Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Unacceptable Religion

Hosea 8:1-14

“Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. ” (Hosea 8:1-2)

Hosea is to sound a trumpet to get Israel’s attention, warning them that God is going to attack the house of God like and eagle attacking a rabbit hole when he sees them come out, because they have ignored his law and broken their agreement with him. 

“Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.  They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.” (Hosea 8:2-4)

When they are attacked, Israel will call out for God to honor the treaty, ignoring the fact that they have broken it.  They have rejected every provision of the treaty, choosing kings who were not pleasing to God, and conducting business in ways that violated their agreements.  They had taken their wealth and used it to make idols, which God warned them would be grounds for ending their treaty and destroying them. 

“Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?  For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.  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.” (Hosea 8:5-7)

Jeroboam I had set up golden calves for the people to worship instead of God, and they continued to worship them throughout the existence of the northern kingdom known as Israel or Samaria.   The calf was made by Jewish artisans, and was not God.  It would not be able to save them, and would be destroyed as proof.  They could not claim innocence because they had deliberately made the calf, and would have to live with the consequences of their actions.   The results of their actions would be completely unsatisfactory.  It is hard to live on the wind, and even what good developed would be taken by people who had no right to it. 

“Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.  For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.  Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.” (Hosea 8:8-10)

Israel had tried to establish a treaty with the Assyrians, giving a great amount of money in an attempt to buy them off.  The Assyrians took the money and would use it to outfit an army to conquer Israel.  The Assyrians lost respect for them.  Israel was like a wild male donkey breaking into people’s fields to mate with their females.  Like the owners, of those females. God would lie in wait to capture or kill them when they saw them again.

“Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.  I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.  They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.  For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.” (Hosea 8:11-14)

Led by the tribe of Ephraim, Israel had deliberately built altars to other gods for them to use in sinning against God.  To them altars would not be a symbol of God, but only of false religion, much like church buildings are today.  They had the Word of God, but to them it was considered irrelevant or and some of its standards absurd.  They offered the offerings and partook of them, but God would not honor them because of their unrepentant attitudes.  Instead he would hold them accountable for what they had done, and they would go to Egypt in an effort to escape judgment, literally turning to the world instead of to God.  Israel had forgotten God in the process of building great temples, and Judah had built large religious communities or organizations, but God was going to destroy them and their leadership.    

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