The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes this emphatic message: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) The instruction that God had for the northern kingdom in Hosea 9 was exactly the opposite. “Rejoice not, O Israel!” Why did the Lord reject the exuberance of His people? “You have played the whore, forsaking your God.”
The Lord would send Israel out of the Promised Land. They had looked to Egypt and Assyrian for security, but soon they would be moved far from their homes. No longer would they be able to combine ceremonial devotion to Yahweh with their continued unrepentant moral corruption. “The days of punishment have come.”
The Lord had once brought judgment on Gibeah and the tribe of Benjamin for their unspeakable deviance (Judges 19-21). Earlier He had disciplined thousands at Baal Peor when they had preferred Midianite women and idolatry to the victory that God had set before them through His own goodness and strength (Numbers 25). These were obvious low points in the story of Israel. The Lord revealed through Hosea that He was aware of their inner depravity even in places like Gilgal where they imagined that they were being true to Him. The Lord said, “There I began to hate them.” What would God do with His covenant community? “I will drive them out of My house. I will love them no more.”
Would the Lord forever abandon His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Of course not. Yet as a father must speak in a stern and determined way to a wayward son, Jehovah knew that the time had come to clearly show the Jews that they could not have close communion with Him and continue to be unfaithful. What would become of them? At least for a time, they would become “wanderers among the nations.”
The history of Israel reminds us that we need a perfect Substitute who will provide the obedience that our God requires. None of us can stand in His presence without Christ as our Ransom. With Jesus there is sure hope, not only for us, but for all those in Israel who will sincerely look to Him and live. He will even use Gentiles turning for salvation to a Jewish Redeemer to cause Israel to take a second look at Her eternal King. “And in this way all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, we rejoice in You, but we are ashamed of our sin. There is only one road for those who would bear Your Name. We have a great Shepherd and He leads us in the path of righteousness. We were found by Him when we were dead in our trespasses. We do not want to return to our days of sin and disaster again. Please protect us from dangerous choices and unhealthy inclinations. Our wickedness will only lead us into fruitless patterns of death. Please do not reject us. Bring us near to You day by day, and never let us run away from You.