Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hosea 5: 1-7

Hosea 5
The People’s Apostasy Rebuked
1 Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel!
Listen, O house of the king! For the judgment applies to you,
For you have been a snare at Mizpah
And a net spread out on Tabor.
2 The revolters have gone deep in depravity,
But I will chastise all of them.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot,
Israel has defiled itself.
4 Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them,
And they do not know the LORD.
5 Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him,
And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity;
Judah also has stumbled with them.
6 They will go with their flocks and herds
To seek the LORD, but they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn from them.
7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD,
For they have borne illegitimate children.
Now the new moon will devour them with their land.

When it seems like God is repeating Himself, you have to consider two things: 1. It's REALLY important, and, 2. What else is being said that wasn't said the first time He said it. If it seems like Chapter 5 is saying more of the same as what we have read, you're not wrong. So, it's probably REALLY important, and there are probably some things we could find that are new.

Verse 1 addresses the priests and the nation of Israel, which we have already read about. Note, though, the addition in this address of the "house of the King." Hosea now has a message going to those in the earthly positions of political power. There is no one excused from the receiving of God's Word. Hearing God's Word is another story entirely.

Verse 1 also introduces two new place names: Mizpah and Tabor, which my study Bible says were, likely, additional places of false idol worship. Mizpah lay east of the Jordan River. In Hebrew, it translates to mean "outlook" or "watchtower" [Strong's]. Growing up, we used to end our Sunday School worship time with a benediction that was called a mizpah, based on a passage in Genesis in which Laban and Jacob are departing from this location: May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent, one from another. (Genesis 31:49) As with other significant Jewish spiritual landmarks, this "watchtower" became disreputable in God's eyes.

Tabor, located southwest of the Sea of Galilee, or Mount Tabor (see above picture), also has deep history as being a place of pilgrimage for worship as well as a place of significant meetings. Tradition even holds that it is the location for the Transfiguration. It is not insignificant that God chooses to reference such places here in Hosea 5.

The use of 'revolter' in verse 2 is not what we would think. Those who stage revolts nowadays do so for their personal reasons or motives. Its use here is specifically to indicate "one who turns from right" or one who "sins" against God. [Strong's] It begs the question of whether we see ourselves as revolting against God when we turn from what we know is His right. Also, the phrase "gone deep in depravity" can be translated as "waded deep in slaughter." Powerful phrasing!

"For now," God continues in verse 3--saying first, "I know Ephraim," and He knows and holds its very future--Israel (Ephraim and tribes) has chosen the path of revolution. "Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God," says verse 4. The ultimate saving of Israel is to come, but their deeds at the moment will blind them from seeing God's plan and grace. No one is saved by deeds, but our works are clearly important in being able to have a fruitful relationship with God.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."
--Titus 2: 11-14

What is bringing this ruin to Israel? "The pride of Israel testifies against him." Pride--the root of so much sin and "stumbling," as verse 5 says. "They will seek the Lord but will not find Him. He has withdrawn from them." How painful for the Father, who led this people by fire and cloud, and mercifully provided for them through countless obstacles and stumbling places, that He should have to withdraw His presence! The sheep, seeking to return to their shepherd, only to be roaming and lost in a big field. "Can the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?" (Hosea 4:16)

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
--Isaiah 1:15

Verse 7 concludes with ideas of earlier verses. "Illegitimate children" is a reminder of Gomer's children of Chapter 2--a representation of Israel's harlotry with false idols. God says the "new moon will devour them," a reference to Israel's organized new moon festivals and sacrifices, which were no longer tolerated by God due to their lack of focus on Him. The last phrase, "in their land" may also be translated "with their portions," as in the King James' and other versions. 'Portion' in the Hebrew is not just a segment of land but also "inheritance." [Strong's] Did Israel understand what was being lost?

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
--Psalm 73: 25 & 26

Lots of place names next week. Wading through more from Chapter 5.... 'Til next Wednesday!

Photo: sacred-destinations.com

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Next week: Hosea 5: 8-11

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).