Monday, January 25, 2016
Reviewing Their Past
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)
Nearly a thousand years before, God had brought the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt because he loved them. Seven hundred years in the future, Joseph and Mary would be forced to take the baby Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod, as described in Matthew 2:14. When it was written, this verse had both a historical and a prophetic element.
“As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.” (Hosea 11:2)
Less than a month and a half after they agreed to God’s covenant, while Moses was till up on the mountain receiving the final draft on the tablets of stone, the people decided to make a golden calf similar to one of the Egyptian gods and worship it rather than God.
“I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” (Hosea 11:3-4)
For forty years in the wilderness, God taught all twelve tribes, including Ephraim to serve him, then gave them the land of Israel, using the different judges and kings repeatedly to deliver them from captivity and supplying their needs. God repeatedly demonstrated his love for them. Many times they didn’t even realize what God had done to save them.
“He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.” (Hosea 11:5-7)
Even while they were in the wilderness, the Jews had wanted to go back to Egypt where they could enjoy the luxuries, even though they had hated the slavery. God said they were never to go back to Egypt, as a nation. They were trying to play Egypt and Assyria against each other, but the Assyrians would win and rule Israel. Their double dealing would result in Israel’s defeat and destruction, with the entire population being displaced. They would ignore God’s advice to follow their own ideas, deliberately disobeying God and turning away from him, even as they called him Lord.
“How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” (Hosea 11:8-9)
Even after all their rebellion, God could not turn on them and destroy them like he had other groups, for their wickedness. He still loved them and, like a father forced to punish a child, was troubled at the need. He would not execute the maximum punishment he could inflict, wiping them out completely, because he was able to control his anger and frustration. He would not enter into the city and allow them to further provoke his wrath.
“They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.” (Hosea 11:10-11)
One day in the future, they will again turn to God, when he comes in power as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Like birds trembling in fear of being caught they will return from the west, from Egypt, and from Assyria.
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.” (Hosea 11:12)
Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was a good king who followed God and led the nation of Judah to serve the Lord. Jeroboam II was a wicked king who led Israel farther into the sin where Jeroboam I started them. His successors were even worse, pretending to serve God while worshipping a vast array of idols.
It is important to understand that past actions determine what happens in the present and what we do now determines what will happen in the future. Israel and Ephraim refused to make any changes.