"As preaching intended to strip away those defenses which insulate us from the awareness of our own sin and need, and in doing so ready us to hear God's message of a full and free forgiveness of sin." - The Victor Bible Background Commentary - New Testament
In Hosea 14:9, the Prophet cried out - "...the ways of the LORD are right..."
What exactly are the "ways of the LORD" to which he was referring?
They include all of His Word, will, counsels, whole moral law, demands, requirements, precepts, and principles. They are the ways of His providence...all His conduct in the various dispensations...His ordering of events for us...and the singular purpose for our individual lives.
The Prophet Hosea described them as being "right." What he meant by this was that they are completely true - always direct, straight, just, and upright.
In Acts 13:10, we read how Paul referred to them as "the right ways of the Lord." In this particular Scripture, Elymas the sorcerer was advocating a crooked, perverse, complex, and devious path or doctrine - expressing the way of the sinner, imposter, and deceiver - while the Apostle's teaching was plain and straight - signifying integrity, sincerity, and truth.
In Acts 18:25, we see another reference to the "way of the Lord" meaning the doctrine or knowledge of the Christian religion. Here, mention is made to Apollos - "a certain Jew," "an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures" - as being "instructed in the way of the Lord." (Acts 18:24-25). He had some acquaintance with the foundational principles of Christianity as gathered from the Old Testament and concerning the Messiah to come. However, in Acts 18:26, we go on to read how Aquila and Priscilla "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." In other words, they offered him a full and accurate explanation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as well as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers.
The Prophet Hosea specified that it is the "just" who "walk" in the "ways of the Lord" (Hosea 14:9). As we all know, not everyone is living in conformity to the Lord's will for their lives. Many know of God's ways, but few are actually "putting them into practice" or accommodating their lifestyles to them.
In our midst are found the "transgressors" (Hosea 14:9). You will easily recognize them by their rebellion toward the law of God...their inability to conform to His standards of separation and holiness...their refusal to consider the necessity of depending on Him for everything...and their bitterness towards His interference in their lives or the difficulties which arise that oppose their various lusts and prejudices.
"...the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein" (Hosea 14:9).
This Scripture brings us to where we are today as a Church.
It is our wisdom and duty to know and understand God's ways. As the "just," we are not to "stand" in them - merely discussing, debating, teaching, or preaching about them. We are to "walk" in them - applying them to our lives, adhering to them, and obeying them.
The sad commentary is that there are "transgressors" even in the midst of our Churches who are "stumbling at the word, being disobedient" (1 Peter 2:8). Little do they realize that they are ignoring God's ways, and resultantly, stumbling right into judgment.
God has called His people to be "just" - not "transgressors" or rebels against His Holy Law. He has called them to follow His ways - not to fight or resist them.
This is where John the Baptist, Jehoshaphat, and Abraham come in. These three men have something to offer our generation. Their wisdom can be categorized under three headings - Our Message, Mission, and Starting Point.
1. Our Message
John 1:23 tells us - "He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah."
In this verse, John has outlined our message for us - "Make straight the way of the Lord." So many False Prophets and Teachers of today have made the teachings of Christ "crooked" - allowing anything and everything under the "umbrella" of righteousness, holiness, and salvation. They have transformed a Gospel which is very exclusive and made it very inclusive. They call "Christian" what God calls "an abomination." Instead of leading the people down the "straight and narrow path," they have constructed a "crooked path" which advocates winking at or making excuses for all kinds of sin and perversion of heart and life.
John called the people back to the original rule of God's law. And that is what our message should be as well. God has not changed. He did not alter His ways. They are still plain, straight, and narrow - and intended to do as our opening quote has advocated - "strip away those defenses which insulate us from the awareness of our own sin and need, and...ready us to hear God's message of a full and free forgiveness of sin."
2. Our Mission
2 Chronicles 17:6 says of King Jehoshaphat - "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah."
In 2 Chronicles 17:3, we read - "And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel."
Here was a King who did not merely "stand" in God's ways - he "walked" in them. He obeyed them and took great delight in them. With a fervency of spirit...a certain boldness and resolution - he put his whole heart into doing good - which in this case was ridding the nation of all idolatry.
Nothing will ever be accomplished for God unless it is done with a whole heart. In our day and time, idolatry abounds in and out of the Church. However, nothing will change unless our hearts are "lifted up in the ways of the LORD." We cannot expect others to follow after Him and His principles if we are not obeying Him ourselves.
3. Our Starting Point
Genesis 18:19 says of Abraham - "For I know Him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'
Abraham displayed genuine righteousness before God and men. Where did he start? In his home.
He did not fill his family's nor his servant's minds with worldly, distorted, or compromising notions about God. He instructed them in - "the ways of the LORD." In other words, he taught them how to - "do justice and judgment"...be serious and devout in their worship to God...and be honest in their dealings with all men.
If we expect the world to ever come to an understanding that - "The ways of the LORD are right..." - they must first see it displayed in our homes as we obey His commands and fulfill His will for our lives.
We have a message to deliver. It is - "Make straight the way of the Lord."
We have a mission before us. With all of our hearts, we must call an entire generation back to God.
We have a starting point. This reformation must take place first in our homes before it can spread throughout our communities.
"The ways of the LORD are right..."
Can I get a witness?