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Hosea 9:10 says,
10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved.
It was always a delight to travelers when they would find grapes in an oasis in the wilderness. So also did God delight in Israel in the early days. Hosea also compares their “forefathers” to the first-ripe figs on a fig tree. Later, Jeremiah more specifically applied the fig tree metaphor to Judah in his revelation about the two types of first-ripe figs that men brought to the temple (Jeremiah 24:1). Some were good figs; others were bad, showing the state of Judah at that time.
The prophet then reminds the people of their idolatry with Baal-peor in Numbers 25. Their actions at that time directly related to their actions later, for they “began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab” (Numbers 25:1). This, of course, is the main theme of Hosea’s prophecy, where Gomer plays the harlot, representing Israel as a whole.
Recall that Balaam had been hired by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel. God prevented him from doing so, but Balaam, knowing that God must judge sin, counseled Balak to cause Israel to sin (Numbers 31:16; Revelation 2:14). So Balak invited the Israelites to their religious festival, which involved the usual prostitution as part of their revelry. It was Moab’s Mardi gras. Numbers 25:1-3 says,
1 While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel.
Peor means “open wide, open mouth, gap.” Baal-Peor means “Lord of the Opening.” It was the name of a mountain in Moab in the Abarim mountain range, not far from Pisgah (Numbers 23:28), no doubt named in honor of the god of the Moabites. Perhaps the Moabites had a shrine in a gap or open space in the mountain of Peor. The meaning of the name Peor apparently was derived from their practice of opening up their mouth to perform oral sex or opening their clothing to expose themselves during festivals. The Jewish Encyclopedia online says,
“The worship of this idol consisted in exposing that part of the body which all persons usually take the utmost care to conceal. It is related that on one occasion a strange ruler came to the place where Peor was worshiped, to sacrifice to him; but when he heard of this silly practise, he caused his soldiers to attack and kill the worshipers of the god (Sifre, Num. 131; Sanh. 106a).”
Baal-Peor worship focused upon sex and marriage. Another source says:
"Another name for Baal-Peor is Belphegor who was depicted either as a beautiful naked woman or a bearded demon with open mouth, horns, and sharply pointed nails (the open mouth being an indicator of the sexual rites used to worship him). St. Jerome reported that statues of Baal-Peor he encountered in Syria depicted the god with a phallus in his mouth.
"Legend has it that Satan sent Belphegor from Hell to validate a rumor that people were experiencing marital happiness on earth. Belphegor was able to report back that the rumor was baseless. In this depiction, Belphegor (Baal-Peor) is seen as an adversary against happy marriages."
There are many today who worship Baal-Peor, though most do not know the name of the ancient god of the Moabites. The problem today has changed little since ancient times, for they have all “devoted themselves to shame” (Hosea 9:10). But God’s opinion on this has remained the same, because it is inconsistent with His nature that is being transferred to the sons of God who are being created again in His image.
Hosea 9:11, 12, 13 says,
11 As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 12 Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them until not a man is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them. 13 Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pleasant meadow like Tyre; but Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter.
The word “glory,” was used by the prophet as a synonym for “children.” God’s children are His glory. Men’s children are their glory. But Ephraim, who ought to have been “fruitful,” as his name indicates, was to lose his glory through the loss of his children: “no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception.” This is the result of the removal of the Birthright.
Even if the Israelites were to conceive and bear children, God’s judgment is that “I will bereave them until not a man is left.” In the Law of Tribulation, we read in Deuteronomy 28:41,
41 You shall have sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity.
Later, in Deuteronomy 28:53 we read,
53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you.
This threat culminates in Deuteronomy 28: 62, which says,
62 Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude, because you did not obey the Lord your God.
Hosea links this judgment to the worship of Baal-Peor and the immoral practices of the Moabites that seemed to attract carnally-minded people, including Israelites. “Woe to them indeed when I depart from them!” says God. Perhaps the prophet was thinking of the day that the Ark of God had been taken by the Philistines and Eli’s grandson, Ichabod, was born. He was so named because his name means “the glory has departed.” Hence, God’s “glory” is depicted in the Ark, but also in His children. The Ark, its placement in the Sanctuary, and its contents pictured the truth of the begetting of the Sons of God. By contrast, when God departs, no one can be begotten by God, and hence, the glory of Sons also departs.
Worse yet, says God through Hosea, “Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter.” We wonder how it was that parents could bring their children to the altars of Baal and Molech to be slaughtered on an altar of sacrifice. But the unthinkable is again all too common, for millions of parents have again brought their children to the slaughter of abortion—a fitting sacrifice to Molech and Baal.
Yet take note that aborticide is not the cause of divine judgment, but the manifestation of divine judgment. God says, “I will bereave them until not a man is left.” Later, in Hosea 9:16, God says again, “I will slay the precious ones of their womb.” Hence, abortion is a symptom, not an immediate cause of divine judgment. The modern practice of aborticide and infanticide is the judgment of God upon the church for submitting to the worship of Baal-Peor, for voting for leaders who practice such immorality, and for supporting the rights of the people to violate the laws of God.
The world of unbelievers is not the problem. The problem is the church. We only have to look at the recent exposures of pedophile priests and ministers practicing homosexual relations, without being sanctioned by the church leadership, or when they are transferred to other parishes where they are allowed to continue their worship of Baal-Peor, to see that the church has again fallen through the counsel of Balaam. This is why Revelation 2:14 condemns the church of Pergamum for holding the teaching of Balaam.
The Rebel Princes
Hosea 9:15 says,
15 All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds, I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.
Gilgal was the place where the twelve stones from the Jordan River were set up as a memorial to Israel’s crossing into the Promised Land (Joshua 4:20). Later, it was the place where Saul was anointed as king over Israel (1 Samuel 11:15). It was also the place where God first rejected Saul (1 Samuel 13:13, 14, 15) and then rejected him a second time in 1 Samuel 15:23, which says,
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.
Saul was guilty of heart idolatry for rejecting the word of the Lord. He was Hosea’s prime example of the rebel prince at Gilgal. Saul was also crowned on the day of Pentecost (“wheat harvest”), as we read in 1 Samuel 12:17, and this makes him a prophetic type of the church in the Pentecostal Age (33-1993 A.D.). Not only Saul, but the church itself has been rejected as king and will not rule in the Age to come. The Tabernacles Age will be ruled by the overcomers, who are—prophetically speaking—of the house of David.
When Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18, “upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it,” He did not specify which church. The Passover church that Moses founded was rejected, as Hosea tells us. The Pentecost church that was founded in Acts 2 by Pentecostals, has been rejected for the same idolatry. It is the third church, the Tabernacles church, that will fulfill Jesus’ words. This third church will be built upon the overcomers who fulfill the feast of Tabernacles and who are glorified by the full presence of God.
Hosea 9:16 continues,
16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit. Even though they bear children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb. 17 My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.
In other words, God stripped Israel of the Birthright. Though Ephraim means “double portion of fruit,” he was to become fruitless. The Birthright is the right to be begotten by the Holy Spirit to bring forth the Sons of God and thus fulfill the original Fruitfulness Mandate of Genesis 1:28. But Israel in its fleshly form was not to fulfill this promise. Jesus said in Matthew 21:43 that the Kingdom of God was to be taken from those fleshly people and “be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.”
The Sons of God are the inheritors of the Birthright. Those who were first called were rejected for idolatry. Even the church has been rejected for idolatry and for its religiosity in presenting their old man of flesh in hopes of making it “chosen” to inherit the Birthright. But “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).
Only those who are begotten of God are the true Sons of God. Those who yet have confidence in the flesh or in their biological connections to Israel and to Adam, are of a disqualified identity. As Hosea 9:17 says, “My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him.” The Sons of God are those begotten by the gospel, that is, the living word of God (1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 4:15 KJV). Others may be citizens of the Kingdom, as long as they willing to submit to Christ’s rule and to His laws, but only the Sons of God are inheritors of the Birthright who are called to reign with Christ.