Battle Call To Destruction And Judgment!
God calls faithless people to a battle they are certain to lose as he seeks to bring them back to him.
Blow the horn in Gibeah, The trumpet in Ramah [the lofty hills on Benjamin’s northern border]. Sound the alarm at Beth-aven: “Behind you and coming after you [is the enemy], O Benjamin [be on guard]!”
Hosea 5:8 (AMP)
This verse begins a new section with the watchman’s call to sound the battle alarm on the trumpet or ram’s horn (Judges 6:34). This signal called the army to battle stations and the people to highest alert.
Gibeah was an important town in Benjamin about three miles north of Jerusalem. Ramah lay about five miles north of Jerusalem on the road to Shechem.
Beth Aven is used as in Hosea 4:15 as a defamatory substitute for Bethel, the town with patriarchal ties lying elven miles north of Jerusalem on the northern border of Benjamin’s tribal territory. This was a route by which attacking armies entered Jerusalem. God thus warned Israel to prepare for attack and invited the small tribe of Benjamin, shamed by Saul’s failures, to lead the way.
No mention is made of who will attack. The normal route would be north to south taken by Assyria or Babylon. This is described south to north and may represent an attack by Ahaz, king of Judah, to regain territory from the Northern Kingdom after the Israel-Syria coalition failed to defeat Judah about 732 B.C.
Ephraim will become desolation on the day of punishment; I announce what is certain among the tribes of Israel.
Hosea 5:9 (HCSB)
The call to arms is doomed to failure. God has decreed punishment for the northern kingdom. The punishment will come on God’s day of reckoning or day of punishment and rebuke. Before anyone can protest, God underlines the finality of the sentence. It will not be commuted. God has made known to the tribes of Israel what is trustworthy and certain.
But I’ll also punish the leaders of Judah—I’ll pour out My wrath on them like water—Because they’re trying to snatch this territory of Benjamin’s. They’ve become like the dishonest people who move boundary-stones.
Hosea 5:10 (VOICE)
Got compares Judah’s leaders to those who move the boundary stones of their neighbors, enlarging their territory and robbing people of their land. The Bible treats this as a heinous crime (Deut. 27:17). Thus again God has a sentence to pronounce against his people: I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.
Human sin angers God and brings forth acts of wrath against sinners. In his grace and love, he lays out a plan for sinners to be saved (Romans 10:9-10), but his grace does not eliminate his judgment against sin.
Ephraim is oppressed; he is broken and crushed by [divine] judgment, because he was determined to follow man’s command (vanities, filth, secular precepts).
Hosea 5:11 (AMP)
The tone changes. God appears to take the side of the Northern Kingdom, since they are oppressed. But they are crushed by mishpat –
- Or the ordinance.
The meaning here may be that God’s covenant law has been enforced against Israel, bringing just punishment against them. They are receiving the oppression that they have given out to the poor, especially the poor farmers. God explained why they had to face such oppression and judgment: they were determined or intent on following vanity.
In My judgments I’m like a disease that devours Ephraim as a moth eats wool, like an infected wound to the people of Judah.
Hosea 5:12 (VOICE)
Looking back on the Syro-Ephraimitic conflict between Israel and Judah, God condemned both parties –
- Judah for taking northern territory and
- Israel for false political alliances and false worship.
Thus God became the enemy of both the northern and southern nations. He was like an ‘ash to Ephraim. The term can refer to any decaying material and may intend to point to the decay in the human body represented by pus oozing from an infection. God will be like raqab to the people of Judah. This is another term for something rotten or decaying.
The references to sickness and sores in the following verse may point in the direction of infection or a red, rotten-looking wound in a person’s body. God is no longer the faithful keeper of the covenant protecting his people. He is the agent of rot and ruin, infecting his people with sickness and horrible wounds.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria [instead of the Lord] and sent to [Assyria’s] great King Jareb [for help]. But he cannot heal you nor will he cure you of your wound [received in judgment].
Hosea 5:13 (AMP)
Finally, God’s people were observant enough to see what bad shape they were in. They should have come seeking God, but that avenue had been shut off. God had withdrawn from their places of worship. Thus they turned to political “allies.”
Help was not forthcoming because Assyria could offer no help for Israel’s sickness. Assyria might give relief from immediate political and military danger, but they could not cure the dreadful sickness that engulfed the two nations. Assyria had no medicine to take away sin and unfaithfulness.
If we neglect God’s call to repentance, how can we escape? (See Hebrews 2:3).
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go on [tearing]; I will carry off [the prey] and there will be no one to rescue them.
Hosea 5:14 (AMP)
God had a strategy against his people. He would become a ravaging, hungry lion of the prowl. He would attack Ephraim and Judah, tearing their carcasses to pieces, satisfying his own hunger to punish these rebellious peoples. He would leave pieces of the carcass in the field for vultures and other scavengers to eat. He would then carry the carcasses away and hide them where no one could find them or rescue them. This is a veiled reference to exile for the two nations.
I will depart and return to My place until they recognize their guilt and seek My face; they will search for Me in their distress.
Hosea 5:15 (HCSB)
God would return to his own abode in the heavens since his holy dwelling places on earth had been turned into places of false worship that he could not tolerate. There he would play the waiting game until his people learned their lesson well enough to turn away from their earthly “allies” and fertility gods.
When his people finally were ready to admit their guilt and pay the price for it, then God would pay attention to them. When they earnestly sought his face – came into his presence wanting to know and do his will – then God would hear their cries and respond. When the misery got bad enough, God’s people would finally go searching for him. But until then, God’s people faced judgment, ruin, and disaster.
God’s sinful people neither know nor seek to worship him, so they must face destruction and isolation from him until they are willing to admit their guilt and turn back to worship him.
Keep watch over your heart and over your spiritual life. Sin is insidious; it may seem harmless in the beginning, but its end brings destruction and separation from God. Do not allow it to germinate in the soil of your heart. Hosea instructs us to break up the hard places in our lives and to sow the seed of righteousness.
Recognize that, at times, the Lord may remove His presence from us and allow hardship and misery in response to our sin. He does this in order to draw us back to Himself.
NO GUESSING WITH GOD
God has clearly taught his people what he expects of us. We are not ignorant of what is right and wrong. Too often we act ignorant about who God is. We walk off in our own ways and ignore him, neither listening to his direction nor obeying his commands.
When we live this way, what can we expect God to do?
- God knows how we are living.
- God has made plain the basic rules for life with him.
- Serving in an office in the church does not protect you from God’s judgment.
- Worshipping anyone or anything besides God brings his discipline and judgment
- A sacred worship place may become off-limits for a disobedient people because of their sin and false worship.
- God may not be present at the place where you decide to worship him.
- Learn God’s ways and walk in them.
- Do not depend on a minister or a church ritual to establish your relationship with God.
- Turn away from anything that tempts you to disobey God or to make something a priority ahead of God.
- If you are not seeking God and acknowledging him as master of your life, expect his judgment.
What is shocking about your relationship with God?
What secret sins do you practice that no one else would believe?
God stands ready to judge you or to free you and welcome you back.
Which direction will you go?
All-powerful, all-knowing God, you know we are sinners. You know the sins we try to hide from everyone else and even from you. We know to do right, yet we do wrong. Search our hearts O Lord and show us the things in our hearts and mind that are not pleasing to you. Forgive us. Deliver us. Free us. Bring us back to you once and for all.
I pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! Amen.
Holman Old Testament Commentary
New Spirit Filled Life Bible
NLT Chronological Life Study Bible