Seek Yahweh (Am 5:4-5:6)

“Thus says Yahweh

To the house of Israel.

‘Seek me!

Live!

But do not seek Bethel!

Do not enter into Gilgal!

Do not cross over to Beer-sheba!

Gilgal shall surely go into exile!

Bethel shall come to nothing!

Seek Yahweh!

Live!

Otherwise,

He will break out

Against the house of Joseph,

Like fire.

It will devour Bethel,

With no one to quench it.’”

Amos has Yahweh tell the house of Israel to seek him, so that they might live. However, they were not to seek Yahweh at the religious places of the idols at Bethel or Gilgal, since nothing would come of that. They were not to go to Beer-sheba either, which was south of Judah, like a resort place. Instead, they were to seek out Yahweh, so that they could live. Yahweh was going to break out against the house of Joseph, Ephraim, and devour Bethel, the capital city, with a fire that no one could put out.

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Israelite idolatry (Hos 8:4-8:6)

“They made kings,

But not through me.

They set up princes,

But without my knowledge.

With their silver,

With their gold,

They made idols

For their own destruction.

Your calf is rejected!

O Samaria!

My anger burns

Against them.

How long

Will they be incapable

O innocence?

It is from Israel

That an artisan made it.

It is not God.

The calf of Samaria

Shall be broken into pieces.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, was upset about the idolatry in northern Israel, Samaria. They had their own kings, who killed each other to be kings. Thus, these kings did not come from Yahweh. They set up their own officials and princes, without consulting Yahweh. Most important of all, they made idols made of silver and gold that led to their own destruction. The golden calf of Samaria was to be rejected. Yahweh was burning with anger against them, since they were incapable of being innocent. Local Israelite artisans made these idols, not God. Therefore, the Samarian calf would be broken into pieces.

Oholah and the Assyrian lovers (Ezek 23:5-23:7)

“Oholah played the whore,
While she was mine.
She lusted
After her lovers,
The Assyrians,
The warriors,
Clothed in blue.
They were
Governors
As well as commanders.
All of them were
Handsome young men.
They were
Mounted horsemen.
She bestowed
Her favors
Upon them.
They were
The choicest men
Of Assyria,
All of them.
She defiled herself
With all the idols
Of everyone
For whom she lusted.”
Oholah, which was Samaria, had the Assyrians as lovers. Even though Oholah was still united with Yahweh, she played the whore with the Assyrians to the north. She lusted after her lovers, these Assyrian warriors, dressed in blue colors. They were all handsome young governors and commanders mounted on horses. She bestowed her favors on them, the best men of Assyria. She defiled herself with all the idols of the men that she lusted after. Clearly Samaria was lusting after her northern neighbors in Assyria, since they were disloyal to Yahweh.

The unrighteous son (Ezek 18:10-18:13)

“If he has a violent son,

A shedder of blood,

Who does

Any of these things,

Even though the father

Does none of them,

Shall he then live?

This violent son

Eats upon the mountains,

Defiles his neighbor’s wife,

Oppresses the poor,

Oppresses the needy,

Commits robbery,

Does not restore the pledge,

Lifts up his eyes

To the idols,

Commits abominations,

Takes advantage,

Accrues interest.

He shall not live.

He has done

All these abominable things.

He shall surely die.

His blood shall be

Upon himself.”

What happens if a righteous man has a violent son, who sheds blood? Even though the father does not do any of these things. This son eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, and oppresses the poor and the needy. This violent son commits robbery, does not restore the pledge when the debt is paid. He lifts up his eyes to the idols, and commits all kinds of abominations. He takes advantage of others by accruing interest. Shall this son live? No, he shall die. His blood shall be upon himself, not his father.

Do not take the idols to heart! (Ezek 14:7-14:8)

“Any one of the house of Israel,

Or of the aliens

Who reside in Israel,

Who separate themselves

From me,

By taking their idols

Into their hearts,

Place their iniquity

As a stumbling block

Before them.

Yet they come

To a prophet

To inquire of me

By him.

I,

Yahweh,

Will answer them

Myself.

I will set my face

Against them.

I will make them

A sign,

A byword.

I will cut them off

From the midst

Of my people.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh repeated himself. He left no doubt about his feelings. Anyone from the house of Israel, or those foreigners living in Israel who followed the Israelite law, who separated themselves from Yahweh, would receive a direct response from Yahweh. Their iniquity or wickedness of putting idols before Yahweh would be a stumbling block in their relationship. Why had they come to see the prophet? Yahweh would speak directly with them. They would become a sign and a byword, as they would be separated from the Israelite community. They would be cast out and shunned, because they would be cut off from the other Israelites. They should soon realize that Yahweh was God, and no one else.

The idol worship service of the seventy Jerusalem elders (Ezek 8:10-8:11)

“So I went in.

I looked.

There portrayed

On the wall,

All around,

Were all kinds

Of creeping things,

Loathsome animals,

With all the idols

Of the house of Israel.

Before them

Stood seventy

Of the elders

Of the house

Of Israel,

With Jaazaniah,

The son of Shaphan,

Standing among them.

Each had his censer

In his hand.

The fragrant cloud

Of incense

Was ascending.”

Ezekiel went into the worship service room on the other side of the wall. He saw various inscriptions or pictures all around the walls that included creeping things, despicable animals, and all kinds of idols from the house of Israel. This must have indicated some kind of Egyptian or Babylonian idol gods, perhaps the god Osiris. However, this might be a mishmash of various idol gods. Even more shocking was to see the 70 Jerusalem elders of Israel, including Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, standing there with lit censers in their hands as the fragrant smell of incense ascended in the air. This was a shocking sight to see.

Abominable images (Ezek 7:20-7:21)

“They had

Beautiful ornaments.

They took such pride

In them.

They made

Their abominable images.

They made

Their detestable things.

Therefore I will make of it

An unclean thing

To them.

I will hand it over

To strangers

As booty.

I will give it

To the wicked

Of the earth

As plunder.

They shall profane it.”

These Israelites had made beautiful ornaments into idols. They took such great pride in these abominable and detestable images that they had made. Yahweh was now going to make them into unclean things. He was going to hand them over to strangers as booty. He was going to give them to the wicked ones of the earth as plunder. Then they could profane these false idol god images.