I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
As Hosea continues to describe Israel’s doom, as well as Gomer’s, we have to stop and consider why all these dire warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. Is it because we’re so comfortable in the right now that we can’t conceive of a time when we won’t have it?
Gomer believed that her lovers would continue to provide for her, giving her gifts that would feed and clothe her and keep her safe. But her lovers were not faithful to her, just as she was not faithful to Hosea—just as Israel was not faithful to God, and the idols they followed gave them no comfort.
Why are we just as much at fault as Israel was? As Gomer was? Are we any different, really, as a nation and as individuals? Why do we believe we will escape judgment, and place our faith in the false promises of politicians whose only loyalty is to self?
This is not the first time in scripture that we read of the vine and the fig tree mentioned together, and it made me curious. I did a little research, and discovered some interesting things I didn’t know. I love that! Love learning, always learning, and especially when what I learn illuminates scripture.
In Hosea’s time, the fig tree was often planted among the grapevines, or along one side of a vineyard. The grape vines would climb the fig tree, and thereby gained the strength and protection of the tree. Grapes mature earlier than figs, so they would be harvested and used both as table fruit and as wine. Later in colder weather, the figs would be mature.
The first use we hear of the fig tree is in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve used the large leaves of a fig tree to cover themselves after eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Figs have long been used as food. Today, we think of figs mainly as a sweet treat in items such as Fig Newton cookies.
Figs have long been believed to be useful as a medicine, addressing digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea, as well as diabetes, high cholesterol and some skin conditions. I couldn’t find any reliable evidence, scientifically, that there is any real value in such uses, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of figs.
Fig trees provide shade and shelter, and have long been seen as a sign of wealth and comfort.
All of those things would be destroyed. No more holidays, feast days, new moons and sabbaths. All gone. The fig trees and vines would be devoured by wild beasts, and the days of Baalim would fall upon Israel. Baal worship was ubiquitous in the time of Jereboam II, King of Israel during Hosea’s ministry. The country was economically well off, but spiritually it was a desert. Instead of worshiping God, they burned incense to Baal. The women dressed up in jewels and fine clothing, but they forgot the God of Israel, through Whom their wealth had come.
The women of Israel, like Gomer, would be naked and destitute, with no man to rescue them from their suffering.