Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hosea 5: 8-12

8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,
The trumpet in Ramah.
Sound an alarm at Beth-aven:
“Behind you, Benjamin!”
9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure.
10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary;
On them I will pour out My wrath like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
Because he was determined to follow man’s command.
12 Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim
And like rottenness to the house of Judah.

Blow the horn! Sound the trumpet! More place names!! Please don't run off, which is what our text from Hosea 5 is suggesting Israel do. The map has it all spelled out for us toda--not to worry.

Gibeah, Ramah and Beth-aven are all on the map above. Start with the red arrow at Gibeah and look northward. Gibeah and Ramah are actually in Judah (Southern Kingdom), on its northern border with Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Beth-aven, which we read about earlier in Hosea 4:15 (" not...go up to Beth-aven and take the oath: 'As the Lord Lives....'"), is actually in southern Israel. (North, South, Israel, Israel--the people; it does get confusing, doesn't it?) My study Bible explains that all three were important defense cities, places to thwart attacks. (You can see Mizpah there, too. Remember from last week, it means watchtower.) It would make sense for warning alerts to be issued at these points.

"Behind you, Benjamin!" (vs. 8)

As Ephraim is the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, so is Benjamin. In this case, Benjamin is used to represent the whole Southern Kingdom. The King James' translation helped me with understanding the meaning: "After thee, O Benjamin!" It's like watching an episode of Scooby Doo and hearing Fred say, "They're getting away. (Hops into the Mystery Machine) After them, guys." [Ah, a week with the nephews and nieces!]

Israel is under attack, by the Lord Himself! The Lord is after you!! The day of rebuke, which God has been laying out through this chapter of Hosea, is coming, and Ephraim will know His wrath. Benjamin, the enemy surrounds you! Watch out! How about this colorful metaphor:

"Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty agent;
As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction,
Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters,
He has cast it down to the earth with His hand.
The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley,
Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer,
Which one sees,
And as soon as it is in his hand,
He swallows it."
--Isaiah 28: 2-4

If there were any doubt about who is in control of Israel, God makes His Name sure in verse 9: "Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure." (emphasis mine) He also declares what will be "swallowed."

Challenging what was believed in the political arenas at the time, God says the princes were not the ones in power. Though they possessed the earthly position of power, they did not possess the Godly know-how to properly use their power. They were greedy, and turned a blind eye to the ways of God. They had become "like those who move a boundary." (vs. 10) Though this may not sound significant, as princes might well conquer lands and change boundaries, again, it was a question of under whose authority they did such deeds.

Read God's law on the moving of stones in Deuteronomy, 19:14--

“You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess."

Boundary stones came with inscriptions that bore the name of the owner of the property. If someone moved your stones, it was equal to stealing your property. The princes of Hosea's day were considered guilty before God of stealing "property." What was God really saying in verse 10? See the point in the Amplified Bible's take on the verse: "The princes of Judah are like those who remove the landmark [the barrier between right and wrong]." The apostasy of the princes made null God's law in the eyes of the people, leading to and giving credence to their own apostasy.

As Christians, we need to recognize that we still have spiritual stone boundaries.

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'”
--I Peter 2:4-6

Christ's name is on that cornerstone, and woe to those who try and move our boundary stones! Israel rejected the law as well as the relationship with the creator of the law, leading to verse 11's pronouncement that God's people will be "oppressed, crushed in judgment," in following "man's command." "Put to shame," to use Peter's words. My study Bible notes that ancient translations use the phrase "follow nothingness."

Therefore, God becomes "like a moth" and "like rottenness" to His people. (vs. 12) God would become the destructive force that would bring Israel to desolation, in rebuke, in discipline--truly, in a form of "tough love" that continues on, even now.

"But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the LORD of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.'”
--Zechariah 1:6

Chapter 5 concludes with a stop in Assyria.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 5: 13-15

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).