30 January 2013

Hosea 8:1-14

“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (v. 7)


In a sobering description of judgement, Hosea prophesies the dreadful consequences of turning from God. Israel has broken the covenant (verse 1), rejecting the love and trust of God in favour of idolatry and foreign alliances. Israel's declaration that it 'knows God' is rendered false by its actions (verses 2-3).

Hosea relates Israel's idol-making to its thirst for setting up kings without guidance from God (verse 4). Such kings have led Israel astray. Idols - including the 'calf of Samaria' - are objects of divine anger (verse 5), created by artisans but soon to be destroyed. Israel will reap the "whirlwind" of destruction, since the nation has spurned the God who had saved them (verse 3).

Hosea also condemns foreign alliances as a further form of faithlessness. By bargaining with Assyria, Israel has become a "useless vessel" (v. 8), following the way of all nations rather than relying upon the Lord. Although Israel has appealed for Assyria's help (verse 9), it is Assyria that acts as the "vulture" over the Lord's house (v. 1), and Assyria that invaded and exiled the Israelites in 722/721BC (2 Kings 17:1-23).

God is the "good" that Israel has spurned (v. 3); God is the one who has provided a 'multitude of instructions' (verse 12). Ultimately, however, 'Israel has forgotten his Maker' (v. 14). The prophet relates faithlessness to the loss of genuine knowledge of God. When true knowledge is lost, people quickly turn to idols.

To Ponder

  • Where do we find God's "instructions" (v. 12) today?
  • Does God always accept 'sacrifices' that people make? Why or why not?  

Bible notes author

Ed Mackenzie

Dr Ed Mackenzie is the Discipleship Development Officer for the Methodist Church and an Associate Lecturer at Cliff College. He lives in Derbyshire with his wife Ali and their two sons.