God Gives Final Warnings!
God’s mercy shows itself in his warnings. God would not be giving warnings at all if there were not a possibility of restoration.
Now the terrors of war will rise among your people. All your fortifications will fall, just as when Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel. Even mothers and children were dashed to death there.
Hosea 10:14 (NLT)
Some say Shalman was Shalmaneser, king of Assyria; others say Shalman was Salmanu, a Moabite king mention in the inscriptions of Tiglasth-pileser. Shalman had invaded Gilead around 740 B.C. and destroyed the city of Beth-arbel, killing many people, including women and children. This kind of cruelty was not uncommon in ancient warfare. Hosea was saying such would be Israel’s fate.
Israel refused to accept the identity God had for them. They would not meet the job description the Lord had outlined for them. God had to put on his judge’s robes one more time and pronounce sentence upon his people. Their history began with war (v.9). God had threatened war at his pleasure (v.10). Now he described the horrors of that nation-ending war. Tumultuous sounds fill the air. Impregnable fortresses fall to the ground.
You will share that fate, Bethel, because of your great wickedness. When the day of judgment dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
Hosea 10:15 (NLT)
Because Israel had put its confidence in military might rather than in God, it would be destroyed by military power. Israel’s king, who had led the people into idol worship, would be the first to fall. Divine judgment is sometimes swift, but it always sure.
The same fate awaited the people of Israel who knew God’s purposes of Israel who knew God’s purposes and will and refused to follow them. Here Israel is addressed as Bethel, the core of their evil because it was the worship place where immoral religion and pagan images dominated Israel’s life. The wickedness of Israel’s cult worship at Bethel spread like gangrene throughout Israel, so that worship, religion, and politics became false and wicked. At dawn the king of Israel will be silenced forever. When the final battle begins, the king in whom Israel has placed such strong military hopes (Hos. 10:13) will meet death. Then Israel will have no king (Hos. 10:3). The Lord will stand victorious on the battlefield, having led the charge against what was once his people but now is a defeated nation.
God’s love for his people guarantees that they cannot act any way they want without expecting him to respond in judgment.
Israel had a problem with their God. The way he read their history did not agree with the way they read it. They read history as God’s love affair with them that would never be broken.
He read history as Israel’s repeated habit of sinning and turning to false gods, false religion, and false politics. Israel looked at history from the viewpoint of the exodus and Sinai. God looked at history from the viewpoint of Baal-Peor, Gilgal, and Gibeah. Israel thought their history guaranteed the life of their nation forever. God declared that their idolatry guaranteed their exile and destruction.
What caused such a difference in understanding?
A major component was the definition of the Old Testament’s central term – covenant. Israel emphasized covenant as God’s promise to them. God emphasized covenant as Israel’s commitment to him. People who leaned on promise and neglected commitment found themselves in God’s courtroom facing his death sentence.
- God expects his people to keep their covenant commitments to him.
- Sin can become so habitual that the sinner is unaware that his lifestyle brings him under God’s judgment.
- Verbal confessions of faith must be supported by a daily life of faith.
- Political decisions rest on religious foundations.
- True worship does not admit pagan practices into its ritual.
- Human hands cannot fashion the invisible God.
- Covenant with God cannot be mixed with agreements with those who oppose God.
- Judge your life by God’s expectations, not by the promises of traditional religious ritual.
- Realize that no other religion has a valid substitute for God’s way of commitment and righteousness.
- Set your goal in line with God’s call for faithful love, righteousness, and loyalty.
- Check your political commitments, actions, and policies by the standard of God’s expectations. Depend on a personal love relationship with God, not on a historical connection with religious tradition.
- Take seriously the Bible’s condemnation of sin and threat of judgment in your own life.
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible