A. Israel exiled in judgment.
1. (1-4) The end of the good life in Israel.
Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples,
For you have played the harlot against your God.
You have made love for hire on every threshing floor.
The threshing floor and the winepress
Shall not feed them,
And the new wine shall fail in her.
They shall not dwell in the LORD’s land,
But Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
And shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD,
Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him.
It shall be like bread of mourners to them;
All who eat it shall be defiled.
For their bread shall be for their own life;
It shall not come into the house of the LORD.
a. Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples: At the time Hosea brought this prophecy, things perhaps were not so bad in Israel. Maybe there were plenty of fun and good times among the people. But they shouldn’t rejoice like other peoples, because judgment was on the way.
i. “It was probably the case, though we do not know this for sure, that Hosea delivered the opening part of this oracle as a sermon on the occasion of a harvest festival… characterized by feasting, mirth, and dancing.” (Boice)
b. You have made love for hire on every threshing floor: Israel practiced idolatry on the threshing floor, a place where grain was processed. They worshipped idols here because they believed that it helped the harvest. Because of their idolatry, the LORD would curse their harvest, and the threshing floor and the winepress shall not feed them.
c. They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land: Not only would God curse their grain and grape harvest, but He would also cast them out of the land in exile to both Egypt and Assyria. In the lands of exile there would be no bread or food for sacrifice to the LORD, only for survival (their bread shall be for their own life).
2. (5-9) The days of Israel’s punishment in Egypt.
What will you do in the appointed day,
And in the day of the feast of the LORD?
For indeed they are gone because of destruction.
Egypt shall gather them up;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their valuables of silver;
Thorns shall be in their tents.
The days of punishment have come;
The days of recompense have come.
The prophet is a fool,
The spiritual man is insane,
Because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity.
The watchman of Ephraim is with my God;
But the prophet is a fowler’s snare in all his ways;
Enmity in the house of his God.
They are deeply corrupted,
As in the days of Gibeah.
He will remember their iniquity;
He will punish their sins.
a. They are gone because of destruction: Israel did not honor the LORD in their appointed feast days, so the LORD will take them away. In their lands of exile, they will not be able to honor the feasts of the LORD.
b. The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is insane: This is what the people of Israel said about Hosea. When things prospered and everyone was happy, Hosea announced coming judgment and called for repentance. They thought he was a fool and crazy.
i. “They said in effect, ‘Who in his right mind would prophesy a judgment like this when we are in the midst of such a bountiful harvest, in itself a proof of God’s blessing?’” (Boice)
c. As in the days of Gibeah: Judges 19 describes horrific crimes of perversion and violence in Israel in the days of the Judges. Hosea says that in his day it is just as bad in Israel.
B. Israel barren and dried up in judgment.
1. (10-14) God sends barrenness and bereavement.
“I found Israel
Like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers
As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season.
But they went to Baal Peor,
And separated themselves to that shame;
They became an abomination like the thing they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird–
No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!
Though they bring up their children,
Yet I will bereave them to the last man.
Yes, woe to them when I depart from them!
Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place,
So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.”
Give them, O LORD–
What will You give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
And dry breasts!
a. Like grapes in the wilderness… as the firstfruits on the fig tree: God fondly remembered the days when Israel was faithful and fruitful unto Him. Grapes in the wilderness and the firstfruits on the fig tree are unexpected blessings. There was a time when Israel was something special to God, as if one found luscious grapes in the wilderness.
i. “While they were faithful, they were as acceptable to me as ripe grapes would be to a thirsty traveler in the desert.” (Clarke)
b. But they went to Baal Peor: Israel’s sin and idolatry in the days of Hosea was like their sin at Baal Peor in Numbers 25, associated with sexual immorality and idolatry.
c. They became an abomination like the thing they loved: Israel loved their disgraceful idols, and they had become like them. We will become like the god we love and serve, whether it is the LORD or like an abomination.
d. No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception: In contrast to their past fruitfulness, now Israel will experience barrenness and bereavement (I will bereave them to the last man), given to them by the God they rejected.
e. Give them, O LORD – What will You give? The idea is that Hosea began an angry prayer against the people (“Give them, O LORD”), then he stopped because he checked his heart and didn’t know what to pray (“What will you give?”). In the end, he asked for a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. Really, Hosea prayed for mercy. Knowing the coming judgment, he prayed “LORD, give them few children so those children will not have to face the horrors of Your coming judgment.”
i. Sometimes those who see themselves – perhaps accurately – as more spiritual and closer to God than others in a church or group get angry and frustrated with those who don’t seem to have hearts burning for the LORD. Their frustration is understandable but the pause in Hosea’s prayer should give them pause. It is a good thing to long for revival and spiritual passion among God’s people, but if that makes us proud, angry, or bitter against others then Satan has won a great victory.
2. (15-17) God sends dryness and wandering upon Israel.
“All their wickedness is in Gilgal,
For there I hated them.
Because of the evil of their deeds
I will drive them from My house;
I will love them no more.
All their princes are rebellious.
Ephraim is stricken,
Their root is dried up;
They shall bear no fruit.
Yes, were they to bear children,
I would kill the darlings of their womb.”
My God will cast them away,
Because they did not obey Him;
And they shall be wanderers among the nations.
a. All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them: As mentioned before in Hosea 4:15, God despised the city of Gilgal as a center of idolatry in Israel. At one time, Gilgal was a place where prophets were trained under Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). But in Hosea’s day it had become a center of false worship (Hosea 4:15, 12:11; Amos 4:4, 5:5).
b. I will drive them from My house: In this sense, exile was the perfect punishment for Israel. They had disgraced God’s house, His land, so He would “evict” them from His house.
c. They shall bear no fruit… I would kill the beloved fruit of their womb: One of the major reasons Israel went after idols like Baal and Ashtoreth was because those gods were thought to bring fertility and fruitfulness. God reminds Israel that He is really the LORD over the womb, and that He will turn their fruitfulness into barrenness.
d. My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him: This is exactly what the LORD promised under the terms of the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:14-18). Thankfully, we can come to God by faith in a new and better covenant, where He promises to remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12, 10:16-17).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission