Thorns and Walls
When Mary and I moved into our new home, the cedar trees had not been trimmed in a long time. Thick, thorny vines grew up from the ground, wound themselves up through the branches, and reached more than twenty feet up into the trees. It took a chain saw just to begin to penetrate so that we could start to trim the dead branches. So Mary and I know by experience how thorns can make it tough to get to where you want to go. Hosea’s people wanted to get to the wrong place.
The Northern Israelites were intoxicated with the sexual highs and the pleasures of Baal worship, but to get to these idolatrous places of worship they needed useable paths. So the LORD started to use not only thorn bushes but also walls to hedge his people in so they wouldn’t have access to their idolatrous places of worship.
“Therefore, take note, I will bar her way with thorn bushes. I will wall her in with walls so that she cannot find her way to her illicit liaisons. She will repeatedly chase after her lovers but not catch them. She will seek them but not find them. Then she might say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband for it was better for me then than now. She didn’t realize that I gave to her the grain and the sweet wine, and the oil. I multiplied silver for her and gold—the material she used for Baal.’” Hosea 2:8-10
Hosea’s contemporaries used their gold and silver to make idols representing the Canaanite gods. At the beginning of their history Moses warned his people that the LORD would discipline them if they rejected Him (Lev. 26:14-45). In Hosea’s day he saw God allow the Assyrians to attack in 845 BC. Israel’s fields were pillaged and their lives threatened. Then God moved the Assyrians to withdraw. He gave them twenty-three years to wake up and return to them before the destruction of the Samaria in 722 BC.
LORD, help me to respond quickly to the first sharp pains that you allow when I start to wander. Help those I know who are facing “thorny” times because they have turned away from you and lusted after the excitements and pleasures of “Canaanite” worship. Please help them to turn around before the judgment intensifies. Instead of pursuing false loves today, help me to pursue righteousness (Prov. 15:9).
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