And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord (2:13 ESV).
Previously, we considered that old covenant Israel abandoned the Lord by refusing to acknowledge God as the source of the blessings she enjoyed. Next, we see that Israel also abandoned the Lord by giving to her false gods what God had given to her (2:8).
You can sense the Lord’s disgust with her conduct. What a wretched woman Israel had become, taking from her husband to give to another lover. Notice her twisted thinking. She thought her blessings were the pay from her lovers, and then she returns a part of her pay for her meretricious conduct to the lover who had used her (2:13).
America, the wealthy nation, is rapidly heading for the day when she will find herself impoverished by seeking after idolatry and pantheistic forces. People refuse to look at the present misery of those who serve idols, and instead gladly welcome foolish, idolatrous ideas as the latest and greatest way to prosperity.
What should be done to a fallen woman like Israel? In this section, God uses the “powerfully tough” approach that we mentioned in our start pf this series. How would the Lord punish Israel for her sins?
First, the Lord would punish Israel by putting obstacles in her path (2:6). The Lord sometimes places “stop” or “warning” signs in the ways of sinners, because he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God commands all people everywhere to repent. Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). These obstacles were intended to help Israel lose her adulterous way of life. When we can’t reach satisfaction in our sinning, we should be glad. God is opening a way out of the mess we have made of our lives. Consider the story of the lost son (Luke 15:17ff). Are you experiencing dissatisfaction in your sin? Turn back to the Source of joy!
Second, the Lord would punish Israel by judging her productivity (2:3, 9, 12). The Lord threatens to take back what he had given. This is a most just judgment on those who refuse to praise God who blesses. The Lord threatens to ruin what had supplied her with happiness and sustenance.
Third, the Lord would punish Israel by exposing her wickedness (2:10). Wherever you have sinners, you will have sins. But western civilization has delighted in displaying her debauchery to a watching world. We should listen to what the rest of the world says about us. No one would be able to deliver Israel when she fell into the Lord’s hands. Let us reflect on Hebrews 10:31. People have hated the sermons of Jonathan Edwards for nearly 300 years. One day the haters of the truth will know the terror of the Lord.
Fourth, the Lord would punish Israel by ending her religious festivals (2:11). God had given Israel set times throughout the year to remember him and to thank him for the blessings he showered upon her. Every opportunity to thank God ought to be considered precious! But God would end it all. He tired of the travesty of having celebrations seemingly intended to remember him, but which were really riotous worship of idols.
Will you remember the Lord this week? Is he really precious to you? As I write, YouVersion is having a twenty-one day Bible challenge to read God’s word each day during that time. Certainly, we ought to read properly. But will you invest time in listening to God’s Word? You don’t need YouVersion. All you need is a Bible.
Grace and peace, David