Hosea 9

1 Do not rejoice, Israel;
do not be jubilant like the other nations.
For you have been unfaithful to your God;
you love the wages of a prostitute
at every threshing-floor.

The people of our church culture seek to be jubilant.  The whole emphasis is on ‘lively worship’ with an emphasis on the seeking of the pleasure of God.

This emphasis presupposes that God is pleased with us.

In Hosea’s time the context was one of spiritual and actual prostitution. In our day it has many forms ranging from the spiritual prostitution of many in ministry where many use their spirituality in order to gain a following, through to the flagrant immorality of many in the church that is left unaddressed by the church.

3 They will not remain in the Lord’s land; Ephraim will return to Egypt and eat unclean food in Assyria.

4 They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord, nor will their sacrifices please him.

The outcome of such lifestyles among God’s people Israel is one of slavery and rejection. The people will leave the Lord’s land and go either to Egypt the land of slavery, or to Assyria the land of exile.

In our day we see ministry as being an end in itself, and the youth of our churches abandoning the church to live in exile and spiritual slavery. The Church ignores the gaping back door in its pursuit of evangelisation.

6 Even if they escape from destruction, Egypt will gather them, and Memphis will bury them.
Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers, and thorns will overrun their tents.
7 The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand.
Let Israel know this.

Going backwards – v7, 6, 5

V7 – The outcome of our unfaithfulness to God will come. The Lord will bring His punishment. This may not be a popular thought in our day, but the Lord is clear, his patience is near to an end.

V6b – The weeds take over. If one reads these symbolically then the treasure of faith is chocked by the weeds, as a similar outcome to the parable of the weeds. The houses of the people of God is also taken over by weeds. I see here a complacency and lack of trust slowly taking over the people. Weeds and thorns relentlessly bring destruction to a tent. They ensnare it, and then gradually drive their way through the fabric holding it in place and tearing it apart.

V6 – Those who seek to flee from the destruction that is on its way from Assyria with the coming invasion end up in Egypt, to be buried in Memphis. Spiritually speaking they end up in the land of slavery and that is where they spiritually die. This is not a good end.

Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired person a maniac.
8 The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.
9 They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.

This section ends with a verdict – they have sunk deep into corruption. Gibeah seems to be a reminder of this, either as a place of current idolatry, or from the book of Judges where it was the source of such sin that the tribe of Benjamin was almost destroyed.

In this state of corruption, the whole area of the prophetic is subject to corruption. People are so determined to justify themselves and their corruption that those who speak for God are considered crazy and an enemy, while God considers those who speak spiritually as people determined to speak out their own message rather than His. They are the ones He considers to be fools.

10 ‘When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig-tree.
But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.

When the Lord first found His people they were a delight to Him, but then they discovered idolatry and immorality. His people betrayed Him and they became shameful.

In the same way, the Evangelical wing of the church has become corrupted. From Conservatives all the way through Charismatics it has given way to the secularism that pervades our society. We have betrayed our God.

11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird – no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they bring up children, I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them when I turn away from them!

The Lord deals with this betrayal through childlessness.  Here he takes away the glory of the people. This childlessness is seen in our culture with a dramatic rise in infertility. Even worse is the state of the Church where the young people grow up and leave the church. Almost literally the glory flies away like a bird.

13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place.
But Ephraim will bring out their children to the slayer.’

Tyre was a Caananite, or Phoneacian city where their religion involved the sacrifice of their children. This practice had entered Israel through Jezebel and was never really dealt with. So, not only does Israel suffer from childlessness, but here they bring out their children to be put to death for idolatry.

We too put our children to death through abortion, or in emotional terms through neglect as we seek our own personal goals.

15 ‘Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there.
Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house.
I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.

The attitude of the Lord to His people could hardly be more stark. He hates His people! He will drive them out of His house. This is not a text that our Christian culture can cope with. God loves His people. How can he at the same time hate them? Yet how often does one hear this from the divorce courts. Partners expressing both love and hate at the same time.

Is this not what is currently happening? God’s people, though in childhood they have made their professions of faith, now depart. We think it is through their choices, but the Lord introduces a twist here, that He has orchestrated this because He has rejected these people.

The final verdict of hatred and lack of love falls on the leaders for their rebellion.