About Jesus Steve Sweetman
(ch. 5:1 - 15)
The remarks of this
chapter are specific to the priests, the people, and the royal house of Israel. All three aspects of
Israeli society in the northern kingdom were to be blamed for their sin
and consequently judged. I
suggest the same is true today in the western world, and really,
throughout the world. People
in general have fallen from the Lord.
The church in many respects is falling, and certainly the
governments are falling away from any understanding they might have had
of God. Those in this
condition should therefore expect the same fate as Israel.
In verse 1 there are
three grouping of words; "hear this", "pay
attention", and "listen".
In Hebrew, "hear this" means, "hear and then
attention means, "listen with eagerness".
"Listen" means, "attempting to hear with intensity
even though you're struggling with what you hear".
Verse 1 says "you
have been a snare at Mizpah". There
were at least two Mizpah's in the Old Testament, and probably more that
we don't know of. One was in
the pagan nation of
Tabor is also mentioned
in verse 1. It was a
mountain in the Valley
of Jezreel. Why God chose to use this
mountain in this verse is uncertain to me.
The Lord says that a "net has been spread out on
Tabor". Both the
"snare" in the last phrase and the "net" in this
phrase suggests that the people of
These two cities, along
with the rest of the northern kingdom were once godly worshippers of
Yahweh, but little by little they slipped into the pagan trap, as has
Christendom over the years. For
example, Catholic priests in South American in years and centuries past,
in order to win the pagans to their side, allowed the pagans to bring
their pagan gods into the Catholic church building.
That still goes on to this day, as was recently told to me by a
missionary in central America. This type of activity is not godly.
It is simply wrong. The
church has always been tempted with such things, and for what the church
would say is "good reason".
The priests allowed the idols into their buildings as a means to
reach out. Christians aren't
pragmatic. That is, we don't
do things because we think they will work.
We do things because the Bible tells us to do them, and if the
Bible says otherwise, we don't do them.
In verse 2 God calls His
own people "rebels" because that was exactly what they were.
He also says that He will discipline these rebels.
God is just and justice demands discipline at times.
When discipline is withheld then justice is not enacted and the
rebel will continue to rebel. The
simple fact is that because God is just, He will punish, and at times,
He will judge and destroy.
I think many Christians
may well be disciplined by the Lord at times and not even realize it,
and therefore, probably don't benefit from the discipline.
On the other hand, if a Christian is never discipline, it means
he has given into sin and the Lord has stepped back from him. The only
other reason for lack of discipline is because he doesn't need it.
He is always good, but that can't be the case.
None of us are that good. Hebrews
12:5 tells us that God disciplines those He loves.
slaughter" in verse 2 refers to the fact that the northern kingdom
seemed to be always fighting. If
it wasn't other nations, it was themselves, and if it was other nations
it was not because they were obeying the command of God to rid the land
of paganism. That idea had
long since fallen by the wayside.
Ephraim is mentioned in
verse 3. Ephraim, which was
one of the larger of the twelve tribes of
In verse 3 God says that
"He knows Ephraim". You
can't hide anything from God. If
Christians would live like they really understood this fact, we all
would be a lot more holier than we are.
God knows that the northern kingdom is involved in prostitution
as He says here. That is
both spiritual prostitution and physical prostitution.
God also says that Israel, the north, is corrupt.
Verse 4 says, "their
deeds do not permit them to return to their God".
Sometimes people get trapped in their sin.
The sin becomes addictive. The
addictive sin is so strong in their lives that it becomes a barrier
between them and God, a barrier that without divine intervention, is
impossible to get over. Thus
their sin does not permit them to turn back to God. This
was the case with
Also in verse 4 wee see
the phrase "a spirit of prostitution is in their heart".
This can be taken in two ways.
One is simply a general trend in society.
We often hear people say "the spirit of the day",
meaning, "that's the trend for our day".
That being said, the words "spirit of prostitution"
might well suggest demonic activity that led these people to
prostitution. Behind the
scene satan has been the one luring Israel
away from God. James 1:14
states that "every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own
lusts and enticed". The
point here is this. We are
lustful by nature. If we
don't lust after one thing, it's another thing.
When we see that which we lust after, we are tempted to give into
it. If we continue to give
into our lusts, then this is where the devil, or demons, come in.
A spirit will come and take over our lusts in the area we have
trouble with. Therefore,
what starts as lust from our sinful nature ends in demonic activity,
"a sprit of … whatever".
It is clear that Israel
gave into their lusts for other gods.
Once that decision was clearly established, they received a
"spirit of prostitution".
At that point, they "did not acknowledge the Lord".
They followed other gods and in so doing were really following
We have to realize here
that satan has always, and will always, be interested in Israel
for many reasons. The
biggest reason is that the Lord Jesus was born from Israel, so if he
could demolish and kill off Israel, he would prevent Jesus from being
born, Now that Jesus has
already been incarnated into humanity, died, rose from the dead, and
ascended into heaven, satan is still interested in Israel, because when
Jesus returns to set up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem, it is because
of Israel's repentance and request for him to do so.
So clearly, satan's interest in Israel
is important to him. This
might well be why so many Christians don't believe that Israel
has any more significance in the eyes of God.
Satan has blinded their understanding.
There is a real and vital war taking place in heavenly places
right now as I write these words over the nation of Israel.
In verse 5 God says that
We should note here in
verse 5 that God not only says that the northern kingdom will fall, but
the southern kingdom will too, which they did, although it took another
hundred or so years. The
fact is, which this verse states, Judah, the south, would join with the north
That's what eventually happened.
The south followed in the folly of the north.
Verse 6 is sad.
It says that when Israel
"goes with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord, they will not
find Him", because "He has withdrawn Himself from her".
The reference to "flocks and herds" here is suggestive
of sacrifices. Some Bible
teachers suggest this reference means that
If this verse means that
Israel came to God in repentance, but He was nowhere to be found,
supports my thinking that there is a time in a nation's history where
there is a tipping point of sin. Sin
gets so bad, that even if repentance is found, it's too late.
God has already decided to judge that nation, and nothing will
stop Him. In light of
this, we all need to ask, where does our nation stand with the Lord
concerning the tipping point of sin.
I suggest we in the west are almost there, if we're not there
The same is true
concerning church. Christian
groups who fail continue to serve the Lord in Biblical terms, like the
so-called liberal church groups, will sooner or later find themselves
away from God, and, even if they want to come back, can't.
I do believe, at least
for the most part, that there is always a chance for the individual to
return to the Lord. In some
very few cases that might not be. That
being said, the older one gets, and the more he rejects the Lord, the
harder it is for him to come to Jesus.
It's like I said earlier in this chapter, "sin becomes a
barrier to God".
Because of Israel's unfaithfulness, as stated in verse 7, they give birth to illegitimate
children. This is true in
both the natural sense and the spiritual sense.
Prostitution was a way of life for the men, and for the women as
well. It was also a
spiritual way of life for everyone.
Giving themselves to other gods was spiritual adultery.
So, in the natural sense there were lots of children born out of
wedlock. In the spiritual
sense, the generations of Jews that were being born into this pagan
lifestyle were also seen as illegitimate in the eyes of God.
Verse 7 also states that
"the New Moon festival will devour them".
It appears that most Bible teachers suggest that this is in
reference to God's judgment coming very fast, as in a day, as in the one
day of the New Moon festival. The
New Moon festival was a holiday that took place on the first day of the
month. It was to be a day of
celebration where no work was to be done.
People tended to despise this day because they couldn't work and
make money. Here, God uses a
day of celebration to be associated with His quick and final judgment.
In verse 8 God says to
"sound the trumpet …" He
was telling the northern kingdom to mount their soldiers for war.
The Assyrians are coming to fight. In
this battle, as verse 9 says, "Ephraim (that's the northern
kingdom) "will be laid waste".
It is clear that they will lose the battle.
The word "certain" is used in verse 9.
God is certain this will happen because He is using
mentioned in verse 8 is the traditional ram's horn that was used to
prepare soldiers for war.
God called the day of
judgment in verse 9 "the day of reckoning".
The northern kingdom had ample time to repent, but didn't.
Thus the day had now come when they would give account of
their sin in judgment.
I strongly suggest that a
day of reckoning is coming to the western world, and eventually, to all
the world. It would not
surprise me that right now, in 2012 as I type these words, we are now in
the beginning stages of judgment. I
say "beginning stages of judgment" because I do believe God
warns us. I believe He does
this through such things as economic downturns, attacks on nations,
ecological problems, and more. It's
not politically, socially, or even religiously, correct these days, but
I believe 911 was a strong warning to America. The day of reckoning for
our western nations is either here or almost here.
Deuteronomy 27:17 forbade
any Jew to remove anything from his neighbours property.
It forbade him to change the boundaries between his property and
his neighbour's property. Apparently,
those in the southern kingdom were not obeying this command.
That's what the first part of verse 10 means.
Again, the Lord is speaking to the northern kingdom, but He is
basically saying that Judah, the southern kingdom, was in the same boat as the north.
God might have been suggesting to the northerners that there was
no use escaping God's judgment by heading to
The Hebrew word that is
translated as "wrath" is from a root meaning "to
pour". That is why, as
stated in verse 10, you always see God's wrath in the Bible as being
"poured out". It's
like He has a big cup of wrath that He pours on those He judges.
Concerning the Biblical
concept of wrath, as it pertains to God, it is "uncontrollable
anger". It is an
explosion of anger that can no longer be held back. There
is a difference between wrath and anger.
Anger is controllable while wrath is an explosion of anger.
Wrath is much stronger than anger.
Verse 11 speaks of
Ephraim, the northern kingdom, as being "oppressed".
Once exiled to
There are many
descriptive words of God found in the Bible, but the two words here in
verse 12 that describe God is different than most.
He says He is like a "moth to Ephraim" and "rot to
Judah". A moth eats
away at your clothes and destroys them.
Rot does the same to wood. This
is what God will do in Israel
because of their union with paganism.
He is no longer a blessing, but a curse, just what the Law of
Moses said would happen if
Verse 13 speaks of a
specific incident. To simplify this incident I will just say that as the
northern kingdom was beginning to see their downfall, they tried to make
an alliance with
In my thinking, it is
both ironic and sad that the northern kingdom went to their long time
enemy for help instead of their God.
I suggest the
Verse 14 states that the
Lord will be like a lion to both the north and the south.
God would rip both kingdoms apart and carry them away.
He did just that. Both
kingdoms were drastically devastated and those who weren't killed were
carried away, the north to Assyria, and the south about a hundred years
or so later, to Babylon. Many today, both Christian
and non-Christian alike, have a hard time thinking that God would rip
anything apart and totally destroy it, but He is capable of doing just
that. We need to understand
that this outbreak of wrath is based on God's pure and divine sense of
Verse 15 is very
interesting and often overlooked by Bible teachers.
God says that "He will go back to His place until they admit
their guilt". God is
speaking here to both the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom, as
He has been for the last few verses.
What does this mean?
It could mean one of two things.
Yahweh would now depart from Israel
until they repented. The
southern kingdom did have periods of repentance, as seen in Ezra's day
where God returned to them. Some
do suggest that this was when God returned to
Some people believe this
verse is prophetic of Jesus leaving
If this verse is not
prophetic of Jesus leaving