Have you ever watched vultures devour a carcass? That violent image would give you a strong, if unpleasant, visual of what Hosea is communicating in today’s passage. Vultures eat mostly dead animals and rarely attack something alive, though they may descend on a creature who is already wounded or sick. A group of vultures (called a committee or a kettle) are so powerful that they can even rob a lion of its kill.
Today’s passage opens with the image of a bird of prey circling God’s people. The NIV renders the phrase as follows: “An eagle is over the house of the Lord” (v. 1). But the ESV translates “bird of prey” as “vulture,” which provides a more accurately predatory picture. The point is that Israel’s destruction was imminent. The vulture was circling. Because of their rebellion against God’s law and disregard for God’s covenant, their days were now numbered. In response to this warning, Israel may have momentarily cried out to God. But their acknowledgment of Him was too little, too late. They were fickle God-followers, turning to Him for protection when threatened by an outside force, but then chasing after other princes and gods with far greater persistence.
As a result, God warns, their enemy was already in pursuit (v. 3). The case against them was watertight. They had chosen kings without consulting the Lord (v. 4). Their idols were well-established (vv. 4b–6). But although they worshiped a fertility god, their land would not yield (v. 7). Israel had completely lost her identity as the people of God (v. 8), and captivity was coming (vv. 9–10). Israel disregarded the law and the worship practices God had established (vv. 12–13), and soon fire would consume their fortresses (v. 14).
>> As John Goodrich writes in The Moody Bible Commentary, “God always finds a way to pierce those very things people trust in the most.” In what do you place your trust? Is there anything in your life that is stealing your loyalty from God?
Father in Heaven, show us what we are trusting instead of You. As we confess each idol, penetrate our minds to show the futility of trusting in anything, or anyone, but You. Glory be to Your name!