In these verses, Hosea uses more pictures to say things. He continues to use the picture of an oven (verse 8). The people are like bread. They are burnt on one side. This is the side that looks to other countries for help. The other side is not cooked. This is the side that should look to God for help. At this time, Assyria became more powerful. So, Israel needed other countries to help her. Israel went to Egypt, Syria-Damascus and Philistia. Israel hoped that these countries would help to defend her. She did not want to hope in God. In 732 BC, Hoshea, after he had killed Pekah, travelled to Egypt, Philistia and then to Aram-Damascus. He tried to get their help. He then put his hope in Assyria. Then, after a few years, he changed and went back to Egypt. This is what ‘mixing’ means (verse 9). The bread became flat (verse 8). It was not strong. War had made Israel become old (verse 9). She had to pay too much money to other countries. She was now poor. She would die soon.
Verse 10 is like 5:5a: ‘The people of Israel are very proud’. They ask, ‘Who needs God? Why should we go to him?’ Israel wants to stay away from God’s *covenant. God thinks Israel is like a *dove (verse 11). *Doves are stupid birds. They do not fly away from danger. It was easy for other countries to use their power against Israel. Egypt and Assyria could not help Israel.
Hosea continues to use the *dove picture in verse 12. God will catch the *doves in his net. This means that he will bring his *judgement. As Israel flies to other nations, God will catch them. They were wrong to look for help from other countries. Also, they changed the countries that they looked to. God needs to punish them. Then he will take them to a prison.
The people of Israel have said false things about God (verse 13). They have made promises to God through their *covenants. But they have not kept the promises for a long time.
It is probable that the ‘beds’ (verse 14) were part of a meal. The meal was part of a *sacrifice when the *Israelites rested near the *altar (see Isaiah 57:7; Amos 2:8). This was when the people cried and cut themselves.
Israel is like a child that a parent cannot punish (verse 15). The laws said that a child like this should die. Israel was breaking the laws. The people were making *sacrifices at Bethel and *sacrifices to Baal. These were the ‘false gods’ (verse 16) and they were making Israel weak. The *bow is not strong. It will not send arrows very far. It has very little use. So, other nations will be able to attack Israel easily. Egypt will not be able to help Israel. Egypt will enjoy seeing Israel so weak.
God is angry with Israel because she prays to *idols
v1 Put a *trumpet to your lips and warn people!
An *eagle is over the *Lord’s house,
because the people of Israel have broken my *covenant.
They have not kept my laws.
v2 Israel calls out to me. She says, ‘We in Israel know you’.
v3 But Israel refused the good things that I gave.
She is like a wild animal that walks without any direction.
The people of Israel have sold themselves to other countries.
They wanted to love these countries.
v10 They have sold themselves to other nations.
But I will bring the people of Israel together.
There will be a time when they stop appointing kings or leaders.
v11 *Ephraim has built more and more *altars.
But these *altars have become places where Ephraim *sins.
v12 I gave the people of Israel all my *commandments.
But they act as if those *commandments do not mean anything to them.
v13 Israel loves *sacrifices.
She offers meat in these *sacrifices and then they eat it.
The *Lord does not accept these *sacrifices.
He remembers their *guilt.
And he will punish their *sins.
They must return to Egypt.
v14 Israel built houses for kings.
But she forgot the person who made Israel!
Judah made her towns strong.
But I will send fire on the cities of Judah.
And this fire will destroy these strong towns!
A new part of the book of Hosea begins here. The chapter is about how God wants to forget Israel. Hosea describes Israel’s *sin. Then, at the end of the chapter, Hosea describes God’s *judgement. God is going to kill Israel (verse 1). He will do this in war (verse 3). Deuteronomy 28:49 says, ‘God will bring a nation against you from far away, like an *eagle…’ In 5:14, God is like a young lion that also wants to kill. There is a good reason why God wants to do this. Israel has broken God’s *covenant and God’s laws.
Israel says that she ‘calls out’ to God (verse 2). She says that she wants God’s help. They needed food. They wanted God to look after them. They thought that God would always be able to help them. But Israel has shown that they did not want God. They should know that Assyria will win the war because of this.
Hosea now describes Israel’s *sins. They wanted to choose their kings. But it is God alone who chooses kings (verse 4). It is God who gives kings to countries (see 1 Kings 19:15-16). It was a big mistake when Israel decided to choose her own kings.
The other big *sin of Israel was that she made *idols. But the *Israelites will destroy themselves with these *idols. God does not want to know about the ‘gold *bull’ of *Samaria. King Jeroboam 1st built this *bull (1 Kings 12:26-30). He was trying to copy the *bull that Aaron had built (Exodus 32). Some people say that this animal was not an *idol. They say that the animal was not trying to copy a god. The people that made the animal made it into something else. But Exodus 32:4 says that people looked at it as if it was a god. After many years, people forgot that the animal was not a god. It slowly became one.
Because of this, God is ‘angry’ with Israel (verse 5). We do not know what the *idol looked like. Perhaps it was a person with the head of a *bull. Perhaps it was a young *bull. It is probable that the *idol was wooden. But a person cannot see God. Hosea says that this *idol of a cow or *bull is really nothing (verse 6). God will destroy this *bull easily. The people were breaking the *commandment in Exodus 20:4-6.
Hosea then uses another picture (verse 7). The ‘wind’ and the ‘very strong wind’ are Israel’s enemies. It is like the *curse of Deuteronomy 28:38, ‘You will sow much seed in the field. But there will be very little harvest’. The *Israelites will receive what they deserve. The phrase about the wind might have another meaning. Perhaps Hosea means that the people are behaving without any purpose. They do not know which way to go (see Job 7:7). The ‘very strong wind’ comes and makes this worse. God will make sure that their wheat will not produce anything. The enemy (Assyria) will get what Israel has worked for. Lamentations 2:5 says, ‘God is like an enemy; he has eaten Israel’. Israel will stop being anything. Nobody will be able to use her (verse 8).
In 732 BC, Hoshea, when he became king, went to Assyria for help. He wanted to stop Tilgath-Pileser 3rd from ruling Israel (verse 9). But Israel is like an animal. She does not know where she is going. She is alone (see Job 24:5) and lost. But God will find her and then he will punish her.
Verse 10 is describing the time when a foreign nation will control Israel. Israel will have to pay large taxes. (This happened when Hoshea was king of Israel.) They will not be free.
God hated the *altars in the North (verse 11). There were too many. The *covenant said that there should only be one *altar. It was Jeroboam 1st who built all these *altars (1 Kings 12:26-33). He wanted to stop people going to Jerusalem. But then it became easy for people to *worship in wrong ways. The *altars became places where people ate and drank too much. They became a place to *sin.
The people also did not want to know about the law (verse 12). The *priests and the *prophets did not tell the people about the law. So, the people did not think that the law was important.
The people made *sacrifices but the people were not clean to God (verse 13). They were not sorry for their *sin. So, God would send them back to Egypt. This does not mean that God will actually send them to Egypt. It means that they will go into *exile somewhere. Israel wanted to put their hope in ‘houses for kings’. But God is going to burn these places. He will send an army to destroy Israel’s hopes.