Other Gods

What other gods?

Hosea 1:4-5 (ESV)

And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

What does the LORD mean by, “the blood of Jezreel”? Who or what was Jezreel? What happened that was so awful that the LORD will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel as punishment?

There are different possibilities (for example, see 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 9) but the context makes this clear. The book of Hosea is about Israel’s unfaithfulness to the LORD. Specifically, “for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” – Hosea 1:2b (ESV)

That fits 1 Kings 21, where Ahab allowed Jezebel to knock off the prophet Naboth to get his field in Jezreel. More to the point, Ahab led Israel into idolatry and worshipping the Baals.

(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.) — 1 Kings 21:25-26 (ESV)

As bad as killing Naboth was, that’s not the issue.

Worshipping other gods is.

The first commandment is more strongly worded than some folks realize.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” — Exodus 20:3 (ESV)

In Hebrew, the first commandment literally says, “You shall have no other gods upon my face.” The English translation makes it sound more like the LORD wants to be first among gods. Actually, the commandment is more like when a parent says, “I’d better not see any …” Ahab was way over that line.

And Ahab didn’t do this alone.

He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. — 1 Kings 16:32–33 (ESV)

because you have made Israel to sin. — 1 Kings 21:22b (ESV)

Killing Naboth was bad, but merely a sinful, evil, selfish act. Ahab’s (and Israel’s) whoring after other gods was insane. There are no actual other gods.

They abandoned their relationship with the creator of the universe to worship trinkets and superstitions.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.