“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Hosea.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment [is] toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I [have been] a rebuker of them all.
Intriguingly, The Message interprets this as justice being expected of the rulers, rather than enacted against them. It also reads verse 2 as referring to (unrecorded?) events in Shittim, rather than a generic statement of slaughter:
“Listen to this, priests! Attention, people of Israel!
Royal family?all ears!
You’re in charge of justice around here.
But what have you done? Exploited people at Mizpah,
ripped them off on Tabor,
Victimized them at Shittim.
I’m going to punish the lot of you.
No matter how you slice it, things are seriously messed up, and God is going to hold the leadership (sacred and secular) accountable.
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, [and] Israel is defiled.They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms [is] in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.
In other words, they’ve gotten so corrupt they no longer even remember who God is, so they can’t turn to Him. I’d call it pathetic — except for the fact that I myself wonder how well I know who God truly is! Do I even understand His nature well enough to tap into His divine power, to save me from the sins I know? Or are my sin so cancerously deep I first need grace to even know what to repent of?
And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find [him]; he hath withdrawn himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now
shall a month devour them with their portions.
This may sound petty of God, but I rather interpret it as “Truth hides from those who cloud their minds with self-indulgence.” If you destroy the eyes of truth-seeing by deception, don’t blame God if you can’t see Him.
Or if outsiders impose a crude justice in the vacuum left by your injustice:
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, [and] the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud [at] Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.
I know this sort of judgement bugs a lot of people, but to me this makes perfect sense. We live in a world ordered by natural (and supernatural) laws. And the laws are Good (in the sense that they enable Reason, Virtue, and Happiness), but the consequences of those laws are often devastating.
The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: [therefore] I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim [is] oppressed [and] broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Therefore [will] I [be] unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
So where is God’s mercy? Alas, we only get mercy when we face up to the justice of our judgement, and submit to the one who justly judged us. Rather than chasing false saviours:
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah [saw] his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.
Which only serves to aggravate God:
For I [will be] unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, [even] I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue [him].
Ouch. Though the curse is leavened with a promise:
I will go [and] return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
As C. S. Lewis says, God shouts to us in our pain. I don’t know if it always has to be this way, but in my experience deep sin requires deep pain in order for it to be exposed and excised.
I wonder, what pain must I go through to see God at the level I need to see Him? And is there a way I can embrace that pain through repentance, rather than have it inflicted upon me through suffering?
God, as we enter the third day of Lent I’m struck by the deep root of self-centered sin in my life. Too often, I reinforce my pride and self-will in the very act of renouncing lesser, fleshly sins. Father, have mercy on me! Teach me to submit to your spirit, and die to myself. Let me not lean on my own understanding, but acknowledge you in all my ways. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.