About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Hosea 12 

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Israel's Sin (ch. 11:12 12:14)


Verse 12 states that Ephraim, the northern kingdom, surrounds God with lies and deceits.  Ephraim not only lies and deceives,  she has become a liar and a deceiver.  It's not only the northern kingdom that is fighting against God.  It's the southern kingdom of Judah who is against God, the Faithful One.  The added note that God is the Faithful One suggests that Judah isn't faithful.  A contrast between God and Judah is being made in this phrase.


Chapter 12, verse 1, says that "Ephraim feeds on the wind".  In my thinking, this shows the frivolousness, the shallowness of the northern kingdom.  They're just a bunch of wind.  The east wind spoken of here is a direct reference to the easterly warm winds that blow across this part of the world. 


The second part of verse one speaks of making a treaty with Assyria and sending olives  to Egypt. The point here is that Israel was attempting to unit herself, join with, he traditional enemies.  This just doesn't work, but this is often the tendency of men and nations over the years.  Now in 2012, certain Christians, who I would no longer call Christian, are attempting to form unions with Islam.  First of all, that will not work.  Second of all it's an abomination to God. Those who are doing this today are doing exactly what Israel of old did.  They are joining worship of the only true God with worship of false gods.  Israel was judged for that, and so will these people.


Note the words Jacob in verse 2.  I believe the context shows that Jacob in this instance is in reference to Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel.


There is a reason why Jacob is mentioned in verse 2 and that is because from verse 3 through verse 5, the prophet is going to speak about the man Jacob.  Jacob was a person who struggled.  Even in his mother's womb he struggled against his twin brother.  His biggest struggle came against God Himself as seen in this passage.  After Jacob fought with the angel, God changed Jacob's name to Israel, which means, "struggle with God".  Jacob's descendents have struggled with their God all through history, right to this very day.  But, this isn't something common only to Israel. All mankind struggles against God, and that includes Christians, whether we want to admit it or not.  The New Testament speaks of the flesh warring against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.  That's just the way it is.


Note the word Bethel in verse 4.  Bethel means, "the house of God".  Bethel was where Jacob met God when he fought against the angel.  Now, Bethel has become one of the prime cities in the northern kingdom for Baal worship.  Once what was wholly God's is no more. Again parts of the church today are doing the same.  Evangelicals were once steeped in the presence of God, but no more. Some are uniting with Muslims.


In verse 5 we see the words, "the Lord is His name'.  This is in reference to when God spoke to Moses and said "I AM" is my name.  The Hebrew word "Yahweh" is translated as "LORD" here.  Note the word "LORD" is capitalized.  When you see "LORD" in the Old Testament, it means "the covenant God the I AM".  When "Lord" is spelled without the capitals it is translated from the Hebrew word "Adonai", meaning, "master", as it is in verse 14.


Verse 6 is a plea on behalf of God.  "Israel must return to their God", both in "love and justice".  Love and justice must go together.  These two things must be in proper balance in individuals and in society.  We often get them out of wack. We emphasize one over the other. Love without love, isn't real love.  Justice without justice, isn't real justice. Love without justice is simply sloppy.  Justice without love is harsh.


Verse 7 says that the "merchants use dishonest scales".   The Hebrew word here that is translated as "merchants" is actually the Hebrew word that is translated as Canaanites.  There is a play on words here.  The merchants, the Canaanites, are cheats, and Israel has become like the Canaanites.  They not only joined forces with the Canaanites, they became like the Canaanites. That's the way it is.  Join forces with those who you are not to join forces with and you will eventually become like them and they will eventually take you over.


In verse 8 we see that Israel boasts in her wealth as if this wealth came strictly from her.  Note though the verse says it's God's wealth.  God was the one behind the wealth of Israel.  The western world is doing the same today.  We boast of our wealth, but this wealth came from the Lord.  Such boasting will end in judgment.  Attributing to ourselves that which belongs to God is one bad sin.


God says in the last part of verse 8 that you will not find such iniquity or sin in Him.


In verse 9 God reminds Israel that it was He who brought them out of slavery in Egypt.  They lived in tents for 40 years before finally entering the promised land of Canaan, where they eventually built homes.  But now, because of their sin, God will judge them.  They will lose their homes and go back living in tents.


In more recent years, as seen in verse 10, God spoke to Israel and warned the Israelis through His prophets.  Before God pronounces judgment, He always ordains prophets to speak words of warning. He always gives ample opportunity for those to whom the warning is directed to repent.  If no repentance comes, judgment is pronounced by God.  Once judgment is pronounced, there is no turning back.  It's even too late for that nation to repent.  The nation will fall.


This simple point that God is making in verse 11 is that Israel has paganized herself.  What she calls worship to God isn't worship to God.  It is worship to Baal, but they've gone so far away from God they don't even realize they aren't worshipping the only true God.  I suggest that much of the church is heading fast in the same direction today.


Verses 12 and 13 are yet another short history lesson concerning when Jacob worked for his wife's father and when God delivered Israel from Egypt.  The prophet spoken of in verse 13 is Moses.  God was with Jacob when he left his home to find a wife.  God was with Israel when He delivered her from Egypt, but now, as seen in verse 14, He will effectively leave Israel.  


Note the word "Lord" in verse 14.  It's not the word "LORD", with all capital letters, as we are used of seeing.  The word "Lord" here is translated from the Hebrew word, "Adonai', meaning "master".  Israel's master is going to leave Israel out in the cold.



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