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The Book of Hosea
INTRODUCTION TO HOSEA 13
ABUSING GOD'S FAVOUR LEADS TO PUNISHMENT
As long as Ephraim kept a holy fear (reverence) of God, and worshipped Him in that fear, all was well. But when Ephraim forsook God, and followed idolatry, down he went! The Lord will NOT give His glory to another, so therefore all who worship images of any kind shall be confounded. No solid, lasting comfort, can ever be expected any where but in and from God. God not only took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, He put them in possession of Canaan, a good land. BUT . . . worldly prosperity seems to feed men's pride, making them forget all about God. And with Israel, the Lord would meet them in just vengeance, as the most terrible beast in their forests. God's wondrous goodness was abused, and this calls for greater severity. This chapter begins with considering the different state and condition of Ephraim . . . before and after his idolatry, and his increase in it. His prosperity was short lived!
Hosea 13:1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. (KJV)
When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel . . . Ephraim here is either the tribe of Ephraim, which was of all the ten tribes most powerful, and when angry and discontented made the other tribes afraid; or it could be the whole kingdom of Israel, often called Ephraim in Hosea. When Ephraim spake, there was "trembling," because all feared him (Job 29:8-9, 21). "He exalted himself in Israel" . . . was magnified and made glorious.
But when he offended in Baal, he died . . . when he sinned and became guilty of idolatry by worshipping Baal, as well as the calves, he sunk in grandeur and authority, and declined in wealth and riches. But as soon as he sinned, by offending in Baal, by taking Baal to be their god, they added this idolatry to their former sins, "he died" . . . lost his power, glory and bravery, like a dead man. They were insulted by their enemies, especially by Benhadad king of Syria, who sent to Ahab, and challenged his silver and gold, his wives and children, as his own (1 Ki.20:3). They gradually decreased in reputation, in power and authority, in wealth and substance, and at were finally delivered to the sword of the enemy, and to captivity, which was their civil death. When Ephraim served the living God, God exalted him; but when he began the worship of Baal, he died. Not only did Ephraim die and was put out of the land, but the land also died, and has not yet come back.
Hosea 13:2 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. (KJV)
And now they sin more and more . . . since the times of Jeroboam, and also Ahab, they added other idolatrous deities to the calves, and to Baal. They kept increasing the number of their idols, and their idolatrous sacrifices, rites and rituals. These evil men and seducers grew worse and worse, proceeding to more ungodliness, going from one evil to another evil. Such is the way of idolaters. They do NOT stop, but run into greater absurdities and grosser idolatries.
And have made them molten images of their silver . . . not the calves, not Baal made of gold, which they purchased with their silver; but other images they had in their houses, or carried about with them, made of their silver. They melted silver and made images of different shapes or forms, representations of the gods they worshipped.
And idols according to their own understanding . . . every one making their own images, maybe these idolaters competed with each other as who had made the most beautiful god. These idolaters may have melted down their old less beautiful gods to make them into better ones. How stupid!
All of it the work of the craftsmen . . . of silversmiths, like the craftsmen that made shrines for Diana (Acts 19:24). Any such work made by human hands, could never be a deity, or have any divinity in it. It was senseless to ever think there could be. NO workman, who gave it shape, could give it breath or power. It was just a lifeless lump!
They say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves . . . "they" are either the kings of Israel, or the priests of these idols, or the people. "Say of them" . . . of the idols. "Let the men that sacrifice" . . . every one that sacrifices and bring their offerings to these idols. "Kiss the calves" . . . reverence, worship and adore. They give full worship to their idols. It would be wise instead to "Kiss the Son." Psalms 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (KJV)
Although they are admonished, threatened, and in part punished, Baal is still taken for a god and worshipped. They sin more and more; adding new idolatries to the old, increasing the number of their sins. Their new sins are greater than those before, but the prophet does not speak of greatness of sins, but the number.
Hosea 13:3 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. (KJV)
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud . . . "therefore" . . . because of these sins in multiplied idolatries and trusting to idols. "They" . . . Ephraim, his king, his captains and his fortresses, shall in the day of the Assyrian invasion, be suddenly, easily, completely and finally dispersed.
No matter how promising it looks, as soon as the sun rises, the morning cloud disappears. This reveals that the idolatrous Israelites, the king, the priests and the people, would be no more. Their kingdom would end, and all their riches and wealth would depart from them. They and their children would be carried away captive into a strange land.
And as the early dew it passeth away . . . when the heat of the sun is felt, the earth is left dry. The dew is gone! So too, these people, although they seemed to be in great prosperity, and have many children, they promised themselves much more. But, in a little while their land would become desolate, and they would be stripped of everything that they held dear and valuable (Hos.6:4).
As the chaff that is driven with a whirlwind out of the floor . . . meaning that these idolatrous people were like chaff, light, empty, useless and unprofitable, fit for nothing but burning. They would be driven out of their own land by the Assyrian, that would come like a whirlwind with great power, as easily and as quickly as chaff is driven out of a threshing floor with a strong blast of wind (Job 21:18; Ps.1:4; Dan.2:35).
And as the smoke out of the chimney . . . smoke rises up in a pillar from the chimney, then is dissipated by the wind, and is no sooner seen but it disappears (Ps.68:2). All these symbols show how easily and quickly, the destruction of this idolatrous nation would be brought about. Ephraim is expressed by four similes: #1 a morning cloud, #2. dew, #3. chaff, and #4. smoke . . . each and every one very clear and easy to be understood.
Hosea 13:4 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. (KJV)
Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt . . . Israel revolted and chose other gods. Was it because of a change in the Lord? NO! He is the exact same God that He was in Egypt; He is the Lord, the Almighty God, the everlasting God! The eternal God NEVER changes (Mal.3:6). "Thy God from the land of Egypt" is the same God who alone brought them out of Egypt, and who had maintained them ever since. BUT . . . they chose the calves and Baal over and above the Almighty Lord! Since He alone brought them out of Egypt, and saved them with wonderful many times since, WHY would they seek gods they do NOT need? Useless gods that cannot help?
And thou shalt know no God but me . . . God forbid them to know any other god but Him. They should have been grateful to Him and not known any other . . . BUT that was not so! They turned to the golden calves and to Baal, worthless idols that cannot save them. They shalt know that HE alone is God, and can destroy all those who would not obey Him.
For there is no saviour besides me . . . NO other god could save them out of their troubles, and deliver them out of their distresses. NO other god is or can be, the Author of eternal salvation (Heb.5:9; 12:2), either temporal salvation or of spiritual and eternal salvation. NO other god can deliver from all evil, and who can enrich with all blessings, who can pardon sin and save the sinner.
Hosea 13:5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. (KJV)
I did know thee in the wilderness . . . the Lord God knew, owned as His, cared for, guided and supplied all of Israel's needs in the wilderness, all through the 40 years that they moved about. They found nothing in that barrenness except that of His miraculous goodness and power gave them, and through those deserts they never did want.
In the land of great drought . . . in the parched sands, with no refreshing showers, no rivers, no springs of water, to satisfy so many cattle and men. What they went through was like flames and on sands, hot as embers of a fire, a place fit for nothing but fiery serpents and scorpions (Deut.8:15). God sufficiently supplied all their needs in the wilderness.
Hosea 13:6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. (KJV)
According to their pasture, so were they filled . . . when they came into Canaan, that land of springs, brooks and rivers, that land of wheat, barley, vines, olives, and figs (Deut.8:7-10); they had an abundance of all things for their delight, as well as for needed sustenance. When God brought them into this rich pasture, after the barrenness of the wilderness, they were like hungry animals. They gorged themselves with sweet wines and delicious food. Can you imagine yourself in their place? All they had, day after day was manna (Ex.16:4-15,31). I can see them "pigging out."
They were filled, and their hearts were exalted . . . they were elated with all their plenty (Deut.32:13-15). They grew proud and haughty, and attributed all their fullness NOT to the goodness of God, but to their own merit; placing their trust and confidence in their affluence, NOT in the Lord. They thought themselves safe and secure, and out of all danger, and figured it would never different.
Their heart was exalted . . . they grew proud, thought high thoughts of their worthiness and righteousness above other people. They thought of God as a man, that would proportion His blessings to what good was found in those that He did good to.
Therefore have they forgotten me . . . they forgot God! They forgot the Father of their mercies (Neh.9:27-28), and God of all their comforts (Ps.94:17-19; 119:76; Isa.66:13; Rom.15:5; 2 Cor.1:3; 2 Thes.2:16-17). They forgot to give Him praise and glory for their abundance; they forgot to place their trust in Him and depend upon Him. They forgot to obey and serve Him. They forgot to reverence and worship Him. All this forgetfulness was the result of their luxury and pride.
They forgot God and scandalously made them gods and worshipped them, sacrilegiously being unthankful for all that God had done for them. They gave honor and praise for all God did for them, to dumb idols, although He had warned them of it beforehand (Deut.6:11-15; 8:10-14).
Abundant possessions made Israel feel self-sufficient. Israel forgot all the goodness of God, turning its back on Him. Self-sufficiency is just as destructive today as it was in Hosea's time. Do you see your continual need of God's Presence and help, or do you say? "I can do it myself." We must NEVER forget God! We must learn to rely on Him in good times and bad. BEWARE!!! . . . if you are traveling on a smooth and easy path right now, there is danger lurking ever so close! Old Satan will tempt you to forget God!
Hosea 13:7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: (KJV)
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion . . . because they have so abused God by atheistic forgetfulness, for what He had done for them, and took no thought of what He deserved and expected from them, He will use them as is fit, and take His revenge upon them. They were unthankful apostates, idolaters, drunkards, who live to overindulge in food and drink, and forgot Him. God will be unto them as a lion (Hos.5:14). He shall come in His fullest strength, swiftly pursuing, and continuing until He overtake His prey.
As a leopard by the way will I observe them. . . a fierce, swift, sly and watchful creature (Jer.5:6; Hab.1:8). God shall observe them, watch them, that He may be sure to overtake them.
Hosea 13:8 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. (KJV)
I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps . . . God knows their haunts, and where they walk. He will not fail to meet them there. "As a bear bereaved of her whelps" . . . robbed of her cubs, just taken away, which makes a bear wild with rage; so great rage is proverbially expressed (Pro.17:12).
And will rend the caul of their hearts . . . kill and tear in pieces, pull out the very heart. You do NOT want to go up against . She is ferocious, a good illustration of the brutal Assyrian army.
And there will I devour them like a lion . . . God will find them and seize them, like the hungry and fearless lion, which feasts on his prey where he catches it. He does not take it to his den, but devours it immediately. God will utterly destroy them.
The wild beast shall tear them . . . this speaks of the Assyrian, and who is meant as the instrument of God's vengeance, and is sometimes compared to a lion, and that as concerned with Israel (Jer.50:17).
Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. (KJV)
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself . . . after these menaces, it might seem God had destroyed them, but it was they that did it by their sins. Their destruction was not owing to God, but to themselves alone. God was NOT to be charged with it, just Israel! The fault and blame was theirs; their own sins brought it down on them, for they had provoked the Lord to extreme righteous wrath and vengeance. It is the rebel that always destroys himself, even though he fall by the sword of his provoked and Almighty God. THEY were the cause and author of thine own ruin. Please take this into consideration in today's world! God has NOT changed! Sin brings on God's wrath, and His wrath brings down judgment!
But in me is thine help . . . God was always ready, willing and able to help them, and would certainly have saved them. BUT their sins, their wickedness carried them to other helpers, which were lies, and disappointed them. They now perish under their own choosing. IF they had chosen God, He would have helped and saved them.
Hosea 13:10 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? (KJV)
I will be thy King . . . this refers to the time when they cast off the Divine theocracy and chose Saul in the place of Almighty God. God would have continued to be their King to govern and save them, but they refused Him. BUT, He shall be their King to punish them. He will not lose His right and honor by their rebellion against Him. God will be a King and subdue such as go against him.
Where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? . . . who is there, that is a wise, valiant and successful commander, in any of their cities, that can deliver them out of God's Hand, or out of the Assyrians' hand?
Hosea 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. (KJV)
I gave thee a king in mine anger . . . they highly offended God when they yammered to have a king like the heathen nations that were around them. God gave them a king in His anger; such as Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, in displeasure against them.
Took him away in my wrath . . . allowed the king and the Israelites to fall. Not Jeroboam, who does not appear to be taken away by death in wrath; rather Saul, who died in battle with the Philistines, and fell on the mountains of Gilboa (1 Sam.31:8-9). "I will take him away" . . . refers not to Zedekiah the last king of Judah, as some think, but to Hoshea, the last king of the ten tribes; for it seems it respects the entire removal of kingly power from them, which ceased in Hoshea (Hos.3:4). God was angry when He gave such kings to Israel, and He was not at all pleased when He took them away. They were punishments when given, and it was punishment to Israel when they were taken away.
When Israel asked for a king, God gave Saul to them. "And took him away in my wrath." He took the last king, Hoshea, away from the northern kingdom, He took Zedekiah away from the southern kingdom, and He did it in His wrath. Judgment fell on their sin!
Hosea 13:12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. (KJV)
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid . . . iniquity is singular, instead of plural, but this includes ALL the iniquities and sins of Ephraim, the kingdom of the ten tribes. All those iniquities are bound up together, as indictments all tied together for the day of trial. These were as sins unpardoned . . . to loose sins is to forgive, and to bind sins is to charge them against the sinner (Mat.16:19). Ephraim's unpardoned sins lie in wait against them, they shalt clearly hear of them and burn and hurt because of them. "His sin is hid" . . . NOT from God, but laid up with God against the day of recompense (Deut.32:34-35; Job 21:19-20; Rom.2:5-6). The sins of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences.
Hosea 13:13 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. (KJV)
The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him . . . these judgments shall come suddenly and unavoidably upon Ephraim, or the ten tribes, meaning afflictions, distresses and calamities, which are often in Scripture compared to the pains and sorrows of a woman in childbirth. This may mean they come suddenly and unavoidably on them (Isa.13:8; Mic.5:3), which may refer to the invasion of their land, the siege of Samaria, and their captivity.
He is an unwise son . . . he took no warning from his ancestors, by their sins, and what befell them because of their sin. Ephraim must be considered an unwise son, who if he had power to prolong his life, where he otherwise could be suffocated . . . as a child in the womb of his mother. Ephraim was warned of his danger, yet having power to escape, continued in his sin, and is now come to destruction.
For he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children . . . Israel could have delivered himself from calamity by repentance, but instead he brings ruin on himself by deferring a new birth unto repentance, like a child whose mother does not have strength to "bring it forth," and that remains so long in the passage from the womb as to run the risk of death (2 Ki.19:3; Isa.37:3; 66:9).
There is a critical time when the mother in hard labor may by skillful assistants, help her bring forth her child, which, if neglected, can endanger the life both of mother and child. So too, there was a time when Ephraim could have returned to God, but they would not . . . therefore they are now in danger of being finally destroyed.
Hosea 13:14 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. (KJV)
I will ransom them from the power of the grave . . . this applies mainly to God's restoration of Israel from Assyria in part, and too, in times yet future, fully from all the lands of their present long-continued dispersion, and political death (Hos.6:2; Isa.25:8; 26:19; Eze. 37:12). God's power and grace are magnified in bringing to life what to the eye of man seems dead and hopeless (Rom.4:17-21). This verse is expressed in language referring to Messiah's wondrous victory over the grave and death, the first-fruits of His own resurrection (1 Cor.15:20,23), the full harvest that is to come at the general resurrection. There is great similarity between this verse and Paul's language as to this (1Cor.15:55-58). "Will ransom" . . . by power and purchase, by the price of the precious Blood of the Lamb of God (1 Pet.1:18-19), and by the power of the eternal Godhead.
I will redeem them from death . . . these are the Words, not of God the Father (Hos.1:7), but of the only begotten Son of God (Jn.3:16), who redeemed Israel out of Egypt, which was a typical redemption (Hos.13:4). Only the TRUE Messiah, Christ Jesus, can redeem anyone from death; from the curse of the first death, therefore, those that die in the Lord shall be blessed; and the second death shall have NO power over them (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). Only Jesus can take away the sting of death, which is sin, and the dominion and guilt of it. Only Jesus can redeem a person by His sanctifying grace.
O death, I will be thy plagues . . . Jesus will destroy death, and defeat him that had the power of death (2 Tim.1:10).
O grave, I will be thy destruction . . . only Jesus the Messiah can pull down those prison walls, and bring out all that are confined there, and restore them to glorious liberty. The wicked shall have a worse, eternal prison, but the those who trust in the Messiah shall be for ever freed from prison. Contrasting the wicked with the righteous: (Ps.1:6; 37:17, 35-39; Pro.12:11-12).
Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes . . . this amazing grace toward the godly, toward believers among Israel and in the church, through all ages, is unchangeable! God will never, as man that repents, change His word and purpose. God is ready to pardon and save any and all that will repent, and He will most certainly and eternally save from the second death! All who obey the Messiah, have abundant comfort as to the eternal future. Almighty God will never repent of His decree of redemption from Hell, death, and the grave . . . nor of the work of it by His Son, Jesus the Christ, the only Messiah. These blessings will NEVER be recalled, but remain so for ever. God's purpose and plan of fulfilling His Promise by delivering Israel, is on the condition of their return to Him (Hos.14:2-8; Num.23:19; Rom.11:29).
The apostle Paul used this passage to teach the resurrection of our bodies from death (1 Cor.15:55-58). For all those who have trusted in Christ for deliverance from sin, death holds NO threat of eternal destruction, the second death.
Hosea 13:15 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. (KJV)
Though he be fruitful among his brethren . . . he is Ephraim. "Be fruitful" . . . as a flourishing tree seems to be fruitful. Things seem to be well settled; there is peace at home under Hoshea, and peace abroad with Assyria and Egypt. "Among his brethren" . . . all his brethren surround him, the rest of the tribes, or the nations who by league are become as his brethren.
An east wind shall come . . . a very vehement, cold, blasting and exceeding noxious and destructive to fruit . . . meaning Shalmaneser king of Assyria, who came from the east. His kingdom, the land of Assyria, was eastward to the land of Israel. He would bring against Israel a king, strong as a burning wind. Too, the king of Babylon and his army are compared to a strong and violent wind (Jer.4:11).
The wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness . . . the same is called the "wind of the Lord" partly to mean the strength and vehemency of it, as mountains of the Lord, and cedars of the Lord, signify great and mighty ones; and partly to show that this enemy would come at the call of the Lord, by His direction and appointment, for it was by the Word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness, he shall come up. "From the wilderness" . . .is mentioned, not only because winds from there usually blow more strongly and violently, but too because the way from Assyria to the land of Israel lay through a wilderness.
And his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up . . . springs of water, which were most needful, and highly valued, shall become dry; shall fail and be cut off, dry up, there shall be no waters in them. "His fountain shall be dried up" . . . the same thing in different words, confirming the certainty of it. This refers to the Assyrian and the damage that he shall do to Israel. Ephraim shall lay desolate, and dry up all his fountains, which were the comfort of that land.
He shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels . . . not Christ, not Ephraim, but the Assyrian army, Shalmaneser, who, entering into their cities, would plunder them of all their desirable vessels of gold and silver, all their rich household goods and furniture of value; all their wealth and riches treasured up by them, their gold, silver, precious stones, rich garments. All the glory of Ephraim shall wither while it seems to flourish and be well-rooted.
Hosea 13:16 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. (KJV)
Samaria shall become desolate . . . with this verse the 14th chapter begins in the Hebrew copies, and in in many versions, but to me it seems better to conclude this chapter; since it is in close connection with verse 15, and explains the symbols there used. Samaria was the head of Ephraim (Isa.7:9). Samaria, the chief or royal city of the kingdom of Israel, shall become desolate; besieged, taken, plundered and sacked, and was probably razed to the foundation by the Assyrians. Provoked by treachery first, then by the obstinacy of Hoshea, the siege against Shalmaneser lasted for 3 years (2 Ki.17:5).
For she hath rebelled against her God . . . she bitterly provoked God to wrath, by giving up Him and His worship, and by serving idols, the calves at Dan and Bethel, Baal and other idols; when the Lord was their God. They also shook off the yoke of David's house and set up new kings, and kept them long against God.
They shall fall by the sword . . . they are the inhabitants of Samaria, and also the subjects of the kingdom of Israel. They shall fall by the sword; be cut off in war by the prevailing army of the king of Assyria.
Their children shall be dashed to pieces . . . against stones, walls, and pavements. These children who should have perpetuated their name to future ages, and inherited their possessions. This was a most barbarous kind of cruelty, yet often practiced in those countries when they were enraged against a people. Their infants dashed to pieces: (Hos.10:14-15; 2 Ki.8:12; 15:16; Ps.137:8-9; Isa.13:16; Amos 1:13; Nah.3:10).
And their women with child shall be ripped up . . . this also was often done by cruel enemies, when cities are sacked and plundered. This was yet another kind of similar inhumanity. Thus Shalman raged against Arbel in the day of battle, and this confirms what the prophet said (Hos.10:14). And this was probably executed upon Samaria when it was taken, so their "springs" (women and children, which are as fountains) were all dried up. Samaria shall be guilty of many sins; her transgression shall be revealed, and become clear by the just punishment inflicted on her.
Book of Hosea
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