The Growth of Sin (1)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School
Hosea 8:7: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”
I have something in my pocket. I found it in the woods. It was very easy to pick up. It doesn’t weigh much. Nobody had to teach me any special skill in order to pick up this item. It’s an acorn. Anyone could pick it up.
Now we have to use our imaginations a bit. Let’s imagine I kept the acorn in my pocket but it started to grow. What would happen after a while? Let’s not concentrate on how silly I would look to people while I walked around with an oak tree growing our of my pocket! For a while, I would still have no problem getting around. When the acorn first sprouts, the tree is not very big. For the first couple of years, the sapling would not be very heavy. I could get around. Let’s imagine, though, the great burden of an oak tree I would have to carry in 25 years! Oak trees can grow very large. I worked in some woods last summer. Many of the trees had been cut down, but the land owner had left the trunks lying on the ground. I did not even bother to try to pick up or move those tree trunks. I couldn’t do it. So, although I can easily carry this acorn today, if I were to plant this acorn in the ground and wait 25 years while the tree grew, the oak tree would be far too big for me to carry.
Sin is like the acorn. Because our first father, Adam, fell into sin, we are corrupt by nature. Just as I did not need any special training to pick up the acorn, we do not need anybody to teach us how to sin. It comes naturally. Our sins seem to start small, just as the sprouting oak tree is small. When we were really little, we were limited in the ways we could sin. Since we could not yet talk, we could not sin against our parents by talking back to them. Once we learned how to talk, we could sin against our parents with the words we spoke. Those of you who are the first born in your family, had no brothers or sisters against whom you could sin because they had not yet been born. Almost all of you now have brothers and sisters, and we do not always treat them in a godly way. We sin against them. As you grow older, the ways in which you can sin will grow too.
Sin grows, just as does the acorn. Because sin grows, we have to be very careful every day, by looking to the Triune God in faith and abiding in Jesus Christ our strength.
The history of Israel teaches us about the growth of sin. When the northern ten tribes first began, Jeroboam was their first king. He could not allow the people to return to Jerusalem where God was to be worshipped. He knew if the people went there, they would think again about leaving the worship of God in Jerusalem. The people might refuse to follow Jeroboam as their king and return to the house of David. Jeroboam would lose a very nice job which he wanted to keep very badly. He introduced the worship of the golden calves in Dan and Bethel and assured the people the golden calves were not idols. They were simply a more convenient way of serving God. His people would not have to travel all the way to Jerusalem for worship. They could serve god (with a small “g”) closer to home.
The years went by, and the people grew accustomed to the golden calves. We read about Ahab becoming king. His dreadful queen was Jezebel. The Bible tells us it “had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam.” Jeroboam had to explain to the people that serving the calves was not idol worship. The people had to have their consciences calmed before sinning against God in that way. However, sin was growing in Israel. The people were expressing their depravity in more ways. Ahab thinks the sins of the golden calves are easy. It is time for something more serious. He will not even bother to pretend to worship God in some new way. It is time for the open worship of idols. Baal is introduced to the people and there are many who eagerly serve him. Baal was an excuse to sin and satisfy the evil desires of the flesh. What the sinful people in Israel would not have dared to do a few years earlier, they are now doing. They are becoming more bold in their sin. Sin grew.
The result was that God sent the prophet Elijah to tell Israel of their sin. God would not look the other way as Israel grew in sin. He would send His judgment against them. There would be no rain. Remember, as a nation Israel needed the crops which the farmers grew in order to have the food they needed. The lack of rain would not just make the cost of food rise. The famine would make finding food impossible, first for the poor and then on up to the rich. The lack of rain was a severe punishment. Yet Israel did not turn from idol worship. It was too enjoyable. It gave them too much pleasure. They thought they could continue in sin and yet have God bless them because, after all, they were the children of Abraham. They were certain God would protect the children of Abraham no matter how they lived.
We know what finally happened to Israel because of sin. God removed them out of His sight by rooting them out of the promised land. Enemies came against Israel. Israel was destroyed on the battlefield, cities were burned, people were butchered in the streets, children taken from their families and prisoners were taken far away into captivity. God’s judgment was severe, but that is what it took for those who were truly His people to turn from their sinful way.
The acorn of sin had grown into a mighty oak. The time had come to cut the tree down and dig its roots out of the ground.