8 “Put the trumpet to your lips!
An eagle is over the house of the Lord
because the people have broken my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
2 Israel cries out to me,
‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’
3 But Israel has rejected what is good;
an enemy will pursue him.
4 They set up kings without my consent;
they choose princes without my approval.
With their silver and gold
they make idols for themselves
to their own destruction.
5 Samaria, throw out your calf-idol!
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of purity?
6 They are from Israel!
This calf—a metalworker has made it;
it is not God.
It will be broken in pieces,
that calf of Samaria.
7 “They sow the wind
and reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no head;
it will produce no flour.
Were it to yield grain,
foreigners would swallow it up.
8 Israel is swallowed up;
now she is among the nations
like something no one wants.
9 For they have gone up to Assyria
like a wild donkey wandering alone.
Ephraim has sold herself to lovers.
10 Although they have sold themselves among the nations,
I will now gather them together.
They will begin to waste away
under the oppression of the mighty king.
11 “Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,
these have become altars for sinning.
12 I wrote for them the many things of my law,
but they regarded them as something foreign.
13 Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me,
and though they eat the meat,
the Lord is not pleased with them.
Now he will remember their wickedness
and punish their sins:
They will return to Egypt.
14 Israel has forgotten their Maker
and built palaces;
Judah has fortified many towns.
But I will send fire on their cities
that will consume their fortresses.”
(Hosea 8:1-14 NIV)
In our last time together, we saw God’s desire to heal Israel and restore His blessings to her. But everywhere God looked, sin was rampant, and there was no repentance anywhere in sight.
In today’s passage, the warning to God’s people is even more ominous. The Lord says to sound the trumpets as an alarm because of Israel’s sin as a nation. Trumpets in ancient times were used for praise and worship in celebrations and songs. They were also used as public address warning systems, similar to tornado warning sirens or tsunami warning klaxons or other public warning signals used to let the general populace know of impending disaster.
Unfortunately, the Israelites were deluded into thinking everything was fine between themselves and God. Verse 2 says the people were saying “God, we acknowledge You!”, meaning that they agreed that God existed, and even made sacrifices to Him.
But their hearts were far from God. Israel rejected what was good (v. 3), they chose their own rulers and rejected God’s leadership (v. 4), and made a golden calf to worship in place of the Lord (vv. 5-6).
Verse 7 is the summary of Israel’s choices, and the consequences of their choices:
They sowed the wind, and will now reap the destructive force of the whirlwind. While there is the appearance of goodness and righteousness, there is no substance, just as a wheat field might look great, but yields no grain.
Israel has become an unwanted neighbor, a burden to all the countries around her (vv. 8-9). In fact, the Lord said that Israel’s sin will affect the other nations’ well-being – she will drag them down with her as she seeks foreign alliances to keep up her protection and standard of living (v. 10).
Israel’s focus on idol worship is God’s primary complaint against her. Israel has set up many altars to foreign gods (v. 11). God has recorded His Law for the people to study and obey – nothing has been hidden from them, yet they treat God’s words as crazy talk (v. 12). The Israelites have kept up the sacrifices that God ordained, but the sacrifices were not for God’s glory and as a covering for their sin. Instead, the nation treated the sacrifices like a cookout, and they ate the meat for their own pleasure (v. 13a).
As a result and a consequence, the Lord will make them subservient (slaves) to another nation, just as they were slaves in ancient Egypt (v. 13b).
In summary, the Lord says that Israel built palaces and Judah built fortified cities, but the Lord will send His fire of righteous judgment to consume them both. The people were building for their own glory and pleasure, not for God’s honor. They are about to experience the consequences of their actions and rebellion (v. 14).
May we stay rooted and grounded in the Lord, with our hearts firmly attached to His, not wavering or chasing after the things the rest of the world strives for but do not satisfy.