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Rejoice not, O Israel, for Joy, as other people.
All are not Israel who are of Israel. The merely nominal Christian is not to rejoice as the true Christian should.
I. Merely nominal professors have great cause to mourn. These words suggest a vast number of Israelites preparing for the songs of those that triumph, the shout of those that feast. To them the prophet says, “Rejoice not.”
1. The first reason why Israel should not rejoice is that they had turned aside from the Lord. In leaving the Lord we leave all true happiness behind.
2. Because they were at ease in Zion.
3. Because they were heaping up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath.
4. Because they were without hope in the world.
5. Because they were under sentence of condemnation. To every merely nominal Christian God sends this message, “Rejoice not for joy, as other people.”
II. God’s people ought to be a rejoicing people.
1. Christ’s atonement should make them happy.
2. The Triune God has made with them a covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
3. The joy of the Lord is their strength.
4. The rest of God shall be theirs.
5. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The Lord reigneth, then your lot in this world will be controlled by the King of kings. Then your sorrows, disappointments, crosses, losses, and all the events of your life are controlled by His sceptre. Then the affairs of the home, and the joys and friendships of life are in the bands of the infinitely wise and good, and you may well rejoice. (A. Clayton Thiselton.)
The miseries of sin
The doctrine of this chapter relates to a time wherein Israel flourished much by reason of outward plenty, victories, and confederacies with their neighbours; and therefore did harden and please themselves in their sins, whatever the prophets said to the contrary. Therefore the whole chapter contains a large description of the miseries that were to come upon them for their sins, which may be branched out in four parts.
1. There is a description of the desolation to come upon them, to silence their presumptuous and carnal joy; wherein he declareth they had no cause to be insolent, thinking to prosper in sin as other nations, seeing their sin (idolatry) was more heinous than the sins of other people.
2. This desolation is declared to be near, whereby, the Lord would discover the folly of their false prophets, and their sin in procuring such at God’s hands who, whatever they pretended to, were but snares to the people and causes of God’s anger.
3. They are charged with the sins, of their fathers, whom they imitated, hereby provoking God to call them to an account, particularly with ingrate forsaking of God, for which they are threatened that God would cut them off without hope of prosperity and abandon them,
4. Their superstition and idolatry, wherein their princes had chief hand, is again laid to their charge; for which they are threatened with God’s anger, and rejection; and exile, and with cutting them off root and branch. Such despisers of God’s Word should be rejected, and made to wander in exile. (George Hutcheson.)
They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land.
The Lord’s land
Before, God was to them as a father taking maintenance away from them, leaving them to suffer want: but here His anger increases, and He puts them out of His house; as a nation out of His land. God would make them know that it was His land, that they were but tenants at will, and enjoyed the land upon conditions of obedience. It is a good meditation for us to dwell upon, that we are God’s stewards; the Lord is the great landlord of all the world. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” The land of Canaan was “Jehovah’s land” in some special senses.
1. It was a land that God had “espied” as a special place for His people.
2. It was the land of promise.
3. It was a land given by oath (Genesis 24:7).
4. It was a land which the Lord brought His people into by “a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm.”
5. It was a land divided by lot. The possession that any man had was ordered by God Himself by lot.
6. It was a land wherein God dwelt Himself, a land that God called His own rest. It was the land wherein were the ordinances and worship of God, and His honour dwelt there, and so it had a peculiar blessing upon it above every land on the face of the whole earth.
7. It was a land over which God’s eye was in a more special manner.
8. This land was typical of the rest of the Church in heaven. Then it would be a great judgment of God to drive men out of this land for their sin. To be cast out of those mercies which God by an extraordinary providence has brought to us is a sore and grievous evil. (Jeremiah Burroughs.)
And they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
The sting of Divine judgment
Here we have the degradation of sin. To be ceremonially clean or pure was the joy and pride of Israel. The Jews would not eat things that were common or unclean, and by this mark they were distinguished from other people. Whilst Israel lived even in nominal piety, how superficial soever it might be, God gave him protection against degradation; but when Israel turned away adulterously from God, and sought satisfaction at forbidden fountains and altars, then the Lord brought upon Israel the misery of this degradation and shame. Israel was forced to eat things that were unclean, things that were killed with the blood in them, things that revolted the sense of the nation, and went dead against all the prejudices of education. Thus a badge was taken from the shoulder of Israel, a distinction was removed from the chosen people; they could have borne reproaches on the ground of moral disobedience with comparative indifference, but to have social boundaries and distinctions broken down was a judgment which Israel keenly felt. But the Lord will seize the sinner at some point, for He cannot be baffled in judgment or thwarted in the application of His righteousness. The Lord’s judgments are ordered according to our apostasy; God will strike most where we feel most; He will follow our pride and our vanity, and smite them so as to bring upon them our keenest shame. God will not content Himself with some general judgment; He will specifically scrutinise and either reward or punish according to the result of His inquest. (Joseph Parker, D. D.)
What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the Lord?
Feasting after unaccepted sacrifice
Calvin thinks the allusion is to the time of exile, when the people would be deprived of all their sacrifices. But the better point is that the sacrifices of Ephraim being
1. unauthorised, and
2. unaccompanied with righteousness, could not be accepted;
consequently they could have no joy in their lesser or greater festal times, because all the joy of such times depended on their reconciliation and acceptance with God. What joy can there be in any of the joy times of life when we boar in our hearts the sad conviction of our wilful and persistent estrangement from God? And men do carry that secret conviction even when, to their fellows, they seem to be bold and self-satisfied. There is no sunshine on human life when God’s smile is hidden. Illustrate from the anxiety of Job concerning his children. They were feasting, but he did not feel sure that it was feasting after sacrifice, enjoying themselves with the smile of God’s favour resting on them. So he offered sacrifices to ensure the acceptance which they had missed. In the ordinary ritual of the Jews a feast followed sacrifice, as in the case of Samuel. This was the case with simple sacrifice and with the special sacrifices of solemn days. No joy could be in the feast if the sacrifice had failed to gain acceptance. It is the supreme rule for all the joy times of human life. They never can be to us what they ought to be, unless we enter on them with the full sense of acceptance with God. It must, always be, “sacrifice before feast.” (Robert Tuck, B. A.)
The solemn days of life
The day here referred to is one of the great Jewish feasts, either Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles. What will you children of Abraham do when you are deprived of the privilege of attending these solemn assemblies? There are solemn days awaiting all of us--
I. The day of personal affliction.
II. The day of social bereavement.
III. The day of death. This awaits every man. What will ye do in this day, when heart and flesh shall fail?
IV. The day of judgment. (Homilist.)
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come.
Days of recompence
The passionate anguish that breathes in these words gives its colour to the whole book of Hosea’s prophecies. His language, and the movements of his thoughts, are far removed from the simplicity and self-control which characterise the prophecy of Amos. Indignation and sorrow, tenderness and severity, faith in the sovereignty of Jehovah’s love and a despairing sense of Israel’s infidelity, are woven together in a sequence which has no logical plan, but is determined by the battle and alternate victory of contending emotions; and the swift transitions, the fragmentary, unbalanced utterance, the half-developed allusions, that make his prophecy so difficult to the commentator, express the agony of this inward conflict. Hosea, above all other prophets, is a man of deep affections, of a gentle, poetic nature. His heart is too true and tender to snap the bonds of kindred and country, or mingle aught of personal bitterness with the severity of Jehovah’s words. Alone in the midst of a nation that knows not Jehovah, without disciple or friend, without the solace of domestic affection--for even his home was full of shame and sorrow--he yet clings to Israel with inextinguishable love. The doom which he proclaims against his people is the doom of all that is dearest to him on earth; his heart is ready to break with sorrow, his very reason totters under the awful vision of judgment, his whole prophecy is a long cry of anguish, as again and again he renews his appeal to the heedless nation that is running headlong to destruction. But it is all in vain. The weary years roll out, the signs of Israel’s dissolution thicken, and still his words find no audience. Like a silly dove fluttering in the toils, Ephraim turns now to Assyria, now to Egypt, “but they return not to Jehovah their God, and seek not Him for all this.” Still the prophet stands alone in his recognition of the true cause of the multiplied distresses of his nation, and still it is his task to preach repentance to deaf ears, to declare a judgment in which only himself believes. (W. Robertson Smith, LL. D.)
The prophet is a fool, and the spiritual man is mad.
Charge against religious ministers
What the prophet means is this. When the predicted retribution had come, Israel would learn that the prosperity which some of the prophets had predicted (Ezekiel 13:10) proved them infatuated fools. This charge against religious ministers is--sometimes too true.
1. There are men of weak minds; utterly incapable of taking a harmonious view of truth, or even forming a clear and complete conception of any great principle.
2. There are men of irrational theologies. They propound theological dogmas which are utterly incongruous with human reason, and therefore un-Biblical and un-Divine.
3. There are men of silly rituals.
II. Often a scoffing calumny. The ideal preacher is the wisest and most philosophical man of his age.
1. He aims at the highest end.
2. He works in the right direction.
3. He employs the best means. The best is not legislation, art, poetry, rhetoric, but love. This is the Cross, the power of God unto salvation. (Homilist.)
Literally, the man of the lying spirit, the man who: was determined to deceive the nations: that prophet is declared to be a fool, and that spiritual man is mad. In other scriptures another spiritual man is also said to be mad. Christ was so charged. Paul was declared to be mad, The apostles had to vindicate themselves against daily charges of insanity. Why so? Simply because they were spiritual men. There is a madness without which there is no greatness. Talent is never mad, genius is seldom sane; respectability is always decorous, enthusiasm sometimes makes a new map of the world every day, lining it and pencilling it according to an eccentricity not to be brought within rules and mechanical proprieties. Enthusiasm is another name for the kind of madness which is described in the Scriptures. It is not the professing Christian who is mad. He may be too sagacious; he may be too shrewd; he may be but a calculator. Men of mechanical piety never helped the cause of the Son of God. We should have more progress if we had more madness; we should make a great impression if we had more enthusiasm. The spiritual man is necessarily mad in the estimation of the worldly man. The spiritual man is mad, because he says that mind is greater than what we know by the name of matter. The religious or spiritual man is mad because he trusts to a spirit. The spiritual man sees the invisible, and is not to be laughed out of his spiritual ecstasy. (Joseph Parker, D. D.)
A converted woman accounted as mad
Rev. John Robertson says: “During the revivals of 1859, a woman living in an Aberdeenshire village with her mother and sister was converted, and was full of enthusiasm. She went from door to door pleading with the people to let the Lord Jesus into their hearts. The mother and sister had a consultation together, and they came to the sad conclusion that Mary was mad. The village doctor, and with him the doctor of a neighbouring village, was called in. They consulted, and they came to the same conclusion, and thereupon signed the schedule for her admission to a lunatic asylum, simply because she besought one and all of those whom she loved to come to Jesus. On the night preceding the day upon which she was to be sent to the asylum the sister and the mother had strange thoughts, and when they met in the morning the mother said to her daughter, “Do you know, I have just been wondering all night whether it is Mary that is mad, or we.” “Well, do you know, mother,” replied the daughter, “I have just been wondering the same thing.” They thought deeply, and searched their hearts, until they came to the conclusion that it was not Mary, but they themselves who were mad. Brownley North says that he took tea with the whole family, and with the relations on both sides of the house, about twenty-three in all, who, through Mary’s pleading, had been led to Christ.”
As in the days of Gibeah.
The lessons of an old story
1. When men to whom we seek for protection deal falsely with us, their wickedness is great in the eyes of God.
2. We may meet with worse usage from those who profess religion than from those who profess it not.
3. God may regard those as unholy and unclean who make a fair show of religion.
4. For men to stand up impudently and boldly in the defence of wickedness committed is abomin able in the eyes of God.
5. To join with others in defence of evil is worse than to stand out ourselves in evil.
6. Those who defend evil may for awhile prosper, but they must at last perish. (Jeremiah Burroughs.)
Corrupting forms of wickedness
From the sad and dreadful story of Gibeah learn--
1. Contempt of true prophets, and delighting in deceivers and their delusions, will draw men upon abominable wickedness.
2. As men once giving way to gross sins will soon involve themselves so that they cannot recover themselves, so it is a dreadful condition to be entangled in sin without hope of recovery, and for men to be active in hardening themselves.
3. As there is no wicked course or measure of sin, wherein men have fallen, but the Church, departing from God, may fall upon it again, so the sins of progenitors will be put upon the account of the present generation who imitate them, and this will draw to a great account. (George Hutcheson.)
They went to Baal-peer, and separated themselves unto that shame.
Sin and separation
The shame here alluded to was idolatry.
I. All sin is shame.
1. It is shame in its commission. People seldom do iniquity in the full blaze of day. They would rather not be seen in its commission. It is shameful to be a sinner; to possess reason and to play the part of an idiot; to have liberty and to act the part of a slave; to be admitted to the arms of a benefactor and then to stab him in return.
2. It is a shame in its consequence. It produces shame. “Thou shalt be confounded,” says God, “because of your shame.” “The wicked shall rise to shame and everlasting contempt.”
II. Sin is separation. Before a man can join the army of sin he must leave the service of God. Hence he separates himself. From what?
1. From the love, protection, guidance, and companionship of his God. What blessings to turn his back upon!
2. From the principles of truth, righteousness, and grace. He becomes another character. All that can exalt him is left behind.
3. From the prospect of future bliss. (Homilist.)
All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them.
Punishment proportional to privilege
Translated into modern life, the prophet’s plea would read thus. “All their wickedness is in the house of God; all their wickedness is after coming from the table of the Lord, or after receiving some faithful letter, or after their own painful convictions and sorrowful confession, or after their repeated resolutions and vows. This helps us to realise how a Jew would feel who heard the prophet make this reproach.
1. At Gilgal the covenant of circumcision was renewed for the second time since they came out of Egypt. What circumcision was to the Jew, religious instruction is to us: circumcision was God’s seal to the Jews that He would cleanse them from taint of Egyptian idolatry.
2. At Gilgal they celebrated the passover for the first time after they came out of Egypt. The Lord’s supper is our passover.
3. It was at Gilgal that God Himself appeared in a most remarkable manner to assure the people of Israel that He would be their deliverer. The captains of the Lord’s host came. Observe Joshua’s momentary surprise, courage, reverence.
Notice the communication.
1. Beginning life in humble circumstances may be a Gilgal to us.
2. So may a season of affliction be. Or
3. The loss of a dear friend. But the wickedness of Gilgal may be taken away. (W. G. Barrett.)
My God will cast them away . . . and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Divine severities for a nation
1. It is a judgment to have an unsettled spirit. A spirit wandering up and down, unable to settle to anything, sometimes in this place, sometimes in that, sometimes in this way, and sometimes in another, this is a judgment of God. The wandering of men’s appetites and desires works them a great deal of vexation.
2. Those who are cast away out of God’s house can have no rest; they go about like the unclean spirit, seeking rest, but can find none. The Church of God and His ordinances are God’s rest. But you will say. May not men be wanderers; that is, may they not be cast out of their habitations and countries, and wander up and down, and yet not be cast off from God? There is no evil in wandering if we carry a good conscience with us. But there it is, “They shall be wanderers among the nations.” It was a great judgment of God for Israel to be scattered among the nations, for they were a people that were separated from the nations, and not to be reckoned among the nations; they were God’s “peculiar treasure.” This curse is upon the Jews to this very day,--how are they wanderers among the nations! (Jeremiah Burroughs.)
Wanderers among the nations.
The lost ten tribes
The words of the prophet imply an abiding condition. He does not say, “They shall wander,” but “They shall be wanderers.” Such was to be their lot; such has been their lot ever since; and such was not the ordinary lot of those large populations whom Eastern conquerors transported from their own land. The transported population had a settled abode allotted to it, whether in the capital or the provinces. Sometimes new cities or villages were built for the settlers. Israel at first was so located. Perhaps on account of the frequent rebellions of their kings the ten tribes were placed amid a wild, warlike population, “in the cities of the Medes.” When the interior of Asia was less known, people thought that they were still to be found there. The Jews fabled, that the ten tribes lay behind some mighty and fabulous river, Sambatyon, or were fenced in by mountains. Christians thought that they might be found in some yet unexplored part of Asia. Undeceived as to this, they still asked whether the Afghans or Yezides, or the natives of North America were the ten tribes, or whether they were the Nestorians of Kurdistan. So natural did it seem that they, like other nations so transported, should remain as a body near or at the places where they had been located by their conquerors. The prophet says otherwise. He says, their abiding condition shall be, “they shall be wanderers among the nations”; wanderers among them, but no part of them. Before the final dispersion of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem “the Jewish race,” Josephus says, “was in great numbers throughout the whole world, interspersed with the nations.” Those assembled at the Day of Pentecost had come from all parts of Asia Minor, but also from Parthia, Media, Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt, maritime Lybia, Crete, and Italy. Wherever the apostles went in Asia or Greece they found Jews, in numbers sufficient to raise persecution against them. The Jews, scoffing, asked whether our Lord would go to the dispersion among the Greeks. The Jews of Egypt were probably the descendants of those who went thither after the murder Of Gedaliah. The Jews of the North, as well as those of China, India, Russia, were probably descendants of the ten tribes. From one end of Asia to the other, and onward through the Crimea, Greece, and Italy, the Jews, by their presence, bare witness to the fulfilment of the prophecy. Not like the wandering Indian tribe, who spread over Europe, living apart in their native wildness, but, settled among the inhabitants of each city, they were still distinct, although with no polity of their own, a distinct, settled, yet foreign and subordinate race. “Still remains unreversed this irrevocable sentence as to the temporal state and face of an earthly kingdom, that they remain still ‘wanderers,’ or dispersed among other nations, and have never been restored, nor are in any likelihood of ever being restored to their own land, so as to call it their own. If ever any of them hath returned thither, it hath been but as strangers.” (E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Hosea 9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
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