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The Book of Hosea
Israel turns to Egypt and Assyria
Chapters 7-12 deal with the fact that Israel could have escaped judgment by turning to God who loves her, but instead fled from Him . . . just like millions of sinners today. God deals with Israel harshly, yet tenderly He tries to call the people back to Himself before judgment comes . . . again, just like today!
This probably was delivered during the civil war at Pekah's death (Hos.7:7), "all their kings are fallen," refers to the murder of Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah.
Consider the sins of Israel in the Book of Hosea. Then consider your sins.
1. Whoredom, all forms of sex perversions before their idols (Hos.1:2; 2:2-4; 4:10-18; 5:3-4; 6:10)
2. Adultery, both physical and spiritual (Hos.2:2; 3:1; 4:2; 7:4)
3. Unfaithfulness (Hos.2:3,13; 6:7; 8:11)
4. Willful ignorance (Hos.2:8; 4:1; 5:4; 6:6; 11:3)
5. Idolatry (Hos.2:8-13; 4:12-17; 5:11; 6:8; 8:4-11; 9:1; 10:1-9; 11:2; 13:1-2)
6. Hypocrisy (Hos.2:11; 4:8; 6:6; 8:13-14; 9:4)
7. Forgetting God (Hos.2:13; 8:14; 13:6)
8. Lust (Hos.2:5; 9:1)
9. Being unthankful (Hos.2:8; 11:3-4)
10. Swearing (Hos.4:2)
11. Lying (Hos.4:2; 7:1,3,13; 10:13; 11:12)
12. Murder (Hos.4:2; 6:9)
13. Stealing (Hos.4:2)
14. Forgetting God's law (Hos.4:6)
15. Rebellion (Hos.4:6; 7:13; 8:3; 13:16)
16. Apostasy and backsliding (Hos.4:7-8,16; 5:2; 7:10; 9:1,15; 11:7)
17. No mercy (Hos.4:1; 6:6)
18. Setting the heart on sin (Hos.4:8)
19. Asking advice from idols (Hos.4:12)
20. Divining (Hos.4:12)
21. Pride (Hos.5:5; 7:10; 13:6)
22. Lewdness, uncleanness, vulgarity (Hos.6:9-10)
23. No justice (Hos.7:7)
24. No prayer (Hos.7:7,10,14)
25. Hard, evil heart (Hos.7:6)
26. Scornful (Hos.7:5)
27. Drunkenness (Hos.7:5)
28. Apathy, indifference, lack of concern (Hos.7:2; 10:12)
29. Hatred of God (Hos.7:13,15; 9:7-9)
30. Plunder (Hos.7:1)
31. Imagining mischief (Hos.7:15)
32. Deceitful (Hos.7:16; 11:12)
33. Unruly tongue (Hos.7:16)
34. Without heart (Hos.7:11)
35. Rebellious (Hos.7:10,14; 11:5)
36. Forgot God (Hos.8:14)
37. No fear of God (Hos.8:12; 10:3)
38. Altars to idols are altars to sin (Hos.8:11)
39. Self-willed (Hos.8:4; 10:13)
40. Bribery (Hos.9:1)
41. Eating unclean things (Hos.9:3)
42. Selfishness (Hos.10:1,13)
43. No fruit (Hos.10:1)
44. Double-mindedness (Hos.10:2)
45. Perjury (Hos.10:4)
46. Covetousness, greed (Hos.12:8)
47. Ignoring God (Hos.11:7)
48. Making unholy alliances (Hos.7:11; 8:9; 12:1)
49. Declining God's help (Hos.13:9)
50. Unwise (Hos.13:13)
Israel turns to Egypt and Assyria instead of turning to God (Hos.7:1-16)
Hosea 7:1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without. (KJV)
When I would have healed Israel . . . whether this chapter is a new sermon, or a continuation of the one begun Hosea 6:1-11, is not important. God assumes the position of a physician, who compassionately tries to cure a people who is sick and wounded (Hos.6:1), such as was the house of Israel.
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria . . . the iniquity, those old, hidden and putrefying sores, here called iniquity, their impieties and their injustice. "The iniquity of Ephraim" . . . or Israel. Ephraim was the chief tribe of this revolting kingdom. Some interpret this to mean the rulers, or principal men. "Was discovered" . . . or broke out, such as is the case of old sores. "The wickedness of Samaria". . . the great and many sins of Samaria, the royal city of the kingdom, where priests, prophets and princes were worse sinners than the common folk; for they exceeded them in wealth and ease . . . much like it is today! Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom. Omri made it the capital, and then Ahab and Jezebel built a palace there (1 Ki.22:39).
For they commit falsehood . . . among themselves, lying to one another, deceiving one another, or to God, dealing falsely with Him. They are guilty of false worship, the worship of idols, which are "lying vanities" (Ps.31:6; Jonah 2:8).
And the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without . . . this could be their sins in general, both private and public; or their sins of theft and robbery in particular. Whether just one thief breaking into a house, or a gang of thieves in the streets, or on the highway, thieves rob and steal but they know it is wrong. What was happening in Israel during Hosea's day was that the sin which had been covered, done in secret, was being uncovered. That which had been done secretly, now they were now doing openly, just like today! Just a few years ago, homosexuality was something to be ashamed . . . NOT any more!
It is one thing to sin in secret, that is bad enough. But when a person brings their sin out in the open and flaunts it before the world, and encourages others to follow . . . that is sinking to the dirty bottom. This is why I believe Hosea's message is for you and me and this nation as well as all other nations. The people of Israel were God's chosen people, and yet God judged them, and sent them into captivity when they refused to stop sinning against Him. Do you for one moment think that He will allow any other nation to get by with the same type of sin? NO way!
There was no shame, no conviction, no conscience as to Israel's sin, and there certainly is NOT in today's world! The Lord would forgive their iniquity IF they would repent and turn to Him, and it is the same today. But, they did not! Instead, they persisted in their wickedness, going deeper and deeper into it . . . again, just like today! My friend, we ALL are sinners. But when you know the Lord, you do have shame and regret when you sin. When we sin, we are truly blessed, because we know we can be forgiven. 1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (KJV) . . . Are you ready to stand before Judge Jesus?
Today sin is brought out into the open and is flaunted before the world. It is called the new morality, and the vast majority of people actually think there is nothing wrong with their sin. "Times have changed," is the answer you get. BEWARE!!! God has NOT changed!
Hosea 7:2 And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face. (KJV)
And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness . . . they do not consider in their hearts that their sins are all around them, on every side, committed openly and in abundance, and that those sins are hated by all their neighbors, and much more to the omniscient God. God remembers ALL their wickedness, He sees all they do, and He remembers all that He sees, and retains it in His memory. He watches and He shall remember to call them to account, and to punish them for their sins. People would like to flatter themselves into thinking that God does NOT take notice of their wickedness, nor would He ever condemn them for it. NOT so!
Now their own doings have beset them about . . . "their own doings" . . . the iniquity and mischief of the works they have done, their own doings, not their fathers. "Have beset them about" . . . as an enemy besieges a town on every side, so these immoral people, princes, priests, prophets and citizens, are all held tightly to their sins.
They are before my face . . . the people of the ten tribes, and the inhabitants of Samaria, whose iniquity and wickedness are said to be discovered, and to be very dishonorable. God sees them all! He shall heap full measures of sorrows upon them, they shall know that all their ways were under His eye, and that He weighed all their doings. He weighs what you and I do too!
Hosea 7:3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. (KJV)
They make the king glad with their wickedness . . . not any particular king; but their kings in general, in succession, one right after another. They all were delighted and pleased with the priests in offering sacrifice to the calves, and with the people in attending to that idolatrous worship, for they hoped to secure the kingdom of Israel to themselves, and prevent the people going to Jerusalem to worship. The kings of Israel, every one of them from first to last, were addicted to vicious practices, and their minds were tainted with all kind of sins. They took pleasure in sins, both in their own and other men's.
The princes with their lies . . . "princes" were great men about the court, were also glad because of all the wickedness. "With their lies" . . . false accusations brought in against the innocent, or false reports made of their words and actions, representing them as ridiculous or foolish.
The king and the princes were glad with this sort of behavior. Today, there is tragedy in our leadership in any field: government, education, science, politics or the church. Such blasphemous, foul and vulgar language is absolutely horrific. These foul-mouthed leaders are applauded as being a great he-men (or women)! What does the Lord think? One day these potty-mouths will find out!
Hosea 7:4 They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened. (KJV)
They are all adulterers . . . "they" the king, princes, priests and people . . . ALL were adulterers, both spiritually and physically. They were all idolaters, given over to idols, eager of it and constant in it. They simply were addicted to physical adultery; this being a prevailing vice among all ranks and degrees of men. "They all desire to lie with their neighbors' wives.'' (Jer.5:7). This is SO prevalent today. And with all the sex-inducing drugs on the market today, it will NOT stop!
As an oven heated by the baker . . . adultery was a vice, grown raging hot among them. Their eagerness for it, and lusting after it, is expressing the heat of that lust, which is sometimes signified by burning; and is stirred up by the devil and the corrupt hearts of men to such a degree as to be raised to a flame, and be like a raging fire, or a heated oven (Rom.1:27). Every one was inflamed with this unclean fire, as the oven heated by the baker.
Who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough . . . this figure of speech is tremendous. The baker had his oven ready but did not fire up the heat until the dough was kneaded and ready to bake. I do not think God is talking about spiritual adultery, but about gross immorality, physical adultery! They had formerly kept their sin under cover, but now they are like an open oven, red hot with passion. I really do not know what men are trying to prove today. I think it is a sin to be taking these drugs to increase sexual activity. America has a huge obsession with sex already, and these drugs can only bring more trouble.
After he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened . . . the wicked, lustful desire of the people after adultery, may signify their continuance in it. The wicked are compared three times to an oven becoming too hot and getting out of control (Hos.7:4,6,7).
Hosea 7:5 In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. (KJV)
In the day of our king . . . this could be his birthday, his coronation day, when he was inaugurated as king, or the day when Jeroboam set up the calves, that might be kept as a special day, or a feast day. Birthday celebrations: Pharaoh (Gen.40:20); Herod (Mat.14:6). There are only two "birthdays" mentioned in Scripture, and there were murders on both those days.
The princes have made him sick with bottles of wine . . . the "princes" are those who attended the king. It sounds like the king was an alcoholic, and he drank so much it made him sick, like so many in our government today. What was it that brought down the northern kingdom? Idolatry! Turning away from God. And that will always manifest itself in gross immorality. Wine and sex are what occupied the northern kingdom, from the king on down to the peasant!
Am I judging these people? I am simply agreeing with the Holy Word of God. God is the One judging, not me. As you look around today, what do you see? Isn't it the same thing that was the fall of Israel? Isn't it liquor and immoral sex? And today, mind altering drugs are added! These things are normal today, and people accept them! Wickedness is out in the open today, just like it was in Hosea's time. Israel fell because of it. Shouldn't this nation, and ALL other nations, be warned by what happened to Israel? God said that He would judge them. He did! What about today? Do you think He has changed His mind and will overlook the wickedness today? No way, my friend!
God does NOT change: (Ps.33:11; 90:2; 102:27; 103:17; Isa.14:24; Eze.24:14; Mal.3:6; Rom.11:29; 2 Tim.2:19; Heb.1:12; 6:17-18; 7:21; Jam.1:17).
He stretched out his hand with scorners . . . in these drunken feasts it seems the king of Israel forgot WHO he was. He forgot his royal dignity, and was far too informal with persons of low life, those with bad conduct, those who were blasphemous, who, especially when drunk, joked of religion; scoffed at good men and everything that was serious. They even spoke against the heavens, denying there was a God, speaking disrespectfully of Him. The "king" made this kind of people his drinking companions. Some think these "scorners" are the the "princes." That certainly would match with today's times!
Hosea 7:6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. (KJV)
For they have made ready their heart like an oven . . . "they" are those lavish, drinking princes. "Have made ready their heart like an oven" . . . being heated with wine, and their passion flaming, they were ready for any wickedness.
Whiles they lie in wait . . . they were ready for adultery, as they lie in wait for their neighbors' wives to degrade and dishonor them, or lie in wait against the life or estate of some of their fellow subjects.
Their baker sleepeth all the night . . . he who should watch to prevent mischief is swallowed up in the day with feasting and drunkenness, and sleeps in security all the night, not suspecting the plans of conspirators.
Their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire . . . just as a baker puts wood into his oven, kindles it, leaves it and sleeps all night, then in the morning his oven is thoroughly heated, and fit for baking bread; so too the wicked sexual desire in these men's hearts, made hot like an oven, rests all night, maliciously planning evil on their beds, either against the chastity of their neighbors' wives, or against the lives of others, they bear ill will to their judges and their kings, as verse 7 seems to suggest. Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. (KJV)
Some interpret "their baker" to be Satan; while others say it is their king, fast asleep, others think it is Shallum, the head of the conspiracy against Zachariah (2 Ki.15:10,15).
If sin is allowed to continue on, it may reach a point of no return; thus when a person awakes too late, he sees all in flames, far beyond quenching. Today, everything is done to stir up the passions of men and women. You hear stupid arguments about pornography and sex: "We have the right to choose what we want to see, hear and do." There is little freedom to choose what we want to see and hear, because of the corruption and filth everywhere! It is broadcast freely and openly on radio, TV and the liberal media. It is a difficult time, and the blasphemy and corruption and filth will continue to bombard us. We as TRUE children of God must stay on that narrow road (Mat.7:13-14), allowing our precious Lord to lead us, or we will be doomed to "the lake of fire" (Rev.20:15). Psalms 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (KJV)
Hosea 7:7 They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me. (KJV)
They are all hot as an oven . . . this verse is a key to verse 6, and helps us to understand the true sense of it. "They" . . . are the "princes" (see verse 5). "All" . . . states how widespread and vulgar was their sin. Most or almost all of them, with few exceptions. Are "as an oven" (see verse 6). They all are eager to stay with their idolatry; all are eager to keep on burning in their wicked desires after other men's wives. This could also mean their being raging and furious, hot with anger and wrath against their rulers and governors, breathing out slaughter and death to them.
And have devoured their judges . . . as fire destroys, so have these conspirators destroyed when they were successful. "Their judges" . . . their magistrates and rulers, who having some integrity, would not join them, nor promote the interest of illegitimate claimants to the throne. These "princes" devoured anything that stood in the way of their lusts for sex or money, and acted as if they were on the side of the king they conspired against, and were determined to overthrow and slay.
All their kings have fallen . . . all that had been since Jeroboam the Second's reign (1 Ki.12:26-34), to the delivery of this prophecy: Zachariah Shallum Pekahiah, Pekah (2 Ki.15:1-31). These four kings fell by the conspiracy of such "hot" princes. Only Menahem died a natural death (2 Ki.15:17). "Are fallen" . . . by treason and violence from such hypocrites as would drink them sick, with wishes of health.
There is none among them that calleth unto me . . . not one of all these kings feared, trusted or worshipped God. They all were idolaters, in practice corrupted, and by their company they kept, these latter kings of Israel appear to be men despising God, and ridiculing His providence. The northern kingdom did not have even one good king. Judah had some good kings, but the northern kingdom of Israel did NOT have any. Every king was as wicked, with Ahab and Jezebel at the bottom of the list.
Good Kings of Judah:
Asa, son of Rehoboam (1 Ki.15:11).
*** Joash (Jehoash) son of Ahaziah (2 Ki.12:2), started out right, but went bad after Jehoiada's death (2 Chron.24:17-22).
Amaziah, son of Joash (2 Ki.14:3).
Jothan, son of Uzziah (2 Ki.15:34).
Hezekiah, son of Ahaz (2 Ki.18:3).
Josiah, son of Jedidah (1 Ki.13:2; 2 Ki.22:2).
Many of Israel's kings were assassinated. There was nine different changes of dynasty in their short history. The kings in the northern kingdom started off with Jeroboam, but it's not long until someone murders him; another king starts out, and someone else is murdered. Several of the kings had a short reign, and their sons didn't even make it to the throne. That was a judgment of God upon them. God had chosen and promised to bless the line of David; He made no such promise to the kings of the divided kingdom in the north. God's Promise that David's seed would reign forever: (2 Sam7:12-16; 23:5; 1 Chron.17:11-14; 2 Chron.6:16; Ps.89:3-4; 132:11-12; Acts 15:16; Rom.15:12).
The many sins of Israel came from a disbelief of God's government. This was at the bottom of all Israel's wickedness. It was as if they thought that God could not see their sin, or did not pay attention to it, but their sins were everywhere . . . on every side of them. Their hearts were inflamed by evil, lustful desires. They were hot, like a heated oven. The people never thought of seeking God or asking Him for help.
The awful truth is, the actual wickedness that is brought to actions in a person's life, is just a very small part of what is in their hearts. Any time that lust is inwardly cherished and treasured in a person's heart, it can't help but break forth into out and out sin, because ALL thoughts, words and deeds begin in a person's heart.
Anyone who ever tempts others to drunkenness, or any other sin, is NOT a friend, and most often it is the plan of these wicked ones to bring that person down to their degraded and filthy level. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin. They live without God, without prayer and with utter hatred of God and His people (Rev.13:6). Divine vengeance is on the way to this type of people.
Hosea 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. (KJV)
Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people . . . Ephraim is the kingdom of Israel. "Hath mixed himself among the people" . . . by groups and commerce, and by either entertaining their gods, and sacrificing to them, or at least worshipping idols as the nations around them did, which was in direct opposition to the law of God (Deut.7:2-4; 12:2-3). God does NOT want His people to be unequally yoked together in sin. Their sin was greater because it was done willingly and voluntarily. God does not go in for mixtures. He wants His children to stay with their own kind. "Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people" with the pagan; he "mixed" or "mingled" himself among or with them, corrupting himself. God had forbidden all intermarriage with the pagan (Ex.34:12-16), lest His people should corrupt themselves. But, they thought they were smarter than God, intermarried with heathens, and were corrupted.
Psalm 106:35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. (KJV)
2 Cor.6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (KJV)
Ephraim is a cake not turned . . . as a cake burned on the one side, and dough on the other, not hot, not cold, uneatable; an image of the worthlessness of Ephraim, good for nothing. Easterners bake their bread on the ground, covering it with embers (1 Ki.19:6), and turning it every ten minutes, to bake it thoroughly without burning it. "Ephraim is a cake not turned" . . . some interpret this: neither Israelite nor heathen, but a mongrel; not a heathen idolater but not a worshipper of God, a jumbled mixture of different religions and policies. They were not bread, but not dough, but partly both. (Josh.24:15,23; 1 Sam.7:3; 1 Ki.18:21; Zep.1:5; Mat.6:24; 1 Cor.10:21; 2 Cor.6:14-16; Rev.3:15-16). This really expresses their danger and sudden ruin, whose hungry enemies will eat them up quickly, as men do who for haste will not stay the full baking of their cake. They were blowing into their cold hands to warm them one minute, and the next they were blowing on hot soup to cool it. Ephraim blew hot one minute and cold the next toward God.
Hosea 7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. (KJV)
Strangers have devoured his strength . . . "strangers" were foreigners, whose help Ephraim sought. "Have devoured" . . . eat up, lived upon, as men live on bread they eat. "His strength" was the riches and goods of the kingdom of Israel: the fruit of the olive and vine, the fruit of the earth, corn, the increase of their flocks and of their herds; the most or best of all eaten up by strangers. Also his wealth and riches, fortresses and strong holds. These "strangers" were either the Syrians, who, in the times of Jehoahaz, destroyed Ephraim or the Israelites, and so weakened them, as to make them as the dust on the threshing floor (2 Ki.12:7); or the Assyrians, first under Pul king of Assyria, who came against Menahem king of Israel, and exacted a tribute of a thousand talents of silver, thus draining them of their treasure, which was their strength (2 Ki.15:19); or under Tiglathpileser, another king of Assyria, who came and took away from them many of their fortified places, and carried the inhabitants captive (2 Ki.15:29).
And he knoweth it not . . . is not clear how much Ephraim is weakened by such exactions and damages and loss. They do not take notice of the Hand of God in all this; nor do they consider the reason it comes, or the reason why, or the movement of the hasty consumption of all. They all feel secure, and sin as much as ever.
Yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not . . . the undeniable tokens of old age, the clear symptoms of approaching death, and declining strength never recoverable, are upon their kingdom. With all their domestic uprisings and foreign invasions, and the fears, cares, griefs and terrors from both, Ephraim is turned gray-headed. His vital vigor and strength are decayed, as this is a sign of his death. "Yet he knoweth it not" . . . he is so secure and stupid, he takes no notice of this, nor does he take any thought of preventing the dismal effects of this declining state. NONE turn from their sin, NONE seek the TRUE God, the only Physician that can ever heal them.
Hosea 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this. (KJV)
And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face . . . their pride, their contempt of God and His threats, their contempt of God's s prophets and their warnings, is notorious (Hos.5:5). People complain of their "fortune" or "fate" or "stars," and go on all the more stubbornly, to build up what God has destroyed because of their sin. They think they can "can do it themselves", because they think God's providence has failed. They strive desperately to recover past losses, until they finally have to admit it is hopeless.
And they do not return to the Lord their God . . . they persist in sin; there is NO repentance, they run away from God rather than return to Him (Hos.6:1). "Their God" . . . of old, WAS their God, and Who still would be theirs IF they would return to Him. But now, they would NOT acknowledge their sins, would NOT repent of them, and would NOT reform from them; and would NOT attend His worship, from which they had so brazenly revolted.
They return NOT to the worship of the Lord their God. They do NOT seek Him for help. God had exhausted all the treasures of His severity, whereas before, of His love. God marvels at His disobedient servant, as He says in Isaiah, "Why should ye be stricken anymore?" (Isa.1:5). They simply revolt more and more, because they have a hard heart.
Nor seek him for all this . . . although they are in this wasting, declining, condition, and just upon the brink of utter ruin . . . they will NOT seek not the Face and favor of the Lord. They do NOT ask help of Him, or beg His mercy. Although they have been so long in these sinful circumstances, which has been gradually consuming them for many years, they have made NO application to the Lord, that He would look favorably upon them, and raise them from their deplorable and sinking state, and restore them to their former glory. They do NOT seek Him, they do NOT pray, they do NOT repent, nor do they rely on God. Because of this, they were continually and severely punished, and almost eaten up.
Again, when I consider the words in the Book of Hosea to sinful Israel, I cannot help but think of the ongoing and ever increasing sin in this nation. God brought judgment down on Israel . . . hard! God hates sin! He will bring judgment down on any and all who go against Him! A person is self-convicted and self-condemned by their sin! God sees all!
Hosea 7:11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. (KJV)
Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without heart . . . Ephraim (Hos.7:1,8). Here Ephraim is like "a silly dove." They were deceived and seduced by false prophets and idolatrous priests. Ephraim has become like the dove in weakness and fear. "Without heart" . . . without discretion or courage.
They call to Egypt . . . for help; as Hoshea king of Israel, when he sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, for protection and assistance (2 Ki.17:4). So foolish, like silly doves they acted. Egypt had been their enemies, and their fathers had been in cruel bondage under them. "They call" . . . they should in their confusion call on God, Who could help, but they do not. They instead call on an enemy, not a Friend.
They go to Assyria . . . this was so when Menahem was on the throne (2 Ki.15:19-20), also Hoshea (2 Ki.17:3). These both betrayed the greatest asset, depending for help from hardened, professed enemies, instead of trusting God. How silly they were (Hos.5:13; 14:3).
The "silly dove" is an interesting illustration. A dove that has a nest with eggs or little ones in it, will act as if she has a broken wing. She will let you get very close to her, just to keep you away from her nest. This really is not very wise because when the dove lets you get that close to her, you know her nest close by. She really endangers her own life.
Hosea 7:12 When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard. (KJV)
When they shall go . . . to Egypt or Assyria for help.
I will spread my net upon them . . . bring them into great trouble and difficulty. Just as fowlers spread the net, watch the birds, and cast it over them to catch them, so too will God do to Ephraim. And God did this with Israel when Ephraim accepted the alliance of Shalmaneser, and again, when Israel sought by Egypt's help to get out of the snares of their captivity to Shalmaneser (2 Ki.18:9-12), who revenged the conspiracy with a total captivity. There can be NO possibility that these fugitives would escape when it is God's net, and He spreads it. His almighty power, His all searching wisdom, His just vengeance follows them, and us!
I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven . . . though they think they are flying high, and proudly think there is no danger; yet, just as any flying fowl, they may be brought down to the earth by an arrow from the bow, or trapped by some net, they shall be brought down from their supposed safe and exalted place. They shall be taken and become a prey to their enemies. God would bring them down, though they try to fly away, just as fowls in the net, they shall fall. God would bring them down; as He did when they were gathered into Samaria as a net, and there made prisoners, and thence carried captives (2 Ki.17:6).
I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard . . . God would chastise them, thus they shall be punished. "As their congregation hath heard" . . . both from the law of Moses which they had with them, and as they had heard from God's prophets which He have sent unto them. If they did not observe the laws and statutes of the Lord their God, but neglected and broke them, they would be severely chastised and corrected with God's awful judgments, famine, pestilence, the sword of the enemy, and captivity. The Lord would fulfil His Word, agreeing with what had so often been heard by them, but NOT regarded (Lev.26:1). God will ALWAYS make good His Word.
Hosea 7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. (KJV)
Woe unto them, for they have fled from me . . . "woe unto them" . . . the prophet had foretold their miseries. "They have fled from me" . . . they flew from away from God, as birds on the wing. Their sin is apostasy; they fled from the Lord, from His worship, from obedience to Him, and from serving Him. Just as an animal leaves its young to fend for itself, so they had deserted the temple at Jerusalem, and forsaken the service of the sanctuary. They had set up idol calves at Dan and Bethel (2 Ki.10:29; 17:16), and worshipped them. Instead of fleeing TO God for help in time of trouble, they ran further away from Him, running to Egypt or Assyria for help. This resulted in nothing but ruin; adding more sorrow to their weeping and woes.
Destruction unto them, because they have transgressed against me . . . because they have transgressed against God, and in rebellion cast off His law and government, both in state and more so in church matters, oppressors in one, idolaters in the other, and persistent in both . . . great woes that always end in destruction.
Though I have redeemed them . . . first out of Egypt, then out of the hands of the Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and others in the times of the judges; and then in the times of Joash and Jeroboam the second, who recovered many cities out of the hands of the Syrians. God redeemed them partly by Joash (2 Ki.18:1-37), but more fully by Jeroboam the Second (2 Ki.14:1-29). He would have completed this deliverance, but they by their sins hindered it.
Yet they have spoken lies against me . . . against the laws that God gave them. They were NOT to set up idols, and worship them. Then they committed murder, adultery, thefts and robberies, with which they are charged in the first part of this chapter. They brazenly transgressed both tables of the law, bringing destruction down upon themselves, which was very near at hand, and would come. Although they promised themselves peace, and expected assistance from neighboring nations, all was in vain, for they had made the Lord their enemy, by breaking His laws. The first table of the law states our duty to God (Ex.20:3-11). The second table of the law regards our duty to man (Ex.20:12-17).
Israel fled to idols, worshipped them, prayed to them, as if God was not willing or able to help them. They ascribed all praise of the good they enjoyed to their idols (Hos.2:5-7). They acted as if they thought God's corrections did not apply to them, as if they did not deserve them. They thought that the good that was done, was too little, and it was not done by God, but by their idol.
Hosea 7:14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. (KJV)
And they have not cried unto me with their heart . . . "And they" immersed in all their troubles, have not cried to God, but instead they cried to their idols (Hos.7:7). Maybe their tongues made noise, but their hearts were silent, and that is, in God's account, no cry at all. "With their heart" . . . means with affection, hope, humility and sincerity.
When they howled upon their beds . . . these cried out just with their mouths; they cried out just to be delivered out of their pain and fear; it is therefore properly called howling. Although they did howl, they did NOT pray, they did NOT pour out a request for help to their God. "Upon their beds" . . . lying sick or wounded, or in the beds of adultery in their idol temples, where they pretended to worship God by those idols, and to pray to Him through them. But those idolatrous prayers were no better than the howlings of heathens to Him.
They assemble themselves for corn and wine . . . either feasting at their banquets, or at their idol temples, to criticize a famine, and to pray for rain and fruitful seasons (1 Ki.18:28). If they did gather together to pray to the Lord, it is only for carnal and worldly things which they seek for themselves, and not the glory of God.
And they rebel against me . . . not only flee from God, but transgress His laws, cast off all allegiance to Him and commit hostilities against Him. In their distress, they cried unto the Lord, with some saying they repented of their sins, promising reformation, and making a show of worshipping God. All this was not done with the heart, but hypocritically. Their hearts and their mouths did not go together, and therefore was not recognized as prayer by God. He considered it nothing but howling. They rebel against God, and give honor to their idol which is due only to God.
Hosea 7:15 Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me. (KJV)
Though I have bound and strengthened their arms . . . God had tried all ways with them, chastening them in love, and in love He strengthened them. He brought the enemy upon them, and He gave them strength to repel the enemy (Ps.18:34; 144:1); as He raised up judges of old, and lately had fulfilled His Promise which He had made to Joash through Elisha. But it was all in vain. No matter what God did, Israel stayed the same, continuing in further evil, which sets over against them one result, rebellion on the part of His creatures and His people.
Yet do they imagine mischief against me . . . they plan mischief against God, words of great condescension. No creature can either hurt or profit its Creator. God was their King, and He humiliated Himself to look upon their rebellions, as so many of their efforts were to denounce and injure Him. All God's creatures are made for His glory, and among men, especially those whom He had chosen as His people. They set themselves up to diminish the glory of God, giving it to idols (Isa.42:8). It is sad indeed, that man would dethrone God, if he could.
Hosea 7:16 They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt. (KJV)
They return, but not to the most High . . . they sometimes gave signs of returning, as when Jehu destroyed Baal (2 Ki.10:28). Jehu fell far away from God, to the calves, he never really repented, never fully embraced the law of God.
They are like a deceitful bow . . . which misses the mark it is aimed at, so these people deviated from the law of God, acted contrary to their profession and promises, and relapsed into their former idolatries and impieties, and sunk back into desire of earthly things (Ps.78:57). All they did was elegantly done, but in pure hypocrisy. Although they seemed determined to aim at the mark, they, like a bad bow, they never hit the mark.
Their princes shall fall by the sword . . . the royal family, magistrates and their brave commanders and leaders . . . be slain by either sword by low-life and bloody traitors at home, such as Zachariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah; or by the sword or of foreigners, as the Assyrian.
For the rage of their tongue . . . their blasphemy against God, His Being, His providences, His worship and the place of it, His priests and His people that served Him, and especially the prophets whom He sent to reprove them (Hos.7:5).
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt . . . when their princes are slain, and they are carried captive into a foreign land, even those friends and allies of theirs would laugh and ridicule them. The calves they now worshipped, and to which they ascribed all their good things, were made in imitation of the gods of Egypt, which were in the form of an ox, and which their fathers ridiculed there in Egypt, were justly to be derided now.
Israel was like a cake not turned, half burnt and half dough, not fit to eat; a mixture of idolatry and of the worship of God, and of which God would NOT be happy. There were tokens of approaching ruin, as gray hair is to old age, but they did NOT see them. Pride always leads a person or a nation, to break the law of God. God desires humility (Jam.4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5), of which proud, stubborn, hard-headed, hard-hearted sinners never consider.
The mercy and grace of God are the ONLY Refuge to which we can flee (Ps.46:1,7,11; 62:7-8; 91:2; 142:5). Though they may howl forth their terrors in the form of prayers, they seldom cry to God with their hearts. And their prayers for earthly mercies only seek fuel for their wicked lusts. As they turn from one sin or vice to another, it leaves them far, far away from Christ and holiness. So too, it is with us in today's so-called 'modern' world. We too are sinners by nature, and IF we continue in that sin, we shall receive chastisement and condemnation from Almighty God. We must NEVER run away from God . . . we must run TO Him! Let us not be hypocrites, for He is our only Hope of creating in us a clean heart, and a right spirit within us. Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (KJV)
Book of Hosea
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