Today: [Hosea 7] When God Would Have Healed – and Did Not. In chapter 7 of Hosea the prophet continues to plead with the northern kingdom of Israel to put their trust solely in God. There were various issues within the nation and also threatening without that caused them to clamor for answers, but unfortunately they looked to man instead of trusting in God in spite of His willingness to heal and deliver them in their difficulties.
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[Hos 7:1-16 KJV] 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. 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. 3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. 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. 5 In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. 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. 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. 8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it] not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. 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. 11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. 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. 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. 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. 15 Though I have bound [and] strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me. 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.
Chapter 7 of Hosea begins with verse 1 speaking of the sins of the northern kingdom of Israel. The northern kingdom was initial formed by the word of the Lord after Solomon’s son imposed brutal taxes upon the nation and the 10 tribes other than Levi and Judah rebelled. The capital city of the northern tribes was Samaria, therefore Samaria in various references is an alternative name for the northern kingdom. After the northern kingdom was formed there was instruction from God that while the capital of Samaria would remain in the north, that its peoples were still to return to Jerusalem for the purposes of worshipping at the temple of Solomon. This was unacceptable to the kings of the north, who then constructed an altar at Bethel and instructing the people that they would not be allowed to go to Jerusalem and that they should be content to worship at the altar constructed within Samaria’s borders.
The iniquity of Ephraim and wickedness of Samaria was not only that they rejected the temple of Solomon where God declared His name would dwell, but that they also warred against the southern kingdom of Judah, when Judah refused to support them in the time that invasion from Assyria was threatened. Because of this the declaration of Hosea is that God will remember their transgressions and deal with them according to their idolatrous and deceitful policies. Because of this, the nation of Israel went into captivity 100 years before Judah and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
Many times, when difficulties come, we ask the question “why God?”. These inquiries may go unanswered, or very often, spiritual leaders will attempt to salve the suffering of their adherents by suggesting they are suffering because God has singled them out for what is alleged to be a dubious honor to go through some difficulty “because He loves them so much…” This makes sense to the sufferer because it points the finger away from their own lives, and transmigrates their difficulties from something they may have brought on themselves into an ephemeral efficacious suffering because “they are so godly”. For all the ego and emotional investments in looking at difficulties in our lives in such a manner, and to impose the origination of our difficulties upon God Himself, if we are going to accept God’s word as true and relevant to our lives we must look at verse 2 of Hosea 7. The verse declares regarding the difficulties facing the people because “their own doing have beset them about…” In other words they brought their difficulties upon themselves, even when verse 1 declares that God’s heart and intent was to heal the nation.
Verse 4 describes the people as an adulterous generation inclined to sin as bread is inclined to rise in the oven. The princes and kings are described as made “sick with bottles of wine…” Beyond the obvious reference to alcoholism, what does wine represent? When someone overindulges, we say that they are “under the influence”. In other words, the kings of the northern kingdom were intoxicated by their own influence, and obsessed with establishing their legacies rather than doing what was right for the nation. We see this many times in the administrations of our nation’s leaders who set out to pass some landmark initiatives that while giving them the distinction of profoundly impacting society, are not necessarily the programs or proposals that actually benefit the nation or represent godly administration of their responsibilities.
Verse 7 elaborates on this prideful pursuit of making a mark on history as extending beyond the throne of the king to the halls of justice among the judges of the land, who pursue their own way and refuse to call upon the Lord. In verse 8 Ephraim, the largest tribe in the northern kingdom mingles with the people, or identifies itself in a common way with the other peoples of the land rather than maintaining their tribal strength and upholding the standard of godliness. Ephraim represents what we call in our day “the silent majority” who are capable collectively to demand change and a return to morality in our nation, but instead fall prey to the lies, and false promises of narcissistic leaders who tell them what they want to hear. Verse 10 declares that the grey hairs, or the wisdom of the older generation testifies against them because they are looking to falsehood, and vain solutions rather than returning to God and seeking Him in His sovereignty to turn the nation back to Him.
The tribe of Ephraim, by its size and monolithic ability to sway the policies of Samaria is pronounced as a “silly dove without heart” because they are looking to Egypt when Assyria threatens and looking to Assyria when Egypt threatens, to foreign powers to come in help solve internal crises in their borders rather than trusting to the Lord their God. For generations, we have seen this in world politics as various nations around the world look to America to solve their problems, or their many peoples thinking if they can just immigrate to America how much better their lives would be, but God calls this idolatry. When you look to someone, even a nation for what only God can afford you, God will remove that false dependency from your life. In other words what you allow to come between you and God, God will remove. America, or America’s intervention is not what the world needs. The world needs Jesus, and to the degree our nation allows herself to be seen as the worlds, policeman, the answer to all the geopolitical instability in the earth – we come under the ire of a jealous God. Our nation is not the hope of humanity – JESUS is the hope of mankind!
Verse 13 depicts difficulty for those who have fled from God’s face in search of vain solutions and idolatrous answers to the problems of their day. The fact is reiterated that God would have saved them, in spite of their deceitful ways but they were not (v. 14) calling out to God. They are howling upon their beds, and assembling themselves, organizing themselves to seek an answer – but not from God alone. V. 16 says because they are “returning, but not to the Most High” that their princes and false leaders would be like a deceitful bow, that when put to use shatters before the arrow can be released against their enemies.
All of this is a familiar theme of false trust and the jealousy of God who desires to save His people but the heart of the people instead looks to man for what they should look to God for. This sin above all others is what brought Israel in the north to captivity and ultimately would likewise see Judah in the south, brought low, with the city of Jerusalem leveled and the temple of Solomon pillaged and destroyed. The apostle Paul in the book of Romans makes a direct correlation by example for us who may find ourselves tempted as well:
[Rom 11:21 KJV] 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.
Man is not our source. Politics cannot save us. A strong military is not the security we are to put our trust in. No matter how much energy we invest in false solutions, and unchaste leaders who promise beyond what they can deliver – our ultimate trust and only legitimate hope is in the Lord God Himself. We look around at the difficulties facing our world, and there are always men and women who rise up and claim they have our answers. We would do well to be encouraged by history that there have been other times when moral decay was at a point even lower than it is today – but revival came, the visitation from heaven swept the nations and godliness was the rule of the day. Whether our challenges are nationwide or just in our personal lives, ultimately our only hope and our only trust is in God.
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