Hosea 9:10–17 (NKJV)
10 “I found Israel Like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, And separated themselves to that shame; They became an abomination like the thing they loved.
11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird— No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!
The Lord reminisces about finding Israel in the wilderness to begin this section. Abram was chosen by God, and promises were made in the midst of a covenant relationship. God picked this family out of all the families of the earth. He chose them for a powerful purpose. But then, they walked away from Him. This happened many times, and God drew them back, warning them of impending judgment and extending them mercy.
12 Though they bring up their children, Yet I will bereave them to the last man. Yes, woe to them when I depart from them!
13 Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.”
14 Give them, O Lord—What will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb And dry breasts!
15 “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, For there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is stricken, Their root is dried up; They shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb.”
17 My God will cast them away, Because they did not obey Him; And they shall be wanderers among the nations.
This chapter speaks to an image that is stark and punitive. The Lord indicts Israel for separating herself from Him through her sins. He found her in the wilderness and redeemed her for Himself. Then she went to Baal Peor, a place of idolatry. Therefore, her glory will leave–in the form of God’s presence departing the nation. Israel will bear no children, and will be barren. This image is reminiscent of the fact that God will be bereft of children when Israel is cut off. The statements concerning miscarriages, dry breasts, and no fruit are symbolic of the actions God will take against them as a nation as well. They will wander with no home, without God or leadership. Don’t neglect God, His law, or His direction.
With God, judgment can be swift and severe, and is always certain without repentance. Don’t separate yourself from God! We are like grapes in the wilderness, but grapes dry up when they are separated from the vine.