Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hosea 9: 1-5

Hosea 9

Ephraim Punished
 1Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations!
For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God.
You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.
2 Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them,
And the new wine will fail them.
3 They will not remain in the LORD’S land,
But Ephraim will return to Egypt,
And in Assyria they will eat unclean food.
4 They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the LORD,
Their sacrifices will not please Him.
Their bread will be like mourners’ bread;
All who eat of it will be defiled,
For their bread will be for themselves alone;
It will not enter the house of the LORD.
5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival
And on the day of the feast of the LORD?

As we reach Chapter 9 in Hosea, the prophet begins to speak more openly about what awaits the punished nation of Israel in the land of the "new Egypt," Assyria. (vs. 3) Areas in which Israel would have celebrated itself for its success--"with exultation like the nations"--would be turned Right-side-up by Hosea.

We have been presented with the illustration of harlotry throughout this book, understanding that Israel's forsaking God in all respects defiled its covenant with God. Verse 1 takes this concept yet another step forward, saying that Israel has "loved harlots' earnings on every threshing floor." We can understand this to mean Israel's gain of richness in food and monetary stores, which is true. But, my study Bible says that this is truly a literal passage. "These were the very places ["threshing floor and wine press...", vs 2] where sacred prostitution took place in an attempt to cause Baal to bring prosperity." Is it any wonder "the new wine will fail them." Blech!

“Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time
And My new wine in its season.
I will also take away My wool and My flax
Given to cover her nakedness."
--Hosea 2:9

Verse 3 denotes Assyria as "Egypt" and says that Israelites will eat unclean food. Assyria may have been used by God to hold His people, but Assyria is not the country by which the Israelites will learn to right themselves. There will not be opportunities to worship God as they had done, when they were honestly worshiping. God has withdrawn Himself. Sacrifices offered would be rejected. Deuteronomy 26 highlights many a commandment presented by the Lord to the Israelites regarding sacrifices and their proper presentation. The people would come to realize that even in their attempts to do right, their hearts would condemn them.

"Then said Haggai, If one who is [ceremonially] unclean because he has come in contact with a dead body should touch any of these articles of food, shall it be [ceremonially] unclean? And the priests answered, It shall be unclean. [Unholiness is infectious.] Then answered Haggai, So is this people and so is this nation before Me, says the Lord; and so is every work of their hands, and what they offer there [on the altar] is unclean [because they who offer it are themselves unclean]."
--Haggai 2: 13-14 [Amplified Bible]

Hosea continues about the bread, saying what the Israelites will metaphorically feed upon in captivity is "mourners' bread" or, more literally, "the bread of misfortune." And this defiled bread will become, for the Israelites, "their appetite." Is Assyria getting this bread? No! Shouldn't it? Hmmm.... That's another chapter in another book! God's discipline, here, is for His people--severe, of long duration, yet what was necessary in order to restore their hearts to Him. Israel would remain, even though the people were extracted from it.

"'The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.'"
--Leviticus 25:23
What Israel really needed to see is that it had tried to become God. But, as He so makes clear, in passages like the Leviticus one above, everything belongs to Him, and we are but sojourners on the land with Him. Though Israel was not permanently sold and God would bring (and will bring) His people back, for now, they would go without, pondering life amidst the crumbs fallen from the bread of their self-created misfortune.

"The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?"
--Jeremiah 5:31

"Your hostility is so great...." We'll explore this sticking point of God's from Chapter 9.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 9: 6-9

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).