Put the horn to your mouth! One like an eagle comes against the house of the Lord, because they transgress my covenant and rebel against my law. Israel cries out to me, “My God, we know you!” Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him (8:1-3 CSB).
One of the saddest sights in nature is to see vultures circle in the sky, because you know that death is present. The great enemy has claimed, or is about to claim, another victim. Where life once rejoiced in all its vitality, soon all that will be left is the dust of death. Hosea saw the vultures circling above Israel, the people God had called him to minister to. It was no time for soft words, but for the blaring noise of the trumpet. “Israel, you are near death! Your religion is worthless! Wake up, repent and turn to God!”
The vultures are wheeling over the western world, too. It has become decadent, debauched and depraved. The religion of the day, if it pretends to be Biblical at all, is usually like Ephraim’s false religion. We will do well to recognize and to avoid it. The sad fact is that many cannot.
It is a religion of empty profession. On the surface, the profession seems to have some substance (8:2).
- It used the language of worship: cries out. This is the language of one moved to the depths of one’s inner person, being filled with passion, wonder and amazement. Notice the “O” in Elijah’s prayer. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36-37 ESV; cf. Exodus 15:6,11; 2 Samuel 7:18-19; Nehemiah 1:5; Psalms 6:4; 8:1, 9; 10:7; 130:1-2; etc.). How much do we know of this desire for God in our worship, public or private?
- It used the language of relationship: “my God.” They claimed to belong to God, to be his people, to be the objects of his special concern. They also professed allegiance to the Lord and submission to his authority.
- It used the language of salvation: They asserted they knew God. They claimed to know the Lord, unlike other nations that had no regard for the living God. Had Israel heard Hosea’s previous sermons saying that she did not know God, and now she picked up the right words? People can be skilled in doing that.
What they said sounded good. They sounded like they were committed to the Lord. In reality, their experience was far removed from what it professed with the lips.
They forgot the Lord, whom they outwardly worshiped as Defender, by trusting in human works (palaces for fame and fortresses for power) 8:14. Biblical worship seeks only the Lord’s fame and trusts only in his power. What is your boast and your hope (Galatians 6:14; Colossians 1:27)?
They substituted the imaginations of idolatry for God’s spirituality (8:4-6). Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). The Golden Calf, a physical representation of God’s power was more precious to them than God’s real nature. Are we content with God’s revelation of himself — holy, sovereign, all-knowing, Ruler above all and unchanging? Or are you trying to remake God into a more manageable and understandable form?
Grace and peace, David