Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Hosea - Chapter 07 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. and to heal its wounds. But then I see the crimes in Israel and Samaria. Everyone is deceitful; robbers roam the streets.
    2. No one realizes that I have seen their sins surround them like a flood.
    3. The king and his officials take great pleasure in their sin and deceit.
    4. Everyone burns with desire-- they are like coals in an oven, ready to burst into flames.
    5. On the day their king was crowned, his officials got him drunk, and he joined in their foolishness.
    6. Their anger is a fire that smolders all night, then flares up at dawn.
    7. They are flames destroying their leaders. And their kings are powerless; none of them trust me.
    8. The people of Israel have mixed with foreigners; they are a thin piece of bread scorched on one side.
    9. They don't seem to realize how weak and feeble they are; their hair has turned gray, while foreigners rule.
    10. I am the LORD, their God, but in all of their troubles their pride keeps them from returning to me.
    11. Israel is a senseless bird, fluttering back and forth between Egypt and Assyria.
    12. But I will catch them in a net as hunters trap birds; I threatened to punish them, and indeed I will.
    13. Trouble and destruction will be their reward for rejecting me. I would have rescued them, but they told me lies.
    14. They don't really pray to me; they just howl in their beds. They have rejected me for Baal and slashed themselves, in the hope that Baal will bless their crops.
    15. I taught them what they know, and I made them strong. Now they plot against me
    16. and refuse to obey. They are more useless than a crooked arrow. Their leaders will die in war for saying foolish things. Egyptians will laugh at them.
Reflections

Hosea - Chapter 07

Entered: August 20, 2009
God wanted to have a relationship with Israel, not just their religious practices, as stated in Hosea 6:6. He wanted their loyalty and for them to know Him. What He got instead was a continual breaking of His covenant with them. Again, this breaking of the covenant is likened to the breaking of marriage vows as demonstrated with Hosea and his wife Gomer. When a husband or wife are unfaithful to their marriage vows the relationship is broken, and so it is between God and His people. The breaking of God's covenant with Israel was evidenced by rampant crime: fraud, thievery, pillaging, etc. And the people's disregard for God was such that they didn't even consider that He remembers all their evil and that a day of retribution will come. They were so walled in by their sin, that it had them trapped. (7:2) Extricating themselves was unlikely. This lifestyle of crime wasn't just an isolated minority of Israel. It was the widespread majority including its leaders. "They please the king with their evil, the princes with their lies." (7:2)

Verses 4-7 use a baking metaphor to describe the situation in Israel. As a baker keeps a low fire in the oven while he kneads the dough and waits for it to leaven, so Israel kept a low fire burning ready to blaze up when kindled. The smoldering of the oven while the dough leavened is likened to how Israel's princes conspired against the king while the fire smoldered. The blazing of the oven with a flaming fire was when the princes launched their plot, drawing the king into it and assassinating him. During a 20 year period, between 752 and 732 BC, four of Israel's kings were assassinated. Understandably, Israel during this time was rather unstable. Instead of turning to God for the help they needed, though, they turned to other nations, as pointed out in verse 8. But these alliances weakened them even further, though they didn't even notice. One symptom of separating oneself from God is a loss of reasoning ability and logical thinking. No longer does 2 + 2 equal 4. For various reasons, that make sense only to the person who is in this state, 2 + 2 equals something else. It is this inability to reason clearly that keeps them in this state to continue their move further and further from God. Otherwise they would recognize the depravity of their situation and try to reverse it. This is why Israel failed to notice that their alliances with these other nations was sapping their strength. She was becoming like an elderly man who was growing weaker and his hair becoming streaked with gray but he doesn't notice because of its gradual onset.

In this weakened condition, what does Israel do?  She flees further and further from God. (verses 13-16)  God's desire was to redeem Israel, but instead she spoke lies against Him. How characteristic this is of those who choose their own way leaving God out of their lives. As far as they are concerned, God doesn't exist. That is until their choices get them into trouble. Suddenly, God does exist and He is to blame for their problems. Though verse 13 doesn't say what lies Israel was speaking against God, this is what I can imagine they were doing - blaming God for their situation. Verse 14 goes on to say that instead of crying out to God for His help, they "wail on their beds," evidently blaming Him. The outcome for Israel is described in verse 16. "Their leaders will fall by the sword because of the cursing of their tongue. They will be ridiculed for this in the land of Egypt." Egypt was one of the nations Israel turned to for help. Instead of help, though, they receive ridicule.

Entered: July 06, 2015

Chapter 7 begins with a reference to God's healing of Israel. This was to follow a period of exile from their homeland and abandonment by God. Following a period of exile, there would be a time of healing and restoration. When it came, the sins of the nation would be exposed. The people had carried on their sinful activities robbing and pillaging, oblivious that God knew what they were doing and remembered.

It wasn't just the people involved in this sin, but the king and his princes as well. Verse 3 gives the impression that the king may even have encouraged these activities. Their sins were persistent. Even when the evil subsided, it smoldered as a baker's oven smolders while he kneads the dough, and, like the oven, the evil would eventually be stirred back into a flaming fire once again.

The king's sin of encouraging the sinful behavior of the people came back to bite him. The time came when amidst festivities for the king, the king caroused with his princes as they plotted his overthrow. The behavior he encouraged turned on him.

In all her debauchery, wisdom escaped Israel. She went around foolishly getting mixed up with other nations who in turn consumed her strength. But Israel was clueless to what was happening. In her arrogance, Israel never turned to the Lord in all this.

Eventually, Israel became a "senseless bird, fluttering back and forth between Egypt and Assyria." First she submitted herself to suzerainty, or a vassal nation to Assyria. But when this became too oppressive she turned to Egypt, seeking an alliance to help break away from Assyria. Little by little Israel was giving away everything to these nations but she did not turn to the Lord. The Lord had made Israel a strong nation and yet she had plotted evil against Him. Now Israel would be "ridiculed for this in the land of Egypt." Back to the land from which God had freed her to give her a land of her own and make of her a great nation.