“Israel is an Empty Vine” (Hosea 9; Hosea 10)

Scripture reading – Hosea 9; Hosea 10

Hosea 9 and 10 continue Hosea’s prophecies concerning the judgments soon to befall Israel.

Hosea 9

Beginning with the admonition, “Rejoice not, O Israel” (9:1), the nation was condemned as a spiritual whore, for the people had “gone a whoring from [their] God” (9:1).

The prophet declared how the people “loved a reward upon every cornfloor” (9:1), apparently an observation when they believed their idols had blessed their crops. The LORD announced the fruit of their fields they had taken for granted would be taken from them as an act of God’s judgment (9:2-4). The people would be taken into bondage (9:3a), and be forced to “eat the unclean things in Assyria” (9:3b). In bondage, they would be unable to bring “wine offerings to the LORD” (9:4a), unable to “come into the house of the LORD” (9:4).

“The Days of Visitation” (Judgment) Had Come (9:7-17)

Knowing the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), we understand “the days of recompence,” the time of God’s wrath had come (9:7a). As a nation, Israel had looked upon the prophets as fools, and the spiritual men as though they were mad (9:7b).

Ephraim, the principal tribe of Israel, should have been God’s watchman, but instead, they led the nation to hate “the house of God” (9:8). Like Gibeah of old (Judges 19:1-20:48), Israel was guilty of gross immorality (9:9).

Because the people had rejected the LORD, the prophet foretold the glory of Ephraim would “fly away like a bird” (9:11). The children would die in their youth (9:12), her men would be slain (9:13), and the mothers would miscarry their infants (9:14).

Because Israel had rejected God’s mercy and refused to repent, the LORD rejected the people saying, “I hated them: for their wickedness…I will love them no more…their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit” (9:15-16).

Hosea then declared, “My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: And they shall be wanderers [scattered] among the nations” (9:17).

Hosea 10 – “Israel is an empty vine”

Israel’s spiritual state was summed up as, “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself” (10:1a).  Does that not define a backslidden believer? The people had rejected the LORD, and consumed their wealth, and the blessings of God for their own pleasure.

Knowing the hearts of his people, Hosea declared their hearts were divided (i.e., deceived), their altars would be destroyed, and their king would be removed (10:2-3). As a people, they had made covenants, “swearing falsely” (10:4).

The Bull of Bethaven (10:5-8)

Jeroboam, the king who had led away the northern ten tribes, making calves for the people to worship. One calf was placed in Bethel, that sacred place known as the “house of God.” Because of the wickedness of Bethel, its name was changed to Bethaven, “house of evil” (10:5).

Hosea declared the “calves of Bethaven” would be “carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb” (10:6a). and Ephraim and Israel would be shamed, for they had consulted with idols (10:6b). The idol places would be destroyed, and thorns and briars would overgrow them (10:8). Bearing the wrath of the LORD dispensed by Israel’s enemy, the people would cry for the hills to cover them, and fall on them (10:8).

The Moral Depravity of Israel (10:9-11)

Once again, Gibeah, notorious for its wickedness and immorality, is mentioned to remind us how far Israel had departed from their covenant with God (10:9; Judges 19:1-20:48). Declaring he would use the nation to punish His people (10:10), Hosea prophesied Ephraim would bear the yoke of bondage like a heifer bears a yoke when it treads out seed (10:11).

Briefly, the prophet returns to a penitent message, and appeals to the nation to turn to the LORD, saying, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground [hard hearts]: For it is time to seek the Lord, Till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (10:12).

Israel’s Sins and God’s Judgment (10:13-15)

Our devotional concludes with the prophet being reminded how Israel had “plowed wickedness [and] reaped iniquity;” they had lived off lies and deceit, and were proud and self-sufficient (10:13).

The judgment of the LORD was certain, and the brutality of the Assyrian soldiers was pictured (10:14). Bethel, would not be spared, and the king of Israel would be taken away (10:15).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith