The details in this chapter continue the prophet’s condemnation of the sinful practices of the Israelites and his warning of imminent divine judgement on them when the Lord would bring the Assyrians against them.
Israel had prospered in some ways (she is likened to a luxuriant vine yielding a lot of fruit in verse 1). This prosperity may have been economic or otherwise. Yet instead of thanking God for this prosperity, Israel had increased her pagan practices and erected more altars and religious pillars. It is amazing how prosperity and superstition can go together.
The chapter makes clear that the Lord will destroy their religious structures and their political system (the monarchy in Samaria). Here we have a reminder that the Bible interprets history from God’s perspective. No doubt, many other contemporary reasons could be given to explain Assyria’s defeat of Israel such as more resources, a bigger army, or wiser rulers. God’s explanation is simpler and starker – Israel was destroyed because she had abandoned her commitment to God (v. 10).
In the past God had called Israel to a life of fruitful service. She could have been a nation marked by righteousness and covenant loyalty (v. 12). Instead she had produced sinful practices and depended on her military strength to preserve her (v. 13). But since God was not going to help her, she would be easily destroyed by a very cruel enemy and her false gods at Bethel and her king in Samaria would not prevent it (vv. 14-15).
The message of this chapter is that we should not provoke the Lord nor mistake his patience as a sign that he somehow approves of wrong ways. It reminds us that his professing people are called to live faithfully for him, and if they do they will receive his blessing. But if they do not live in such a way, he will show his displeasure, and if they persist, his judgements will be severe.