Thursday 31 January 2013

Bible Book:

Hosea 9:1-9 Thursday 31 January 2013


In Hosea 9, the prophet depicts the coming judgement against thebackdrop of a harvest festival. Such a festival, Hosea warns, willno longer be possible when God has judged the land. Once again, theprophet offers a terrifying description of the consequences ofidolatry.  

The prophet begins with a summary description of Israel'sunfaithfulness. Israel has "played the whore" and "loved aprostitute's pay" (v. 1), both metaphors for covenant disloyalty toGod. Such disloyalty, as the prophet has made clear, included bothidolatry and the pursuit of national alliances. Israel was indanger of becoming like other nations, 'returning to Egypt' (verse3) as if the Exodus had never taken place. God's chosen people werein danger of forgetting their identity.

The punishment to come upon Israel will be exile toAssyria (verse 3). In a cruel irony, Israel has sought protectionfrom Assyria, but it is Assyria that will ultimately be Israel'sundoing. In an unclean land, away from the Lord's house, the peoplecan offer neither drink-offerings nor sacrifices (verse4).

We also find a hint of how Hosea's own prophecy wasreceived by the people - "the prophet is a fool, the man of thespirit is mad" (v. 7). As Jesus later remarked, no prophet isaccepted in his hometown (Luke4:24) and - for Hosea too - a prophetic vocation came at greatcost. As 'sentinels' for God (verse 8), the prophet announces theword of God, a word not always welcomed.

The passage ends with God's promise to remember theiniquity of Israel and punish their sins (verse 9). This seemssurprising, but we must remember that the prophet also sees a moredistant horizon where the punishment is reversed and forgivenessensues (Hosea 14:4-7).

To Ponder

  • In what ways can Christians forget their identity as childrenof God, and so "return to Egypt" (v. 3)?
  • Are there prophets today who find it hard to find a hearing?Who might they be? What are they saying and how might we hear thembetter?

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