February 4, 2011

Minor Prophets VI: Punished Exacted In A Prophetic Perfect Tense


In my previous post on Hosea we see a grocery list of covenant infractions against the Lord by Israel. Any one of these sins should meant instant judgment from God but what we see (and we always see it) is mercy, grace and patience first and then judgement that unfolds in Hosea 4. The list of judgments in this chapter shows God warning that He will bring upon Israel (e.g., v 3 a severe drought predominately is portrayed). These are not threats...they are promises of God's justice. It is what should be expected by any sinner including us. God must meter out His judgment as fits the sin.

(v.3) We see the description of a severe drought that would end up killing people.

(v.5-6) Mother’s would be destroyed. Mothers: Those who give birth…the priestly line here would be eliminated. The priests themselves would be removed from office by God. Because the priests ignored God’s Law, God would ignore their children, the children that were born that wouldn’t have been terminated by the destruction of their mothers…they would not inherit the office of their fathers. The interesting thing about these punishments is they seem to be tailored to the crime: Destroyed-Rejected-Ignored-Doomed.

What is particularly interesting in Hosea 4:6 is the word "destroyed". what appears to be a past tense in a present judgement passage...and we see more of these littered all over the Major & Minor Prophets (such as Isaiah 5:13, Isaiah 10:28-32, Jeremiah 23:2, Hosea 6:5, Amos 5:2). These are what is called the "prophetic perfect tense(s)" in the Hebrew which is a verb tense that used by the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. This literary technique refers to future events in the past tense, known as deictic center shift. It shows that God (through His prophets) sees all of time as a present moment. So what appears to be a prediction to humanity (us), is in actually a statement of fact coming from God since He sees all points in time simultaneously. I found this to be really cool. In a subtle shift of terms we see God's omniscience in all its glory.

(v.9-10) Priests fed on the sins of the people in greed receiving a portion of the offerings to themselves. In so doing they would receive in-kind covenant curses. Regardless of plans to accumulate food, food would become scarce because of drought.

(v.16) Rhetorical question: Can Lord now feed Israel? (stubborn heifer) They were being cut off from God.

(v.17) Because of the strong attachment to idolatry Israel (Ephraim) was left to her own which appears to mean she was allowed to go to her doom/demise.

(v.19) A wind has wrapped them in its wings. I am probably reaching on this but it seems as if Ephraim will be swept away like the wind.
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In Hosea 5 these punishments were targeted on a particularly wicked group that were in twice as guilty as they were entrusted the stewardship of God's people.

Just as in the portion of Chapter 4:4-10, 18 (priests) this prophecy/sermon is primarily directed at the culpable leadership in v.1 & 2 and those that had the welfare of the nation entrusted to them.


(v.1) Priests/priesthood. They are again put in the cross hairs of God’s prophecy. They had encouraged the people to participate in false worship in places like Mizpah and Tabor. If this is a reference to Mizpah of Benjamin then this has further implications as it would draw in people of the Southern Kingdom also. Regardless, the false worship had permeated the land.

(v.1) The house of the king

(v.3) Here we see a subtle shift back to Israel proper who are “not hidden” from Yahweh. Their sunken/sinful state though was allowed to fester because of the leadership.

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. "An Oracle Addressed to Various Levels of Israelite Society." The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical And Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. 75-76. Print.
Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. "Hosea's Message: God's Judgment and Restoration of Israel." The Bible knowledge commentary: an exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 1388-1390. Print.

1 comment:

ArtWerx said...

when i was first saved, i got what i now realize was a vision...a picture appeared in my mind of a huge ornate open book & standing on it like pieces in a game was what i somehow knew to be all of human history

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