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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Divine Complaint (Hosea 8)

In this chapter the Lord speaks personally about the ways his people have departed from him and broken the covenant made between them an Mount Sinai. He calls on his servant to warn them of looming danger. A trumpet was blown when an enemy was about to attack (v. 1) and a fierce enemy, likened to a vulture, was hovering above them. The enemy was the empire of Assyria. Since it is described as a vulture, and a vulture feeds on dead carrion, the illustration suggests that Israel was very near her demise as a nation.

Although the Israelites imagined that they were still serving the Lord (v. 2), in reality they had turned away from him. This means that their choices had blinded them to the truth about themselves. So the Lord lists some of the ways in which they have left him. First, they had a royal line that was not of the house of David (v. 4); second, they engaged in idolatry (vv. 5-6); third, they had appealed to Assyria for help (v. 9); and fourth, they had no interest in keeping the Lord’s commandments (v. 12).

Israel would reap what it had sown (v. 7), and it would be a destructive harvest (like the effects of a whirlwind). Eventually the Lord would judge them with another captivity (going back to Egypt in verse 13 is a picture of this prospect). Their recollection of what had happened there to their ancestors should have led them to repentance. Going back to Egypt would be like going back to the time before the Lord had made the covenant with them to bless them as a nation at Mount Sinai.

The basic sin of Israel was that he had forgotten his Maker (which may refer to God’s formation of them as a nation rather than his role as Creator). They showed this memory fault by their priorities, which was to build palaces which could not help them. Judah also had forgotten his God and had resorted to relying on military strongholds. Whoever these strongholds could protect from, they could not protect Judah from God’s forces (v. 14).

What does this historical period have to say to us? It tells us that the way for God’s people to prevent divine judgement is to obey God’s requirements from the heart.  

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