Wednesday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hosea 8-10 (NKJV)
8:1 “Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law. 2 Israel will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’ 3 Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him. 4 They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold they made idols for themselves—that they might be cut off. 5 Your calf is rejected, O Samaria! My anger is aroused against them—how long until they attain to innocence? 6 For from Israel is even this: A workman made it, and it is not God; But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.
7 “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, aliens would swallow it up. 8 Israel is swallowed up; Now they are among the Gentiles like a vessel in which is no pleasure. 9 For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey alone by itself; Ephraim has hired lovers. 10 Yes, though they have hired among the nations, now I will gather them; And they shall sorrow a little, Because of the burden of the king of princes.
11 “Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin, they have become for him altars for sinning. 12 I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing. 13 For the sacrifices of My offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it, but the LORD does not accept them. Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins. They shall return to Egypt. 14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; But I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”
9:1 Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, for you have played the harlot against your God. You have made love for hire on every threshing floor. 2 The threshing floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. 3 They shall not dwell in the LORD’s land, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Assyria. 4 They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him. It shall be like bread of mourners to them; All who eat it shall be defiled. For their bread shall be for their own life; It shall not come into the house of the LORD.
5 What will you do in the appointed day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? 6 For indeed they are gone because of destruction. Egypt shall gather them up; Memphis shall bury them. Nettles shall possess their valuables of silver; Thorns shall be in their tents. 7 The days of punishment have come; The days of recompense have come. Israel knows! The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is insane, because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity. 8 The watchman of Ephraim is with my God; But the prophet is a fowler’s snare in all his ways—enmity in the house of his God. 9 They are deeply corrupted, as in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity; He will punish their sins.
10 “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; They became an abomination like the thing they loved. 11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 12 Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them to the last man. Yes, woe to them when I depart from them! 13 Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, so Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.”
14 Give them, O LORD—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts!
15 “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious. 16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up; They shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb.”
17 My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; And they shall be wanderers among the nations.
10:1 Israel empties his vine; He brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; According to the bounty of his land they have embellished his sacred pillars. 2 Their heart is divided; Now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars.
3 For now they say, “We have no king, because we did not fear the LORD. And as for a king, what would he do for us?” 4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field. 5 The inhabitants of Samaria fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it—because its glory has departed from it. 6 The idol also shall be carried to Assyria as a present for King Jareb. Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. 7 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. 11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; But I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods.” 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. 13 You have plowed wickedness; You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men. 14 Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered as Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle—a mother dashed in pieces upon her children. 15 Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.”
There is not much that is uplifting in today’s reading from Hosea. God is angry with Israel over its apostasy. Many people long for a god who shows no anger at all and simply loves people without showing any concern for His own righteousness. But as today’s reading from Hosea shows that God is indeed angry with sin and with sinners.
God cannot simply turn His back on sin as though it doesn’t exist. God’s justice demands payment for sin, and in Christ we find God’s justice. On the Cross, the justice of God is meted out on Jesus. God’s demand of payment for sin is fulfilled in Christ’s death.
Though His anger against the people of Israel and Judah was real, its purpose was to serve the Gospel. God takes no joy in the death of anyone. It is His desire to “have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” But sadly, as we will read in tomorrow’s lesson from Hosea 13:9, “O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me.” What happens to Israel as the result of their sin is their own fault, and not God’s fault. Had they listened and turned to God for mercy, they would have received it.
On this day of the Feast of All Saints, we give thanks to God for His faithfulness in calling His Saints and preserving them unto eternal life. Though His people suffer much in this world, they have His promise of life after this life. The life to come is one free from sin and its effects. Come, Lord Jesus!
Blessed Savior, You have called us to be Your own and have given us faith to believe our sins are forgiven because of what You have done. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.