************ Sermon on Hosea 13:12 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 18, 2005

Hosea 13
Hosea 13:12
"God's Record Book"

I God Keeps Track
A Our text tells us in no uncertain terms that God keeps careful track of our sins. Ephraim's iniquity is not forgotten by the Lord; it is written down, sin by sin. God keeps track. He has a record. "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12).

This is not the only time the Bible speaks of God's record keeping.
(Rev 20:12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
(Cf Ex. 32:32; Ps 56:8; Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16).

Whereas Revelation speaks of a book, we know that Hosea speaks of a scroll. The point is, whether it is on a book or a scroll, the Lord has recorded Ephraim's sins. Not one sin escapes His attention. All are written down. And, Israel's recorded sins are readily available for future reference so they can be easily introduced as evidence on the day of judgment.
I read an article this past weekend on the Road Safety RS-1000. Plug it into the data link connector beneath the dash of any car or truck. Accelerate too rapidly and the box beeps; take a turn too sharply and it rattles; slow down too quickly and it beeps. The alerts should make your teenager a better driver.
Its coolest feature from a parent's point-of-view is you can download all its data to your computer. Once there, you can view a graph displaying driving activity second-by-second, so you can show your child the precise instant he or she exceeded 80 mph and got grounded for life.
Early in 2006 the RS-1000 is coming equipped with a GPS (global positioning satellite) module. Not only will you be able to track how your kids are driving, but then you will also be able to track exactly where they have been driving.
God doesn't use a computer or a satellite, of course. Nevertheless, our sins are as accessible to Him as teenage driving habits are accessible to us.

B "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). But, the Bible also teaches us that God forgives us our sins and does not hold them against us. Consider what the prophet Micah says:
(Micah 7:18-19) Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. (19) You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
So, doesn't it seem that Micah contradicts what Hosea says? How can God both forgive sins and keep records of sins? Is Hosea right or is Micah right?

Both are right, of course. God certainly remembers all our sins, but He does not hold them against us if we believe in Jesus. He forgets nothing. Yet, if we know and confess Jesus, He forgets everything.

We who are sinful and fallen love to pick and choose one doctrine over another. In this case, we love to say God forgives all our sins instead of saying He records all our sins. But this doesn't work! Those who want to believe they don't need to worry about their sins receive a message from Hosea. The prophet gives the frightening news that Ephraim's sins are tied up in a scroll and kept on record.

This applies not just to Ephraim but to you and me as well.

C "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). As we have been going through Hosea it has become painfully clear what sins of Ephraim have been written on the scroll. Hosea does not try to soft-pedal the people's sins. But, then, Hosea is a true prophet of God.

You need to realize that true prophets are not interested in building a false sense of security among the people of God by telling them how godly, how holy, how faithful, and how obedient they are. True prophets came not to sing Israel's praises but to call her to repentance. Therefore they made no attempt to hide the sinfulness and godlessness of the covenant people.

"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). What sins are recorded on God's scroll? What is it that Ephraim is guilty of?
-the land is guilty of adultery in departing from the Lord (1:2)
-she has not acknowledged that the Lord was the One Who gave her grain, new wine, oil, silver, and gold (2:8)
-she burned incense to the Baals and forgot the Lord (2:13)
-no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land (4:1)
-cursing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery (4:2)
-lack of knowledge about God and the things of God (4:6)
-ignored the law of God (4:6)
-they consult a wooden idol (4:12)
-they are stubborn (4:16)
-they practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets (7:1)
-she mixes with the nations (7:8)
-she follows a foreign policy based on treaties and bribes rather than on faith in God (7:11; 12:2)
-they make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field (10:4)
-the merchant uses dishonest scales (12:7)

What a list! And, I have not stated every sin Hosea has written down. All of these are recorded on God's scroll. And, can be used at some future point as evidence.

What a list! This is the people of God we are talking about. The children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. The people called out of Egypt. The people cared for in the desert.

D "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). I've already indicated that God keeps a record of our sins as well. Let me illustrate this with a story called "The Room" that was passed on to me a number of years ago.
Topic: Christ
Subtopic: Blood of
Index: 679
Date: 2/1998.101
Title: The Room

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.
As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "People I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have Betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents."
I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my short life to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my own signature.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
Yes, God keeps a record of your sins and my sins too just as He kept a record of Israel's sins.

Christians know or at least they should know that their guilt grows day-by-day. This is quite a confession to make. Because this means we are admitting that our record of sins, our file, is getting bigger and thicker and filling an entire room.

E "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). God is angry with the sins of His people. He is angry with the sin they are born with as well as with the sin they personally commit. He is so angry that He calls on the powers of death and the forces of hell to consume the godless nation:
(Hosea 13:14) Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? I will have no compassion ...
After the cross and grave of Christ, Paul uses almost the exact same words as words of triumph and promise. But Hosea uses these words as words of threat and punishment.

Someday, as you all know, the books will be opened. Every person will be judged for what is recorded there.
(Eccl 12:14) For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

(Mat 12:36) But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

(Rev 20:12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
This will happen on the Day of Judgment, the day of Christ's return.

Someday the records will be revealed, the books will be opened, and our sins will be displayed for all to see. When our secret sins are exposed to the light of day and judged, each and every sinner will have to bow his head and say, "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments." (Rev 16:7).

II Man Keeps Track
A "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). If we are honest about it, we would admit we don't want God to keep records. Or, if records must be kept, we would like it better if God lets us decide what goes into our file.

If we were in charge of our record keeping, the files would look much, much different, wouldn't they?!

First, there are many sins we would forget or neglect to record. We commit so many sins who can keep track of them all? And, so many seem so trivial they hardly seem worth writing down and repeating. So, yes, our file would look completely different than God's file.

Second, if we were in charge of record keeping we would focus our attention on our neighbor's sins rather than our own. Let's be honest here. All of us are better at picking out the sins of the neighbor than at noticing our own sins. All of us will worry that our neighbor will forget to record some of her sins so we will do it for her. And that would keep us so busy that we would never get around to writing down our own sins.

Third, our hearts are so deceitful and so corrupt that we would list some of our liabilities as assets. We would turn vices into virtues. If we are greedy, for instance, we will fool ourselves into thinking we are good and careful stewards of what God has given us. If we lie and exaggerate, we fool ourselves into saying we know how to tell a good story. If we are lazy, we fool ourselves into thinking we put our families first. If we are angry and resentful, we fool ourselves into thinking ours is a righteous anger.

Yes, we would certainly like it if God left it to us to record our sins. But He doesn't!

B "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). God insists on keeping a record of our every sin. No matter how small they might seem, no matter how trivial they are, keeping track of our sins is a matter of God's honor. To make sure not one sin is forgotten, to make sure vices are not turned into virtues, God assigns the task of keeping the records to no one other than Himself.

III The Difference Between Hosea and Paul
"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record" (Hosea 13:12). I already mentioned the difference between Hosea and Paul when it comes to verse 14:
(Hosea 13:14) Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
Hosea looks at the record of sins and means this as a threat. Paul sees the same sin and turns it into a cry of victory. Why this difference? How is it that Hosea rightly calls upon death and pestilence to strike Israel, while Paul laughs at death and asks what became of its sting? How can Hosea call upon the destructive powers of hell while Paul commands them to go away? How can Hosea's threat be turned into Paul's shout of triumph?

I like to answer this by continuing the story I started before. Remember, the person in our story is looking with horror at the record of his lustful thoughts.
Topic: Christ
Subtopic: Blood of
Index: 679
Date: 2/1998.101
Title: The Room

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them! In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot.
Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than 3 inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards.
But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards.
I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.
He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

Do you see how Hosea's threat gets turned to Paul's shout of triumph? It is possible only because the cross of Christ stands between Hosea and Paul. You see, for those who believe, all their sins are recorded; but they are paid for by Christ. He shouldered them. He bore them. He suffered their punishment.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page