Hosea 6:1-8:14 The Trial Continues February 12, 2018
We are still in the courtroom. The people of Israel thought they could please God with their ritualistic and formal religion, regardless of the condition of their hearts. They could pay some lip-service to YHWH, but their real love was the Baals. We find this same attitude in Judah in the time of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 44:15-19 Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands' approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”
But they could not fool YHWH, so they are sitting in the courtroom now before the righteous judge. The case is being presented and judgment is still to come.
Hos. 6:1-3 “Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
There are some faithful orthodox believers in the courtroom. They hear the words of Hosea and are responding to him in faith. In every age God has a faithful remnant. Remember Elijah complaint that he was the only faithful believer left in the land.
1 kings 19:13-18 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
The disloyalty of Ephraim and Judah
Hos. 6:4-10 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
there they dealt faithlessly with me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
tracked with blood.
As robbers lie in wait for a man,
so the priests band together;
they murder on the way to Shechem;
they commit villainy.
In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.
There is no continuing loyalty in Israel or in Judah. Their faithfulness is like the morning fog. The draw away from YHWH is too great, but the consequences are very severe.
Here is a good memory verse for us. It is repeated throughout the Bible.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Jesus quotes it to the Pharisees in Matthew 9:12-13.
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Gilead is in the Transjordan, in the area of East Manasseh. It includes the Golan Heights of today. We know it from Jeremiah 8:22 when he asks;
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
not been restored?
Shechem was a major religious and political center. This may refer to the robbing and murder of pilgrims on the roads to Shechem. We hear of a similar attack on the road to Jericho in the story of the Good Samaritan. These are examples of what is happening throughout the land.
Restoration is promised to Judah
Hos. 6:11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed,
when I restore the fortunes of my people.
This seems to be a parenthetical note, but also a word of grace.
The indictment of Israel continues
Crime is widespread
Hos. 7:1-2 When I would heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
and the evil deeds of Samaria;
for they deal falsely;
the thief breaks in,
and the bandits raid outside.
But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.
The political situation in Israel is falling apart. Jeroboam II was the king
of the last stable dynasty. Now king after king is being murdered, as we noted last week. The time is around 740-730 BC. The kingdom will be no more on 722 BC. The rule of law is faltering, and as a consequence crime is on the rise. When God’s law is rejected, men become a law into themselves. Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
We see this in our own country today. Biblical law is ignored. Even the Constitution has become malleable.
There is corruption in the government
Hos. 7:3-7 By their evil they make the king glad,
and the princes by their treachery.
They are all adulterers;
they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
from the kneading of the dough
until it is leavened.
On the day of four king, the princes
became sick with the heat of wine;
he stretched out his hand with mockers.
For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
all night their anger smolders;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven,
and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
and none of them calls upon me.
The regicide is confirmed. The royalty has lost its authority because of its own corruption. I suspect the ovens were like our beehive ovens. The kings came to power by the heat of treachery and violent usurpation.
Israel’s diplomacy is in disarray
Hos. 7:8-12 Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers devour his strength,
and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
and he knows it not.
The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the LORD their God,
nor seek him, for all this.
Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
As they go, I will spread over them my net;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
The last king will be Hoshea (732-723). He does not know how weak he is. He is flailing around looking for help. He first appeals to Assyria, but the Assyrians come and take over much of his territory. Also they demand payment of tribute. He turns to Egypt, but the Egyptians only mock him. He fails to turn to YHWH who would have been most willing and able to help, if there was repentance and revival in the leaders and the land.
Punishment is inevitable
Hos. 7:13-16 Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me.
They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.
Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against me.
They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
God would like to redeem them. Jesus is our redeemer. The only road to salvation is through God’s redemption, in the OT and NT.
Unfortunately the people have so completely forgotten YHWH that they are unable to turn back to him. The children, for many generations, have not been taught the Torah, so they do not know who the true God is. God has said, My spirit will not always strive with man.
Hebrews 10:26-13—31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Israel rejects her God
Hos. 8:1-3 Set the trumpet to your lips! One like a vulture is over
the house of the LORD,
because they have transgressed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
My God, we—Israel—know you.
Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him.
Assyria is the active agent in Israel’s demise, but God is the true destroyer. Assyria is only a tool in his hand by which he carries out his judgment. God does not need miraculous means to carry out his will. He uses ordinary forces of nature including politics.
God rejects their Golden Calves
Hos. 8:4-8 They made kings, but not through me.
They set princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
My anger burns against them
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
shall be broken to pieces.
For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
strangers would devour it.
Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations
as a useless vessel.
Jeroboam I created two golden calves for the people in his new kingdom to worship. He wanted to keep his citizens from going to Jerusalem to worship, lest they turn from him (1 Kings 12:25-33).
Here we find two more memory verses for our benefit.
Hos. 8:4 With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
Hos. 8:7 For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
Israel seeks allies in the wrong places
Hos. 8:9-10 For they have gone up to Assyria,
a wild donkey wandering alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
Though they hire allies among the nations,
I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
because of the tribute.
Israel is going to all the wrong places for help. The curses of Deuteronomy 28:20 are descending on her.
“The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
Israel has forgotten her Maker
Hos. 8:11-14 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the LORD does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds.
There was only one altar where proper sacrifices could be offered to YHWH. That altar was at the Temple in Jerusalem. All other places for sacrifice were forbidden and useless. Each pagan god did have its altars and systems of sacrifice, but they were all only an insult to the true God. Israel built many fortified cities in an attempt to find political and military security, but they were vulnerable to attack and defeat if God did not protect them.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.