Hosea, prophet of mercy—chapter 32, Judgment upon the altars of Beth-aven
Jan 05, 2017
Hosea 10:5, 6 says,
5 The inhabitants of Samaria will fear [gur] for the calf of Beth-aven. Indeed, its people will mourn for it, and its idolatrous priests [kamarim, “black robed (priests); also to yearn”] will cry out over it, over its glory [kabod], since it has departed from it. 6 The thing itself will be carried to Assyria, as tribute to King Jareb; Ephraim will be seized with shame, and Israel will be ashamed of its own counsel.
Here again the prophet uses double meanings to make his point. The Hebrew word gur means “to turn aside (for a lodging or any other purpose); to sojourn (as a guest); also to fear (as in a strange place).” Hosea uses the term to say that the Israelites “will fear for the calf of Beth-aven,” which was a reference to the golden calf at Bethel. In other words, they were to be afraid of losing it to the king of Assyria.
But it also means that the Israelites were to go with it in captivity, and that they would sojourn in Assyria. It could also be understood to mean that by worshiping the golden calf the Israelites had already turned aside from the ways of God to follow the way of Beth-aven, “the house of emptiness and lies.”
The Departure of the Golden Calf
When the idol was taken as booty to Assyria, the “people will mourn” at the loss of their idol. The “idolatrous priests” are the kamarim, which referred to the black robes that the priests of Baal wore in ministering to the idol. But it too has a double meaning, because the word also refers to becoming hot or warm—that is, to yearn for something. In this case, the prophet uses the word to show that the black-robed priests were to yearn for their idol and “cry out over it… since it has departed.”
Hosea thus links the departure of the golden calf to the earlier departure of the Ark of the Covenant in the days of Eli, when the Philistines captured the Ark. At that time, Eli’s grandson was born, and they named him Ichabod, or I-kabod, “the glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21, 22). What happened to the Ark, then, was what was to happen to the golden calf. It was to be “carried to Assyria as tribute to King Jareb.”
The Bush Connection
Israel was also to be put to shame (boshna, from the root word bush) and be ashamed (bush) at their loss. In a strange way, by a prophetic connection, the loss of the golden calf and its “glory” was related to our divine court case on January 29, 2001. It had been revealed to us that when the Israelites were exiled to Assyria, they were still ruled spiritually by their golden calves, for no one in authority actually renounced them. Hence, Israel was ruled by the golden calves during their sojourn in Assyria and throughout their sojourn in the wilderness as “lost tribes.”
In January of 2001 we received revelation about this problem, realizing that America and other nations were still ruled by those golden calves. Thus, we were led to go to the divine court on January 29 and renounce the idols. I had the authority to do this (as we learned), because I was not only of the tribe of Ephraim, but also a descendant of Jeroboam, who had set up the golden calves at the beginning. Our court case was successful, though challenged by the opposing side. We overthrew the golden calves in three prayer battles ending March 24, 2001.
The point is that this took place in the era of President George Bush, whose name in Hebrew means “shame.” Hosea tells us that Israel was shamed (bush) when the golden calf was removed from Israel and taken to Assyria. Many years later, in 2001, the golden calf was again removed, this time from America, to the shame (bush) of the modern idolaters who yet yearned for the glory of the golden calves. This divine court case set the stage for America’s deliverance, when the saints of the Most High are given authority in the Kingdom.
Samaria is Cut Off
Hosea 10:7 says,
7 Samaria will be cut off with her king, like a stick [qetseph, “rage, foam, splinter, broken twig”] on the surface of the water.
Hosea’s metaphor pictures a twig that is cut off from the tree, floating on the surface of the water. The root word means “to crack off,” which, when applied to emotions, means “to burst out in rage.” Hence, in English, we may ask, “What set him off?” When applied to a twig, it means “to break or crack off the tree.”
In this case, Israel and her king (Hoshea) was to be cut off from the tree of the Kingdom. This fits with the divorce theme in the story of Gomer and Hosea.
Hosea 10:8 continues,
8 Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorn and thistle will grow on their altars; then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” And to the hills, “Fall on us!”
“Aven” is short for Beth-aven, which in turn is a reference to Bethel, except that the prophet reminds us that the people had turned the House of God into the House of Emptiness and Lies. Aven is called “the sin of Israel,” a reference to the golden calf in 1 Kings 12:29, 30,
29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.
The prophets tell us that the golden calves were the original cause of Israel’s exile and deportation to Assyria. For this reason, God destroyed their altars and used Assyria to accomplish His judgment.
Judgment and Redemption
Hosea also says that “thorn and thistle will grow on their altars.” This is metaphoric way of saying that divine judgment would come upon those altars of idolatry. Thorns and thistles are connected to the curse of God upon the earth, as seen in Genesis 3:17, 18, 19,
17 …. Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; 19 by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…
Even as Adam was sentenced to hard labor after he sinned, so also was Israel sentenced to hard labor in the Assyrian captivity. But we also see that God was bringing judgment upon the altars themselves by having thorns and thistles grow upon them. The curse upon Adam was diverted to the ground, and likewise, the curse upon Israel was diverted to the idolatrous altars.
Herein is buried a principle of redemption even within the context of divine judgment. In the law of God, when a man is convicted of sin, if he does not have sufficient resources to pay restitution, he was to be “sold” as a slave (Exodus 22:3). The one purchasing him became responsible to pay the debt owed by his new slave, and as a trade-off, the slave had to work for his new master.
Essentially, the slave-owner functioned as a redeemer, because he bought the debt note of the debtor. The option was also there for the slave owner to sell the slave to another redeemer, especially the debtor’s near kinsman who had the right of redemption (Leviticus 25:47, 48, 49).
In the case of Adam, his sin incurred a debt that he could not pay, so he was sold to the ground. The ground was thus “cursed” with thorns and thistles, for it acted the part of the redeemer until such time that our great Kinsman-Redeemer (Jesus Christ) could come to redeem us from the curse.
So Hosea prophesied that the curse upon Israel was diverted to the idolatrous altars, on which thorns and thistles would grow. From a legal perspective, the altars of the golden calves received the curse, but at the same time, they also became the masters of the Israelites during their long “seven times” of exile. Israel’s “seven times” began in 745 B.C. when the tribes on the east side of the Jordan River were taken into exile (1 Chronicles 5:25, 26), and again in 721 B.C. when Samaria was captured.
These two beginning points ended 2,520 years later (7 x 360 years) in 1776 and in 1800, coinciding with the founding of America and the building of the capital in Washington D.C. Many preachers of that time thought that the founding of America would bring in the Kingdom of God, and they called it the New Israel. However, they failed to understand that Israel could not be fully restored apart from Judah (Hosea 1:11). Judah’s “seven times” did not begin until 604 B.C. and that their 2,520-year sentence did not end until 2017 (taking into account the century that the third beast empire was deprived of its rule).
Hence, it was not until 2001 that the divine court case ruled in favor of the overcomers, and the golden calves were legally disenfranchised. This prepared the way for the saints to be given the Kingdom in 2014 and for the fall of the final beast system in 2017.
At the time of the end, those in authority over the beast system “will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’ because they will be greatly distressed over their loss of power. We are seeing this even now in the great economic and political changes taking place in the world.
Sin Will Be Judged
Hosea 10:9, 10 concludes,
9 From the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O Israel; there they stand! Will not the battle against the sons of iniquity overtake them in Gibeah? 10 When it is My desire, I will chastise them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound [asar, “joined, yoked”] for their double guilt.
Hosea reminds his readers again (as in Hosea 9:9) that the sin patterns that began in Gibeah have come to full fruition, and that the time of complete judgment had arrived. The bisexual men of Gibeah in Judges 19:22 are here called “the sons of iniquity.” The timing of divine judgment is always in the hands of God, for “when it is My desire, I will chastise them.” The mercy of God usually appears to grant divine indulgence for sin, but in the end, God chooses the time to bring judgment. The interim is given as a time to repent, and when that time ends, judgment strikes.
Hosea says that the judgment is for Israel to be “bound for their double guilt.” The word translated “guilt” is avon, a reference to Beth-aven. Israel’s repeated iniquity is the cause of the iron yoke being placed upon them, as prophesied in Deuteronomy 28:48.
This is part 34 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Hosea." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones