"Wings of the Wind"

James W. Adams
Nacogdoches, Texas

The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices" (Hoses 4: 19.)

The kingdom of Israel had been in existence for about two hundred years when Hosea prophesied. It came to an end about twenty-eight years after his death. His prophetic ministry was during the decline and fall of the nation of Israel. Idolatrous worship of the golden calf had been substituted for the pure worship of Jehovah enjoined by the Law of Moses. Under a system of idol worship, Israel had become unspeakably immoral, hence is described as being in a state of "whoredom." Even the prophet's wife had become guilty of "harlotry."

At the time of the writing of our text, God had given Israel abundant opportunity to repent, but to no avail. He, therefore, was soon to abandon her to the brutal conquest of the heathen Assyrians and to permit her to be carried away into virtual oblivion -- hence, the frequent reference among Bible students to "the ten lost tribes of Israel."

Israel's State Figuratively Described

Hosea employs a beautiful and bold figure of speech to depict the state of Israel in his time. He says, "The wind hath bound her up in her wings." This is what is called a "euphemism." The beauty of the metaphor and the alliteration of the prophet soften, yet, at the same time, underline the terrible implications of his prophecy for the people of God.

Israel was in a state of blase complacency. She had long trusted in her own carnal devices. The prophet accuses her thus, "Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men" (Hoses 10:13.) Trusting in her way and in the multitude of her mighty men, she refused to recognize the fact that she was ensnared in the perimeter of a horrendous spiritual and political hurricane which threatened her very life.

As these lines are being written, awesome hurricane "Laurie" is approaching the coast of Western Florida after having threatened the coastline of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Just a few weeks past, hurricane "Camille" devastated hundreds of miles of Louisiana and Mississippi coastal area. As heavy tides and booming surfs started yesterday to pound the coastline and lead-gray clouds to move ominously shoreward, thousands began to flee low-lying coastal areas to inland safety. They know if they tarry and are caught up in "the wings of the wind" escape will then be impossible, that inevitably they will be swallowed in the maelstrom of the mighty storm and perhaps destroyed. Press releases after "Camille" told of the blase complacency of residents of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. A relatively large group reveled in a drunken hurricane party in the face of the impending storm, and despite the warning of officers of the law, died to a person in the fury of the tempest.

Decadent Israel, drunk on the wine of her own intellectual arrogance, sang, danced, and prostituted herself to immorality and apostate religious practices ignoring the pounding surf, the leaden skies, and the increasing tempo of the winds of destruction of the approaching spiritual and political storm which was to engulf her. The prophet's shouts of warning were lost in the noise of Israel's maudlin merriment and vocal self-sufficiency. Like the residents of Bay St. Louis did with reference to the warning officer, they very probably invited Hosea in for a drink.

A Familiar Pattern

Basic human nature does not change. Men have been fundamentally the same in all ages of the world. Apostasy in religion, therefore, has always followed a well-cut and well-used pattern. The victim of religious apostasy, inflated with pride and confidence in his own devices, is almost without exception already "bound up in the wings of the wind" of digression before he becomes aware of his peril. When finally he awakens to a realization of his plight, it is too late. The awful tidal wave of apostasy is already rolling in from the mighty sea of error engulfing and destroying with its eternally ruinous power.

This has happened to the church of God on at least two significant occasions. In the closing years of the apostolic age, Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude cried out warnings against digression and apostasy. That their warnings went unheard and that the people of God were soon "bound up in the wings of the wind" of error and ultimately drawn into the maelstrom of all but complete apostasy is a fact of history too patent to require proof.

The so-called "Restoration Movement" of the nineteenth century, born with such promise and blessed with such unprecedented growth in its early years, was soon "bound up in the wings of the wind" of digression and ultimately sucked into the maelstrom of complete apostasy. This apostasy reached its degenerate climax in the formation last year at Kansas City of the "Disciples of Christ" into an organized human denomination. This too is a fact too well known to require documentation.

The warning voices of Jacob Creath Jr., Benjamin Franklin, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb, et al, were lifted but to no avail.

Brother David Lipscomb was actually caricatured as an old man with a broom seeking to sweep back a great tidal wave roaring in from the ocean. Of course, our "digressive" spiritual revelers pictured the tidal wave as the onslaught of progress. History, however, has vindicated David Lipscomb's view that it was a destructive wave of apostasy and spiritual ruin. The revelers laughed and figuratively invited Brother Lipscomb in for a drink, but since Kansas City, who is laughing?

The Present Situation Among Professed "Churches of Christ"

Again the people are hearing the echoes of pounding surf, seeing on the horizon the lead-grey clouds, and feeling the increasing tempo of the winds of digression. Again shouts of warning are being heard, but as always, the revelers are too caught up in the pride of their devices and the joy of their material accomplishments to hear. Just a short while ago, the issues were: Shall churches support from their treasuries human institutions of secular learning and general benevolence and sponsoring church arrangements?

How rapidly the tempo of the storm increases! Already the waves grow higher and the clouds darker. Already, the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the work of the Holy Spirit (glossalalia etc.), the prostituting of the spiritual mission of the church to social goals, the repudiation of "book religion," contempt for chapter and verse preaching, denominational affiliations, identification with the ecumenical movement, repudiation of dogma as a basis for unity with denominational religious bodies and many other matters as had or worse constitute an integral part of the winds of change that blow inland upon churches of Christ from the sea of human error.

Brethren who have differed from those of us who profess conservatism are beginning to realize that they are indeed "bound up in the wings of the wind" of a fast-developing apostasy. They are starting to become alarmed. They are commencing to stir. However, their obvious reticence with reference to pressing a vigorous fight against the proponents of error among them bespeaks a lethargy and timidity which presages ultimate defeat. They had better salvage what few spiritual belongings they can and, like the thousands who are now fleeing the Gulf Coast in the face of approaching "Laurie," run for unquestionably safe ground. If they do not, we predict they will be engulfed, and we devoutly believe that the "time is later than they think."

Let us hope that it is not with these brethren as it was with Israel in the long ago. The prophet said, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." (Hosea 4:17.) Let it rather be hoped that many of these brethren are not so "bound up in the wings of the wind," so "joined to idols," they cannot escape; hence that efforts in their behalf are not fruitless.


January 15, 1970