Hosea Chapter Ten

 

Read Hosea 10:1-8Israel’s Corrupt Worship

 

v.11Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.”

 

            Israel is as a vine, an analogy used in several places but described most eloquently by the Psalmist:

 

“THOU HAST BROUGHT A VINE OUT OF EGYPT: THOU HAST CAST OUT THE HEATHEN, AND PLANTED IT.  THOU PREPAREST room BEFORE IT, AND DIDST CAUSE IT TO TAKE DEEP ROOT, AND IT FILLED THE LAND.  THE HILLS WERE COVERED WITH THE SHADOW OF IT, AND THE BOUGHS THEREOF were like THE GOODLY CEDARS.  SHE SENT OUT HER BOUGHS UNTO THE SEA, AND HER BRANCHES UNTO THE RIVER.” Psalms 80:8-11

 

            The American Standard translation says that Israel was like a luxurious vine; a vine beautiful to behold, full, and healthy.  It bore excellent fruit, built many altars for worship, but used their bounty to worship manmade images.  So God said that it was empty, it bore no fruit except “UNTO ITSELF”.  They were not fruitful in righteousness or in the ways of God.  In Ezekiel 15:3 the prophet records for Judah that such vines are only good to be burned for fuel.  If we or Israel are truly children of God then the good that is within us is directed to the glory of God.  Paul expresses it this way:

 

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” Romans 14:6

 

But if we claim to be children of God and make ourselves the center of our focus and our wants, wishes and whims the purpose for our being then what are we?

Hypocrites!

 

v.2Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.”

 

            The heart of Israel is divided between God and her idols but their primary allegiance is to Baal.  When the prophet Elijah challenged them at Mount Carmel to chose between Baal and God they refused to answer.

 

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” I Kings 18:21

 

They “ANSWERED HIM NOT A WORD”, they knew where their allegiance was, it wasn’t to God; but they also still knew about God and knew that the prophet standing before them represented God.  As Jesus tells us, no man can serve two masters:

 

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

 

Since they cannot serve two masters, they are in reality serving Baal and God will bring destruction upon their places of worship as a result.

 

v.3For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?”

 

            Israel had rejected God as their king:

 

I Samuel 8:7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

 

They refused to accept, not only his rule, but also the precepts of his law.  Now they are worse off than if they had no king because the kings that ruled the ten tribes of Israel after the division with Judah were all corrupt and did evil.  As we watch the world around us today we can readily see that as the leaders in our state and federal governments move further and further away from God the more corrupt they become. 

 

v.4They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.”

 

            Because their kings are corrupt; so are their judgments and their administration of justice in Israel.  The propjet Amos described it this way:

 

Amos 5:7Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,”

 

Amos 6:12 “…for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:”

 

            God is greatly offended by corruption, whether it is in worship provided to him, or in the administration of justice among mankind.  Consequently, in the case of Israel, God is as offended by their dishonesty and unrighteousness in their judgments as he was in their idolatry.  He charges them with swearing falsely and therefore making the results of their judgments bitter, as gall or wormwood (a very bitter plant); even to the point where He calls it hemlock.  Hemlock is made from a plant and is deadly poison.

 

v.5The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.”

 

            Israel, under the rule of Solomon, was still a people of God.  But one of the results of their division was the desire by King Jeroboam that they not return to Jerusalem to worship:

 

I Kings 12:28-30Whereupon 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. 29And he set the one in Bethel and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.”

 

Now their sin and idolatry will bring them nothing but fear and mourning.  They will be in the same kind of despair as the entire nation of Israel was when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant.

 

I Samuel 4:21-22 “…the glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.”

 

v.6It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.”

 

            These calves were made of gold and probably had been enhanced by the gifts and offerings of the Israelite people as part of their worship.  They would become the spoils of war.  In fact, even before Israel is totally destroyed they would be carried away as spoils of war by Assyria and gifts for their ruler.  Jareb is generally thought by many scholars to be a title, such as “mighty king” rather than a man’s name.  As in any nation or people when they are conquered Ephraim will be shamed and humiliated as a result.  As Hosea tells us in the next chapter this was because they followed their own counsels, their own ways rather than listening to the counsel of the prophets of God.

 

Hosea 11:6And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.”

 

v.7-8As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. 8The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.

 

            The king that Israel demanded of God has now become such that could not help or protect them.  The prophet compares him to the foam on a troubled sea, with no more substance than bubbles of air; scum that appears and disappears with the action of the waves.

            Just as the sin of Israel was destroyed at Mount Sinai:

 

Deuteronomy 9:21And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.”

 

The sin of Israel at Dan and Bethel would be destroyed as well and the nation along with it.  The temple floors and the places of the altars, would grow up in weeds, thorns and thistles and when the wrath of God fell upon Israel in the form of the armies of Assyria they would be like those Christ warned about the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome.

 

Luke 23:30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.”

 

Read Hosea 10:9-11 – Israel Again Warned of God’s Punishment

 

v.9O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.”

 

            The sin of the days of Gibeah refers to a time of trouble between the rest of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.  A woman of a Levite was murdered and he called all of the other tribes to punish the men of Gibeah of Benjamin for this sin.  As we can read in Judges chapter 20, there was, in effect, civil war within Israel between Benjamin and the rest of Israel.  God is telling Israel through Hosea that their sin in this day is worse than that for which Benjamin was punished.  This is the second time that God has brought this charge against them, so they were well aware of the sins of their ancestors and the consequences.

 

v.10 It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.”

 

            God, up to this point in time, had pitied and spared Israel.  Though they had done everything that they could to provoke Him; though they had existed through several generations of evil and corrupt kings; his patience and longsuffering has prevailed but now is coming to an end.  In the curses that God pronounced against Israel if they disobeyed him we find in:

 

Deuteronomy 28:63And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.”

 

            “THE PEOPLE SHALL BE GATHERED AGAINST THEM”.  Just as all Israel gathered against Benjamin at Gibeah, all the people that surrounded Israel would be gathered against them.  Jeremiah tells Judah something somewhat similar:

 

Jeremiah 16:1616Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.”

 

And there is similar language in Ezekiel 23:46-47 as well.  The ASV translates that they are “BOUND TO THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS.”  They will not escape.

 

v.11And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.”

 

            Ephraim, again representing all of the northern kingdom of Israel, is like a ox that is taught to tread out the grain on the threshing floor.  She loves that work because it is easy and she is liberty to eat if she wishes because God’s commandment was:

 

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

Deuteronomy 25:4

 

            But she will be broken to ride and like her Ephraim will be tamed, brought under the complete control and used by the nations that are her neighbors, specifically Assyria.  As is frequently the case with draft animals, especially before the days of laws against animal cruelty, she will be driven hard and used sorely.

            Judah and Jacob, or all of Israel will feel the ox goad; Israel as the ox, Judah who serves as the slave who drives her, all of the descendants of Jacob or Israel will break up the clods.  This was hard, dirty work that in the day of this writing was frequently done with their feet or by hand with a wooden implement.

 

Read Hosea 10:12-15 – Another Call for Israel to Repent

 

v.12Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

 

            “SOW TO YOURSELVES IN RIGHTEOUSNESS” what is the prophet telling Israel here.  Those who sow righteousness will reap God’s mercy:

 

“THE WICKED WORKETH A DECEITFUL WORK: BUT TO HIM THAT SOWETH RIGHTEOUSNESS shall be A SURE REWARD.” Proverbs 11:18

 

This simply means that Israel should return to the practice of good works, living according to the ways of God, which is righteousness.

 

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” Romans 14:17-18

 

Those who “SOW TO YOURSELVES IN RIGHTEOUSNESS” will reap the righteousness of God.

 

v.13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.”

 

            Instead of sowing righteousness, Israel has “PLOWED WICKEDNESS’ and sown sin and corruption.  As a result:

 

“HE THAT SOWETH INIQUITY SHALL REAP VANITY: AND THE ROD OF HIS ANGER SHALL FAIL.”  Proverbs 22:8

 

Or as the Holy Spirit warns us as Christians through Paul’s letter to Galatia;

 

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-8

 

            What were their specific sins?  They ate of the fruit of lies.  They gained their wealth through deceit, conniving, fraud, they lived a lie claiming to be God’s people while rejecting his covenant and counsel.  They trusted in themselves, they trusted in their idol gods instead of God; they gave God no credit for their blessings or their well-being.  And finally they trusted in their ability to wage war to protect them from their enemies and in political alliances instead of God who had nourished and protected them from the time he brought them out of Egyptian bondage.

 

v.14Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.”

 

            God’s message is now repent or perish!  A tumult or uproar would arise among the people of Israel and their army and the fortifications that they were depending upon to protect them from their enemies would be destroyed.  There are several schools of thought regarding who Shalman is and what location is being called Betharbel.  A Jewish historian, Morris Jastrow contends that it refers to the overthrow of the son of Jeroboam II which happened during the lifetime of Hosea:

 

II Kings 15:10And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”

 

Shalman ruled Israel but a very short time, was killed and replaced by Menahem.

Another contends that it refers to a city on east side of Jordan, in Gilead, that was taken from Israel by a Moabite king named Shalamanu.  Others that it is a prophecy concerning the completed destruction of Samaria and Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria which occurred some 30 years later.

            Whichever example of history is used to correlate with this passage of scripture the basic message of God is still the same; repent or perish.

 

v.15So shall Beth-el do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.”

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; November 9, 2008