Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea, and more specifically, is found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the book. “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within me, all my compassions are kindled. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. They will walk after the Lord, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the Lord” (Hosea 11:8-10). Such powerful language is found within these three words—such words of tenderness, such words of affection, such words of compassion, such words of love. When you read these words, do you get the strong and very real sense that the Lord is desperately yearning over and for His people? When you read these words, do you feel your heart and spirit begin to stir within you—stir within you because of the tremendous lovingkindness and mercy of the Lord? You will recall in the third chapter of this book the Lord instructing the prophet Hosea to go again and love a woman who was loved by another man, one who was an adulteress, and I am convinced that what we read in this particular chapter is directly connected and related to the instruction Hosea was given. If there is one thing we must realize when dealing with and contemplating the reality of the God we serve, it’s that the Lord has never, can never, and will never ask us to do anything He Himself is not willing to do, or has not been willing to do Himself. The Lord could instruct Hosea to go again and love a woman who was loved by another man, who was an adulteress, for the Lord Himself would go again and love a people who were loved by others, and who were adulterers. The Lord could instruct Hosea to go again and love a woman who had betrayed his trust, his confidence and his affections, for the Lord Himself would go again and love a people who had betrayed His trust, His confidence, and His affections.
If we are truly willing to be open and honest with ourselves, we have betrayed the trust, the confidence and the affection of the Lord. The prophet was right when he declared that “all we like sheep have gone astray,” and the psalmist was right when he wrote that “there is no one righteous, no not one.” The apostle Paul was correct when he wrote that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Perhaps this is what was so powerful in Jesus’ interaction with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, for His words to her condemners and would be executioners were “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” How absolutely incredible it is that immediately after He spoke those words, He stooped down and begin writing in the dirt once more. I find it absolutely amazing that Jesus didn’t speak to or address the woman until after her accusers and would be executioners had left and gone from her. Jesus didn’t speak to this woman until it was just He and her alone there with a pile of stones. JESUS, THE ADULTERER, AND A PILE OF STONES. JESUS, THE WHORE, AND A PILE OF STONES! JESUS, DIRT, AND A PILE OF STONES! Oh that we would recognize that we share the same testimony as this woman, for there have been times when we have been caught in the act—caught in the act of adultery. Lest you think that I am far off with this reality, consider that the man who had a heart after God was in the same position and place as this woman. I speak of course of David—poet, psalmist, warrior, king and lover—for when David was confronted by Nathan the prophet, he was one who was caught in the act. When Nathan the prophet came to David, he confronted him and was forced to face the reality that he had been exposed and caught in the very act. Consider the account of David’s interaction with Nathan the prophet as recorded in the Old Testament. “And the Lord sent Nathan to David.” Pause for a moment and consider those words, and allow the weight and meaning of them pierce and penetrate your heart and soul before the Lord. Have you taken a minute to do so? I understand you might be fearful and even somewhat leery of doing such a thing, but I assure you it is both necessary and vital.
Consider the words “And the Lord sent Nathan to David,” and consider them in response to the final words of the previous chapter in the book of Second Samuel—“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” Now read them together without a break between chapters, and without what appears to be a break in thought. “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan to David.” The thing which David had done displeased the Lord, so what did the Lord do? The thing which David did displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to him—not to condemn him, not to judge him, not to criticize him, but as a divine act of mercy and grace toward David. The thing which David had done displeased the Lord, yet the Lord was unwilling to let David go. The Lord wasn’t willing to allow David to continue down the destructive path upon which he was traveling, so He raised up and sent a prophet to him. “And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him. Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. Nathan said to David, You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised men and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun. David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David, The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die. Then Nathan went to his house” (2 Samuel 12:1-15).
Please don’t miss the significance and weight of those words spoken to David—“YOU ARE THE MAN!” Really pay close attention to those words, and allow the weight and reality of them to sink into to your heart and spirit. Lest you begin thinking that it is not possible for you to be caught in the act—in the very act—consider David who was a man after God’s own heart. Consider David who was raised up from among the sheep, and was anointed to stand and serve before the house of Israel and king and ruler. Consider that David was a poet, a worshipper, and one who fought bravely, courageously and valiantly the battles of the Lord, and the battles of the Lord’s people. David was one who led the army of Israel into battle against their enemies, against their adversaries and against their foes, and yet it was this same David who had sinned against the Lord. David was the man after God’s own heart, and yet David found himself caught in the act—caught in the act of adultery, caught in the act of murder, caught in the act of deception and lies. Though the deed had already been done and completed, David had been caught and exposed by the Lord through the prophet Nathan. This woman was caught in the act of adultery, and was brought to Jesus in order that He might be tested concerning His response. I am absolutely amazed at Jesus’ response for before Jesus even spoke a single word to this woman, He first began to stoop down and write in the dirt. When the madness of what He was doing finally wore on this woman’s accusers, Jesus stood up and made the very bold and powerful declaration—“Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” Immediately after speaking these words, Jesus stooped back down in the dirt and wrote again. One by one each of this woman’s accusers dropped their stones and walked away from her going their separate ways and returning to their homes. What I find to be so absolutely mind-blowing and breathtaking is that Jesus has absolutely no problem or issue with being alone with us in the midst of our dirt with a pile of stones. Jesus has absolutely no issue with getting down in the midst of your dirt, and then remaining with you there in the dirt as the stones of condemnation, judgment and accusation begin to fall one by one, until they form a pile of stones. BUILDING AN ALTAR UNTO THE LORD WITH THE STONES OF YOUR CONDEMNATION AND ACCUSATION.
What an absolutely incredible and powerful picture it is to think about this woman taking each and every one of those stones that were in the hands of others—stones of judgment, accusation and condemnation—and building an altar to the Lord her God with them. BUILDING AN ALTAR FROM THE STONES OF YOUR CONDEMNATION. BUILDING AN ALTAR WITH THE STONES OF YOUR ACCUSATION. BUILDING AN ALTER WITH THE STONES OF YOUR JUDGMENT. What’s more, is that such altars are built in the midst of your dirt—in the midst of all that is unclean, impure and vile within you. There is not a doubt in my mind that this woman was forcefully removed from the environment she was in—removed from the environment of adultery, immorality and fornication—and cast into the dirt before Jesus. [There is a very powerful warning and word of caution to any demon in hell, and to any self-righteous, legalistic, hypocritical brother or sister in Christ who attempts to cast another down in the dirt before Jesus Christ. If you are going to try and cast another down into the dirt, be sure you don’t do it in front of Jesus. Oh, you may attempt to cast your brother or sister into the dirt and raise stones in your hand to execute them, but you dare not attempt such a harsh act before Jesus. Jesus has absolutely no problem or reservation with getting down in your dirt with you, and even writing in the midst of your dirt. Oh, what message do you believe the Lord is writing in your dirt? Perhaps the Lord is writing in your dirt an entirely new path and course for your life. Perhaps the Lord stoops down into your dirt in order to rewrite the story of your life—to rewrite it under the banner of hope, the banner of redemption, and the banner of forgiveness. Oh dear brother and sister—even you who are in positions of authority and leadership within the body of Christ—do not presume to think that you can cast others into the dirt before Jesus the Christ. Jesus is comfortable in the dirt, for if you remember correctly, it was from the dust and dirt of the earth that the Lord God created Adam. Oh, man will attempt to cast you down into the dirt—the dirt of shame, the dirt of condemnation, the dirt of guilt, the dirt of accusation, the dirt of rejection, the dirt of legalism, the dirt of judgment, the dirt of filth and mire—yet we must recognize and understand that we serve a God who is comfortable with the dirt.
In the beginning the Lord formed Adam from the dust and dirt of the earth, and in the Gospel of John, Jesus stooped and got down in the midst of the dirt and dust of the earth where this woman was—dirt of condemnation, dirt of shame, dirt of embarrassment, dirt of judgment, dirt of judgment, dirt of accusation—and He wrote in it. In the beginning the Lord formed man from the dirt, and in the Gospel of John Jesus wrote in the dirt. Man would attempt to cast us down into the dirt and dust of our carnal and sinful nature, yet Jesus would seek to be there in order to write down in the midst of it. How absolutely amazing it is that Jesus stooped down to write in the midst of the very substance we were created and formed from, and He did so in order to silence our condemnation and accusation. This woman was cast down into the dirt, almost as if her real accuser and adversary was condemning her to the very substance she was made from. In the end, it was just Jesus alone with this woman in the midst of her dirt surrounded by a pile of stones. ALONE WITH JESUS IN YOUR DIRT SURROUNDED BY A PILE OF STONES. This was where David was, although there was no one there to accuse or condemn him in his actions. The prophet Nathan was sent to him, for it was a powerful and passionate demonstration that the Lord wasn’t willing to let him go, and was willing to pursue him. The Lord didn’t send the prophet Nathan to condemn David, but in oder that David might be restored to right fellowship and right relationship with the Father. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Oh, your accuser would seek to cast you down into the midst of dirt of condemnation, dirt of shame, dirt of accusation, and dirt of judgment, yet Jesus will be there writing in the midst of it on your behalf.
What is Jesus writing in the midst of your dirt? What I think is so incredibly powerful, is that that dirt belonged to that woman—despite the fact that she had been cast down into the midst of the dirt of shame, the dirt of guilt, and the dirt of condemnation. That dirt—that plot of earth and ground—would forever belong to that woman. Oh, I can’t help but wonder if that woman ever took the time to return to that very place and recalled and remembered how she had been cast face down in the midst of the dirt, and how Jesus stooped down in the dirt and began writing with His finger. I can’t help but wonder if she ever returned to that place and recalled how she had been caught in the act of adultery, and how she had been brought before Jesus in order to see what Jesus would do, and how He would respond. Did she ever return to that place and think to herself, “This was where I was cast down into the dirt before Jesus as others raised stones in their hands ready to hurl them at me, yet this was the place where I encountered grace and mercy.” WHAT SOUND DO STONES FALLING TO THE GROUND MAKE? THE TESTIMONY OF STONES FALLING TO THE GROUND! THE SONG OF FALLING STONES! Oh, have you heard the song of falling stones lately? Have you built an altar from the stones which were raised in condemnation and accusation against you? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if this woman went around and picked up all those stones which remained there on the ground and brought them home with her. How absolutely wonderful and powerful it would be if this woman went around and picked up all these stones, and then brought them home with her and erected and built an altar to the Lord there in her home. What if this woman kept these stones as a reminder of the tremendous grace and mercy she was shown by the One they called Jesus the Christ. What if this woman picked up each of these stones and wept over each one as she held them in her hands, for she remembered how there were none left to accuse or condemn her. “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
How powerful it is to think that this woman could have picked up each one of these stones and brought them home with her as a reminder of how Jesus the Christ got down in her dirt and silenced the voice of her accusers. Not only did Jesus silence the voice of her accusers, but He also sent them away one by one, beginning with the oldest. Tell me dear brother and/or sister—aren’t you grateful and thankful that Jesus the Christ is willing to get down in the midst of your dirt. Jesus is willing to get down into your very nature—your very sinful, carnal and corrupt nature—and He is willing to rewrite the spiritual DNA that is present within you. Adam was created and formed from the dust, and it was that nature that had become corrupt and marred by sin. Oh, we serve a living and active Jesus who is more than willing to get down in the midst of our dirt—in the midst of our sinful and corrupt nature—in order that He might silence the voice of our accuser(s). The word of the Lord to you this day is the same that was spoken to Ephraim and Israel through the prophet Hosea. The word of the Lord to you this day is the same word that was spoken to David when confronted by Nathan the prophet. The word of the Lord to you this day is the same word that was spoken to the woman caught in the act of adultery and cast down into the dirt. “How can I give you up, O daughter? How can I give you up, O son?” “How can I surrender you, my child? How can I make you like that which has become desolate and destroyed? How can I treat you like that which is nothing more than a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, where no grass grows? How can I make you like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which I overthrew in my anger and wrath? My heart is turned over within me, and all my compassions are kindled.”
Can you hear the tender love and mercy of your Father in heaven who is unwilling to give you up and surrender you? Behold, you have been engraved on the palm of His hands—engraved in the palm of His hands as eternal reminder of the sacrifice that was presented to the Father on the cross at Calvary two thousand years ago. The Lord is God and not man, the Holy One in our midst, and He desires that we walk after Him. The Lord will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west. “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has done it? For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets. THE LION HAS ROARED; WHO WILL NOT FEAR? THE LORD GOD HAS SPOKEN; WHO CAN BUT PROPHESY?” The Lion of the tribe of Judah is roaring in the earth during these Last Days; who will not fear. Let us as the people of God hear the voice of our Savior inviting us to rise from the dirt of our condemnation, the dirt of our sin, the dirt of our rebellion, the dirt of our guilt, the dirt of our judgment, the dirt of our immorality, the dirt of our adultery, and let us pick up the stones held by our accusers, and build an altar and monument to the Lord our God who will not give us up, nor surrender us.
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