1 Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased the more altars he built; as his country improved he improved his pillars. 2 Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars, and destroy their pillars.
The problem as God sees it, is the more blessing of good crops and high yields they had the more they thanked the pagan deities from the nations around them. Their heart was false. They did not thank the one true God. When they did think of Him they mixed Him in with the pagan gods. So the God of Israel is going to break down their altars and destroy their pillars. The false gods and the mixing will not be tolerated.
Ephraim put such confidence in these idols and paid such adoration to them that they are to be taken away. God’s ark and altars were never thrown down till the people rejected them; but the idolatrous altars were thrown down when the people were still doting on them. In His contempt for the pagan worship he used the Assyrians to throw them down. However for a time He continued to protect His true worship, until that to became so mixed that it to was no longer tolerable.
3 For now they will say: “We have no king, for we fear not the LORD, and a king, what could he do for us?” 4 They utter mere words; with empty oaths they make covenants; so judgment springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field. 5 The inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the calf of Beth-aven. Its people shall mourn for it, and its idolatrous priests shall wail over it, over its glory which has departed from it. 6 Yea, the thing itself shall be carried to Assyria, as tribute to the great king. Ephraim shall be put to shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his idol.
According to Joshua 7:2, Beth Aven, along with Ai and Bethel formed a triad of settlements in close proximity to one another. However archeologist have yet to identify its exact location. Without any archeological evidence, it is possible that the prophet may not have had an actual physical place in mind. As Aven means iniquity and Beth is house, he could just have been referring to the spiritual conditions of the Ten Northern Tribes where idolatry was common, calling them “The House of Iniquity”. Further in verse 8, He called the place Bamot Aven, “The High Place of Iniquity” It may be the same place or he could just be describing the general spiritual conditions.
7 Samaria’s king shall perish, like a chip on the face of the waters. 8 The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall upon us.
Samaria’s king shall perish, like a chip on the face of the waters. Large logs and trees can last quite awhile upon the water, before they rot and sink or are push to the shore by winds and currents. They often present hazards for smaller boats. But small sticks are hardly noticed, they last but a few days. So even though the kings of the Ten Northern Tribes thought that they are important as they played all the diplomatic angles between Assyria and Egypt, they were nothing to these two great empires.
In the Law, God is King, His law supreme. But the Northern Tribes of Israel had rejected the law, therefore they had no real king. There is a wonderful old theology book called Lex Rex, i.e. The Law and The King. Where Rev. Samuel Rutherford argued that there cannot be a king without law, and there cannot be law without a king to enforce it. (It is one of the foundational books behind the US declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.)
In ancient Israel the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel, chose kings that would not enforce God’s laws, and let them do as they pleased. They were therefore lawless. Their oaths were meaningless, their covenants unenforceable. God declares that the judgments of their justice system was like poisonous weeds that have sprung up in the furrows of the field. There are many plants that will kill off all other plants in the immediate area around them. Some of them even when pulled will leave enough of their poison that it can be difficult to grow desirable plants in the same area. So it has been with the former territory of the Ten Northern Tribes, it has been a wast land for most of its history, not until the late 19th century when Jews from Europe began to return to the land did it once more bloom.
Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, fall upon us.
The Futurist frequently quote a similar verse and Rev 6:12-17, claiming that people will hide in caves. However the future meaning of a passage should be similar to a similar passage already fulfilled in the Old Testament. The meaning here is that there is no place to hide from the invading Army. Honestly the futurist do this in order to but enough fear of God into the congregation so that the listeners will fill the collection plates.
Hosea’s audience was the Ten Northern Tribes, who for centuries have been lost and buried in unnamed and unknown mountains. Just as John’s audience was the 7 churches, and prophecy foretold that the Roman Empire would fall and there would be no place to hide from the invading barbarian armies. Same words similar fulfillments.
9 From the days of Gibe-ah, you have sinned, O Israel; there they have continued. Shall not war overtake them in Gibe-ah? 10 I will come against the wayward people to chastise them; and nations shall be gathered against them when they are chastised for their double iniquity. 11 Ephraim was a trained heifer that loved to thresh, and I spared her fair neck; but I will put Ephraim to the yoke, Judah must plow, Jacob must harrow for himself. 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain salvation upon you.
Gibeah is mentioned again. Such sin can only bring a destroying war. For such evil must be wiped out. God is going to use the nations around them to bring this judgment. Up till now God has spoiled them like a young female cow that only has to thresh. But now she will be put to the yoke, which is much harder work. Cattle where the heavy equipment of the ancient world and as such were used to move great loads. He tells them to sow their own righteousness, pick their own fruit of steadfast love, plow your own ground. He is no longer going to just provide an easy salvation. They will have to seek Him, then and only then will He rain salvation down.
Rather than plowing righteousness they were plowing sin, they are about to reap injustice. All this because they have eaten the fruit of lies. They were trusting in their great army which, at the time, had been one of the largest in the region. But Assyria was on the rise and was amassing many more troops from her newly conquered territory of Mesopotamia. All was lost.
13 You have plowed iniquity, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your chariots and in the multitude of your warriors, 14 therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. 15 Thus it shall be done to you, O house of Israel, because of your great wickedness. In the storm the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off.
They were threatened with utter destruction not only for their sinful practices, but also for their confidence that all would be well. For they were children of Jacob and God would be with them no matter what.
We too in the western world are spoiled, we have not had to work for our blessings. We to have wandered from the God of the Bible, and have created a god that will give us what we want when we want. We too have eaten the fruit of lies. We have replaced the Biblical God of wrath, vengeance, and love, with one of total love and acceptance. He is more Santa Claus than God. He is all love and forgiveness. We have mixed in pagan notions of heaven and hell, or rewards and consequences that are just not in the Bible. Yet we think that God will not be angry with us, because we have asked Jesus into our hearts.
The whore is about to be put out, God will no longer tolerate this mixing of the pagan with truth. The corrupted pagan church is about to be judged
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; Rev. 18:4