Yesterday in Hosea 6, we saw how Israel’s shallow, presumptuous “repentance” was unacceptable to God. Today, the accusations continue, moving to the political realm.
But first, we get another difficult-to-understand section, in which God seems to be saying that his people’s sin is so great it’s getting in the way of him restoring them:Hosea 6:11 – 7:2 “Also for you, Judah, a harvest is appointed, whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people. Whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.
The accusations then continue. This time they seem to be about the political instability, commenting on the constant cycle of assassinations that dominated the history of the northern kingdom. (See 2 Kings 15, which lists how Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, Pekah, Kevin, Julia, Kevin, and Tony were assassinated.):
Hosea 7:3-7 “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.
What’s more, despite their instability at the top, they keep looking to make alliances with other nations to make them safe – rather than to God. They don’t notice the slow but steady way in which they are being used by these other nations, and the slow and steady way they are turning from God:Hosea 7:8-10 Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over. Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with grey, but he does not notice. Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for him.
Instead, they keep looking to the big world powers for security:Hosea 7:11 Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.
For this reason, God will destroy them:Hosea 7:12-13a When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like the birds in the sky. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me!
God wants to restore them, but they are too busy trying to get the attention of their idols to help them instead:Hosea 7:13b-14 I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely. They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds. They slash themselves, appealing to their gods for grain and new wine, but they turn away from me.
For this reason, destruction is coming . For they did not acknowledge that their security comes from God, rather than the nations around. And their foolish alliances will come back to bite them:Hosea 7:15-16 I trained them and strengthened their arms, but they plot evil against me. They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.
To think about
What other things do you look to for your security?
- Income, savings, and superannuation fund?
- Family/spouse/other relationship?
- Your own good planning to avoid risk?
I’m sure you could compile a list. And none of these things is bad in themselves. But they can become so when we’re trusting more in them than in God to provide for us and to keep us safe.
Spend some time in repentance for when you’ve looked to other places for your security, and ignored the fact that God is there waiting for you to find your security in him.