HOSEA AND THE FREE LOVE OF GOD Hosea 9:1-4 (…on sex and greed)

art by James Tissot biblearc.com

from BibleArcs.com

Hosea 9:1-4

Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the whore, forsaking your God. You have loved a prostitute’s wages on all threshing floors. Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail them. They shall not remain in the land of the Lord, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria. They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord, and their sacrifices shall not please him. It shall be like mourners’ bread to them; all who eat of it shall be defiled; for their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the Lord.

God Takes Away the Liquor
Central Idea

Do not be happy, for you have forsaken God and therefore your wine and bread are going to fail you in exile!

Joy, and even shadows of it, will be taken from those who cheat on God.

Wine and bread were created for the enjoyment of God’s people (Ps 104:15, Eccl 10:19, 1Tim 4:3), or better said–they were created as sweet shadows of joy to lead us into joy’s very substance–God himself (Ps 4:6). But for those who spiritually and physically prostitute themselves out, even the shadows are taken away (vs2). You cannot divorce joy from its source.

We also find in this text two instances of ironic punishment in kind. The people love prostitution on the threshing floor, so the threshing floor will run dry (vs1-2). And because they have refused to worship God, the pleasure of drawing near to him with drink offerings and sacrifices will be refused to them (vs4). Deut 28:47-48a perfectly presses home this point. Hear the incredible weight and horror of these words:

Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything.

Sex and greed–is there a more deadly combo?

Pride is certainly core to the essence of sin, but we would be hard-pressed to find a combination of manifestations more deadly than these two. Illegitimate sex is the only sin one does against his own body (1Cor 6:18) and sucks one down to death (Prov 2:16-19). Greed, on the other hand, was the occasion that led Judas to betray the Son of God (John 12:4-6, Matt 26:15) and cannot dwell together with love of God (Matt 6:24). And those who practise either will not inherit the kingdom of Messiah and God (Eph 5:5).

Sex and greed are unspeakably dangerous–and how much more when they partner together, as they so often do. So flee, my friend, with all your might from pornography, „Hooters” bars, SI’s swimsuit edition, trashy romance novels, prostitution, and whereever else these vices may be found!

For the sake of your soul, flee from prostitution and its wages!

Who presently has rights to the land of Israel/Palestine?

While this is by no means the go-to passage in determining the answer to this question, it does provide a small insight. The promised land has never ultimately belong to any people, including the people of Israel. Rather, it (along with all the universe) has always been „the land of the LORD” (cf. Lev 25:23). Thus, while not doing much for answering the practical question at hand, this does put the question in its place–far beneath more important questions like, „How can anyone–Jew, Palestinian, or other–be under the favor of the One who owns it all?!”

Egypt as the symbol, Assyria as the coming reality.

See the arc of Hos 7:13-16 for notes on the use of Egypt in Hosea. Here, in 3a-b, we find Egypt being used as a symbol of exile and Assyria speaking to the actual coming reality.

How to repent when living under the judgment of being turned over to sin.

This phrase stands out to me: „they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.” Thus the punishment of God is to turn the people over to further disobedience to the law of God (cf. Rom 1:24,28). Strange, is it not? And with it comes the question we have posed. We find the answer, not in the exile of the Northern Kingdom, but in the exile of Judah–with Daniel and his friends. They too have been given up (because of sin) to exile in a city that only provides unclean meat to eat. But they do not eat the meat. By faith they do not indulge in the sin that the people as a whole have been given up to.

What does this mean for us? It means we must, with God’s help, fear the Lord–even when the nation/state/city we live in has been given over to sin such that it is built into „the system” and becomes an expected part of daily life. By faith we do not eat the meat.

Mourner’s bread?

Deut 26:14 gives insight into this phrase and suggests that the idea here is that the people will be perpetually unclean, unable to perform religious duties to the Lord while in exile. This privilege has been stripped from them in judgment.

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