Thursday, January 28, 2016
Going Their Own Way
“When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.” (Hosea 13:1)
Jeroboam, the first king of Isr5ael after the nation split was from Ephraim. When God promised him the kingdom as a result of Solomon’s turning to Idols in I Kings 11, he was quiet and humble. When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam became king, he was chosen to represent the people and request an easing of the taxes. When Rehobaom refused, Israel rebelled, making Jeroboam king. His attitude changed, and he deliberately set up idols and began to worship other gods to prevent Israel from going to Jerusalem to worship God. Instead of Making his family kings forever, God took the kingdom away from them.
“And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.” (Hosea 13:2-3)
Subsequent rulers of Israel were even worse than Jeroboam, going even farther into idolatry and sin, worshipping an ever increasing stable of gods. Later kings tried to destroy the worship of God in favor of Baal. As a result, God said they would evaporate like the clouds just as sunrise or the dew when the sun comes out. They would be driven away like crumbled leaves in a whirlwind or smoke coming out of a chimney.
“Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.” (Hosea 13:4-5)
As part of their covenant or contract with God, Israel had promised to worship no other gods, because there was no other one to save them but God. They had been his people from the time in the wilderness, when they were dependent on him to supply water and manna for them to eat. He had not changed.
“According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.” (Hosea 13:6-8)
When they are hungry, cattle and sheep flock to the nearest patch of grass and eat until they are full. When they are satiated, they begin to wander around looking for their favorite plants to eat, giving rise to the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” With enough of everything, Israel had time and energy to look around and forgot about God. As a result, he would be like a predatory animal lingering outside their pasture waiting for them to get far enough away to attack them. Israel would be destroyed like a cow or sheep that strayed from its home pasture.
“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” (Hosea 13:9-11)
Israel’s suffering is the result of their own action. If they will return to their God, and let him lead them, He will gladly help them. There is no one else who can. They had demanded human rulers and leaders to show them the way and protect them, and God gave them some, but when they led the people into trouble, he removed them.
“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” (Hosea 13:12-14)
Ephraim is like a person who has been injured but as soon as a bandage is placed over the wound, he acts like nothing is wrong. They are like a man whose wife was in labor and decided to go camping anyway. Despite that, God will save them from utter destruction. Although his judgment will seem almost worse, and he will not quit until just because of a few promises. He will demand actual change.
“Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” (Hosea 13:15-16)
Though Israel and especially Ephraim appears to be doing better than the other tribes, They will be like a crop smitten with the storm from the east that dries out the crops and prevents the rains from coming. As a result their richness will disappear, and the fountains of water will dry up. The entire land will become like an empty desert, because they have rebelled against God. They will be defeated in battle, their children murdered, and unborn babies killed in their mother’s womb.