Hosea continues his prophecy to Northern Israel in Chapters 7-9. Though Israel had been in an intimate relationship with God, like a marriage, now disloyalty to God was spiritual adultery. (9:1) Israel had turned away from God and turned to Baal worship, as well as sacrificing at the pagan high places. They were mingling with godless foreigners and flitting around worshiping foreign gods with arrogance (7:8–11) and materialism (8:14). God’s judgment was inevitable.
This section continues to outline God’s case against Israel (ch.7-8) and then pronounces judgment (ch. 8-9). Listen to the heart-breaking cry of God’s heart in holy jealousy:
I wanted to redeem them,
but they have told lies about me.
They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts.
Instead, they sit on their couches and wail.
They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine,
and they turn away from me.
I trained them and made them strong,
yet now they plot evil against me.
They look everywhere except to the Most High.
For you have been unfaithful to your God,
hiring yourselves out like prostitutes,
worshiping other gods on every threshing floor.
God’s judgment is inevitable and rightly severe: God says that Israel’s harvests will be inadequate. They won’t be able to stay in the land, but must return to Egypt where they will be conquered. Their sacrifices will not be accepted. Nettles and thistles will take over their ruined homes. They will be childless—or their children will be taken away & slaughtered. They will wander about homeless among the nations. The worst part of the judgment, it seems, is that God will reject them and leave them alone.
As you read, put yourself in Hosea’s shoes…how would he have felt? Then think about how the Israelite hearers must have felt. Finally, consider how God would have felt.
Personally, I can sometimes relate to Israel’s shameful practice listed in 7:16 in my own life: “They look everywhere except to the Most High.” Not good. How do I turn that around? It’s something to prayerfully consider.