Follow YHWH or Baal

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Israel had followed the customs of the nations. To Elijah, they limped between two opinions. Israel could not waver; they had to choose whom they would serve.

Follow YHWH or Baal

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
And Elijah came near unto all the people, and said, “How long go ye limping between the two sides? if YHWH be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
And the people answered him not a word.
Then said Elijah unto the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of YHWH; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under. And call ye on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of YHWH; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.”
And all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”

And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, “Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under.”
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us.”
But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped about the altar which was made.
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, “Cry aloud; for he is a god: either he is musing, or he is gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked.”
And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lances, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it was so, when midday was past, that they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening oblation; but there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

And Elijah said unto all the people, “Come near unto me;” and all the people came near unto him.
And he repaired the altar of YHWH that was thrown down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of YHWH came, saying, “Israel shall be thy name.”
And with the stones he built an altar in the name of YHWH; and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid it on the wood.
And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt-offering, and on the wood.”
And he said, “Do it the second time;” and they did it the second time.
And he said, “Do it the third time;” and they did it the third time.
And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening oblation, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, “O YHWH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O YHWH, hear me, that this people may know that thou, YHWH, art God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”
Then the fire of YHWH fell, and consumed the burnt-offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, “YHWH, he is God; YHWH, he is God.”

And Elijah said unto them, “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.”
And they took them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there (1 Kings 18:20-40).

Follow YHWH or Baal
Experiences of God's People

 
 
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One Who Stands in the Breach

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The Psalmist spoke of Moses as one who “stood in the breach” before YHWH on behalf of Israel (Psalm 106:23); YHWH sought a man who would stand in the breach before Him in the days of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 22:30). Why is it so important to have one stand in the breach?

One Who Stands in the Breach

One Who Stands in the Breach
God's Faithful People

 
 
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Reaping the Whirlwind

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Israel had served idols and trusted in the military for some time. Yet the consequences would come severely and catastrophically. Israel had sown iniquity and violence; they would reap the whirlwind of the Assyrian menace.

Reaping the Whirlwind

Set the trumpet to thy mouth. As an eagle he cometh against the house of YHWH, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. They shall cry unto me, “My God, we Israel know thee.” Israel hath cast off that which is good: the enemy shall pursue him.
They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. He hath cast off thy calf, O Samaria; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel is even this; the workman made it, and it is no God; yea, the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: he hath no standing grain; the blade shall yield no meal; if so be it yield, strangers shall swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up: now are they among the nations as a vessel wherein none delighteth. For they are gone up to Assyria, like a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. Yea, though they hire among the nations, now will I gather them; and they begin to be diminished by reason of the burden of the king of princes. Because Ephraim hath multiplied altars for sinning, altars have been unto him for sinning. I wrote for him the ten thousand things of my law; but they are counted as a strange thing. As for the sacrifices of mine offerings, they sacrifice flesh and eat it; but YHWH accepteth them not: now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins; they shall return to Egypt. For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and builded palaces; and Judah hath multiplied fortified cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the castles thereof.
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, like the peoples; for thou hast played the harlot, departing from thy God; thou hast loved hire upon every grain-floor. The threshing-floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail her. They shall not dwell in YHWH’s land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria. They shall not pour out wine-offerings to YHWH, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted; for their bread shall be for their appetite; it shall not come into the house of YHWH. What will ye do in the day of solemn assembly, and in the day of the feast of YHWH?
For, lo, they are gone away from destruction; yet Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them; their pleasant things of silver, nettles shall possess them; thorns shall be in their tents. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the man that hath the spirit is mad, for the abundance of thine iniquity, and because the enmity is great. Ephraim was a watchman with my God: as for the prophet, a fowler’s snare is in all his ways, and enmity in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at its first season: but they came to Baal-peor, and consecrated themselves unto the shameful thing, and became abominable like that which they loved. As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird: there shall be no birth, and none with child, and no conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, so that not a man shall be left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, like as I have seen Tyre, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring out his children to the slayer. Give them, O YHWH–what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
All their wickedness is in Gilgal; for there I hated them: because of the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of my house; I will love them no more; all their princes are revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Israel is a luxuriant vine, that putteth forth his fruit: according to the abundance of his fruit he hath multiplied his altars; according to the goodness of their land they have made goodly pillars. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found guilty: he will smite their altars, he will destroy their pillars. Surely now shall they say, “We have no king; for we fear not YHWH; and the king, what can he do for us?” They speak vain words, swearing falsely in making covenants: therefore judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
The inhabitants of Samaria shall be in terror for the calves of Beth-aven; for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced over it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. It also, shall be carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. As for Samaria, her king is cut off, as foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us”; and to the hills, “Fall on us.” O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood; the battle against the children of iniquity doth not overtake them in Gibeah. When it is my desire, I will chastise them; and the peoples shall be gathered against them, when they are bound to their two transgressions.
And Ephraim is a heifer that is taught, that loveth to tread out the grain; but I have passed over upon her fair neck: I will set a rider on Ephraim; Judah shall plow, Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek YHWH, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies; for thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces with her children. So shall Beth-el do unto you because of your great wickedness: at daybreak shall the king of Israel be utterly cut off (Hosea 8:1-10:15).

Reaping the Whirlwind
The Book of Hosea

 
 
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YHWH vs. Israel

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The scene is set. God has an indictment against His people. He will judge; Israel will be ruined. But not forever.

YHWH vs. Israel

Hear the word of YHWH, ye children of Israel; for YHWH hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land. There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Yet let no man strive, neither let any man reprove; for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. And thou shalt stumble in the day, and the prophet also shall stumble with thee in the night; and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children. As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me: I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity.
And it shall be, like people, like priest; and I will punish them for their ways, and will requite them their doings. And they shall eat, and not have enough; they shall play the harlot, and shall not increase; because they have left off taking heed to YHWH. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding. My people ask counsel at their stock, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes; and the people that doth not understand shall be overthrown.
Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, As YHWH liveth. For Israel hath behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer: now will YHWH feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone. Their drink is become sour; they play the harlot continually; her rulers dearly love shame. The wind hath wrapped her up in its wings; and they shall be put to shame because of their sacrifices.
Hear this, O ye priests, and hearken, O house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king; for unto you pertaineth the judgment; for ye have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are gone deep in making slaughter; but I am a rebuker of them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me; for now, O Ephraim, thou hast played the harlot, Israel is defiled. Their doings will not suffer them to turn unto their God; for the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not YHWH. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in their iniquity; Judah also shall stumble with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek YHWH; but they shall not find him: he hath withdrawn himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against YHWH; for they have borne strange children: now shall the new moon devour them with their fields.
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: sound an alarm at Beth-aven; behind thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall become a desolation in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah are like them that remove the landmark: I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed, he is crushed in judgment; because he was content to walk after man’s command. Therefore am I unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to Assyria, and sent to king Jareb: but he is not able to heal you, neither will he cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly (Hosea 4:1-5:15).

YHWH vs. Israel
The Book of Hosea

 
 
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Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel

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Disturbing. Shameful. Shocking! Why would YHWH do such things to Hosea as demanded in Hosea 1:1-3:5? Hosea would learn to understand YHWH’s love for Israel, and decry Israel’s shameful treatment of her God.

Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel

The word of YHWH that came unto Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
When YHWH spake at the first by Hosea, YHWH said unto Hosea, “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom; for the land doth commit great whoredom, departing from YHWH.”
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived, and bare him a son.
And YHWH said unto him, “Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter.
And YHWH said unto him, “Call her name Lo-ruhamah; for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, that I should in any wise pardon them. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by YHWH their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”
Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
And YHWH said, “Call his name Lo-ammi; for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head, and shall go up from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
“Contend with your mother, contend; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband; and let her put away her whoredoms from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. Yea, upon her children will I have no mercy; for they are children of whoredom; for their mother hath played the harlot; she that conceived them hath done shamefully;
for she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.’
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, and multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Therefore will I take back my grain in the time thereof, and my new wine in the season thereof, and will pluck away my wool and my flax which should have covered her nakedness. And now will I uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of my hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said, These are my hire that my lovers have given me; and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of the Baalim, unto which she burned incense, when she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and went after her lovers, and forgat me,” saith YHWH.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall make answer there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith YHWH, that thou shalt call me ‘Ishi,’ and shalt call me no more ‘Baali.’ For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know YHWH.”
“And it shall come to pass in that day, I will answer,” saith YHWH, “I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, and the new wine, and the oil; and they shall answer Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them that were not my people, ‘Thou art my people’; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God.'”
And YHWH said unto me, “Go again, love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress, even as YHWH loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins.”
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a half-homer of barley; and I said unto her, “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be any man’s wife: so will I also be toward thee.”
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek YHWH their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto YHWH and to his goodness in the latter days (Hosea 1:1-3:5).

Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel
The Book of Hosea

 
 
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