Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute's wages
on all threshing floors.
Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
They shall not remain in the land of the LORD,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.
They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the LORD,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners' bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the LORD.
What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the LORD?
For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.
The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler's snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.
Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
Ephraim's glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.
Give them, O LORD—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.
Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.
Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.
(Hosea 9 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
(Psalm 126 ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel!
(Psalm 128 ESV)
For the Love of God
“THE DAYS OF PUNISHMENT ARE COMING, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this” (9:7). This chapter (Hosea 9) spells out some of the connections between sin and judgment.
(1) The language of prostitution continues: “For you have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor” (9:1). Both politically and religiously, Israel flirted continuously with alien gods and foreign powers. All the ceremony of religion she dearly loved. But the days are coming when she will be scattered, forced to abandon “the LORD ’s land” (9:3, 17). Israel will return to “Egypt” (9:3); some Israelites did end up there, but Egypt is also a cipher for any alien, oppressive country. Ephraim (= Israel) will “eat unclean food in Assyria” (9:3). Not just the ceremonial uncleanness of the food is in view, but the prospect of forced exile. All the offerings for her much loved festivals and cer- emonies will dry up (9:5); the punishments are tied to the sins.
(2) Systematic denigration of the prophets means that the people cannot hear God’s warnings—and so their cynicism ensures that they stumble into the judgments against which the prophets warn. “Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac. The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God” (9:7-8). How well does this apply today?
(3) The history of Israel swings from really wonderful connections with the living God — from God’s perspective it was “like finding grapes in the desert” (9:10) — to abominable degradation. The incident of Baal Peor (9:10; cf. Num. 25) is telling, for it combines both physical and spiritual unchastity: the Moabite women seduced the men of Israel, and the local Moabite Baal attracted their worship. Our culture follows sex as avidly and sometimes connects it with the self- fulfillment of new age spirituality. The result with us will be what it was at Baal Peor: the people “became as vile as the thing they loved” (9:10). What you wor- ship you soon resemble (Ps. 115:8); more, you identify with it, defend it, make common cause with it — and if it is an abomination to God, soon you are an abomination to him. So the “glory” departs (9:11), whether in the sense of reputation, or self-respect, or moral leadership, or, finally, the very presence of God (Ezek. 8:6; 11:23).
To defend a king or a president because of his economic policies when the moral core has evaporated means we have become as vile as the things we love.