4–10 December 2016.
Let me ask you a question: If you thought there was no way for you to be punished for something, would you do it?
In Hosea 9–10, the Israelites were so happy. The economy was going well, the country was developing, and there was prosperity and joy. The country was like “a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit” (10:1), and the people celebrated their festivals and enjoyed life.
So why is Hosea prophesying doom and punishment? In 9:7 the people think he must be crazy for doing this. After all, things are going so well!
But Hosea knows that under that surface of prosperity, things in Israel aren’t good at all. That’s because their prosperity has been built by abandoning God’s ways and by abusing others. The people have grown rich through corruption and evil. They lie and commit fraud; they cheat in business and sue each other; they don’t hold to their word, and they make promises they never intend to keep. They grow and cultivate all kinds of wickedness (10:13). But do they worry about punishment? No. Instead they trust in their kings and soldiers to keep them safe from the consequences of their behaviour.
The Israelites grew rich from abuse and corruption, and then thought that they would never have to pay the price for it. We see that in the world today too. Rich and powerful nations do all kinds of evil, and then laugh at the idea of ever having to pay for what they have done. After all, with their armies and their military might, who is going to do anything to them! But Hosea warns the Israelites that trusting in their kings and military is not going to stop God from punishing them. God will make them answer for what they have done. God will send foreign empires to destroy Israel and throw the people out of the land. They will be homeless among the nations, and they will watch their children and their future be destroyed.
Today, business leaders and nations face the same temptations: to use injustice, unfairness, oppression, and corruption as ways to improve the economy. On the surface, it even looks like it works! But Hosea reminds us that God looks under the surface to see how things really are. And God will demand an answer for all that injustice.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis