8:1 “Put the trumpet [warned of approaching danger] to your lips! An eagle [better understood as a bird of prey; the symbol of the instrument of judgment (Assyria); Heb. word also can mean “vulture”] is over the house of the LORD because [reason for God’s judgment] the people have broken [by failing to keep terms of covenant] my covenant [agreement made at Sinai] and rebelled against my law.
8:2 Israel cries out to me, ‘O our God, we acknowledge you [in the midst of the crisis the people (who had broken God’s covenant and rebelled against His law) would try to appeal to God on the basis of their status as His chosen people, but to no avail; the lips of the people, which had praised Baal, would be unable to carry their desperate cries to God; God wanted more than lip service]!’
Practical Consideration:You can’t have it both ways!
Israel transgressed against God’s covenant, rebelled against His law, and rejected everything good (Hos. 8:1-2). When they found themselves in the midst of a crisis, however, they cried out to God saying, “O our God, we acknowledge you!” (Hos. 8:2). They did not want to listen to God but they wanted God to listen to them. They had willfully turned a deaf ear to God but wanted God to lend a listening ear to them. They had said “no” to God but wanted God to say “yes” to them. Proverbs 28:9 warns, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”
8:3 But Israel has rejected [unwilling to accept; to throw out and discard] what is good [everything for which God stood; terms of the covenant]; an enemy [implied by image of “eagle” or “vulture” in 8:1] will pursue [relentlessly] him.
8:4 [examples of Israel’s sinful folly] They set up kings without my consent [rapid succession of kings; people did not seek God’s will in regard to selection of their kings]; they choose princes without my approval [throne filled without God’s approval; many times throne filled through coups, assassinations, violence, and intrigue]. With their silver and gold they make idols [Jeroboam I set up idols (golden calves) at Bethel and Dan and started the Northern Kingdom down a disastrous course (cf. 1 Kings 12:28-30)] for themselves to their own destruction.
8:5 Throw out your calf-idol [set up in Bethel and Dan to keep the Israelites from returning to worship in Jerusalem where David’s descendants continued to rule (see note on 8:4); this political move had disastrous spiritual results], O Samaria! My anger burns against them [because of their idol worship]. How long will they be incapable of purity [purity possible only through faith in the Lord]?
8:6 They [idols] are from Israel! This calf-a craftsman has made it [the people worshiped a product of their own hands]; it is not God. It will be broken in pieces [in coming judgment], that calf of Samaria.
8:7 “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind [the law of the harvest]. The stalk has no head [wind cannot produce a head of grain]; it will produce no flour [crop failure]. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up [pillaging of any crops by foreigners].
Practical Consideration: You cannot break the law of the harvest.
Israel had sown the wind and would reap the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7). Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7). Paul warned, “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism” (Col. 3:25).
8:8 Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like a worthless thing [a vessel].
8:9 For they have gone [for help] up to Assyria [instead of to the Lord] like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has sold [like a prostitute] herself to lovers.
8:10 Although they have sold themselves [formed alliances with foreign nations like Assyria (8:9)] among the nations, I will now gather them together. They will begin to waste away under the oppression of the mighty king [probably the king of Assyria].
Practical Consideration: God’s people should be distinctive.
Israel lost its identity and distinctiveness as a nation when she formed alliances with foreign/heathen nations. Such alliances introduced practices and beliefs contrary to God’s law. Rather than influencing the world for God, Israel was influenced by the world and lost sight of God. Paul stated in Romans 12:2 that believers should not allow the world to press them into its mold. Our message has no power if our lives are not distinctive.