In our last article in this series, “Anatomy of Judgment: Clarity, Captivity, and Restoration Part II” we had just witnessed God rejecting His peoples pseudo return to Him. In verse 7, Israel, says, “I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.” Life as they had known it for at least 150 years had recently changed, and the people just wanted things to go back to the way they had been before, when food, stability, and safety were plentiful. Their turn to God was a continuation of their prostitution not real repentance.
In the world of prostitution, ladies of the evening use a generic name for their customers. He is a John, one might say. Israel had had many Johns, they were known as Baals. Baals were part of a pantheon of gods in use by the people around Israel. Later, in a more hope-filled part of Hosea 2 we’ll see God say, “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband’, and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’” (2:16) Their turn to God in verse 7 was a prostituted love, one where the people were treating God as one of the many Baals. They just wanted God for what He could give them, they weren’t turning to Him in true repentance which is based on love of the person of God, His beauty, His excellence, His goodness. It was spiritual lust, and God rejects it. They still needed clarity, the kind of clarity that only judgment can bring.
Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.
Where before in vs 6 God put a “hedge” and “wall” in their way to make it difficult for the people of Israel to attain their basic needs, now He is making it impossible for those needs to be met. He is taking away their food supply, their drink supply, and the items used to make clothing. These are major economic losses……… She will become a ragged, starved, war torn, impoverished nation, that will be unable to feed, cloth, or even defend herself against foreign aggressors, like Assyria, the nation that will subjugate her in the then near future.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
For years, Israel made foreign alliances, trusting in military might rather than in the one true God, her Husband. Now these former allies will begin to see her as not worthy of being an ally. They will see her of more worth as a subject with a treasury to be extorted and plundered.
And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.
All her religious activities will cease, both those that were of God’s appointment and those that she had assumed from pagan sources. She will have nothing. There will be no reason to make merry, no sustenance to have a feast with, no harvest to recall and give thanks for, and no ability to rest, because all of life will be a labor. She in fact will have no religious feasts at all.
And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.
The twin reasons for Israel’s total and complete judgment are given here. The first was to demonstrate the truth that it was not the nations around them, nor their gods that secured Israel’s bounty and safety. Israel was under the misguided conclusion that these were her “wages, which my lovers have given me.” God used judgment to provide this clarity. The second reason was to remind her of Someone she had forgotten, Someone with power, Someone that she owed her allegiance too. When she “went after her lovers”, she “forgot” her God in the process. In the wilderness of captivity God would speak anew to His people. Without the distractions of her lovers, and in her new found clarity, God would again draw His Bride to himself, and paint a picture of the greater redemptive work that still lay in her very bright future.