Instead of maintaining their distinctiveness as the people of God, the Israelites copied their pagan neighbours and quickly became indistinguishable from them (Psalm 106:34,35). They celebrated Yahweh’s festivals enthusiastically while neglecting His Law, and the end result was as unappetising as a half-baked cake: burnt on one side, doughy on the other (verse 8). This is what happens when Christians compromise with the world.
The country’s economy had been severely weakened by the tributes paid to foreign empires. But the decline had been so gradual as to be imperceptible. Like Samson, who surrendered more and more to his enemies without realising that he had passed the point of no return (Judges 16:20), they were blithely unaware of how far they had drifted from God and continued to pretend that all was well. The only escape route was repentance – but this was the one avenue that they had closed their minds to.
As if it were not enough to betray her God, Israel treated her diplomatic allies in the same way, changing her foreign policy with every shift of the political wind and attempting to play off one powerful enemy (Egypt) against another (Assyria). She was behaving like a dove unable to make up her mind which direction to fly in – an easy catch for any hunter (verses 11,12). Her rulers were like a faulty weapon – a potential death-trap. Their boastful speeches would be exposed as empty rhetoric; they would become a laughing-stock to friends and enemies alike.