Wednesday, July 3. Hosea 9 – 11

In Hosea 10:9 the Lord says: “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained. Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?”

Gibeah was the home of Saul, Israel’s first king, but she also had a much more notable reputation as a center of sin. Beginning in Judges 19 we have the story of a Levite who went there with his concubine, sheltered by an elderly man of the city. The men of Gibeah demanded the old man turn the Levite over to them that they might rape him. Instead, the Levite threw them his concubine, whom they abused to death. This brought down the wrath of Israel and in a war with them, most of the people of Gibeah died.

Hosea uses this story as an illustration for Israel. Whatever the Lord has given them, they have misappropriated for evil intent. The more God has blessed, the worse they have become. Their behavior is the same as that of Gibeah centuries before. In fact, it has always been characteristic of them. Thus Gibeah’s fate will be their own. Consider the patience of God. The incident in Judges occurs well before 1000 B.C. It is now over three hundred years later and despite the fact that Israel’s behavior has mirrored that of Gibeah, the patience and compassion of God has delayed judgment. It’s a point worth remembering. Peter will write centuries later: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Popular comedians who despise Christianity and our God often point to the hateful pronouncements of the Lord on His people as proof that God’s own moral character doesn’t merit attention. But they all overlook these facts: First, these pronouncements are not arbitrary. They come as judgment for sin. Second, it is precisely because of the immorality of the people (not the immorality of God) that God makes these judgments. Third, God is God. Because He is God He has a right to expect obedience. Punishment for disobedience doesn’t come without warning and a chance for repentance, but persistent sorry conduct will bring retribution. God gives no one the right to live as they please.