Chapter 13: The abuse of God’s favor.
The abuse of God’s favour leads to punishment. (1-8)
V. 1… trembling…There was a time when Israel was doing well with God, his words were commanded respect. He was respected among the nations. …he died… No matter how long it took the nation to realize that it had died, death had nonetheless occurred. Similarly, for an individual, sin brings death, though the realization of it may not occur immediately. But, praise the LORD! We can be made alive by the blood of Jesus Church and live forever.
V.2…let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”… Actually, this is human sacrifice. Isaiah 57:5 talks about Israelites sacrificing their children to Baal. Kissing the calves is showing their adoration for the idol-god. Read 1 kings 19:18 which talks about the remnant faithful.
V. 3 …morning cloud, early dew, chaff, smoke… This is the end of the un-repented wicked people. They will disperse, dissolve, scatter, disintegrate and dispelled (Ps. 1:4).
Vs.4 & 5…I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt… On the contrary to verse 3, God projects Himself to the people of Israel as their God who sustained them in the land of draught (v.5) by His devoted care. This is a reference to Exodus 20:2 where it says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” God requires our devotion and faithfulness to HIM because HE has saved us from sin and delivered us from death in Jesus Christ. In faith, let us acknowledge that there is no Savior besides the Lord Jesus Christ, and He alone is the one true God, and salvation come through no other than Jesus Christ.
V. 6…they were filled and their heart was exalted;…forgot Me…Their devotion in the wilderness diminished with prosperity. What is the ONE that makes our devotion to God diminish?
Vs. 7 & 8..a lion…leopard…rod…bear…Hosea’s contemporary also depicts Israel as the prey of wild beasts, an image of God’s judgement. Repentant heart will stay safely in the city. In the OT times, it was through the temporary ceremonial sacrifice. In Leviticus 16:7-10, we read about the scape goat to be sent into wilderness carrying the sin eventually to die by the wild beasts. In the NT times, it is through the permanent and ‘once and for all’ sacrifice we can live forever. Our Scapegoat Jesus took the cross and suffered outside the city (Hebrew 13:12&13).
Rejecting the only hope they have (9-16):
Ephraim, by its stubborn refusal to return to the Lord, rejects the only hope that God offers. Three figures of judgment are pronounced in these verses: 1.The incompetent king (9–11), 2. The unborn child (12–14), & 3. The withering wind of God (v. 15)
1. The incompetent king (vv. 9–11),
V.9…against Me… Israel went against it’s Helper. But still God claims to be their Helper.
V.10…where is any other… All the kings they had are incompetent compared to the heavenly King. The human kings are incapable of saving them because those kings were against God who is their real helper.
V.11…gave you a king…took him away… This may seem God is talking about Saul; but the succession of human kings from Saul onward proved a failure in representing God, the one true king.
2. The unborn child (vv. 12–14)
V.12…iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; …stored… This may refer to the unrepentant Israel, whose unconfessed sins are unforgiven. Thus their sins are accumulated and kept unforgiven.
V.13…he should not stay long where children are born… ESV Translation puts it clear…. “for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb.” This means he refused to be born. When God calls, we must respond and repent; thus be Born Again (2 Corinthian 6:1&2).
V.14…ransom them from the power of the grave… The wages of sin is death and the dead go to grave. The grave has power hold the soul of a sinner. Dead can be brought back to life through ransom. Jesus paid the ransom and redeemed all those who believe. …O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? NKJV says, “O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!” Read 1 Cor. 15:55. This verse seems to be hard to translate. But looking at different translation, we can come to the following understanding. Death is a powerful plague and Jesus has the power to challenge the death to show its plague, because Jesus gave death to death, thus Jesus became the plague for death. Sheol has the power to sting people to die, thus destroy them. But Jesus said to Sheol (which also mean hell, grave and so on) that He would be the power that destroys it’s sting. He will sting the sting. God, once and for all, removed the abiding menace of death on the basis of the victory won through the resurrection of Christ.
3. The withering wind of God (v. 15 & 16): …compassion is hidden from My eyes.. (v.14) Due to Israel’s rejection of God’s call to repent, rejecting the only power that could save her, God ability to save Israel is hidden from God. Israel will perish miserably. …though he is fruitful… While Hosea is prophesying to Israel, the nation was at it’s peak in terms of prosperity and military power under Jeroboam II. God is forewarning them about the sudden and shocking change of events.