Today: [Hosea 13] Does God Collude with His Last Enemy. In 1 Cor. 15:26 we read that the last enemy to be overcome is death. In Hosea 13 the Father declares that the rebellious northern kingdom will suffer and die not because it is His will, but because they have refused to turn away from their external dependencies and to trust wholly in the living God. Many times, we read of calamity coming upon the Old Testament peoples and somehow think this was all according to what God planned, but in this chapter, we see that even though problems come and even devastation, that God’s first choice is always to redeem, and any other outcome is because of disobedience and not His purposes at all.
[Hos 13:1-16 KJV] 1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 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. 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. 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. 5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. 7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe [them]: 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. 9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me [is] thine help. 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? 11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took [him] away in my wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim [is] bound up; his sin [is] hid. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Hosea chapter 13 begins with a reminiscence of Ephraim (the northern kingdom) when they were humble in their own eyes. When the northern kingdom moved in humility they were exalted, but when they turned to Baal worship and pagan practices then death reigned by sin. V. 2 then laments the fact that even though Baal worship had not profited Ephraim that their sin multiplied more and more. In other words, instead of learning from the vanity of external dependencies they simply multiplied their idols, thinking that one wasn’t enough and they needed to have other gods in their pantheon, rather than worshipping Jehovah alone who had done nothing other than bless and promote them. The wording is that they were men that “kiss the calves…” which is what the worshippers at Bethel did with the molten calf that they erected as a substitute for going to Jerusalem to worship at the temple of Solomon which they were loath to do because they felt it would weaken their hold in the people.
Because Ephraim was reluctant to abandon pagan practices, v. 3 says that they will be as the morning cloud and the dew on the grass early in the day – they shall pass away and evaporate under the heat of the sun. This came to pass in regard to the fate of the northern kingdom, because they initially went into captivity to Assyria, and then to Babylon where they bred themselves out of existence and ceased to exist as a people without any tribal identity whatsoever. This is a little-known fact, that is seldom mentioned by theologians because it doesn’t fit their understanding of God’s plan as respects the lineage of Abraham. Of all the tribes of Israel, only Levi, Judah and Benjamin survived to the first century as a distinct people while all the others disappeared from history as v. 3 concludes “as smoke out of the chimney…”
Even though this tragedy befalls the northern kingdom, God declares in v. 4 … “yet I am thy God from (the days) of the land of Egypt… you shall know no god but Me for there is no savior beside Me…” In other words, though God’s people were unfaithful, He would nonetheless be faithful even as Hosea, married to unfaithful Gomer continued to live in fidelity to her all the while she sold herself into prostitution. Paul in writing to his spiritual son Timothy phrased it this way:
[2Ti 2:11-13 KJV] 11 [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
In verse 6 the Father declares that he met the need of the people and filled their lives with His blessing “therefore they have forgotten Me….” In other words, the abundance with which the Father blessed them with only emboldened them to forsake His law. For this reason, the Father declares He will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her cubs… In response to their anticipated complaint the follow up statement to this in verse 9 is that Israel has destroyed themselves by separating themselves from Jehovah and by their idolatries made the God who desired to saved them – their enemy.
In great compassion, even at this late stage the Father declares to His people “in Me is your help…” He yet offers (v. 10) to be their king because there is none to save them even though they are scouring the landscape trying to find some foreign nation that would come to their aid. He then harks back to the time (v. 11) when they asked for a king like other nations, and reminds them that only in His wrath did He allow king Saul to be exalted to rule over them, and then Saul himself, in disobeying the voice of God through Samuel was destroyed for his sin. This very fault that Saul demonstrated, the prophet Hosea warns is yet festering in the hearts of the people of the northern kingdom, who refuse to turn to God because in so doing they would have to abandon their much beloved idols.
In v. 13 Ephraim is declared to be an unwise son who would not long survive coming out of the womb of her travailing mother. Yet even though destruction would come God’s messianic promise is that even from the power of the grave He would ransom us (prophetically speaking of Jesus who would come and save whosoever will from the tyranny of sin). Notice in v. 14 God’s attitude toward death. He declares that He will be the plague of death and will destroy death without remedy (or repentance). Now, in light of the fact that God looks at death as a foe, as we read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians:
[1Co 15:26 KJV] 26 The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.
If God considers death an enemy, why do we conclude He uses death to accomplish His will? Many times, people console themselves when the suffering die, suggesting that God used death to heal them. Is God using an enemy He hates so deeply to accomplish His will upon those He claims to love so dearly? We also believe that after death we will be perfect and sinless, and have all questions answered. Why would God collude with this great enemy that He hates so fiercely as to use Death to fulfill His perfection in the lives of His saints? God does not collude with death to fulfill His purposes, and it is an obscene suggestion by religious mentalities to suggest otherwise, just so they can have a nice, neat explanation for the unexplainable.
During the time that Hosea was prophesying these things, the northern kingdom was prospering under Jeroboam II. The people no doubt mocked at Hosea’s words because they just didn’t reconcile with the prosperity and success the kingdom in the north was enjoying under the rule of Samaria. For this reason, in v. 15 we see the declaration that though Ephraim is fruitful and boasting of her blessings, that God would come as an east wind and dry up her fountains and springs and that Samaria would (v. 16 become desolate). Why? Because God delights to punish or to harm them? No because she had rebelled, the entire nation against her God, therefore they would fall by the sword and suffer unimaginably, even though this was never originally the will of God concerning her.
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