God Allows The Violence Of Society To Be Its Own Punishment!
In the days of Gibeah, the nation regretted its extreme measures in almost exterminating the tribe of Benjamin (to which Gibeah belonged). They had sworn not to give any girl in marriage to any Benjaminites. Then they called a meeting at which they were wondering how to provide wives for the survivors. Then they discovered that the men of Jabesh Gilead had not come to the meeting (Judges 21:1-9). So having almost wiped out Benjamin they now felt they should wipe out Jabesh Gilead also! Things are not so different in Hosea’s time.
O Israel, you have [willfully] sinned from the days of Gibeah [when you all but wiped out the tribe of Benjamin]! There [Israel] stood [then, only] that the battle against the sons of unrighteousness might not overtake and turn against them at Gibeah [but now the kingdom of the ten tribes and the name of Ephraim shall be utterly blotted out].
Hosea 10:9 (AMP)
Hosea summarizes all he has tried to teach Israel in chapters 8 through 10. Israel must accept their identity before God. They are not elect people protected from all harm because they have religious ceremonies devoted to God. Memory of the exodus does not preclude a new journey to slavery and exile. Hosea is not talking just about recent history. Israel’s sins can be dated since the days of Gibeah. They started out in disastrous sin and have kept it up throughout their history.
The central focus of the Gibeah narrative is the destruction of the tribe of Benjamin. The first northern hero was Saul, the king from the tribe of Benjamin and the fortress city of Gibeah (1 Samuel 15:34). In Hosea’s day Saul had long since lost his honor and power, and Gibeah was a minor border post called to battle alarm (Hos. 5:8). The nation of Israel had likewise lost its honor and power. War would overtake them, just as it did the evildoers in Gibeah.
When I please I will chastise them, and hostile peoples shall be gathered against them when I shall bind and yoke them for their two transgressions [revolt from the Lord their God and the worship of idols].
Hosea 10:10 (AMP)
The threatened war depended on one thing – God’s desire. It would come when he pleased. It would not be a war of victory like those under Joshua. It would be a war of disgrace like that at Gibeah, since it would be a war to punish God’s wicked people. This war would involve much more than a few tribes against another tribe. This would be a war of nations. It would have one cause – Israel’s double sin or “two crimes.” Israel’s history of sin faced its end.
When God Saves His People He Gives Them Sufficient Resources To Live For Him
The people of God have sufficient grace to live lives of righteousness.
Ephraim is a well-trained calf that loves to thresh, but I will place a yoke on her fine neck. I will harness Ephraim; Judah will plow; Jacob will do the final plowing.
Hosea 10:11 (HCSB)
The picture language here all speaks of the great potential that there was in Israel. The nation was like a well-trained cow or ox, ready for working on the farmland. The different parts of Ephraim and Judah were all well trained under the yoke of God’s training. Ephraim in the north and Judah in the south, were equally prepared by God for serving him. ‘Jacob’, the whole nation, was well equipped.
One remembers that in Israel the farmers were forbidden to muzzle the ox (Deuteronomy 25:4), so the ox was abundantly provided for. God gave the nation status as his people. He promised his protection. He gave them his law. He furnished them with a system of worship, and regulations that would keep them distinct from the surrounding nations. They had promises to look forward to.
So God continues to teach his people a history lesson. They have never been free to do as they please. In the covenant with their God, he placed his yoke of ownership on them and took the reins to lead them where they should go.
God’s instructions for his people are clear. They are to be as obedient as animals harnessed to the plow to prepare God’s field for harvest. The nations may be called Judah and Ephraim now, but they all go back to one ancestor, Jacob. As the unified nation of Jacob/Israel, God’s people are to do their own plowing with God holding the reins.
Focus on the Bible Commentary – Hosea
Holman Old Testament Commentary