Pastor David Green

They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 7:16
    Sometimes, physical activities can be used to illustrate Biblical teachings. One of my frequent activities is target shooting, or as some folks would call it, plinking. It is something I enjoy, shooting ammunition at various targets at various distances. As I was at the shooting range on an unusually warm January day this year, the Lord gave me this sermon.
    A deceitful bow is one that will not shoot an arrow straight. The application is that the people were off target. The book of Hosea was written by the prophet Hosea under the divine inspiration of God. This was written during some very dark hours of the history of Israel. Foreign invadors were in the land. Princes and priests were corrupt. The knowledge of God was rejected.

    We, like Hosea, live in amongst a nation, a world, that is “off target.” Now, in target shooting, whether using a bow, rifle, or handgun, there are a multitude of reasons why a person might be “off target.” Perhaps the shooter is not aiming at the target. Perhaps he cannot see the target. Maybe his gun is bad. Perhaps the sights are off. Maybe his breathing is not right. The problem might be the way he is holding the gun. Perhaps he does not know how to use the weapon correctly. Or, maybe he is just having a bad day.
    At the end of the day though, one fact remains, if a shooter does not hit the target, he has not hit the target. End of story. All the excuses in the world could be said some of which may be true, but the fact is that the target has been missed.
    There are some people who miss by a few centimeters, and others who could not hit the broad side of the barn. But when your life depends on hitting the target a miss is still a miss. Getting close only counts when using grenades!

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)
    The word used in the New Testament for sin is a Greek word that was also used in spear throwing and was indicitive of “missing the mark.” Of course, it also means to err, to sin, so our King James translation is accurate here. Sin is the breaking of God's law.   
    Whether throwing a spear, shooting a gun, or living right – there is a standard. The standard is the way in which all are measured by. Some folks would rather use someone else as their standard rather than the true standard. So you will hear a shooter say after missing the target, “I was better than so-and-so.”   Sinners will also say the same thing.   And maybe that was the case, but the fact is both MISSED THE MARK!

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
    God's holiness is the standard! Not your neighbor. Not Adolf Hitler. Not your mom. And not your pastor.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God...” (Romans 3:23)
    In and of ourselves, we have all come short! We have all missed the mark! Even the most holy among you, the most seasoned of all Christians will admit that they have come short.  
Perhaps you are "better" than Adolf Hitler or Karl Marx, but being better than someone else is not anything to brag about when in and of yourselves we have all missed the mark!

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
    To miss the target does not require much, so it is quite easy to do. You do not have to have any training, you do not have to work for it. Many today are missing the target. Few there be that even find it.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
    A major hindrance to hitting the target can be sight. In order to get the shot on target, you have to see properly. You have to see the target so you can be sure to hit the target. You have to see the front sights (if using a gun) so you can aim well. Seeing both near and far is key here. When I am on the range, I cannot see the target without my glasses. Spiritually speaking, in order to hit the target, we must have our “Biblical Glasses” on.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
    Seeing is not all there is to it, of course, because a man might be able to see the target and also be able to see the front sight on the weapon, but he might miss because he does not understand how to put all that information together. Some folks will miss the target because they are not rightly dividing the Word of Truth. A silly illustration is the fact that a person could say that everyone ought to commit suicide. In one place of Scripture we read that Judas went and hanged himself. And in another place, we read the words “go thou and do likewise.” If a person does not put all the information together properly, the conclusion might be way off target! We MUST be sure to RIGHTLY divide the Word of truth so that we remain on target!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105)
    Sometimes improper lighting will cause a man to miss the target. The target needs to be lit up and the sights also need to be lit – to be able to see what is near and far. The Scriptures give us the light we need - both to our feet and our path – both near and far!

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)    
    There are folks who will miss the target because they are standing on shaky ground. Spiritually speaking, if you are not standing right, you are going to miss the target. Stand on solid ground of Christ and His Word!

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive...” (Ephesians 4:14)
    The wind can cause a shooter some headaches, especially bow shooting but also even long range rifle shooting. Spiritually we must also watch out for the wind. Oh, how many have missed the target because of the wind. Doctrinal winds are blowing, we must make sure that we compensate for that wind so we always hit the target!

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
    Sometimes folks miss their target because they get distracted. How easy it is to get distracted by the world and all it has to offer! A true marksman must always be focused so as to hit the target. Nothing can distract. Yet between the Devil, the world, and everything that they have to offer there is a lot of distraction out there. This one hindrance has caused a lot of folks to miss their target. Keep your mind on the target!

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (II Corinthians 11:13-14)
    Some people miss the target by design. They are not trying to hit it. These are false prophets, workers of Satan. And by their poor example, they will lead others astray. We must watch out for them. They will try to even deceive the very elect if possible. And they are good at what they do!

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
    Pride can cause a man to falter. Oh, how many folks have missed their target because of pride. One day we had a visitor at our house (he will remain nameless) who bragged that if he took his wife shooting that we could stand in front of the targets and that would be the safest place to stand because she could not hit the broadside of the barn. But then on the shooting range, he did not do well at all, missing more than he was hitting. Usually he is a good marksman, but that day he was not doing so well!    
    We must watch out for pride. Always keep in mind what the Bible says in I Corinthians 15:10, which says, But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
    When we know we have hit the targets and are shooting well, let us never get the big head and think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We ought to instead praise God for His grace and be willing to help those who are off target:

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."  (Galatians 6:1-3)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
    In order to hit the right target, you have to have the proper tools. The Bible is the weapon we must use!

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)
    Only the Scriptures tell us about Christ the Redeemer. A man who will reject the Bible is off target! The only way of salvation is through Jesus and only the Bible can point folks to Him!

And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” (1 Samuel 17:39)
    Like any other weapon, the Bible must be proven – tested, tried, and shown to be of great strength. A person cannot pick up a bow and arrow (or a handgun) and consistently hit the target at 50 yards without a lot of practice. So it is spiritually... You cannot leave your Bible sitting on the table week after week without picking it up, and expect to be able to be on target with it.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
    On the range, a man who has never picked up a handgun or very seldom uses it will be ashamed because he will not hit the target as much as someone who is skilled with the handgun. And spiritually speaking, a person who does not study will be ashamed when he cannot hit the target by rightly dividing the truth.  Let us encourage one another to stay in the Word!

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11)
    The Word of God will keep us on target!

They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 7:16)
    The world around us is not even coming close to hitting the target, and some of God's people are not on target either. May we as God's people stay on target and show others the way to get on target! May we never be described as a “DECEITFUL BOW.”