Hosea 9-12: Out of Egypt I Called My Son
December 4, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Poetic form takes over, and Hosea—God through Hosea—declares (as it were in song) that Israel is not to rejoice: “Rejoice not, O Israel!” (9:1). Stop your singing, stop your celebrating. Why? They are “forsaking [their] God,” and have “loved a prostitute’s wages” (9:1). Their spiritual idolatry is adulterous to their covenant relationship with God. There is certainly nothing about which to rejoice.
They are getting no help from their spiritual leaders: “the prophet is a fool; the man of the spirit is mad” (9:7). God’s people were found by God like “grapes in the wilderness” (9:10) but now “they shall bear no fruit” (9:16). They had luxurious fruit (10:1), but their prosperity merely served to increase their faithlessness: “the more his fruit increased, the more altars he built” (10:1). In protestation, “they utter mere words” and “with empty oaths they make covenants” (10:4). Their religious words and covenants are only so much flimflam, without substance, meaning, or any real action backing up what they say in covenants.
They have idols (“the calf of Beth-aven”, 10:5), and like all idolatry, at root the issue is a self-reliance, even a self-worship, as “gods” are made in their image and according to their preferences. “Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall rise among your people” (10:13-14). Self-reliance, self-worship leads to disaster, for it is foolish, fake, illusory. Pride comes before a fall. All this makes God declare his deep love for his people in this key, famous, central declaration:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (11:1)
But the more they were called, the more they went away (11:2)! So “the sword shall rage against their cities” (11:6), though God says “my heart recoils within me” (11:8). This love, yet the necessity of justice, and yet his love, means that God will find a way to redeem his rebellious people:
They shall go after the Lord; he will roar like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord. (11:10-11)
How will God’s love and justice be reconciled in such a way that he can redeem sinners? That question hangs over the whole Old Testament and here in Hosea reaches a pinnacle: only at the cross where God’s love is revealed and his justice, pardon, forgiveness and restored relationship can be found simply through repentance and faith.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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