Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hosea 12: 7-10

7 A merchant, in whose hands are false balances,
He loves to oppress.
8 And Ephraim said, “Surely I have become rich,
I have found wealth for myself;
In all my labors they will find in me
No iniquity, which would be sin.”
9 But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
As in the days of the appointed festival.
10 I have also spoken to the prophets,
And I gave numerous visions,
And through the prophets I gave parables.

A most unflattering description of Israel, or Ephraim, opens our passage in Hosea 12 today. God continues to remind the nation of who has been and is in charge, and who clearly isn't.

A 'merchant' does not seem like a bad description except for the fact that, back in the day, the word was often used as a substitute for Caananite. Interestingly, the Hebrew word is also translated "humiliated." [Strong's]

"...The Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan."
--Numbers 13:29

Indeed, the placement of the land of Canaan made it an ideal place for a trading capital. But, the Canaanites were not a Godly people, which made for the development of unfair business practices. Israel picks up the moniker here in Hosea because it had become rich and self-absorbed with an oppressive business sense--even amongst its own and, obviously, in the light of God's Word and direction.

“When will the new moon be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,
To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with dishonest scales...."
--Amos 8:5, excerpt

"I have found wealth for myself...." (vs 8) We are so lost when we claim not only our riches but that we have come upon them ourselves. This is a first step toward self-reliance and a step away from God's provision by grace. Psalm 62:10 says, "If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them." We can become sidetracked with our own success, which leads to impure motives. How many stories of celebrity success [excess?] do we need to follow to understand how debilitating the self-fulfilled life is? Israel is blind to their celebrity, if you will. The darling nation has been feeding on the sin offerings of its own people (Hosea 4:8)!? Yet they say, "...They will find in me no iniquity, which would be sin...." Proverbs would label that "foolish" or "folly."

Israel is without excuse. God has called the prophets to relay His Word to His people--through speaking to them, and in multiple visions and parables. (vs. 10) How could they continue to hold such a foolish attitude, with God ever before them?

"Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, 'Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.'"
--II Kings 17:13

Backtracking to verse 9, the key verse this week: "But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt." Remember Egypt, O Israel? To have come so far--literally, years of wilderness travel--only to be found, now, so far away from Him again. The Father's heartache! His punishment comes in the form of a thanksgiving celebration turned upside down.

"I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival."
--vs. 9

God designed a memorial festival in which the Israelites would commemorate the 40-year wilderness venture that they made from Egypt to the promised land. The Feast of Booths, or the Feast of Tabernacles, was to be celebrated every year, with the people living in tents for its duration as a reminder of their time "on the road."

"'You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.'"
--Deuteronomy 16:13-15

I am struck, first, at the "God-incidence" of having mention of this feast in Hosea the day before the American celebration of Thanksgiving Day. What a joyful feast! Celebrating after the harvest, with your family and those in your midst, celebrating "to the Lord your God," because HE has blessed in all of produce and work! That is how we are "altogether joyful." But, the context for Israel in Hosea is not one of joy, as God says the nation will live in tents again, only, this time, in Assyrian captivity.

Israel had forgotten a song of thanksgiving. Let us not do likewise.
"Give thanks to the Lord
Our God and King
His love endures forever
For He is good, He is above all things
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise...."
--Forever, Chris Tomlin

Another reference to Jacob, as Chapter 12 draws to a close.... 'Til next Wednesday!

To God be the glory; great things He has done!

Photo: trentbooks.com

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Next week: Hosea 12: 11-14

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).

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