Summary: God’s judgment on unfaithfulness is unpalatable but we need to hear it.
I am sure we have all met people who always seem to look on the negative. Every time you meet them they have a tale of woe to tell you. No sooner have they recovered from one illness than they have a new illness to complain about. During world war II a man called Tommy Handley’s had a radio programme with a character whose catchphrase was “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going.” The characters name? ‘Mona Lott.’ I am sure we have met such people. I pray we are not such people. Hosea 9 begins with the people of Israel planning to enjoy life. The harvest has been gathered in and it appears they, like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable, plan to sit back and enjoy the riches they have gained. However, along comes Hosea to basically tell them “the party is over.”
Verses 1-6 The party is over.
The harvest has been gathered in and it is plenteous. The people plan to enjoy the fruits of this harvest with a great festival until Hosea arrives. It appears that everyone has helped bring in the harvest and are now planning to relax and enjoy life. The reference in verse 1 to prostitutes refers to the immorality of such celebrations. Many of the men used the opportunity of the harvest festival to engage prostitutes and also to participate in fertility rites of the pagan god Baal. Hosea tells them not to rejoice or celebrate and in the second part of the verse he gives them the reason for this injunction from God – because you have been unfaithful to God. The people of God were never to give themselves to the immoral celebration of the pagan nations around them at the time of harvest. The Canaanites had been driven out of the promised land so that the people of God might possess it. Now the people of God had embraced the pagan deities and practices of the Canaanites and for that they would be punished. They were not to attribute the blessing of harvest to pagan fertility gods but to the true and living God who had brought them out of slavery from Egypt into freedom and blessing the land of promise.
The result (verses 2-6) is that God would turn from them and reject them. The people would eat unclean food (verse 3) and be unable to offer the required sacrifices to God (verse 4). Because of their unfaithfulness they would be unable to celebrate the appointed feasts (verse 5). In essence everything which marked them out as the people of God would be removed from them and they would become like the nations around them, because that is how they were behaving. To the people of God ‘religion’ had degenerated into festivals, stories, customs and taboos. It had become a good luck charm against trouble and their excitement was not in the worship of the living God but in the sensuality and immorality of the Canaanite worship. The result would be that they would lose their distinctiveness and be totally adrift in their sinfulness – verse 3. What an awful shock those words must have been to the people of God – you will no longer dwell in my land. They would no longer inhabit his land of promise and blessing. The land promised to them by God would be taken from them by God. In Deuteronomy 6.12-15 God had warned them not to follow the pagan ways of those around them when they entered the Promised Land but they had failed to heed the warning.