Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hosea 4: 15-19

15 Though you, Israel, play the harlot, do not let Judah become guilty;
Also do not go to Gilgal, or go up to Beth-aven
And take the oath: “As the LORD lives!”
16 Since Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer,
Can the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.
18 Their liquor gone, they play the harlot continually;
Their rulers dearly love shame.
19 The wind wraps them in its wings,
And they will be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

God completes His laying out of the controversy He has with Israel, as Hosea 4 comes to a conclusion. No surprises in our text today. Just a few points of clarification on some place names. Chapter 5 begins the actual "rebuke" of Israel, as my study Bible has labeled it.

Verse 15 not only addresses Israel's own behavior but says that the people are a bad influence on their brothers and sisters in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. We hit place names right away, with Gilgal and Beth-aven. We read about Gilgal in Amos. It was sacred to the Jews--the place where Joshua circumcised Israel after the nation entered into the Promised Land. And, if you remember Gilgal from Amos, you might also remember Bethel, which means "house of God," and was the location where God changed Jacob's name to Israel.

Here in Hosea, there is name changing, too, with Beth-aven referring to "house of wickedness or deceit," according to my study Bible. King Jeroboam established idol worship in these sacred places, and God didn't want any more of this contamination leaching into His people.

“And although they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ surely they swear falsely.”
--Jeremiah 5:2

I hadn't meant to have a review-of-Amos lesson, but, it is interesting to note how Chapter 4 of Amos begins: "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan...." The cow references continue in Hosea 4, with Israel's being called a "stubborn heifer." (vs 16, see picture above) In both texts, God refers to Israel as a cow. What I didn't understand until reading the study notes in Hosea is that Jeroboam's idol of worship in these places was a calf! I've seen God do this in other places in the Word. There's just something powerfully relational in His choices of words and expressions, even at the height of discipline! It's like He's saying, "Can't you see--I know you. I know what you're doing!"

"And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God."
--Psalm 78:8

An alternate translation for "Can the Lord now pasture them like a lamb...." is, "Now the LORD will pasture...." The shepherd keeps the flock together. Remember Jesus' parable of the one sheep that goes astray; the shepherd keeps the rest of the flock together and searches desperately for the missing sheep, so he can return it to the fold. Prone to wandering! For Israel to be released "in a large field" to be by itself was God saying that the people's lack of faithfulness would not be returned this time with protection by the Shepherd.

“So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices."
--Psalm 81:12

Verse 17 leads off with "Ephraim" which is one of the 10 tribes of Israel, and, being the largest tribe, was the name most often used to refer to Israel. God says, "Let him alone."

As a mom, I can speak to the effectiveness of natural consequences in discipline. They work better than anything I can come up with (and I would prefer not coming up with anything!). The remainder of the passage sums up Israel's life and times--the drink will be dried up; they are not devoted to their Love; their rulers, their priests, have no respect for true leadership; the people are blown to hither and yon by their sinful desires; and, their sacrifices (to idols, no less) are unholy.

What choice does God have but to rebuke in wrath? And what are the natural consequences of being removed from the protective hemming in of the Lord? I may have used this description before, but I'm reminded of the scene from "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in which Sam the Snowman first talks about the Abominable Snow Monster. As the wind whips up in a flurry, and the scary music starts, Sam opens up his umbrella to try and keep his ground over the evil. [shudder!] "The wind wraps them up in its wings." (vs 19) There's only One who can tame it.

"For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

--Romans 1: 25 (Read more from Romans 1:18-32.)

"The People's Apostasy Rebuked" Chapter 5 begins.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 5: 1-7

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Good post, Sue. Don't have anything to add other than how important it is that we choose the right leaders for our nations!