Hosea Chapter Eight

 

Read Hosea 8:1-4 – Sound a Warning!

 

v.1 Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.”

 

            Hosea’s message continues to Israel to sound the alarm for danger is at hand.  He gave this same exhortation to both Israel and Judah earlier in our study:

 

Hosea 5:8Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.”

 

            One of the fears of a shepherd, even today in our western mountains, is that an eagle will steal their spring lambs for an eagle can swoop down and carry a newborn lamb away in his talons.  This analogy of an eagle as an adversary was well known to the Israelite people and used by God to warn them of the consequences of being unfaithful.

 

Deuteronomy 28:49The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;”

 

v.2Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.”

 

            At the time of their judgment Israel will cry unto God that they know him, that they are his chosen people, but they will be as the Psalmist describes:

 

Psalms 78:34-37 “WHEN HE SLEW THEM, THEN THEY SOUGHT HIM: AND THEY RETURNED AND INQUIRED EARLY AFTER GOD.  AND THEY REMEMBERED THAT GOD was THEIR ROCK, AND THE HIGH GOD THEIR REDEEMER.  NEVERTHELESS THEY DID FLATTER HIM WITH THEIR MOUTH, AND THEY LIED UNTO HIM WITH THEIR TONGUES.  FOR THEIR HEART WAS NOT RIGHT WITH HIM, NEITHER WERE THEY STEDFAST IN HIS COVENANT.”

 

We look at the history of Israel and through their example we can see the same condition existing in our society today and even among those who claim to be of Jesus Christ:

 

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

 

When they stand in judgment, they will cry “my God, we know thee”.  They will be among whom Christ described in:

 

Matthew 7:22-23Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

 

v.3-43Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. 4They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.

 

            First of all Israel had rejected God as their king under the judgeship of Samuel.

 

I Samuel 8:5And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

 

So God appointed them a king, first Saul, then David and his son Solomon but God’s rule over their kings ended there.  After the rebellion of the northern tribes and the division of Israel into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, Israel became just like all the nations around them:

 

II Kings 15:13-14Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria. 14For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”

 

II Kings 15:23-25 “In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 25But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.”

 

            As a result of choosing a king that was not appointed by God the northern kingdom turned to idolatry.

 

Read Hosea 8:5-14 Israel’s Idolatry

 

v.5Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?”

 

            The prophet characterizes the failure of their idol gods to sustain Israel as the calf having cast them off.  Of course, we know that the calves that Jeroboam had erected in Dan and Bethel to be worshiped as their gods could not do anything as they were but man made images.  So God asks the question, how long can it be before they wake up, repent and return to Him?  How long before they return to the state of innocence, repent and return to innocence from their greatest sins.

 

v.6For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.”

 

            In direct violation of God’s commandment they made themselves idols, images to worship that were not God.  They had been warned in the Mosaic Covenant:

 

Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” Deuteronomy 27:15

 

It was started by king Jeroboam when the kingdom was divided:

 

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” I Kings 12:28

 

And now that Samaria has become a principle city, the capital of Israel, they also have a golden calf at Samaria.  But those images are not gods just as Paul taught the Ephesians:

 

Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:” Acts 19:26

 

v.77For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

 

            “THEY HAVE SOWN THE WIND”, they went to all of the trouble and expense of creating these images to worship but they serve no spiritual purpose.  It was like trying to sow, or broadcast seed, in the wind, it’s going to go everywhere but where it should and bring no crop as a result.  Their work comes to naught.  They promise themselves plenty, peace and prosperity by worshiping their idols but they are serving a delusion.  Keeping with the analogy of a sower, the seed sown brings no stalk, it brings no bud to yield grain to be made into meal and even if it did strangers would devour it.  Their bowing down to images and expecting them to bless and protect them is the ultimate of vanities.

 

v.8Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.”

 

            Israel will be swallowed up, will come to an end as a nation and will be taken away and used among the Gentiles, foreigners, like a vessel or water pot that has no purpose except to serve its master.  The actual destruction of the nation is recorded in:

 

II Kings 17:6In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.”

 

            These locations where the Israeli captives were carried are all in Assyria or in lands they had conquered from the Medes.  Halah is also known as Calah and Nimrud, thought to be the ancient city of Nimrod by Arabic people today.  The Tell Hamir being excavated by archeologists today is thought to be one of the oldest such city sites in existence.  It is located near Habor or Khabar, a river in the Gozan district, and if it is the remnant of the oldest city in history that is consistent with the record in Genesis.  So all we have to do is read our Bibles to know that it was one of the first cities that ever existed.  This is where Israel was carried as captives.

 

v.9For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.”

 

            Ephraim, representing the entire nation of Israel, is pictured as have hired lovers.  This analogy is consistent with the theme of Hosea that Israel has committed spiritual adultery by worshipping foreign gods and making alliances with foreign governments in attempts to retain their status as a nation.  An example may be found in:

 

II Kings 15:19And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.”

 

But as is common with any form of blackmail, the adversary just keeps coming back again and again.

 

v.10Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.”

 

            They thought that by paying tribute, or hiring “AMONG THE NATIONS”, they could prevent their eventual demise; but neither they nor we, can escape the judgment of God.  They will simply suffer more because of the tax burden laid upon them by their king:

 

II Kings 15:20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria…”

 

Because in addition to their normal burden of supporting their kingdom; the men of Israel are now being taxed to pay tribute to Assyria.

 

v.11-12Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. 12I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.”

 

            Again we see the tribe of Ephraim representing the entire nation of Israel.  The altars they constructed to worship their idol gods are characterized as “ALTARS TO SIN” by God, and altars or monuments to sin is what they were.  God had written to them his law:

 

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.  Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:5-6

 

One of which was:

 

“THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.” Exodus 20:3

 

But the laws that God had given them was “COUNTED AS A STRANGE THING”; why?

 

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”  Hosea 4:6

 

            We can see the same condition in existence in our nation today.  Why?  Because the laws of God are counted as a strange thing among many people, as something that must not influence the laws of our nation, something that is so offensive that it must be removed from public view.  But is our condition as a result of ignorance or as a result of rebellion and refusal to acknowledge and obey God?  In our nation it is both a result of rebellion and willful ignorance.

 

v.13They 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.”

 

            Just as prophesied by Amos:

 

Amos 5:22Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.

 

Those who try to worship God in ways that he has not commanded, using means that he has not instructed such as instruments of music will find that their worship is not acceptable.  Even if we do everything precisely as God has commanded in our congregational worship Jesus says that we can still worship in vain:

 

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9

 

As a consequence Israel will “RETURN TO EGYPT”, what does this mean?  That they would return to a position of slavery similar to that endured in Egypt.

 

v.14For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.”

 

            Israel has indeed “FORGOTTEN HIS MAKER”, God has been abandoned and God will abandon Israel to her fate as a conquered nation in a vicious and unforgiving world.  Jeroboam had appointed priests to guide the worship of Israel but not according to His commandments:

 

I Kings 12:31-32And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.  And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.”

 

            Jeroboam copied the worship commanded by God but offered it to idols instead.  Do we have a parallel today?  Absolutely, everywhere that men copy as much of the Word of God as they want and then refuse to honor the rest; where men copy the articles of worship that they choose, then reject others and add what they want instead of what God commands.

            Even Judah has failed to rely on God to protect her and multiplied her fenced or walled cities.  Because all Israel has forgotten God and his Laws, because her worship is offered to idols, and because what may be offered to God is but a sham God will bring destruction upon both kingdoms.  Their cities will be destroyed by the fires of war and the palaces of her rulers will be devoured.

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; October 26, 2008