Hosea 2: 9-13
“Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her naked body.
So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands. (2:9-10)
Picking up where we left off last time, we see that the narrative continues with everything that God will withhold from idolatrous Israel as a result of their turn to worshipping false gods. Remember, this began with a plea to turn things around, and as I mentioned previously, Hosea was not the first prophet sent to the Northern Kingdom. In fact, unlike Amos, Hosea was a resident of the Northern Kingdom. If you look carefully at these verses, you will see an interesting thing: God isn’t taking “things” away from Israel in these lines so much as He is keeping the (negative) promises of the Law of Moses. The Law promised the Israelites that if they followed the Law they would receive temporal blessings such as long life, good crops, material abundance, many children and so forth. It also promised that if they failed to keep the Law, God would take those blessings away, and they would have famines and floods and every sort of disaster in this life. The text continues:
I will stop all her celebrations:
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
which she said were her pay from her lovers;
I will make them a thicket,
and wild animals will devour them. (2:11-12)
There’s some interesting insights here; Israel seemed to think that God’s blessings had been provided by false gods (her lovers). Can you imagine? God’s promised covenant blessings credited to false gods! No wonder God is taking steps…
I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,”
declares the Lord. (2:13)
Finally, verse 13 clears up any questions we might have had about what is going on here, and about who the speaker really is. Israel had fallen into Baal worship and had thus renounced her covenant relationship with the God of her forefathers. For many of us today, more accustomed to thinking of God as merciful, meek and mild, seeing His judgment pronounced against Israel here might come as something of a shock. Yet this is a rather naive viewpoint, if I may speak directly. Israel had willingly entered into a very explicit covenant with God. It spelled out exactly what they would receive from God if they held up their end of the bargain, and God certainly held up His end of it. As Israel began to slip away from their responsibilities, God was more than patient; He sent multiple warnings that action was required to come back into compliance. Yet the people scoffed at the warnings and dealt harshly with the messengers.
It finally got to the point where God had to act, to keep His promises about what a fatal breech of the covenant would bring about. No sir, the people were entirely without excuse.
However, the story is far from over…