The Lord’s Judgment against Israel
1 How prosperous Israel is—
a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit.
But the richer the people get,
the more pagan altars they build.
The more bountiful their harvests,
the more beautiful their sacred pillars.
Father, I know this is true even for me today. The more blessed I am, the nicer my house and my cars and my vacations. I tell myself I could give it all up and live a simple life, but I don’t. How many poor people could I help with my luxuries? How much of my prayer time is stolen by my “stuff”?
2 The hearts of the people are fickle;
they are guilty and must be punished.
The Lord will break down their altars
and smash their sacred pillars.
3 Then they will say, “We have no king
because we didn’t fear the Lord.
But even if we had a king,
what could he do for us anyway?”
4 They spout empty words
and make covenants they don’t intend to keep.
So injustice springs up among them
like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field. 5 The people of Samaria tremble in fear
for what might happen to their calf idol at Beth-aven.[a]
The people mourn and the priests wail,
because its glory will be stripped away.[b]
6 This idol will be carted away to Assyria,
a gift to the great king there.
Ephraim will be ridiculed and Israel will be shamed,
because its people have trusted in this idol.
7 Samaria and its king will be cut off;
they will float away like driftwood on an ocean wave.
8 And the pagan shrines of Aven,[c] the place of Israel’s sin, will crumble.
Thorns and thistles will grow up around their altars.
They will beg the mountains, “Bury us!”
and plead with the hills, “Fall on us!”
9 The Lord says, “O Israel, ever since Gibeah,
there has been only sin and more sin!
You have made no progress whatsoever.
Father, thank-you for the progress in my life. I feel like it has been so slow and that I have so far to go, but there has been some progress. You have not abandoned me or given up on me. Thank-you so much Father. Keep me growing and changing. I know I have stepped backwards. Now help me move forward again. I need You so bad.
Was it not right that the wicked men of Gibeah were attacked?
10 Now whenever it fits my plan,
I will attack you, too.
I will call out the armies of the nations
to punish you for your multiplied sins.
11 “Israel[d] is like a trained heifer treading out the grain—
an easy job she loves.
But I will put a heavy yoke on her tender neck.
I will force Judah to pull the plow
and Israel[e] to break up the hard ground.
12 I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Father, why don’t I do this? My family needs love so bad. We need to plant righteousness. I need to plant righteousness, but I sin. Will I ever learn? Will I ever be able to focus on You and doing good deeds or will I forever wallow in my sin? I plant sin and harvest strife. What kind of fool am I? I am bound to lose everything before I learn.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come
and shower righteousness upon you.’
13 “But you have cultivated wickedness
and harvested a thriving crop of sins.
You have eaten the fruit of lies—
trusting in your military might,
believing that great armies
could make your nation safe.
14 Now the terrors of war
will rise among your people.
All your fortifications will fall,
just as when Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel.
Even mothers and children
were dashed to death there.
15 You will share that fate, Bethel,
because of your great wickedness.
When the day of judgment dawns,
the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
- Hosea 10:5 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
- Hosea 10:5 Or because it will be taken away into exile.
- Hosea 10:8 Aven is a reference to Beth-aven; see 10:5a and the note there.
- Hosea 10:11 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
- Hosea 10:11 Hebrew Jacob. The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are often interchanged throughout the Old Testament, referring sometimes to the individual patriarch and sometimes to the nation.