Hosea 10

Hosea 10 Devotional
by Mark Hudson

If you are not accustomed to reading the Old Testament, you may be shocked at the depths the nation of Israel (north) and Judah (south) sink to in the Bible.   Hosea is speaking to the northern tribe in his book.  If our church sunk to this sinful level, you might be in despair.  But as you know, sin never has the last word in God’s Kingdom.  And it never will.

Israel is often described as a vine (see Is 5; Jer 2:21; Ez 19:10; Ps. 80:8-10) but this vine signals idolatry.  In v. 1, the more altars he made and the more he (Israel) improved his pillars.  Then in v. 2 see the punishment God will deliver to Israel.

In v. 3, they reject the King that God has given them and are deceitful, so God will judge them with poisonous weeds (see Amos 5:7; 6:12).  Then notice the idolatry in v. 5.  They calf they made has become a place of idolatry for the people and her idolatrous priests.   They were happy to commit idolatry.  But God’s punishment to Israel is exile.  The gift of the land will be removed as God removes the nation from the Promised Land.  And they can take their idols with them – “the thing itself shall be carried to Assyria. . . .”  God promises to destroy the high places, i.e. those places where Israel bowed down to idols.  Verse 8 might call to mind Luke 2:23:30.  Death is preferable to God’s judgment.

If you are part of a church that is orthodox you ought to thank God for godly leaders.  Every leader, save Christ, is sinful.  Yet, if you are in body where you can learn about Christ and receive godly teaching, you have many reasons to praise God.

In 10:9-15, Hosea calls to mind the horrific event in Judges 19 where we read of homosexual violence, the awful rape of a woman that should have been protected, dismemberment, and a call to swift action that almost wiped out an entire tribe.   The punishment God is about to give to Hosea’s audience is compared to the punishment God dealt to Israel previously (9-10).

Verse 12 is a call to repentance.  If you would spread around and cultivate righteousness, you will reap steadfast love.  God is telling them to break up ground that is hard and difficult to soften.  Our hearts are like hard dirt on a path.  That soil or our heart needs to be soft and tender toward God.  How often we deceive ourselves when our hearts are far away from God. We even need to repent of our repenting!

Yet, as beautiful as v. 12 is, this is aspirational.  Verse 12 is what God hopes the nation will be and do.  The actual state of affairs is described in v 13.  “You plow iniquity and reap injustice” (Are there any other places in the world that do the same?).  Notice the phrase “fruit of lies.”  This verse describes our nation as well.  And do we ever “trust in our own ways: v 13.  How contemporary this description is to us.

And so God will punish them with war in v. 14.  Why:  “because of your great evil” v. 15.  Here a few considerations for us.  God is deadly serious about sin.  He warns and warns us.  His warnings are specific, righteous, and have a limit.  Sin always hurts us, makes us small, and hurts others.  How damaging sin is to our lives, relationships, work, church, and our world.  How we see that in these days.  Sin hammers at everything good and eats away at the sinner.

But this book does not just point out our sin.  Hosea’s message is to repent and return to God who loves them.  One of the most tender verses in the Bible is Hosea 11:8, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”  How deeply God loves us.  He loves you.  All this warning of sin is like a parent warning a child to not go in the street, to keep away from the fire, to stay away from the edge of cliff.  God’s reason for warning is his covenant love.  God’s love is enough to break your heart.