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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 16:15-34 (ESV)

Posted on February 07, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 16:15-34 (ESV) - “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.

“And after all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! declares the Lord God), you built yourself a vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square. At the head of every street you built your lofty place and made your beauty an abomination, offering yourself to any passerby and multiplying your whoring. You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.

“How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

Question to consider: Why do you think idolatry is closely associated with human adultery?

Among the nations, the gods were fashioned from metal, wood, or stone by men in the image of created things. These gods became the rallying point for the nations with armies willing to fight in their name to extend their borders. The God of Israel came to them after a promise made to their forefathers and rescued them from death and captivity in Egypt. He miraculously provided for them, gave them a home, and adorned their holy city with a temple and a king. Even though God does not dwell in temples built by human hands, He set His glory in the temple and provided the means for them to cover over sin. He made a covenant with them as a husband does for his wife and made Himself known to them, and their response was to give themselves to idols.

Instead of proclaiming the glory of God to the nations so that His name would be praised throughout the earth, Israel took the treasure God had given them and made idols. The Lord stated, “The like has never been, nor ever shall be,” which I believe is a shocking statement that no other nation had so brazenly abandoned their gods for the sake of earthly wealth and pleasure.

Not only had they made idols from the temple treasure, but they worshiped them with the embroidered garments God had made for the priests, they offered the idols the oil and incense meant for the lampstand and altar, and put in front of them the showbread meant for the table. If you went through my study in Exodus, you may remember that all of these things were given to Israel as a type and shadow for God’s Son, and if this wasn’t bad enough, they “took [their] sons and [their] daughters, whom [they] had borne to [the Lord], and these [they] sacrificed to [the idols] to be devoured.” In passages like 2 Kings 17:17, the Israelites were described as making their sons and their daughters “pass through the fire,” which was a ritual offering to Molech in which the metal hands were made burning hot, and a live infant was laid on them to burn to death.

To add to their harlotry, they built high places all over the city to recognize the gods of Egypt (to the south), Philistia (to the west), Assyria (to the north), and Babylon (to the east). I think the mention of these nations in the four directions was another way of saying that their hearts were so wicked there wasn’t an idol to which they wouldn’t give themselves, and their actions were worse than a prostitute because instead of charging their clients, they paid them with the treasure God provided. The life of Hosea became a living illustration of this.


Dear heavenly Father, may Your words ring in our own hearts today so that we may not sin against You in this way. As the bride of Christ, cleanse Your church so that she proclaims Your word in its purity and fullness.  Help us to know You and love You so that we may boldly proclaim redemption in Christ. Amen.