My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanderers among the nations. (Hosea 9:17)

Hosea ends a very descriptive chapter with this verse where the fate of the disobedient Israelites is compared to wanderers. While people around them have the comfort of being formed into nations with boundaries, security, ownership of land, a constant produce and wealth, the Israelites are subjected to a nomadic life in this picture of contrast- a life where they are condemned to wandering from place to place with nothing to call their own, no home of their own, no stable income and constantly subject to threat from the stronger nations around.

What brought this fate upon the Israelites? Disobedience! Earlier in the chapter, Hosea writes-

The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac. 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. They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins. (Hosea 9:7-9)

Obedience is submission to God. Submission requires an attitude of recognizing one’s sinfulness and also the faithfulness of God who shows mercy to his servants. What follows is a willing submission to the God of the universe, who brings the disciple into a life of abundance. Obedience begets abundance. So great was the disobedience and so far away from the reality of a life of submission to God were the Israelites that the word of God had become alien to their experience. The prophet was considered a fool and the Israelites sank deeper into a life of corruption and sinfulness. Hosea says, “you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor” (v1)- this is a description of a nation that chases after every worldly pleasure in rejection of a life of obedience to God. Punishment and disaster had become inevitable.

When the ‘threshing floors will not feed the people’, when they will lose their land and ‘eat unclean food in Assyria’, when ‘their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers, and thorns will overrun their tents’, when ‘Ephraim’s glory will fly away’ and they are bereaved of their children, it is indeed a sad description of a nation that had gone from being ‘chosen’ to being ‘wanderers’ because of their blatant disobedience.

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