Hosea 9 (NIV)
God found Israel
Like first fruit on the fig tree,
But they worshipped Baal.
–The Gendai Bible (each chapter summarized in a haiku)
by Rev. Frederick K. Boyle
Punishment for Israel
Do not rejoice, Israel;
do not be jubilant like the other nations.
For you have been unfaithful to your God;
you love the wages of a prostitute
at every threshing floor.
2 Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people;
the new wine will fail them.
3 They will not remain in the Lord’s land;
Ephraim will return to Egypt
and eat unclean food in Assyria.
4 They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord,
nor will their sacrifices please him.
Such sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners;
all who eat them will be unclean.
This food will be for themselves;
it will not come into the temple of the Lord.
It has been suggested that Hosea is preaching this sermon at the time of a harvest festival. A threshing floor was a man’s world at harvest time — the men would thresh the grain when the breeze came up in the evening, and then spend the night there to protect the grain. Prostitutes were not uncommon visitors, and altars to idols were frequently placed there. God puts Israel on notice that judgment is coming for their disobedience; they will not enjoy the fruit of their own land nor celebrate their agricultural feasts. Instead, they will eat unclean food from other nations and from the houses of the dead.
5 What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals,
on the feast days of the Lord?
6 Even if they escape from destruction,
Egypt will gather them,
and Memphis will bury them.
Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers,
and thorns will overrun their tents.
7 The days of punishment are coming,
the days of reckoning are at hand.
Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
the inspired person a maniac.
8 The prophet, along with my God,
is the watchman over Ephraim,
yet snares await him on all his paths,
and hostility in the house of his God.
9 They have sunk deep into corruption,
as in the days of Gibeah.
Judges 19 describes horrific crimes of perversion and violence in Israel in the days of the Judges. Hosea says that in his day it is just as bad in Israel.
God will remember their wickedness
and punish them for their sins.
10 “When I found Israel,
it was like finding grapes in the desert;
when I saw your ancestors,
it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.
God recalls his love for the people of Israel, how sweet it was, like an unexpected treat of ripe grapes in a desert.
But when they came to Baal Peor,
they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
and became as vile as the thing they loved.
Israel’s sin and idolatry in the days of Hosea is like their sin at Baal Peor in Numbers 25, associated with sexual immorality and idolatry.
Psalm 106:28-29 (ESV)
Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children,
I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them
when I turn away from them!
13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre,
planted in a pleasant place.
But Ephraim will bring out
their children to the slayer.”
14 Give them, Lord—
what will you give them?
Give them wombs that miscarry
and breasts that are dry.
The idea is that Hosea began an angry prayer against the people (“Give them, O Lord”), then he stopped because he checked his heart and didn’t know what to pray (“What will you give?”). In the end, he asked for a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. Really, Hosea prayed for mercy. Knowing the coming judgment, he prayed “Lord, give them few children so those children will not have to face the horrors of Your coming judgment.”
15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,
I hated them there.
Because of their sinful deeds,
I will drive them out of my house.
I will no longer love them;
all their leaders are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is blighted,
their root is withered,
they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children,
I will slay their cherished offspring.”
17 My God will reject them
because they have not obeyed him;
they will be wanderers among the nations.
This is exactly what the Lord promised under the terms of the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:24-28). Thankfully, we can come to God by faith in a new covenant, where He promises to forgive us and remember our sins no more.
Hebrews 10:16-17 (ESV)
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Speaking of forgiveness — HERE is Chris Tomlin singing “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).”