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Hosea Chapters 9-11 “Called Out of Egypt”

The Book of Hosea: God’s Scandalous Grace

“Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.” _ Jer. 51:5

Chapters 9-11 – “Called Out of Egypt”

The list of Israel’s corruption is a devastating one.  As Israel prospered she became more and more degenerate.  The people have prostituted themselves to false gods.  God is stating that “The days of punishment have come” (9:7).  There is no hope for Israel or for their offspring.  They have refused to listen to God so God, in response, has turned away from them.  Their fate is to become exiles in Assyria. Yet with all their failings God refuses to give them up.  They are in effect going back into slavery in Egypt.  Yet God will continue to call them out of Egypt.  This is our hope.  God is not a mortal.  His not like us.  He will not come in wrath (11:9).

  1. “A Thing of Shame (9:10) – chapter 9-10

The list of Israel’s sins continues.  This is no time for rejoicing (9:1).  To the contrary, it is a time of mourning, in fact, a time of deep distress.  Again and again we are told that Israel has played the whore.  Reference is made to one of the degenerate practices that is also alluded to in the Book of Ruth (chapter three).  The cycle of life was crucial for all ancient people and it was closely tied in with the harvest.  If the harvest failed, the people faced starvation.  On the other hand, a good harvest was an occasion for celebration.  These celebrations would take place “on the threshing floors.”  What would happen is that the men would not only eat and drink but apparently they would also invite prostitutes to “wash their feet” which was a euphemism for having sex (II Sam. 11:8).  This is why Boaz wanted to make sure that Ruth left the threshing room floor under the cover of darkness (Ruth 3:14).

God here is saying that Israel’s prosperity, her celebrations on the threshing room floor, will not save her.  The warning here is that “The days of punishment have come” (9:7).  Israel had apparently fallen into the trap of thinking that economic prosperity was a sign of God’s favor.  That may be the case but it can hardly be assumed.  In fact, possessing wealth in the New Testament is more often an occasion for turning away from God (Luke 12:13-21).

Israel has reached the point where they are not only disobedient, they have become hostile to God (9:7).  God’s indictment continues.  Israel has “deeply corrupted themselves” (9:9).  This goes back to their idolatrous practices even in the wilderness (Numbers 25).  The day of judgement has come.  The people have not listened to God (9:17).  In fact, the more Israel has prospered the more they have fallen into idolatry.  God continues, “They utter mere words; with empty oaths they make covenants” (10:4).  One of the consequences of the breakdown of their faith is that “litigation springs up like poisonous weeds.”  Their fate is sealed.  They will be taken captive to Assyria (10:6).  Yet God still calls out to them.  In addition to a harvest of crops they need to sow for themselves “righteousness and steadfast love.”  It is “time to seek the Lord” (10:12).

Yet the warning is not heeded.  They have “plowed wickedness” and “reaped injustice.”  Israel is caught in “great wickedness.”  God’s last word is “At dawn the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off” (10:15).  All hope is now gone.

What can we learn from this?  Two of the greatest temptations we face are sex and material wealth.  It would be a mistake to paint sex and money as inherently sinful which the church unfortunately has done at times.  The Bible has graphic passages celebrating sexuality (Prov. 5:15-19; Ezekiel 16:6-14).  The whole of the Song of Solomon is an erotic poem.  In the same way wealth and prosperity can be signs of God’s abundant goodness.  Yet God’s blessings can never be taken for granted (Deut. 8:10-11).  Too often the church has not maintained a balance on these issues.  We need to cultivate a spirit of gratitude to God for all his gifts and always remember that the goodness we receive from him is intended to draw us closer to him.

Israel at this point is a graphic warning about losing the balance altogether.  Is this then the end?  It certainly sounds that way.

II. “How Can I Give You Up?” – chapter 11

It is at this point that the key theme of the Book of Hosea reemerges.  We are confronted again with God’s scandalous grace.  God remains the one who requires mercy and not sacrifice (6:6).  He is also the one that demonstrates this mercy.  God reaffirms his love for Israel.  The phrase, “Out of Egypt I called my son” is applied to Christ in the Gospel of Matthew (2:15).

God reaffirms the fact that from the beginning Israel was disobedient.  They kept sacrificing to idols.  Nonetheless God led them “with cords of human kindness, with bands of love” (11:4).  Israel’s faithlessness in the face of God’s love sealed their fate.  They will, in effect, return to the slavery of Egypt when Assyria conquers them.  This is what they deserve.  God’s judgement is fair and right.

But, then, God questions himself: “How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, O Israel” (11:8). God’s compassion, his mercy, overrides everything else (Rom. 11:32).  God will not finally destroy his people.  He will not carry out his “fierce anger” (11:9).  God is not like mortals.  He will not come in wrath (11:9).  The judgement will fall.  Israel will go into exile.  However, that is not the end.  God will return them to their homes (11:11).

We end with an encouraging note about Judah who still walks with God.  However, as events will demonstrate, Judah will follow the same path and go into exile later under the Babylonians.  Yet the reality as we will see is that God will act the part of Hosea and redeem his rebellious and faithless wife.  Is this fair?  Not at all.  However, as God reminds us, he is not like us.  That fact should make us supremely confident.

Questions for Us –

  1. What do these chapters teach us about God’s judgement?
  1. What are the dangers we face in our spiritual lives? How do the false gods of sex and wealth impact us?  What about litigation in our world?
  1. How objectionable is God’s statement of his compassion? What lessons can we learn from God’s “steadfast love?”

Next Study – “I Will Love Them Freely” – chapters 12-14