I did not talk about the grapes in Hosea 9:10 because I knew that I would talk about this metaphor in Hosea 10. Israel was planted like a vine in Canaan and God blessed her abundantly, but they did not give glory to the God who had blessed them. Instead, they gave worship and glory to the false gods in the land. Therefore, they would be carried away to Assyria. The calf-idol of Beth Aven (house of wickedness) which is really the town of Bethel (house of God) would also be carried away along with their king. All would be destroyed.
Israel (Ephraim is another name for Israel) is compared to a cow that loved to thresh (10:11). In treading corn, the heifer was free to eat the corn as she worked because they were unmuzzled according to the Law (Deuteronomy 25:4). Now, Israel, already yoked to sin, would also be yoked to the Assyrian "beast" and forced to do the hard work of plowing. Note that even Judah (the southern kingdom) is included in this judgment.
Hosea 10:12 includes Hosea's brief plea to come back to covenant loyalty . . .
Sow with a view to righteousness (justice),
Reap in accordance with kindness (unfailing love, loyalty);
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD
Until He comes to rain/shower righteousness on you.
(He will do the same thing in Isaiah 1:18-20).
This is really a summation of the cry of all the prophets, but God's people did not respond in obedience. Judgment fell in 722 B.C. and Israel was gone forever.
What are you sowing and reaping? It is time to seek the Lord!
Lord, we want to sow with a view toward righteousness and seek You with all our hearts. Amen.