What A Sad Picture Of A People God Once Loved!
A history of sin and a prophet’s approval support God’s decision to wipe out the people he once loved.
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in its first season, but they went to Baal-peor and consecrated themselves to that shameful thing [Baal], and they became detestable and loathsome like that which they loved.
Hosea 9:10 (AMP)
God reviews the history of His relationship with the Jews. You don’t find grapes in the desert, but if you did, it would thrill you. That’s how God felt when He called Israel. The early fruit of the fig tree is especially good, and Israel was special to the Lord.
But this joyful experience didn’t last, for King Balak gave Israel her first taste of Baal worship, and the nation indulged in idolatry and immorality with its neighbors (Num. 25).
Baal-peor was the god of Peor, a mountain in Moab. In Numbers 22, Balaam, a prophet was hired by King Balak of Moab to curse the Israelites as they were coming through his land. The Moabites enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and Baal worship. Before long, The Israelites became as corrupt as the gods they worshiped.
As Gomer loved prostitution, so Israel loved false gods. This was not a one-time affair. It was a habit dating back to the wilderness. Israel did not break its habit of idolatry, so God had to break Israel. People soon begin to copy the characteristics and lifestyles of those around them.
What do you worship?
Are you becoming more like God, or are you becoming more like the world?
As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— No birth, no pregnancy and no conception!
Hosea 9:11 (NASB)
The love image finds its natural climax in the birth process. Hosea announced judgment in words that sound as much like lamentation as like legal pronouncement. Israel was informed that their expectations of glory would never enter the birth process. Hosea described the process in reverse:
“No birthing, no baby in the womb (literally, “lack of stomach”), and no conceiving. Israel’s dreams of glory would fly away like a wild bird.”
Though they bring up their children, Yet I will bereave them until not a man is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!
Hosea 9:12 (NASB)
The unexpected might happen against all odds. A child could be born to Israel. Still no glory comes to Israel since the Lord will bereave them of the child. What a gruesome picture of the loving Heavenly Father taking away a newborn infant from its parents. This is one more instance of how dramatic and drastic the prophetic language had to become to get a hearing from God’s people.
The language of lament concludes with a statement of woe directed toward Israel. God has just pronounced the death of a nation. God himself leads the mourning parade – a parade caused by his turning from them.
Here we recognize another play on words in the previous verse. Israel’s loss of glory is not really the loss of her materialistic dreams. Israel’s glory is God himself (2 Peter 1:17), and he has turned away or, in Hosea’s metaphor, flown away from Israel. Let Israel continue to depend on Baal to make the people fertile. God will show who has power over human fertility, and it is not the cult of sacred prostitution dedicated to Baal.
Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.
Hosea 9:13 (NKJV)
Tyre was a massive sea fortress city on an island off the southern coast of Phoenicia (Ezek. 27:32). This refers to Tyre as a pleasant place, that is, a perfect location for a city. Apparently the comparison of the two kingdoms means that both have known pleasant locations but will now face the king of Assyria, the executioner who will kill their children.
On the spiritual plane, however, the previous verse has pictured God as the executioner, so this cannot be eliminated from the meaning. Lying behind all this may be Ephraim’s (the Northern Kingdom’s) tie with Tyre and its child-sacrifice religion of Baalism.
Ephraim then had a pleasant home place, a pleasant religion, and a pleasant God to bring security and fertility. They traded this for the executioner represented by the Baal religion, by their own neglected God, and by the king of Assyria.
Give them, O LORD—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
Hosea 9:14 (NASB)
The prophet appears to take up his role as intercessor for his people to God as he begins, Give them, O LORD, but then he stops to ask himself a question: what will you give them?
Hosea prayed this prayer when he foresaw the destruction that Israel’s sins would bring (2 Kings 17:7-23). This vision of Israel’s terrible fate moved him to pray that women would not get pregnant and that children would die as infants so they would not have to experience the tremendous suffering and pain that lay ahead.
“All their wickedness was already there in Gilgal;
that’s where I came to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will expel them from my house,
I will love them no more;
all their leaders are rebels.
Hosea 9:15 (CJB)
Again the prophet delved into Israel’s historic tradition, going all the way back to Gilgal, Israel’s first worship center after they entered the promised land under Joshua (Hosea 12:11). Israel thought of the Gilgal days as the glory days of religion and faithfulness to God, but Hosea claimed all their wickedness was in Gilgal so that God hated them there. Thus God has yet another sentence that Israel must serve: I will expel them from my house, I will love them no more.
How could such a situation develop between God and his people?
Hosea pointed the finger at the nation’s rebellious or stubborn leaders. Israel’s leaders never learned. They followed Baal and its fertility cult to the very end of their nation’s existence.
Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, They will bear no fruit. Even though they bear children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb.
Hosea 9:16 (NASB)
Hosea turns again to the agricultural world for metaphors to describe the situation of God’s people. They are beaten down like grain under hot sun without rain or under the feet of advancing enemy armies. Baal could prevent neither the famine nor the fearful enemy advance. The Lord chose not to prevent either. All the fertility efforts made in the name of Baal or in the name of God will fail because they are not the worship efforts God demands from his people. He focuses on loving the Lord, the one true God, and loving one another.
My God will cast them away because they did not listen to and obey Him, and they shall be wanderers and fugitives among the nations.
Hosea 9:17 (AMP)
Hosea summarized this section succinctly:
“My God will cast them away because they did not listen to and obey Him.”
No longer is the Lord Israel’s God. He is only Hosea’s God. All the rest of the nation is rejected. Just as the people wandered in the wilderness under Moses, so they will now wander among the nations they earlier sought for help. They will suffer shame and loss of power and prestige as enemies send them into exile.
What a sad picture of a people for whom God had done so much. But a disobedient people find that God no longer blesses. When grace goes away, so do the guilty people.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Amazed
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible