Today: [Hosea 12] Correction Under Pressure. In chapter 12 of Hosea the prophet brings stern correction against the deceitful ways of the people of God. This is interesting timing because the entire nation of Samaria is under maximum pressure by the invading Assyrians. Looking at ourselves we can ask the question, how would we respond to correction when we are under pressure and going through great difficulties? Would we reject the words of someone like Hosea, or would we repent? If we repented, would that change the outcome for us?
[Hos 12:1-14 KJV] 1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. 2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us; 5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial. 6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually. 7 [He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he loveth to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: [in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that [were] sin. 9 And I [that am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. 10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. 11 [Is there] iniquity [in] Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars [are] as heaps in the furrows of the fields. 12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept [sheep]. 13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. 14 Ephraim provoked [him] to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
In this chapter, the Father reproves the northern and southern kingdoms together for squandering God’s dealings with their ancestors on selfish and idolatrous lifestyles and national policies. In v. 1 Ephraim (a reference to the entire northern 10 tribes) is condemned for making a covenant with Assyria (who will soon carry them into captivity) and for doing business with Egypt (who formerly held them in bondage). In verse 2 the warning is that Judah in the south will also be dealt with for the duplicitous ways and for not learning from the chastisement of their brothers in the north.
In verse 3 the favor of God toward Jacob is rehearsed, how that God caused Jacob to prevail from the womb over his brother Esau, and how God met Jacob at Bethel and accepted Jacob’s prayer for blessing over his life. Even in an angelic encounter God gave Jacob strength to wrestle with an angel, yet now those who descended from Jacob have forsaken His mercy and His judgments through deceitful business practices. In spite of the blessing of God generationally upon the people, in v. 7 they are reproved because of their love of oppression and dishonest policies that the falsely believe have been the key to their successes.
In v. 8 as well the people of the north have also come to conclude that it was their own deceitful practices and not God Himself who has made them rich, boasting that no one would ever find out their sin or expose the ungodliness through which they have enriched themselves. The reminder from heaven in v. 9 is that the Lord God was the one that brought them out of Egypt’s bondage and blessed them in the wilderness and spoken to them by the prophets. In other words, though the people constantly and passionately turned away from God from Moses day unto the current day, the Father continued to be merciful to them and to provide for them and to send the prophet with signs, miracles and wonders to reprove and correct them, yet they are unchanged.
The question is asked in v. 11 as to what has become of the altars of the idols that were abundant in Gilead. At this time in Israel’s history, Gilead had been overrun by the Assyrians, and the altars of the pagan gods erected there had been overturned and the stones used by plowman to set boundaries and agricultural fences for their crops. The question from the prophet is what has become of these false gods the people worship, and what made them think that the Canaanite deities would protect them from the Assyrians, when they couldn’t protect their own altars?
The prophet reminds the people by the spirit of God that it was Jehovah who brought their ancestor Jacob out of Laban’s employ, and protected him from the murderous rage of Esau. It was Jehovah – and not Baal, Ashteroth, Chemosh or Molech that brought the people out of Egypt’s bondage (v. 13) by His prophet (Moses). Yet the people even to this day, centuries later had provoked Jehovah to wrath against their false idols and therefore “shall He leave his blood upon him…” (in other words after centuries of merciful dealing – God will now allow the people to experience the consequences of their pagan ways).
What was the reception in the northern kingdom to Hosea’s words? No doubt at some point, Hosea made an effort to publish these words in the hearing of the city of Samaria, the capital of Ephraim north of Jerusalem. It is likely that the people in the northern kingdom dismissed Hosea’s words as being that of an outsider, because Hosea penned his prophecies from Jerusalem, who was an enemy to the north at this time. During this season, the northern 10 tribes were entering into a treaty with Assyria to attack Judah in the south rather than overrunning their own kingdom. They were sacrificing their own kinsmen to protect themselves and their cities in the north. Therefore, Hosea’s words were a stinging rebuke, even as Hosea in his words was desperately seeking to remind them of the love of God for them down through their history and that they must turn from their wicked ways.
For us, when we read this passage we must think about how we might react under the same pressures. The Assyrian threat was very real, and in fact in just a short time the invasion would come and the entire northern kingdom was swept into captivity, never to be heard from again. Is this a time, if we were in their shoes, to receive correction and reproof? What would have been the alternative outcome if the nation had repented and turned back to God? We will never know because they failed to do so, but it is a caution for us when we are under assault from the enemy in our lives as to whether we are willing even under pressure in a place of vulnerability to be corrected, lest we suffer the same outcome.
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