In our last article we saw God, lay the lion share of the blame for Israel’s spiritual condition at the feet of the spiritual leaders in Israel. Her prophets, her priests, and her kings had failed in their duties to lead, teach, admonish, rebuke, and protect the people from the idolatrous influence of the nations around them for generations. In fact, not only had they failed in their duties, they had lead the people away into idolatry. It’s not just the sins of omission they are guilty of, but the dastardly sins of commission as well.
Before we cover the next section of Hosea chapter 2, let’s pause a moment and go back in redemptive history to Deuteronomy chapter 28 and listen to God’s words spoke by the mouth of Moses.
“But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
“The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
As we walk through the rest of Hosea 2, we are also going to walk through the second half of Deuteronomy 28, because, as you will see, they dovetail together nicely. Let’s now read Hosea 2:6-8
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel had not been careful to follow the ways of the Lord for nearly 150 years at this point. Ever since Jeroboam had built the two golden calves as objects of worship and instituted feast days to be celebrated at virtually the same time as the authentic ones God had instituted to be celebrated at Jerusalem. All during this time period God exercised patience with the Kingdom of Israel. He issued several calls to repentance by the mouths of prophets located in Judah, like Elijah and Elisha.
In the last days of Israel, after she had disobeyed her heavenly Father for so long, Hosea comes on the scene with a message of devastating judgment. Had their priests and prophets not been negligent in their duties the people would have known the words written in God’s book of remembrance, Deuteronomy. (Deuteronomy means to remember) But because of the failure of their spiritual leaders, the people lay in darkness, ignorant of the truth, adulterer’s in God’s eyes, giving honor and glory that was rightly His to celestial figures carved in wood and stone, covered in god and silver. Paul’s words in Romans 1 jump immediately to mind.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
So what does the beginning edge of judgment look like? Hosea 2 gives us a glimpse. Verses 1-5 tell us who the objects of judgment are, the people and their leaders. They also give us the reason God is going to judge them, spiritual adultery. The people pursued food, water, clothing, beauty, and pleasure from false gods. God now in Hosea 2:6-8 tells us that He is going to “hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.”
What does this mean? It means the normal ways that the people of Israel attained these things would become difficult. When you go through or over a hedge, you get scratched up, as I found out a few times as a boy. When you have to climb a wall to get where you are going it takes a lot more effort than if that wall wasn’t there. Perhaps, trade routes would become too dangerous to travel on due to the instability of surrounding governments. Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt are making war on all sides of Israel at this time. Israel is involved in several military campaigns during this period herself, one against her sister, Judah.
Perhaps trade routes could not be traveled safely within Israel anymore due to the danger of crime and institutional evil in her own administrations. She experienced multiple regime changes, assassinations, and coups during this period as well. Combine this with smaller harvests, smaller herds, and higher taxes, which are always needed to pay for wars and regime changes, and the people of Israel start to keep less and less of what they produce. Life feels like they are just spinning their wheels. They work but don’t have anything. This scenario sounds a lot like “The LORD” sending on them “curses, confusion, and frustration in all that” they would “undertake to do”, from Deuteronomy 28:20.
Driven by a desire to have life return to the ease and comfort she once lived in, Israel decides to go back to her first Husband, maybe He can do for her what her lovers had been doing, or at least she thought it was her lovers provision. But as it turns out, it was her first Husband that had been providing her comforts all a long. Israel’s turning to God here was not out of love, it is not repentance but need. It was just a form of prostitution. She was for sale to the highest bidder, and God had warned his people through all their existence that need was not a real basis for relationship.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you (God) at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
Their hearts still needed to be uncovered. They still as yet, had not seen the true state of their souls. God will not be a lover, He is their husband, and He will be treated as such. On this point God’s wants to be abundantly clear. This leads to the next stage of judgment, Israel’s captivity, judgment.