Israel Turned To False Assumptions!
Despite all her privileges Israel turned to false gods.
Political and religious history paint God’s people as sinners who must face punishment for their false worship, false politics, and false religion.
- First, we consider the nature of Israel’s sin. Hosea highlights the way in which the nation had shown such ingratitude.
They Misused God’s Gifts
ISRAEL IS a luxuriant vine that puts forth its [material] fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit he has multiplied his altars [to idols]; according to the goodness and prosperity of their land they have made goodly pillars or obelisks [to false gods].
Their heart is divided and deceitful; now shall they be found guilty and suffer punishment. The Lord will smite and break down [the horns of] their altars; He will destroy their [idolatrous] pillars.
Hosea 10:1-2 (AMP)
God brought Israel into a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’. God is good to his people and never provides for them in an ungenerous way. ‘Fertility’ is his speciality! He knows how to give life and energy of every kind. The people of Israel were like a luxuriant vine in their prosperity. Quite recently they had had a taste of how prosperous the land could be, for the days of Jeroboam were prosperous and easy, although the poor did not get much of a share of the wealth.
But wealth did not result in Israel’s gratitude to God. They simply became more self-confident in their idolatrous ways. The more its fruit increased, the more they used their wealth to increase the altars to pagan deities. The more the land prospered, the more they adorned ‘sacred stones’, upright standing stone pillars erected in honour of a god.
Their sin was misusing God’s gifts. When sinners incur no judgement but rather get prosperous it ought to lead them to gratitude. The goodness of God leads us towards repentance (Romans 2:4). But more often than not a hard and impenitent heart is fortified in its godlessness. There is self-deception in this; ‘their heart is deceitful’. We deceive ourselves into thinking the goodness of God is indifference. There may be a lengthy time-gap before God acts but the idolater is ‘storing up wrath’ (Romans 2:5). Soon the implements of idolatry will be broken down.
They Denied God’s Power
The people of Israel soon were ignoring their traditional faith in the kingship of God and were ascribing kingship to other gods of Canaan and of Assyria.
Surely now they shall say, We have no [actual] king because we fear not the Lord; and as for the king, what can he do for us?
Hosea 10:3 (AMP)
Hosea had ended his personal section by saying Israel would lose both king and worship place before God restored a Davidic king. Israel appeared to place more reliance on the king of Assyria than on their own king (Hosea 5:13). Thus the nation consumes its kings, making sure each king falls and fails (Hosea 7:7).
The basic reason for royal failure was ignoring Yahweh, the God of Israel. King and officials were a burden for Israel (Hosea 8:10), demanding more and more taxes to pay ever-increasing tribute.
Hosea 10 brings this cascade of denunciations to a climax, letting the people admit the truth the prophet had been preaching. Israel really had no king. This reflected the lack of personal commitment during Israel’s last fifty years. It reflected religious reality during all of the Northern Kingdom’s history. Israel should have thought of God as their true king. They should have anointed and served kings only when the Lord chose them. Instead, they drove themselves so deep into international dependence and debt that no king could help them.
They Deserted God’s Covenant
They speak ⌊mere⌋ words, taking false oaths while making covenants. So lawsuits break out like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a field.
Hosea 10:4 (HCSB)
God was angry with the people of Israel for their insincere promises. Because the people did not keep their word, there were many lawsuits. People break their promises, but God always keeps his.
Are you remaining true to your promises, both to other people and to God?
If not, ask god for forgiveness and help to get back on track. Then be careful about the promises you make. Never make a promise unless you are sure you can keep it.
They Will Experience God’s Deprivation
God will take away their idol altogether.
The inhabitants of Samaria shall be in terror for the calf [idol] of Beth-aven [the house of idolatry, contemptuously meaning Bethel], for its people shall mourn over it and its [idolatrous] priests who rejoiced over it [shall tremble] for the glory of [their calf god], because it is departed from it.
Hosea 10:5 (AMP)
Beth-aven means “house of wickedness,” and it refers to Bethel (“house of God”), where false worship took place. If the Israelites’ idols were really gods, they should have been able to protect them.
How ironic that the people were fearing for their gods’ safety!
[The golden calf] shall also be carried into Assyria as a tribute-gift to the fighting King Jareb; Ephraim shall be put to shame and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel [to set up calf worship and detach Israel from Judah].
Hosea 10:6 (AMP)
Even the bull calf would be carried away to Assyria. It would serve as an offering or as tribute to the great king – a title loved by the Assyrian monarchs. Yes, the god to whom they gave lavish offerings would lose all its “honor” as its only value would become the gold plate used to pay the tribute the Assyrian king demanded to “protect” Israel.
They Will Face Shame And Fear
When God’s day of judgement comes there is exposure and everything is seen for what it really is. One result is shame.
The idol also shall be carried to Assyria As a present for King Jareb. Ephraim shall receive shame, And Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
As for Samaria, her king is cut off Like a twig on the water.
Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, Shall be destroyed. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars; They shall say to the mountains, “Cover us!” And to the hills, “Fall on us!”
Hosea 10:6-8 (NKJV)
In God’s judgement the worthlessness of all of our idols becomes plain and obvious. The image that Samaria had once taken such pride in will now become an object of shame and disgrace. It will have no more permanence or significance than a chip of wood floating away on a stream of water. ‘High places’ will be destroyed so as to be no more than a pile of rubbish. The people who worshipped the idols will have such fear that the very mountains and hills will be invited to bury them out of sight and away from the appearance of God’s wrath.
Exposure, shame, insignificance, destruction, fears—these are all characteristics of the New Testament teaching concerning hell. What happened in Israel at a purely mundane level within earthly history will one day happen at an eternal level and will never be reversed.
A people whose worship, religion, and politics were corrupt would find life was no longer worth living.
We must never interpret material prosperity, as a sign that God is pleased with actions that are out of harmony with His revealed will.
Focus on the Bible Commentary – Hosea
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible