About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Hosea 8

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Israel To Reap The Whirlwind (ch. 8:1 - 14)


Chapter 8 verse 1 begins with, "put the trumpet to your lips".  The blowing of the trumpet was the call to war.  The blowing of the trumpet in those days was as signal to tell the army to prepare for war, and for the  people to get ready for trouble.   


"An eagle is over the house of the Lord'".  The "eagle" refers to Assyria who is about to swoop down and destroy the northern kingdom of Israel , or, as verse 1 puts it, "the house of the Lord".  Israel, both the northern and the southern kingdoms, were called "the house of the Lord".  This term is in fact a prelude to New Testament thinking when God, by His Holy Spirit, would actually reside in the believers, both in an individual sense and in a collective sense.  Christians are God's house.  The church is God's house.    


The reason why Assyria was ready to attack the northern kingdom, which was God's judgment on the northern kingdom, was because Israel had "broken the covenant of the Lord".  Now there are a few covenants in the Old Testament.  This particular covenant is the Mosaic Covenant, that is, the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was more than a list of rules.  It was both prophetic and covenantal.  The Mosaic Covenant was presented to Israel and Israel agreed to keep it.  The Mosaic Covenant, unlike the Abrahamic Covenant, was a joint agreement between God and Israel.  The Abrahamic Covenant was not a joint agreement.  God agreed with Himself, not with Israel, in the Abrahamic Covenant.  Israel in one real sense of the word cannot break the Abrahamic Covenant because Israel did not enter into that covenant with God as she did with the Mosaic Covent.  Because Israel failed to obey the Law of Moses, God was now sending Assyria to conquer Israel, which was clearly stipulated in the Mosaic Covenant.  Just to clarify the fact that Assyria would attack the northern kingdom is not mentioned in the Law of Moses.  However, Israel being overthrown and judged is prophesied in the Law of Moses. 


I might add, because Hosea portrays the relationship of God to Israel as being a marriage between a man and a woman, that the Mosaic Covenant was in fact the marriage agreement.  Israel broke the agreement and therefore found herself being divorced by God.  Read my notes again on this issue in the first three chapters of Hosea.   


In the Law of Moses there was a list of blessings that God said would come upon Israel if she obeyed the law.  There was also a list of curses that would also come upon Israel if she disobeyed.  The attack from Assyria was part of these curses.  The curses listed in the Law of Moses is prophetic.  Each and every curse must be fulfilled to the letter before God would eventually restore Israel, eventually remarry her.  Again, the Law of Moses is more than a list of rules.  It is prophecy, and, both the curses and the blessings will be fulfilled in Israel .


In verse 2 we see Israel crying out to God  saying, "we acknowledge you".  You might think that if Israel acknowledges their God that He would stop the attack from Assyria, and that He would count this acknowledgment as repentance, but that is not so.  This so-called acknowledgment was not repentance.  It was not a heart felt turn to the Lord, only a last minute cry for help to avoid disaster.  They claimed to know God, but in reality they didn't.  It is similar to what Jesus said about many at the end of this age.  He said that many would call Him Lord, but He would tell them to depart from His presence because He never knew them.  They thought they knew Jesus, but they didn't.  Israel thought they knew God but they didn't.  Their way of living proved that, and any attempt at this late point in time to say they did know God, as feeble as it was, was way too late.  The attack would come, which it did in and around 722 B. C..


I believe that God gives much warning through His prophets before He pronounces judgment on a nation.  That being said, there comes a time when the warnings aren't taken seriously when He pronounces judgment, and once He makes this pronouncement, it's too late.  The nation will suffer.   


In verse 3 God replies to Israel's so-called acknowledgment of Him.  He says that she has "rejected that which is good".  She would be attacked and nothing will change God's mind now.  True repentance was not found in Israel.  Many people seem to repent when they are trapped in a corner, but not all such repentance is real repentance.  It's more of  an "okay, you got me. I'll repent".  Repentance is not a reluctance, last minute thing.  It's a thought out and heart felt matter.  The confession of sin, once the sin is exposed for what it is, doesn't necessarily count as true repentance.  When a child steels a cookie from the cookie jar and is asked if he took a cookie, he says no.  He lies, but when proof shows that he did take the cookie, he is trapped in a lie.  He then admits that he took the cookie.  That admission is not necessarily heart felt repentance.  It is only the acknowledgement of the sin that was found out. The same here with the northern kingdom of Israel.


Verse 4 states a couple more of the northern kingdom's sins.  They set forth their governing leaders without the approval of God.  Israel was meant to be a "theocracy", which means, God is in charge.  Israel was meant to be a religious nation run by religious rules, that is, the Law of Moses, but that was not the case with the northern kingdom, and that also goes for the southern kingdom.  God would judge Israel for that.  It is clear that God wanted to be involved in choosing national leaders.


Western nations were never meant to be theocratic, but that being said, there is something for us to learn here.  Who we elect means something to God.  He watches very carefully who we elect and what our governments do.  For this reason, among other reasons, God judges nations of the world today.  Our nations should involve godly thinking when electing leaders.  We're far from that now.                 


Another of the northern kingdom's sins is that they make idols of silver and gold. They worship things made from their own hands instead of worshipping the one who has created them.  How foolish that is when you sit down and think about it, but we do the same in the western world today.  We place our silver and our gold above the Lord.  The things we have made with our own hands are what we have given ourselves too.  Our nations will be judged accordingly.


We see Samaria mentioned in verse 5.  That was the region of the northern kingdom that was the capital region for the nation.  Samaria is often used as another term for the northern kingdom.  Even though idol worship came into the northern kingdom through Dan which was in the north, Samaria being the capital, should have responded to that sin, but didn't.  Samaria is guilty.  The same applies to us today.  Washington D. C. is the capital of the United States.  That city is responsible for what goes on in throughout America.  Yet statistically speaking, as I've heard in the news of late, Washington D. C. is the worst city in the United States for alcoholism and adultery.


Verse 5 also says that God's anger burns against the idols.  God then asks, "how long will they be incapable of purity"?  We see the Biblical view of the depravity of man here.  The Bible teaches that man is totally depraved and not capable of living a sinless life.  This was one of the criticisms God had against both the southern and the northern kingdoms of Israel. It is a criticism He has with all of mankind, you and I included.  That is why we all need a Saviour. Creation of our own hands can't bring a godly life to us.  Education, modern physiological techniques, positive thinking, or whatever, can't change the heart of man.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.


Verse 6 confirms what I've just said.  The idols were a creation of the Israelis "own hands".  It's pure humanism.  Anything that man makes and worships will eventually be crushed and broken by God.  If you go to Israel today, you will see one of the idols created to Baal in the city of Tel Dan.  It is one of the original idols from this era.  To me, that is amazing.  As God is getting ready to judge Israel for the last time, there is still an idol of Baal among them from centuries ago.


God will also destroy the idols of the western world that we have built today.  You can count on that.  If He would do such a thing to His own  national people, He wouldn't think twice about doing it to our secular nations.  Idols for us are anything we create and hold up in the place of God.  It could be education, finance, or whatever.  These things will collapse, in here in 2012 are collapsing before our very eyes. 


Verse 7 is basically the principle of "what you sow you will reap".   If you sow the wind, it will return as a "whirlwind" that will destroy you.   In earlier chapters Assyria is seen as a whirlwind.  Israel sowed to Assyria, that is, she called out to Assyria for help.  No help was found.  Instead, like a whirlwind, Assyria wiped the northern kingdom off the face of the earth. 


If you plant bad seed, you'll reap a bad crop.  Israel didn't sow good seed, and when they did, their enemies took it.  The nations of the world are not sowing good things right now, and what we are sowing will come back to haunt us, not too many days hence.


When verse 8 says that "Israel is swallowed up",  that is exactly what happened to the northern kingdom.  Assyria attacked them, took them captive, assimilated them in with the Assyrians and others, so the those Jews were lost forever.  Their lineage was literally swallowed up and mixed with other nationalities to the degree they lost all resemblance of who they once were.  They never recovered. 


As I have said before, the reason why we have Jews today is because the southern kingdom of Israel did not go through the same process.  They were held captive by Babylon, but after seventy years, they were set free to begin again.  From those Jews who returned from Babylon, the present day Jews have come from.


Verse 9 confirms what I've just said.  They, meaning the northern kingdom, had gone up to Assyria , and it was not by choice.  The text also states that Ephraim, that's the northern kingdom,  sold herself to her lovers.  Her lovers were her enemies, which in this case was Assyria .  Ephraim wanted to live like the Assyrians, so they got what they wanted and more.  They actually became Assyrians when the Assyrians assimilated them into their society to the degree that the northern kingdom lost her own personal identity. The same can happened to the church today if we don't pay attention to what we are presently doing.  We seem to love the world and we seem to copy the world in what we do.  Sooner or later the Lord will give us over to the world.  He will leave us and we will be know different than any worldly organization.  I suggest to you that this has already happened with the so-called liberal church, and it seems to me that Evangelicals are now on the same path once traveled by main line liberal church groups.  If you read the first two chapters of the book of Romans you will see how the apostle Paul explains this principle.  The principle does not only apply to individuals, but also to nations and to God's people, whether Jews or the church.


Verse 10 speaks of God gathering the people of the  northern kingdom together.  Some might think that this is the great gathering together of the Jews at the end of this age.  However, many feel this is not speaking of that gathering.  This might well be speaking of God gathering Jews together in Assyria and other nations so "they can waste away under the oppression" of the kings from those nations.  That is exactly what happened to the northern kingdom.  It literally wasted away to nothing.  History proves that to be true.  It is amazing how history proves the existence of God and the validity of His Word.


Verse 11states that Israel built their altars to make sacrifices for their sins.  In this, the were following the command of the Lord.  Yet, these altars became places where Israel actually committed sin  Instead of being forgiven for their sins at these altars, they committed sin by the spiritual and physical adultery at these altars.      


Verse 12 simply means that the Lord set forth the rules for Israel to live by in the Law of Moses, but she regarded the Law of Moses to be alien, something that wasn't meant for her.  Israel got to the place that she didn't even know anything about the Law of Moses.  It was foreign to her.  It is the same today.  As time goes on, those in the western nations know little to nothing about the Bible, the book that once was so influential in western society.  I recently encountered a young person in her late twenties who had never heard of the historical event concerning David and Goliath.  When I was young, that would have been unimaginable.  Even non-Christians would have heard of that Biblical account.  Then when this young lady finally heard the story of David and Goliath, she only thought of it as a story, as a fairy tale, not the historical event that it was.


Verse 13 says that even though these Israelis offer sacrifices, He will have nothing to do with them.  You might think that is unfair on the behalf of God, but the sacrifices that were being offered were mixed with pagan worship.  They weren't true godly sacrifices.  All that is of God and called by His name must be wholly given to Him without any mixture.  Yet, in parts of the Evangelical Church today there is much mixture, the mixing of Christianity with Islam and other religions.  Now in the year 2012, a new religion is being born.  It's called "Chrislam", that is, the union of Christianity and Islam.  This is unacceptable to God and should be unacceptable to all Christians as well.  Yet long before Chrislam has come along, the church has mixed Christianity with humanism, which is our natural tendency.  "Secular Humanism" as it is called, is now known as an official religion.  We're no different than Israel of old.    


Note the phrase "they will return to Egypt " in verse 13.  This is idiomatically speaking of being exiled back into slavery, as they were in Egypt.  God miraculously delivered  Israel from their enslavement in Egypt, but now, because of their sin, they were going back into slavery, albeit in Assyria.  That being said, in the decades to come, because Assyria was overthrown by Babylon and Babylon by Persia, some of these exiled Jewish descendents did literally end up back in Egypt.


Verse 14 ends this chapter and is directed to both the northern and the southern kingdoms of Israe.  In the end, both the north and the south will be defeated by their enemies.  The north was defeated in 722 B. C., the south about a hundred or so years later.  For the south, Babylon attack them three times over roughly twenty five or so years and were sent to Babylon. 


Note in verse 14 that Israeli cities are fortified. God says that He will send fire on these well protected cites.  The protection and defense built by Israel won't be affective.  This might well be a reference to the end of this age when fire from bombs destroy the fortified cities of Israel.  On the other hand, this might well be speaking of 70 A. D. when the Romans burned Jerusalem.          


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