A rebellious kingdom (8:1-14)
The people of Israel claim to know God, but they have broken their covenant with him and sinned against his law. God will use the Assyrian army (here symbolized by an eagle) to bring his punishment upon them (8:1-3). Their kings are not people appointed by God but traitors who murder to gain power. The centre of their religion is not God but the golden calves set up as idols in their cities (4-6; see 1 Kings 12:29-30).
Israel’s foreign policy, besides being rebellious towards God, is politically foolish. The nation will now reap the fruits of its folly in disappointment and destruction. It will come under enemy control (already some of the people have been taken into captivity; 2 Kings 15:29), and finally the nation will come to an end (7-8). Israel has acted stubbornly like a wild ass and therefore will be treated like a wild ass. It will be left to wander alone – leaderless, oppressed and without friends (9-10).
Religious ceremonies, intended originally to be a help, have become a cause of sin. The people enjoy offering sacrifices because of the feast that follows; but God rejects their sacrifices because they are not interested in knowing or following the moral teachings of his law (11-13). Their prosperity is only hastening their day of judgment (14).