In this chapter, because of their sins, God deprives Israel of worldly enjoyments. “Do not rejoice, O Israel; do not be jubilant like other nations. For you have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor.” (v1) The Israelites had been giving their honor and love to false gods and enemies of the Lord. They continually broke the marriage-like covenant with God. “They will not remain in the Lord’s land; Ephraim will return to Egypt and eat unclean food in Assyria.” (v3) God threatens exile to the land that the Israelites were already depending on. And remember in chapter 7, the king of Israel asked the king of Egypt for help to pay the Assyrian king and he refused? And let’s not forget the whole slavery in Egypt during the time of Moses. This isn’t really a place that the Israelites want to return to! Plus, anything is a foreign country is “unclean” and the people would have no temple to become ceremonially clean again.
“Even if they escape from destruction, Egypt will gather them, and Memphis; will bury them.” (6) Even if the Israelites escape harm in Israel from the Assyrians, they will be taken into bondage by the Egyptians and Memphis (the capital of lower Egypt) is used as a reference for a graveyard, where they will be buried. Memphis was the scene for the largest cemetery in Egypt.
“Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briars, and thorns will overrun their tents.” (v6) The homes and treasures will destroyed. Briars and thorns presupposes that the country will be desolated and depopulated.
Judgement is about to fall onto Israel.
2 Kings describes exactly why this happened:
Why Israel Fell
Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God,who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the Lord their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the Lord had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the Lord. They served idols,concerning which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to do like them. They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him.So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah. (2 Kings 17:7-18)
“The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.” (v8) God had sent prophets to warn Israel of what will happen and they were ignored. “God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” (v9) Sins unrepented for are remembered, as well as the accumulated sins of generations.
In verse 10, the covenant is traced back to the desert. All the imagery shows God’s delight in Israel before she began to worship the god of Baal. The glory of Israel will disappear, never to return (v11). “No birth, no pregnancy, no conception.” Prostitution produces no increase. Verse 12 continues this same judgement: death.
God is a merciful God. Hosea is the messenger of God’s unchanging love; but smooth-tongued pastors speaking endlessly of God’s pardoning love, but saying nothing of the strings attached to it, should take note of this chapter. After all of God’s love, and after all He had done for Israel, they kept right on lying down with the sacred prostitutes of the baalim; and finally, the stroke of judgment fell, as it will for all who forsake all the commandments of the Lord.
“Because of their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there.” (v15) This is the 3rd historical situation mentioned by Hosea. It was at Gilgal that Saul was rejected in the name of the Lord by Samuel. (1 Samuel 15:26) There was also identification of that place with widespread immoralities. Amos 5:5 “Don’t worship at the pagan altars at BEthel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba. For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile, and the people of Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
“Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.” (v15) As an unfaithful wife is driven out of her husband’s home, so is Israel driven out of The Father’s “house” (the holy land.) They will no longer be loved because of their sins and unwillingness to repent.
“Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.” Israel is hopeless and the divine punishment was assigned.
“My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanders among the nations.” (v17) This is Hosea speaking: “my God.” God promptly rejected them and the states of Israel perished.