Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hosea 8: 8-14

8 Israel is swallowed up;
They are now among the nations
Like a vessel in which no one delights.
9 For they have gone up to Assyria,
Like a wild donkey all alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
10 Even though they hire allies among the nations,
Now I will gather them up;
And they will begin to diminish
Because of the burden of the king of princes.

11 Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin,
They have become altars of sinning for him.
12 Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law,
They are regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for My sacrificial gifts,
They sacrifice the flesh and eat it,
But the LORD has taken no delight in them.
Now He will remember their iniquity,
And punish them for their sins;
They will return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces;
And Judah has multiplied fortified cities,
But I will send a fire on its cities that it may consume its palatial dwellings.

Chapter 8 concludes today, as we continue to explore the words of Hosea in his reaching out to Israel and Judah. We left off last week with the illustration of grain with no fruit being devoured by strangers in Israel. Today's passage opens with Israel being swallowed up by strangers--the illustration taken one step nearer to fulfillment.

"Like a vessel in which no one delights," says verse 8, of Israel. The King James Version reads, "...Now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure." In the Hebrew, Strong's defines 'pleasure' as "hence (abstractly) desire; concretely a valuable thing; hence (by extension) a matter (as something in mind)." God's covenant people are and will continue to be mixed among the heathen, literally and in all other respects. God says they are a people no longer desired by Him nor will He have regard for or mind them--at least, not in their current state. The recourse for Israel's disobedience, given God's anger, should be obliteration.

"What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"
--Romans 9:22

We have referenced through this book earlier that Israel has turned to Assyria for assistance. Rather than seek the Lord, Israel sought to make alliances with earthly powers that could provide what they thought they needed, fulfill what the lusts of their heart, getting back to the idea of harlotry portrayed throughout. Here, though, Hosea gives Israel a new designation--"a wild donkey." Not only a stubborn animal but a wild, untamed stubborn animal!

"A wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness, that sniffs the wind in her passion."
--Jeremiah 2:24a

'Onager' is another word for wild donkey, closer to the original Hebrew. Interestingly, this word would later be used as the word for a military catapult for throwing stones. Rather than respecting the stones of faith and boundaries laid by their Godly ancestors, Israel would seem to be throwing away their lineage.

I love how the Jeremiah cross-referenced description of a wild donkey ties in with these next verses of Hosea. "...They will begin to diminish," which is otherwise translated "suffer for awhile". (vs. 10) "Accustomed to the wilderness," as Jeremiah says, Israel will return to its days of wandering in the wilderness, and even back further into its days of captivity, as God will call Assyria forward and use the "allied" nation for His own plan.

"I send [the Assyrian] against a hypocritical and godless nation and against the people of My wrath; I command him to take the spoil and to seize the prey and to tread them down like the mire in the streets. However, this is not his intention [nor is the Assyrian aware that he is doing this at My bidding], neither does his mind so think and plan; but it is in his mind to destroy and cut off many nations."
--Isaiah 10: 6 & 7, Amplified Bible

What God had provided to Israel in those wilderness days--the law and the establishment of the tabernacle for worship and sacrifices--would be used for disgrace and acknowledged as "strange" or foreign. (vs. 12) Remember what we read in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Not that they were not told. They did not retain, pass on or obey what they had learned. The provisions of sacrificial gifts by the Lord, to be offered in return, in thanksgiving, in obedience to that law, upon His altars, were tainted and, thus, rejected.

"They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt."
--Hosea 8:13, King James Version

They will return to "Egypt." Not the literal Egypt, but "the new Egypt," if you will, that being Assyria--new land of slavery and captivity. [My study Bible adds that some refugees of Judah did actually go into captivity in Egypt. (II Kings 25:26)] This will not be the first time Hosea uses 'Egypt' for 'Assyria' as we'll see next week.

The text finishes with a mention of Judah, which would not be taken into captivity until years later by the Babylonians. God punishes Judah for its fortification of cities rather that its trust in God as being their protector.

“They will devour your harvest and your food;
They will devour your sons and your daughters;
They will devour your flocks and your herds;
They will devour your vines and your fig trees;
They will demolish with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust."
--Jeremiah 5:17

"For Israel has forgotten his Maker...." Though we read in other places in the Bible that God forgives and remembers sin no more, at this time, He has chosen to forget the people and remember the sin.

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’"
--Isaiah 45:9

"Ephraim Punished," because of their treatment of the elements.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 9: 1-5

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).