About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Hosea 13

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The Lord Is Angry Against Israel (ch. 13:1 - 16)                                     


Verse 1 says that "when Ephraim spoke men trembled".  All along I've been saying, as is normally the case, when you see Ephraim mentioned in Hosea, and in Amos as well, that is the northern kingdom of Israel.  Ephraim is all of the ten tribes in the north.  That might not be the case hear.  Many Bible teachers feel this reference to Ephraim might well be in reference to the tribe of Ephraim because the verse states that Ephraim was exalted in Israel. The word "in" would suggest that.  If you think of Ephraim being Israel here then the thought would be "Israel is exalted in Israel", and that makes no sense.  


We see that Ephraim was exalted over the3 other ten tribes of the north, but that has become a thing of the past since she gave herself to Baal worship.  So, it doesn't matter how great one is, how exalted one is, if you forsake the Lord, then you will fall.  This has happened not only with Ephraim, but with other nations and also with parts of the church. 


In verse 2 we see highly skilled craftsmen creating masterpieces for worship.  I suggest that in our modern times, we do the same. We've created great high tech masterpieces that we have given ourselves to.  We don't call it worship, but in one sense of the word it is.


Note also the words "human sacrifices" in verse 2 .  This is how bad the northern kingdom actually got.  They were so far removed from the Lord they thought giving human sacrifices was God's will.  This makes me think of Islamic extremists today  who believe suicide bombing will gain the credits from Allah.  Suicide bombing is actually one form of human sacrifices.


Israel's literally kissed their calf-idols.  They placed their lips against idols made by their own hands as if these idols were human.  How disgusting.


Verse 3 simply states the fleeting nature of the northern kingdom.  They are like smoke that just drifts away.  Today they are here, tomorrow they are gone.


As in the last chapter, verse 4 shows us how God feels about the northern kingdom.  His heart goes out to these Israeli's.  He says, "I am the Lord, your God'.  In other words, "I am Yahweh, your God", the God that delivered you from Egypt. Again, God is reminiscing of days past.  Remembering the past does not seem to be an easy thing for God, because what Israel now is, is not what she once was.


Also in verse 4 we basically see the first of the ten commandments restated.  "You shall have no other God but me", but they do.  They have Baal.  God goes on to say that He is their only Saviour.  He saved them from Egypt.  He saved them through the desert wanderings.  He saved them in battle when they first entered the promised land of Canaan.  He would like to save them again, but He can't.  Judgment must now befall them.


In verses 5 and 6 we see a real truth.  God led Israel in the desert.  He looked after them.  He fed them and they were satisfied, and in their time of satisfaction, they became proud.  How true that was with Israel and how true it is with us and our western nations.  God blesses us and in the satisfaction of these blessings, we get proud, thinking the blessings came from us.  This is truly a picture of western civilization today.


In verses 7 and 8 God pictures Himself as a lion, a leopard, and a bear, who will totally devour and destroy Israel.  I've said it before, but whatever God does, He does it to the fullest.  He is extreme, and that is certainly seen here.  The text says that He will "rip Israel apart". 


Verse 9 says that God will destroy Israel because Israel is against Him, their one and only helper.  The message that Hosea was speaking to the northern tribe did not go over well.  The same is true for the prophets today.  This book of Hosea, as well as the book of Amos, is very relevant to our present world.  We should be preaching from this book and warning both the church and the nations in which we live of coming judgment.


In verse 10 God asks "where are you kings where are you rulers, of whom you said, 'give me a king.."  We must remember that it was Israel's choice to have a king.  They wanted a king.  That was not God's idea in the beginning.  God gave Israel a king because that is what Israel wanted.  Israel wanted to be like other nations. So now God asks, "where is the king that is supposed to save you"?  Of course, he is nowhere to be found.  Roughly, from 750 B.C. to 730 B.C., Israel had 7 kings of which most of them were assassinated.  Kings are that much good when they are dead.


In verse 11 we see a great truth of Scripture.  God gave Israel a king, then He took the king away from them.  This is yet another passage that clearly tells us that God causes nations, and government leaders to both rise and to fall. 


Note that God gave Israel their king in anger.  It was not His idea.


Verse 12 also states another truth of Scripture, and that is, God keeps a record of sin.  He does so not only on an individual level, but on a national level as this verse states.  God kept a record of Ephraim's sin. He still keeps records of national sins.  For those who have given their lives to Jesus, we should be greatly thankful that He no longer keeps a record of our sins.  They are covered with the blood of Jesus.


Verse 13 compares the future of the northern kingdom to a woman giving birth to a dead baby.  The north will experience great pain, just as much pain as a woman giving birth.  The big difference though is that there is no life from this pain.  There is only death, as in a still birth.


This chapter, like the last, shows God's feelings.  He vacillates between love and wrath, between destruction and restoration.  In verse 14 He says that He "will ransom them from the grave and redeem them from death".  This is clearly speaking of the future restoration of Israel at the end of this age.  With the use of the words "ransom and redeem" we must realize that the future restoration lies in the fact that Jesus died on the cross to ransom Israel and to redeem her'.  These two words portray the thought that God, at some future point in time from when Hosea wrote these words, would purchase the salvation of Israel .  He did just that and more.  He purchased the salvation for all mankind.


The last half of the verse  is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55.  Death and the grave will have no power over those who give themselves to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is Yahweh.


In the past phrase of verse 14 and the first phrase of verse 15 we see the swing of emotions again.  God is now speaking of judgment once again.  Back and forth it goes.  He loves Israel, but He must destroy her. The verse says that "an east wind from the Lord will come'.  This east wind is a direct reference to Assyria because the Assyrian armies came from the east.   Note also who was behind this invasion by Assyria.  It was God Himself.  God causes nations to both rise and fall, and often this occurs via an invasion of enemy forces.  The result of this invasion is that the economy of Israel will be totally destroyed as seen in this verse.   Again, God can cause an economy to rise and fall as well.


This chapter ends with a horrible portrayal of what will happen to Samaria.  She is that part of the northern kingdom that is in the south part of the kingdom.  Destruction will come so severely that children will be killed, cut to the ground.  Pregnant women will be ripped open".  This is a "R" rated verse, but again, God is extreme in anything He does.  His love is extreme and His wrath is extreme.  You can certainly see that here.


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