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hos 10.8

 

In Hosea 10:7-10 today we see the difference between Decree and Deed, specifically the difference between professing righteousness while practicing wickedness. The people were still proclaiming that what they were doing, and how they were worshipping, was right! They professed with their mouths that they were righteous. They said that they wanted to serve God.

Here is what we hear from verses 7-10, “As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water. 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 to the hills, “Fall on us!” 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. 10 When it is My desire, I will chasten them. Peoples shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions.”

God demonstrates for them what will happen since they have been professing something they do not actually possess. They profess righteousness but practice wickedness. They claim to be worshipping God but are worshipping idols and false images. They claim to be faithful but are unfaithful. They claim to be doing what is right and just but they lie, cheat, steal, and partake in all manner of corruption in their business and relationships. They claim to want what is best for the nation but seek to please and satisfy themselves.

When the text tells us, “As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water,” this is a word picture that says that Israel’s king will be taken away like a small twig, like a little stick, floating off in a raging flood of water. Have you ever thrown something into the river or a stream of water and watched in float away? Imagine doing that in a flood, or in the runoff of a heavy rainstorm, a frog choker we call them. God tells Israel that this is about to happen to their king, to their leadership. Gone in a flash flood.

They have already complained that they don’t have a king or leadership that they can depend on to take care of them, but now, even what they do have will be cut off and taken away. He will disappear in the raging torrents of this war that is coming.

God says He will do the same thing to the high places. Verse 8, “Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars;” these places will be torn down and left in ruins. They will be covered with weed and thorns and thistles due to their being abandoned and unused. You see, God told them to stop and they would not, so He is going to stop them and destroy the places of false worship. They would not willingly obey His Word so there will come a time when they will have no choice but to obey, simply because they will be taken away. They will be removed from the situation completely and will be taken away in bondage.

The people will come to the point that they will cry out for the mountains to fall on them and kill them! “They shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’ They will see death as an escape from the judgment of God and the horrors of what the Assyrians will be doing to them. Can you imagine this? How foolish to think death will provide an escape from judgment. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” They are hoping that they can step out of the world where they are being judged only to have stepped out of the world and into the presence of God where they will suffer His wrath for eternity!

We hear a similar response to judgment in Revelation 6:15-17, “15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

The thinking here is that if they just die already they will be done with this horror. What a rude awakening that would be. Death is not the way out of judgment. Death is just the beginning without Christ!

For the believer of course death is nothing to be feared because Christ has died for us and death has no hold or power over us. When we trust Christ and die in this life we are promised everlasting life with Jesus in the presence of God forever. This is Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

The world on the other hand believes that for them death is rest, that death is an escape, that death is a way out of the judgments of God. However we understand that death for the unbeliever is just the beginning of dying the second death, wherein you die forever but are never finally dead, being cut off from the goodness and grace of God only to suffer His wrath and displeasure for eternity.

We must proclaim the truth of life and death, of heaven and hell. The truth about eternal life and everlasting punishment. In fact, Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven in what we have recorded in the Scriptures. We must warn the lost!

Look at the statistics just in our nation. When we face economic hardship and the times are so divided and people are losing hope and are driven be fear, what goes up? Suicide rates. People believe the lie, that death opens and escape hatch when in reality is seals our fate! The only way out is the Way, it is through Jesus.

Here in our text now Hosea makes a very specific reference. In verses 9-10 he writes, “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. 10 When it is My desire, I will chasten them. Peoples shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions.” Gibeah has already been mentioned twice in Hosea, this is the third reference. What happened at Gibeah?

In the Book of Judges, chapters 19-21, we learn about a Levite who was traveling through Gibeah. This was in the territory given to the tribe of Benjamin. The Levite was traveling with his wife, which we learn had run away from him into a life of harlotry. As a result she had ended up back at her father’s house in Bethlehem. This Levite was coming to get her and take her back home. During the journey they came to Gibeah and no one would let them stay the night in their home, so they camped out in the town square. That evening an old man who was coming home from working in the fields saw them and took them into his house.

During the night then a group of  “certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door.” (Judges 19:22). They demanded that the man who was traveling through be given to them…this is the same as the men in Sodom surrounding Lot’s house and demanding that the angels who were visiting be turned over to them. The old man and the Levite refused but in their great wisdom determined that it would be best to give this crowd of “perverted men” the Levite’s wife to do with as they pleased. She they threw his wife out to them.

In the morning, they found her dead on the doorstep. How he through this would not have been the outcome, I really do not understand. But his response was to take her body, cut it into twelve pieces, and send a piece to each tribe in Israel along with an explanation of what the men of Benjamin had done. This so shocked the people that the tribes all sent men together to form an army to attack Benjamin.

On the first day of battle, Benjamin killed 22,000 men of Israel. On the second day of battle they killed 18,000 more from Israel. So Israel went before the Lord to see if they should attack a third day! God said yes, He would give them over to Israel in the third day. That day the Israelites killed 25,100 Benjamites. Only 600 soldiers from Benjamin survived.

This event at Gibeah meant that the tribe of Benajamin was almost wiped completely out. You can read more in the Book of Judges about how the tribe was restored – it almost sounds like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers when you get into the story about how the Benjamites had to steal women to be their wives to prevent the tribe from dying completely out.

This was a time in history for Israel that no one forgot. It was a devastating battle as a result of the sin of these perverted men in Gibeah. It resulted in a civil war that cost the nation over 65,000 men, out of a total fighting force of around 400,000.

The people Hosea was preaching to, they knew what happened at Gibeah – they knew the sin and the battle that resulted. And now Hosea is telling the people that the events of Gibeah are just the beginning of what is about to happen to the nation. There is war and destruction coming unlike they have ever seen.

As a side note, to see how God really does work all things out for good….can you tell me one good things that came from the tribe of Benjamin not being wiped out?

Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin!

So here as Hosea mentions Gibeah again, he lets the people know that when God determines to move against a nation in judgment, nothing will stop Him. When he writes there, “Peoples shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions,” he is saying that the people will be paid back double for what they have done. This will be worse than anything they have experienced or leaned about from history.

One of the themes of course from the Book of Judges is stated at the end of the account of the war with Gibeah. Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And here in these times, during the ministry of Hosea, we find the people living as if there is no king, doing whatever they want to do, doing what is right in their own eyes.

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