Today: [Hosea 9] When New Wine Fails. Hosea 9 is a rebuke from heaven given during the time of the feast of Tabernacles. This was a season when rejoicing and solemn high and holy days were to be observed, but instead the nation is in upheaval and the people are suffering under the threat of Assyrian invasion. For all their cry to heaven for deliverance, the prophet Hosea declares that this scourge of suffering is brought about by the idolatrous ways of an unfaithful people, for all their protestations of fidelity to God.
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[Hos 9:1-17 KJV] 1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as [other] people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor. 2 The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. 3 They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean [things] in Assyria. 4 They shall not offer wine [offerings] to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices [shall be] unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD. 5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? 6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant [places] for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns [shall be] in their tabernacles. 7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know [it]: the prophet [is] a fool, the spiritual man [is] mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. 8 The watchman of Ephraim [was] with my God: [but] the prophet [is] a snare of a fowler in all his ways, [and] hatred in the house of his God. 9 They have deeply corrupted [themselves], as in the days of Gibeah: [therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. 10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: [but] they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto [that] shame; and [their] abominations were according as they loved. 11 [As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. 12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, [that there shall] not [be] a man [left]: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! 13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. 14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. 15 All their wickedness [is] in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes [are] revolters. 16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the beloved [fruit] of their womb. 17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Chapter 9 of Hosea begins with a rebuke probably given at a time of harvest during the Feast of Tabernacles, considering the fact that it mentions transgression taking place at a corn floor. This speaks to us of the expectations we have of cyclical times of renewal and revival that v. 2 describes as not being a satisfaction to the people because of unfaithfulness. The declaration is that there will be no sustenance and that the new wine will fail to fulfill its purpose because the people are not walking in fidelity with the Father. New wine speaks to us of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. When the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given in Acts chapter 2 the people thought they were drunken but Peter declared it was not alcohol but rather the new wine of the Holy Spirit that was acting upon those speaking with other tongues. Hosea’s warning is ominous in saying that even if an outpouring of the Spirit came upon an unfaithful people it would not benefit them because their hearts were not turned toward the things of God as it should have been. For this reason, v. 3 states that they will return to a state of bondage and be compelled to eat an unclean diet in the land of Assyria.
In verse 4 the prophet declares that offerings to God will not be found acceptable at this point in the spiritual decline of the nation. There is a point where the Father says that His Spirit will no longer strive with men and even attempts at repentance will not be successful because it is more based in aversion to a negative circumstance than a true heartfelt reformation of faith toward God. V. 5 asks the question what would be this people’s recourse in the solemn day of the feast of the Lord, because destruction is upon them and the invader is at the gate. V. 7 declares this as the days of visitation and recompense upon the nation even though the prophets foolishly deny the inevitable and the spiritual men around them are regarded as madmen.
The pronouncement against the people in v. 9 makes reference to the corruption “as in the days of Gibeah” which refers to Judges ch. 19-21 when the corrupt behavior of the tribe of Benjamin related to sex trafficking and violent behavior brought them to the edge of extinction and gave rise to king Saul who led the nation astray as their first king. The people of Israel in God’s eyes (v. 10) were as a discover of grapes and sweet figs in the wilderness to His heart but they have no over the centuries brought shame upon themselves with the abominations connected with worship of Baalpeor. Baalpeor was a Moabite deity dedicated to feminine genitalia who was worshipped through sexual debauchery and ritual prostitution. Because of these idolatries v. 11 declares that the former glory of Ephraim (a reference to the entire northern kingdom) would fly away and not be found.
V. 13 declares that Ephraim was a pleasantry to God’s heart but now they will have a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. This is interesting because a recent study published in a medical journal has found that in the Western World as of 2017 that sperm counts have dropped more than 50% including in North America, Europe and New Zealand and Australia. V. 15 of our chapter declares that impotence and dropping birth rates are symptomatic of a people like the northern tribes of Israel being driven from the house of God like an unfaithful bride. Because of the faithless heart of the people they are described in verse 17 as being cast away by the Father to wander as vagabonds in the earth and among the nations.
For us this is a sobering chapter because it lays causality of the wanderings of the Jews at the systemic inclination of the people to go their own way in worshipping pagan gods and foreign deities all the while including a continued veneration for Jehovah but not exclusively so. The application for us deals with a need to identify dependencies in our lives where we have found ourselves looking to man for what we ought to be looking to God for. Idolatry is not just an ancient pagan practice. Idolatry is proposing the dwelling place of God to be anywhere other than the human heart. Idolatry is substituting personal choice and individualism for the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Idolatry is external dependence on outward objects of attraction rather than trusting on the indwelling of the Spirit of God and walking in deference to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The caution for us is if God spare not the 10 tribes of Israel who went first into captivity as a recompense for such sins, what makes us think that Christianity, grafted into the vine of God might experience the same outcome for the same reasons.
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