Thursday, January 21, 2016
“Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.” (Hosea 9:1)
God’s promises to Israel were conditioned on their obedience. Israel had gotten greedy, wanting a bumper crop every time without concern for what God wanted. They had turned to other gods, like a wife who isn’t satisfied with what her husband gives her becoming a prostitute to get extra money.
“The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.” (Hosea 9:2-4)
Like a husband who catches his wife cheating on him, God would refuse to support Israel any more. Their crops will fail and they will be forced to leave the land of Israel, scattering to Egypt and Assyria. Where they will be forced to give up their traditions. They will no longer offer the wine offerings of celebration to the Lord, and because they no longer obey him, the sacrifices he demands will become a burden and a reminder of what they no longer have. Their desires will be things that are unacceptable to God.
“What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.” (Hosea 9:5-7)
When that time comes, and Israel wants to maintain their traditions, they will find it difficult because their temples have been destroyed and they are living in Egypt, where their customs will lead to their being arrested and segregated from the rest of the people. The pharaohs in Memphis will pass laws against their traditions, effectively burying them. Their finest neighborhoods will become slums and ghettos. God’s judgment has come and they consider the prophet who tries to correct them a fool and the man who tries to obey God crazy, because they have turned so far from God, hating what is right.
“The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.” (Hosea 9:8-9)
There were men who warned Ephraim and Israel that they were doing wrong, but they chose to believe false prophets whose teachings were like snares set for birds by a man who hated them. As a result, they had gone as far from God as the city of Gibeah did in Judges 19-20, when their sin led to Israel destroying most of the tribe of Benjamin. God will not ignore such sin.
“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.” (Hosea 9:10)
When God chose Israel, it was like a hungry hiker finding ripe grapes or other fruit in the woods. He picked them out and treasured them. Unfortunately, they chose to go to the Moabite cities and worship their gods instead. It was like finding that beautiful piece of fruit was rotten inside.
“As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.” (Hosea 9:11-13)
All Israel’s national pride will be destroyed and the country destroyed. Many of their children will not survive infancy, and most of those who do will not live to become adults. There will be terrible suffering and sorrow when God pulls away from them. They originally had as nice a place as Tyre and Sidon, but their children will be killed just because they are Jews.
“Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.” (Hosea 9:14-15)
What can God give them as a punishment that is fitting for what they have done in prostituting themselves to other gods? They will suffer miscarriages and be unable to nurse their children who survive birth. They will lose their home, and God will no longer demonstrate his love. He hates what they done and that all their leaders insist on having their own way.
“Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.” (Hosea 9:16-17)
The Northern kingdom, ruled by Ephraim was to be destroyed, and would be like a tree whose roots were dried out, unable to produce any fruit, and even if they did develop some it would be destroyed before it could mature. God would cast them away because they refused to listen to him, and they would be homeless.
Historically the nation of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had no place to call home since the Assyrians conquered them about 700 BC, until the re-establishment of Israel in 1948. Even today, many of them have not returned. Despite all their rebellion, God Still loves Israel and will one day regather them, but not until they turn to him.