Judgment of Destruction
Verse 1 – Israel empties his vine; he brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the bounty of his land they have embellished his sacred pillars.
As Israel prospered, they built more and more altars to worship their idols. Where does our true prosperity come from? Who gives us the physical health and ability to acquire what we have? Is more money given to buy bigger houses, more lavish cars and cloths? Or is our prosperity to be used to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Israel forgot God and prospered for themselves.
I’m not against anyone bettering themselves or buying nice things, but helping others when we can should be a priority.
Verse 2 – Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars.
Verse 3 – For now they say, “We have no king, because we did not fear the Lord. And as for a king, what would he do for us?”
Verse 4 – They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field.
The people of Israel had entered into a covenant with God to keep all His laws, but never kept them. God never breaks His promises to us, but we do to him and others.
Verse 5 – The inhabitants of Samaria fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it – because its glory has departed from it.
Beth Aven means, “house of wickedness,” and refers to Bethel (“house of God”) where false worship took place.
Verse 6 – The idol also shall be carried to Assyria as a present from King Jareb. Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
Verse 7 – As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water.
Verse 8 – Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars.; they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and the hills, “Fall on us!”
When God destroys their high places and idols, the people will mourn and cry for the mountains and idols to fall on them too. They had put so much faith in these idols that when they were destroyed the people were devastated!
Verse 9 – “O Israel, you have sinned from the days of Gibeah; there they stood. The battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.
God refers back to the time when perverted men were to be judged and the leaders refused to do it (Judges 19). In the same way that war came to Gibeah, war would come to Israel.
Verse 10 – When it is My desire, I will chasten them. Peoples shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions.
The two transgressions – sexual immorality and rebellion.
Verse 11 – Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods.”
Calves were allowed to walk on top of the grain stalks that had been laid out on the ground in order to separate the husks from the kernels. The calves could eat some of the grain. Israel would cease to be like the calves and would have to plow with the yoke of discipline.
Verse 12 – Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
Plowing up the ground means it is ready for seed to be planted. It is no longer stony and hard; it has been carefully prepared and is available. When Christ comes into a person’s heart, there are places that have hardened. Through His love, forgiveness, and kindness, He will break up that heart of stone and prepare it to receive. Are there some hard places, stubbornness, or rebellion, that need to be plowed up in you? There is in me.
Verse 13 – You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men.
Look at Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. If you sow discord, strife, anger, and hatred, that is what you will receive in return. “God is not mocked,” because it will come to pass in your life whatsoever we sow. Sow mercy, because mercy will be shown to you.
Verse 14 – Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered as Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle – a mother dashed in pieces upon her children.
Such would be Israel’s fate as when a Moabite king had invaded Gilead and destroyed the city of Beth Arbel, killing many people, including women and children.
Verse 15 – Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness, in a morning the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.
The Assyrians took king Hoshea and put him in prison (2 Kings 17:4). Everything Hosea said would happen came true.