offense and controversy surrounding the Lord speaking to His people as a whore and harlot within the land, yet that was how the Lord viewed their actions and behaviors before Him in the earth. If it were up to us, we would undoubtedly remove such language and verbiage from the Scripture, for such language offends our sensibility and our nature. After all, who desires or wants to be likened unto a whore or a harlot? Moreover, who truly desires to be likened unto a promiscuous prostitute who spends her nights—and perhaps even some of her days—gratifying her sinful lusts, desires, passions, and pleasures.

If you read the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Hosea, you will find that the Lord uses the word “harlot” a number of times in reference to His people. When the chapter opens up and begins, the Lord provides a staggering and sobering commentary on the state and condition of the land. “Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a cast against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:1-2). These words provide us with such a powerful description of how degraded and immoral the culture and society had become within the land of Ephraim and Samaria. The Lord begins this prophetic message to the house of Israel by describing how corrupt and defiled the moral climate of the land had actually become. So polluted had the land become that there was no faithfulness, there was no kindness, and there was no knowledge of God in the land. It was in this type of climate and atmosphere the prophet Hosea was thrust into the midst of to declare the prophetic word of the Lord. The prophet Hosea was instructed to make known to the house of Israel their sins, their transgression, their wickedness and their rebellion, and was to hold absolutely nothing back. In fact, when you come to the sixth verse of this chapter, you will find a sobering reality concerning the land of Israel—“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” In the first verse of this chapter, we find that there was no knowledge of God in the land. In the sixth verse, we find that the people of God were destroyed for lack of knowledge, but we also find the reason for the absence of knowledge, and the destruction that results—“Because you have rejected knowledge.” There was no knowledge of God in the land because the inhabitants of the land rejected it, and their rejection of knowledge exposed and caused them to be vulnerable to destruction. The Lord clearly and emphatically stated that His people were destroyed for lack of knowledge, and we would be incredibly wise to hear and pay close attention to these words, for we too are destroyed for lack of knowledge. We are destroyed for lack of knowledge of God in the land, for lack of knowledge of God in our homes, for lack of knowledge of God in our places of employment, for lack of knowledge in our government, and even for lack of knowledge of God in our churches.

When you come to the tenth verse of this chapter, you will find the first use and mention of the word “harlot” in this chapter—“They will eat, but not have enough; they will play the harlot, but not increase, because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord.” Oh, I am convinced that there is an incredibly sobering and powerful reality that is contained within this verse, for it reveals the source and foundation of our playing the harlot within the land. The prophet declared to the people that they had stopped giving heed to the Lord, and I would dare say that it was that refusal to give heed to the Lord, which caused them to play the harlot within the land. Consider the account of David king of Israel, and how he found himself not only committing adultery with a married woman, but also attempting to lie about and cover it up. When David recognized that he could not lie or cover up his transgression, he resorted to the ultimate scheme to conceal his transgression—murder. When David realized that he could not conceal or hide his transgression, he had the husband of the woman whom he had committed adultery with killed in battle. Isn’t it interesting that David had this man killed in the very same environment and atmosphere that he himself should have been in. It’s worth noting that had David chosen to go out to battle with the army of Israel, a number of lives would have been spared. Had David chosen to call for his chariot and go out with his men into battle, Uriah’s life would have been spared, and even his own son Absalom’s life would have been spared. What’s more, is that as a result of David’s actions, his daughter was raped and sexually abused, and the son and brother who committed the act was violently murdered by Absalom. Even more, the child which was conceived as a result of this act of adultery also perished before the Lord—despite David’s intercession throughout the night. It was at the time when kings went out to battle that David chose instead to remain at home—to remain home in the comfort, the ease, and the security of his palace. The reason I mention this, is because David himself played the whore and harlot in the land when he chose to remain at home instead of going out into battle. I am convinced that our stopping and refusing to give heed to the Lord can be likened unto David choosing to remain in the comfort and security of his palace rather than join the army of Israel in battle. The house of Israel played the harlot within the earth because they stopped giving heed to the Lord—they stopped worshipping the Lord at His holy sanctuary and Temple. They played the harlot when the stopped giving heed to the Lord—when they stopped praying and seeking the face of the Lord. Oh we too stop giving heed to the Lord when we stop reading our Bibles, when we stop fellowshipping with other believers, when we stop worshipping the Lord with our sacrifices and offerings, when we stop praying and interceding in the secret closet of prayer, when we stop studying Scripture, when we stop tithing and bringing our offerings to the Lord. If you are honest with yourself and with the Lord, are there areas in your life where you have stopped giving heed to the Lord? Are you playing the harlot in your life because you have stopped giving heed to the Lord?

CALLING ALL HARLOTS! ATTENTION ALL WHORES! Do I have your attention yet? Have these words offended you? Have these words somehow violated your sensibility? Have these words caused you to rise up in defensiveness within your heart and soul? If such words somehow offend you, I would strongly caution you stay away from the fourth and fifth chapters of the prophetic book of Hosea. Of course, I recognize that it is unwise to pick and choose which portions of the Scripture you will read and adhere to, so to avoid, or somehow dismiss such realities as are found in these chapters would be to subtract from the word of God in your life. Consider what it would have been like for the house of Israel to hear the words “harlot,” “whore,” “harlotries,” “whoredoms,” and various other words which the prophets used to awaken them from their slumber, their apathy, and their lethargy. If you read this chapter, and the next, you will find the Lord seeking to shock His people with language and words that undoubtedly would have offended them, and perhaps even make them angry. Tell me—when was the last time a preacher made you angry? When was the last time you were offended because of what a minister said from behind the pulpit? When was the last time you wanted to rise from your seat and storm out the doors of the sanctuary because of what was preached from behind the pulpit? I am not speaking of being offended because of something hurtful that was spoken to you, but because the word of the Lord offended you. When was the last time the Word of God offended you? When was the last time the Word of God caused you to become so angry that you slammed the Bible shut? When was the last time you became so angry when reading the Scripture that you might have even slammed the Scripture down upon the desk or table? Please understand that I am not advocating violence of any kind in the sanctuary or in your home or private place of study and prayer. What I am speaking of when asking these questions is the need for us as the people of God to become offended more often and more frequently. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Is it possible that we have far too many incompetent and ill-equipped men and women in the house of the Lord today because they are unable to be corrected, rebuked, and reproved by the word of God? Is it possible that there are far too many incompetent, immature, ill-equipped infants and toddlers in the sanctuary of the Lord, simply because they cannot be offended by the word of God, or by the preaching of the word of God. There were those in Jesus’ days who were offended at His teaching, His preaching, and His words because He not only challenged their legalism, their hypocrisy, and their self-righteousness, but because He effectively destroyed the smoke and mirrors they had set up. If you ask me, I would dare say that there is a tremendous need for offense to rise up and be present in the sanctuary of the Lord once more. Where are those ministers who are willing to faithfully proclaim the word of the Lord to the people in the sanctuary—despite the fact that there might be those who are offended, those who might walk out, and those who might even leave the church altogether. “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Oh, there are very few among us who want to be cut and pierced by the word of God—whether it is preached from behind the pulpit, or whether it is read in our secret closet of prayer. There is a great need in this generation for the Word of God to once more offend men and women—to make them so angry that they actually change their ways, their attitudes, their behaviors, and the way they speak. There is a great need in this generation for preaching that offends men and women, and even causes them to be angry because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that is upon it. Tell me dear brother or sister—would you rather be offended and enter into the kingdom of heaven than to be coddled and cajoled and enter into hell and eternal damnation. Is it possible that if you are still able to be offended in the house of the Lord, or in your secret closet of prayer that you are still able to experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Heaven help us if we are no longer offended by the Word of God, and if we are no longer able to be convicted, reproved or rebuked by the word of God. Oh that people would be offended in the house of God more often. Oh that people would be offended in the secret closet of prayer more often. Yes, the Word of God is powerful to encourage and strengthen us and provide us with hope, comfort and peace, but it must also correct, rebuke, reprove and convict us. Oh that there would be a people in the earth who would experience the offense and the scandal of the Gospel, and who would experience the offense of the word of God in their lives.

In the eleventh verse of this chapter, we find another variation of “harlot” used in the prophetic discourse and message given to the people. “Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding.” When you come to the very next verse, you will find a reality that is perhaps the strongest in the entire chapter—“My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviners’ wand informs them; FOR A SPIRIT OF HARLOTRY HAS LED THEM ASTRAY, AND THEY HAVE PLAYED THE HARLOT, DEPARTING FROM THEIR GOD” (Hosea 4:12). Please don’t miss the significance and power of this verse and these words, for the prophet reveals something that was present within and among the people and inhabitants of the land—“a spirit of harlotry has led them astray.” Just what does this spirit of harlotry look like, and how does it lead them astray? I am convinced that we are given a powerful glimpse at what it looks like in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, for it is in this book where Solomon reveals how this “spirit of harlotry” truly works and operates in the earth today. “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simply, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she ways to him, I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home. With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 8:6-27).

In this passage of Proverbs we see exactly how the spirit of harlotry works, and how it seeks to capture and ensure the simple, the youths, and those young ones who are lacking sense. The spirit of harlotry is in operation in the earth and will go after those who are simple and lacking in sense, and will attempt to allure and captivate them. If you pay close attention to the words of Solomon in this passage, you will finally encounter and come face to face with the description of how this spirit operates—“With much seductive speech she persuades him” and “with her smooth talk she compels him.” If you want to understand this spirit of harlotry which laid hold of the house of Israel, you must understand this particular passage in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, for it’s in this chapter where we find the spirit of harlotry at work. This spirit of harlotry attempted to lay hold of Joseph in Potiphar’s house in the land of Egypt, and he resisted and even fled from it—even leaving his cloak behind in the adulteress’ hands. This spirit of harlotry attempted to lay hold of David in the city of Jerusalem, and caused him to remain in the comfort and security of the palace of Jerusalem instead of going out to battle. This spirit of harlotry caused David to seek after and pursue Bathsheba after beholding her bathing from his rooftop. This spirit of harlotry attempted to lay hold of Solomon, son of David king of Israel, and actually ensnared and captivated him the most. “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORd had said to the people of Israel, You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, the after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, and on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8).

AND HIS WIVES TURNED AWAY HIS HEART! HIS WIVES TURNED AWAY HIS HEART AFTER OTHER GODS! HISA HEART WAS NOT WHOLLY TRUE TO THE LORD HIS GOD! SOLOMON DID WHAT WAS EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD! DID NOT WHOLLY FOLLOW THE LORD!

Recognize the prize and the target of the spirit of harlotry in the earth today—your heart. The spirit of harlotry will seek to captivate and allure you in order to turn your heart away from the Lord. Notice that Solomon’s wives didn’t merely turn his heart, didn’t merely turn his heart away from the Lord, but turned his heart after other gods. This spirit of harlotry which the prophet Hosea spoke about was present during the days of Joseph, was present during the days of David, was present during the days of Solomon, and was even present during the days of Job—“For I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully upon another woman.” Hosea describes how the spirit of harlotry led astray the inhabitants of the land, and that was exactly what happened to Solomon, as his wives turned his heart away from the Lord, and led him astray. The prophet Hosea declared how the spirit of harlotry led astray the inhabitants of the land, and that was exactly what the spirit of harlotry did to the one whom Solomon saw from the lattice of his house—for the one whom he saw was led away as an ox to the slaughter. IF you read the thirteenth verse of this chapter, you will find a powerful description of what this spirit of harlotry will produce within the human heart if it is able to captivate and ensnare it. “They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth because their shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters play the harlot and your brides commit adultery.” The spirit of harlotry led Solomon astray, and as a result, he engaged in idolatrous worship of the false gods of the nations surrounding Israel, and even built high places and altars for them. The spirit of harlotry led the house of Israel astray, and they build altars, high places, and various other shrines and places of worship within and throughout the land. Oh that we would recognize that in these Last Days, the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord desires to expose the spirit of harlotry within the land, and bring us face to face with how it operates.

Oh that we would recognize and understand the spirit of harlotry even in the church, for yes, it is found within the church. “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance that they your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, THAT YOU TOLERATE THAT WOMAN JEZEBEL, WHO CALLS HERSELF A PROPHETESS AND IS TEACHING AND SEDUCING MY SERVANTS TO PRACTICE SEXUAL IMMORALITY AND TO EAT FOOD SACRIFICED TO IDOLS. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give each of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:18-23). The spirit of harlotry was present within Jezebel, and Jezebel was tolerated within the church in Thyatria—a reality which is found even within the house of God in these Last Days. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The spirit of harlotry and the spirit of Jezebel are present and at work—even within the house of the Lord—and are especially active in these Last Days. The spirit of harlotry works in close connection and proximity with the spirit of the antichrist, and it is my prayer that the Spirit of the sovereign God would expose both in the house of the Lord. Oh, if your heart is being led astray after anything other than God—even if right now it might only be in a small measure—the spirit of harlotry is at work within your life.

The spirit of harlotry is at work when you feel your heart growing distant, cold, numb and indifferent toward God—toward prayer, toward intercession, toward reading the Scripture, toward fellowship, toward worship, toward praise. The spirit of harlotry is at work within your home when your husband or wife is led astray and is being allured after other men or women. The spirit of harlotry is at work and might even be present within your home if you find yourself being drawn away and enticed by the idols that are present within this culture. This spirit of harlotry was found within Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar built a golden statute of himself, and demanded all within the provinces to fall down before and worship it. This spirit of harlotry was present during the days of Darius the Mede, for it issued a decree against any prayer that took place in the realm except to the king himself. The spirit of harlotry will seek to assault and attack both prayer and worship—two realities which we must guard with all diligence, perseverance and endurance. Oh that we would see and recognize this spirit of harlotry that is present within our homes, within our families, within our marriages, within our churches, and within the land, and that we would expose and drive it out from our midst. Let us recognize and understand that this spirit of harlotry will assault and attack our knowledge of God, as expressed in the fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Hosea—“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord” (Hosea 5:4). Holy Spirit, would you expose those areas and places where the spirit of harlotry is present within our lives as your people and as your children, and would you expose those areas where the spirit of Jezebel is present. Would you open our eyes to anything that would seek to lead us astray, and cause our hearts to turn away from the true and living God.

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