The Silver Thermometer

Text: Hosea 6:4-11


I.         When we want to know whether it is hot or cold outside, we check a thermometer to see the temperature.

            A.        Today we have digital devices, but before that we had very fine glass tubes with either red-tinted alcohol or silver mercury in them. Mercury is a liquid metal, sometimes called quicksilver because of its color and its ability to flow.

            B.        People like thermometers over sticking their hand out the door because it gives them tangible evidence as to how hot or cold it is outside.

            C.        People in the church are no different when it comes to wanting to decide the success or failure of a church

                        1.         They want some tangible evidence to measure

                                    a.         Are the number of people attending increasing or decreasing?

                                    b.         This is easy to measure and quantify

                                    c.         Or the size of the contribution. This becomes, if you would, a silver thermometer by which people measure the “temperature” of a congregation.

                        2.         You can see this in the amount of time some congregations spend discussing the financial aspects

                                    a.         Don’t take this as a criticism. Finances must be discussed as decisions are made

                                    b.         Elders selected because they are business successes.

                                    c.         But some feature their finances in their bulletins

                                    d.         Preachers point out growth in contributions as part of their success in an area.

            D.        Is the silver thermometer an accurate gage of the spiritual condition of a people?

II.        Israel’s History

            A.        During the reign of Jeroboam, the second of that name, in Israel about 790 B.C., both Israel and Judah experience a period of great prosperity

                        1.         Jeroboam restored the boarders if Israel from Hamath to Sea of Arabah - II Kings 14:25

                        2.         It was a period of wealth

                        3.         But that wealth corrupted morals and undermined the worship of the people

            B.        Three years after Jeroboam came to the throne, Uzziah began to reign in Judah

                        1.         Uzziah put down both the Philistines and the Arabians, exacting tribute from them - II Chronicles 26:6-8

                        2.         He also began a building program - II Chronicles 26:9-10

                        3.         He formed a large army - II Chronicles 26:11-15

                        4.         But Uzziah’s success and wealth led to his downfall - II Chronicles 26:16-19

            C.        The prophets Amos and Hosea spoke during these two kings’ reigns

            D.        The wealth described by Amos

                        1.         People sitting in the corner of a couch or on beds covered in silken material - Amos 3:12

                        2.         Multiple homes. Homes built of expensive material - Amos 3:15

                        3.         Luxury loving people - Amos 6:1-6

            E.        This wealth affected worship.

                        1.         There were a great number and the prophet ironically declares - Amos 4:4-5

                        2.         Quantity, but without value - Amos 5:21-24

                        3.         Extravagances in worship, but void of devotion and holiness

            F.        Hosea also condemned them - Hosea 4:19

                        1.         Israel was not content with simple worship - Hosea 10:1

                        2.         But those multiple altars were not for righteous worship - Hosea 8:11

                        3.         Their righteousness had evaporated - Hosea 6:4

                        4.         What God desired was not to be found - Hosea 6:6-10

            G.        Oh, they were wealthy and successful, but that wealth wasn’t a measure of their holiness.

III.       The Rich, but Poor Congregation

            A.        In what is now called Asia Minor is a valley called Lycos Valley

                        1.         In the days of the first century there was a city there called Laodicea that had considerable wealth and commercial value

                        2.         Nearby were hot springs which attracted wealthy patrons seeking its therapeutic waters

                        3.         The city was known for the cloth it produced and it was the source of a famous eye-salve.

                        4.         It was wealthy and independent

            B.        And that attitude found its way into the church - Revelation 3:14-17

                        1.         Here was a congregation who could boast of the size of its contributions and the liberality of its members

                        2.         But the Lord said it was wretched, miserable, poor, naked, and blind

IV.      The Poor, but Rich Congregation

            A.        About a 100 miles to the northwest was a church in the opposition position

            B.        Smyrna was poor - Revelation 2:9

                        1.         One would conclude that the contributions there would have been small

                        2.         They would not be meeting in an elaborate building

            C.        But it was rich! Rich in faith and loyalty to God

            D.        When you look at these two congregations, the silver thermometer would not accurately reflect the spiritual condition of their respective members

V.        We live in a land of great wealth, but rapidly declining morals

            A.        There is a danger that we measure success by the wealth available and not by the morals upheld

            B.        Already in the denominations we find people like those in ancient Israel - Micah 3:11

                        1.         People promote various programs for wealth and success, telling people that God wants them to have riches

                        2.         Extravagant buildings, large contributions are proudly displayed as if to say, “See we must be right.”

            C.        We must guard against this type of thinking creeping into our own views.

            D.        Those who have wealth are to use it for good - I Timothy 6:17-19

            E.        But do not see wealth as a measure of spiritual success

Based on an article by Homer Hailey