Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hosea 6: 6-11

6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
8 Gilead is a city of wrongdoers,
Tracked with bloody footprints.
9 And as raiders wait for a man,
So a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they have committed crime.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s harlotry is there, Israel has defiled itself.
11 Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you,
When I restore the fortunes of My people.

I said in last week's post that we would return to the thoughts of Samuel with this week's post. Verse 6 echoes those thoughts completely--loyalty (obedience) over sacrifice and knowledge (knowing and revering God) over burnt offerings. God says, "But like Adam," Israel has sinned. Remembering how this book of Hosea has been fashioned--based on a marriage relationship--He says they have "transgressed the covenant." (vs 7) Remember what happened when Adam sinned? We're still dealing with the fallout from that transgression. Thanks be to God for His Son who keeps us from being eternally in that fallout!

"Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
--Exodus 19: 5 & 6

This is God speaking to Moses in what is referred to as the Mosaic Covenant. God declared Israel to be His "own possession," in words that were to be spoken "to the sons of Israel" throughout the generations. Hosea is still relaying God's words, yet the context is completely different now, as Israel has broken its covenant with God through disobedience.

Once again, God rails on Gilead for the idol-worshiping/murder capital it has become. Verse 9 in the King James Version is slightly different, and, to me, more clearly understood: "And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness." God singles out the priests, again, and calls them murderers through the act of their allowing others to sin. 'Lewdness' in the Hebrew means "a 'plan,' a 'purpose,' so translated several times and then shading off into 'evil plan'; translated also 'heinous crime,' 'wicked purpose or device.'" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Israel's lewdness was compared to Gomer's harlotry back in Chapter 2:

“And then I will uncover her lewdness
In the sight of her lovers,
And no one will rescue her out of My hand."
--Hosea 2:10

Just to note, in verse 9 of the text, Shechem is a place in Palestine, or can refer, generally, to a ridge. [Strong's] The King James' does not mention that in its translation, but I didn't want to blow past a place name.

The chapter concludes with a final statement of the obvious concerning Israel: "a horrible thing"..."defiled itself." (vs 10) Before composing today's blog, I was working on music selections for our bell choir's upcoming involvement with the Christmas program at church. We are plugging into Christmas prophecy and combing through the reactions of characters in the Christmas story in encountering Jesus for the first time. More than once, I came across hymn text referring to Jesus as "undefiled."

"Gentle Mary laid her Child lowly in a manger;
There He lay, the undefiled, to the world a Stranger.
Such a Babe in such a place, can he be the saviour?"

--from the hymn "Gentle Mary Laid her Child"

The breaking up of the marriage covenant between God and Israel came about because Israel could no longer stand before God in a clean state. The people made murky the plans of God, preferring their own lewdness. Even when they claimed to be in relationship with Him, sacrifices and religious practices fouled the pure intent of God's way. Israel defiled itself.

Israel will not be the only one facing judgment, as God reminds Judah, in verse 11, that "there is a harvest appointed for you." And by that, God is not suggesting that they will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. The harvest is one of judgment and captivity.

"Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, tread, for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."
--Joel 3:13

But, after such a time, He will "restore the fortunes of My people."

Chapter 7 brings us back to "Ephraim's Iniquity." May seem familiar, so get ready to look at how God says what He says and what He means.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 7: 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).