Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Not Above The Law
“Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.” (Hosea 12:1)
Ephraim, the home of Israel’s capitol, had a established an ongoing pattern of rebellion against God, following false prophets and idols. Rather than turning to God for help against their enemies they depended on treaties with the Assyrians, even while they negotiated with the Egyptians.
“The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” (Hosea 12:2-6)
While they were not as bad as the ten northern tribes, Judah was not serving God properly either. God would punish the entire nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob for what they were doing. When Jacob and Esau were born, in Genesis 25:24-26 tells us that immediately upon his birth, Jacob grabbed hold of Esau’s heel and refused to turn loose. Later when he wrestled with the angel in Genesis 32:24-31, he displayed that same determination to get his way. Still later, in Genesis 35:6-14, God spoke to him, telling him to follow him. Jacob set up a memorial to the Lord there.
“He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.” (Hosea 12:7-8)
From the very beginning, Jacob was constantly trying to get ahead by taking advantage, whether trading a bowl of pottage for the birthright, or his labor for Laban’s cattle, and the Jews had the same attitude. They loved to take advantage and get power over people. Unfortunately that is the attitude of many businessmen. Ephraim had done it so much and made so much money they considered themselves above the law, much like Hillary Clinton or other political and business leaders.
“And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
” (Hosea 12:9-10)
For a week each fall, Israel was to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. For a full week they were to camp out in tents or brush shelters celebrating the forty years in the wilderness, and being reminded how God had provided for them. The same God who delivered them from Egypt will again cause them to recognize his power and provision, just as they did in that feast. God has used the prophets and visions and illustrations by the prophets, such as having Hosea marry a prostitute to warn them what was coming.
“Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.” (Hosea 12:11-13)
While they considered themselves above condemnation, even the outliers in Gilgal were guilty. They were offering bullocks in forbidden places and the unacceptable altars were like piles of rocks in their fields. They had gone into Syria to escape judgment, much like Jacob went to Syria to escape Esau’s wrath, keeping Laban’s sheep to earn his wife. They had forgotten it was by the leadership of one of God’s prophets, Moses, that they escaped Egypt and survived in the wilderness.
“Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.” (Hosea 12:14)
By refusing to listen to God’s prophets, Ephraim had greatly angered the Lord. They would be held responsible for the consequences of their sin, and the implication that God had not kept his promise would be shown to be their fault.