9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel,
and there you have remained.
Will not war again overtake
the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will punish them;
nations will be gathered against them
to put them in bonds for their double sin.
11 Ephraim is a trained heifer
that loves to thresh;
so I will put a yoke
on her fair neck.
I will drive Ephraim,
Judah must plow,
and Jacob must break up the ground.
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil,
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
and on your many warriors,
14 the roar of battle will rise against your people,
so that all your fortresses will be devastated—
as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, Bethel,
because your wickedness is great.
When that day dawns,
the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
(Hosea 10:9-15 NIV)
In our last passage, we saw Hosea’s personal distress over Israel’s sin and waywardness. Hosea had taken some time out from public ministry; we got to eavesdrop as Hosea shared his laments with a few close friends.
In today’s text, the Lord is speaking through Hosea again, and Hosea is re-engaged in public ministry.
God begins today’s text by recounting Israel’s sin and the coming consequences of their disobedience to the Lord (vv. 9-10).
The Lord then paints a picture of what could have been and should have been if Israel had been living according to God’s plan. The Lord uses an agricultural analogy to explain life as He intended it to be.
First, Ephraim (Israel) was trained by the Lord to use her strength for good, and she enjoyed it. Judah would participate in cooperation with Israel – Judah would guide, direct, and prepare the soil for planting and harvest. They would then sow good seed by seeking the Lord first and obeying all His commands and statutes. The Lord would then pour out His showers of blessing that would produce fruit, growth, and eventually an abundant harvest (vv. 11-12).
Instead, Israel chose the opposite. They used their strength for their own selfish interests, they practiced evil rather than righteousness, and they chased after other foreign idols and ignored the Lord. Israel’s strength in and dependence on their army would ultimately be their downfall. Just as the gory fate of Beth Arbel was their history, the same would be true of Bethel (Israel) (vv. 13-15).
Just as the nation of Israel was called as a nation to the purpose of serving the Lord, so we are called to live into our calling from the Lord as well.
Listen to Peter’s reminder to us:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 NIV)
May we intentionally live into our calling, not looking inward, but outward and upward.