Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hosea 9:10-13

10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season.
But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame,
And they became as detestable as that which they loved.
11 As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird—
No birth, no pregnancy and no conception!
12 Though they bring up their children,
Yet I will bereave them until not a man is left.
Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen,
Is planted in a pleasant meadow like Tyre;
But Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter.

We begin the second half of Hosea, Chapter 9, with metaphorical remembrances as to the special place Israel had in the heart of God. "Grapes in the wilderness," "earliest fruit on the fig tree" (vs 10) and "a pleasant meadow like Tyre" (vs 13) describes a new, sweet, refreshing fellowship between the Israelites and God. Permission to sing the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" granted, because that's the kind of new and beautiful relationship we are talking about. Note that God is speaking of the earliest Israelites--the forefathers of those to whom Hosea is addressing. However, the beauty of these descriptions would be overshadowed in our passage today by equally passionate statements of loss, woe and hatred.

Verse 10 moves from pleasure to shame, as we are reminded that no sooner had God led His people--those forefathers--out of bondage in Egypt that they would begin to form bonds with the false god Baal at Peor, a town of Moab. Idol worship leading to immoral behavior led God to quickly step in (see Numbers 25) and have those involved in the behavior killed by the judges of Israel as a statement of discipline. The situation of Hosea's Israel is equally horrifying to God. "And they became as detestable as that which they loved." That is a truly harsh statement.

"Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them."
--Psalm 115: 4-8

There is a reason God devoted so much explanation in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) about the problem with idols. Have NOTHING to come before Me and don't make ANYTHING that might resemble Me to come before Me. God's saying, I AM! the One and the Only. He knew enough about the wayward human heart to make these commandments 1 and 2. Because, if you make it, you will trust it, and you will become like it--"detestable as that which they loved," according to God. If you explore the roots of 'detest', it means to "denounce with one's testimony." ( By the testimony of their lives, Israel had denounced their Father, and, needless to say, the Father cannot be in relationship with that which He finds detestable.

Verse 11 says that the "glory," or the abundance, the honor, the hallowed place of respect in the covenant relationship with God, will "fly away like a bird." God will "depart from them" (vs 12) as a bird taking flight from a branch. Whatever special protections and grace had been put in place by God would be removed. "'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself,'" speaks God in Exodus 19:4. No longer would Israel live as saved by the wings of the eagle.

"Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’"
--Deuteronomy 31:17

The majority of the passage focuses on the loss of Israel's future, as the ability to have and raise children will be taken away. If you think back to the stories of the Israelites--Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; David and Bathsheba--the importance of children, the blessing of children, the struggles over children dominated their lives. The loss of David's son was devastating! The significance of carrying forth to a next generation was huge! For God to say "no" to all aspects of furthering the lineage of the people would be a crushing, sickening blow. And if we didn't know how this story would change, come the Word from the Gospels, we would believe Israel to be truly hopeless.
"O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield."
--Psalm 115: 9

Chapter 9 concludes next week.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 9:14-17

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).