Lesson 10: Chapter 9
Once again we see a picture of Israel acting like a harlot. She is running around seeking wealth and safety from other nations completely forgetting her true provider and protector.
- Who was the king of Israel at this time?
- Who came against Israel?
- How did Menahem deal with this situation?
- In verse 19, what was the reason given for this tribute?
In previous lessons we have seen other examples of Israel behaving as this silly dove, flitting back and forth between the nations trying to work out their own salvation. They were convinced that bowing and paying tribute to these other nations and kings would bring them prosperity. How insulting to God, who had brought them out of bondage to become one of the most powerful nations! God would use Assyria, the nation which they thought they could buy allegiance from, to exact His punishment.
Again we see a reminder to Israel that all of their blessings and even their land comes from God Himself. They were deluded enough to believe that they had come into this land and prosperity by their own hand. They thought that these military alliances and treaties would continue to sustain them. In all of this they forgot the One who gave them all of these things!
We must constantly remember that we would not even exist if it weren’t for God. Everything we have truly belongs to God and we are simply stewards of those things. This includes our homes, our money, our talents and our time. Never forget who blessed you with these things.
All of the riches in the world were not going to save Israel from the punishment that was upon them. God blessed them with these things, but He would also strip them away. They had become too dependent on the physical blessings and completely neglected the only thing that truly mattered: their relationship with God.
- Proverbs 11:4:
- Matthew 6:19-21:
- Ecclesiastes 5:10-12:
- 1 Timothy 6:7-11:
This seems to be the sad pattern with riches and wealth. The more we love it, the less we are satisfied with it. We work our fingers to the bone and it still cannot bring us the security we seek.
As we have read through the book of Hosea we have seen many groups of people convicted of wrong: the people in general, the priests and the royal house. Now we see another group targeted: the prophets. These were not true prophets because they were speaking falsehoods.
- Jeremiah 14:14-16:
- Lamentations 2:14:
It seems so simple! If what they say doesn’t come true, don’t listen to them. Unfortunately, we are often all too willing to listen to and believe someone who is telling us what we want to hear without doing our homework. We must be vigilant! Jeremiah tells us that it was the people who were punished because they believed these false prophets.
These prophets have had a hand in bringing Israel deeper into depravity, but the people were the ones who chose to listen to these men. Paul has a very similar warning to the young preacher Timothy about what would happen to the church.
The imagery used in verse 10 is so beautiful! When God found Israel they were like “grapes in the wilderness.” Imagine wandering through the wilderness without food or drink. You are exhausted from traveling and then you see it: a fresh grape vine. Imagine how beautiful those grapes would look and how satisfying they would taste in your mouth.
The next illustration used is that of the “first fruit on the fig tree in its first season.” If you have ever planted a fruit tree you know how this feels. You go and pick out a tree, plant it in a special place, then care for it for several years. Finally after all of this care and love, one day you walk out and there is the first fruit. You gently pluck it from the tree, but don’t eat it. You are so proud of this fruit that you save it to show your family and might even take a picture or two! Then, when you finally slice it and eat it, you find that it is incredibly satisfying. All of your hard work has paid off!
Can you imagine that this is how God once felt about the now corrupt and vile nation of Israel? Now, however, they are a bitter and rotten taste in his mouth.
God will not stand idly by while someone defiles His marriage bed. He will not allow His beautiful bride who was once so incredibly satisfying to Him take part in blatant prostitution. Now Israel would be barren and God would cast them away.
This week, be sure to keep in mind that you and everything you have truly belong to God. Continue to think of ways that you can become a better steward of all that you possess. Consider how you can become that satisfying grape vine in the desert. In what ways can you be a sweet taste in God’s mouth?
By Kristy Huntsman
Kristy is CFYC’s Finer Grounds Editor and all-around right-hand-gal. She and her husband, Lance serve with the Southwest church of Christ in Ada, OK where Lance is the family minister. Kristy is a stay-at-home-mom to their two daughters Taylor and Makayla.