Hosea Chapter Seven

 

Read Hosea 7:1-7 – God’s Desire to Heal Israel

 

v.1When 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.”

 

            God had both the remedy and the desire to forgive Israel.  When the wickedness of Ephraim was made manifest, even when her iniquity became so openly obvious to all who would see; God would still forgive them if only they would turn.  Israel was sick and wounded; their spiritual illness was contagious and would not only be spiritually fatal to them as people but physically fatal to them as a nation:

 

Isaiah 1:5-6Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

 

v.2And 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.”

 

            This is what one commentator calls the sinner’s atheism.  It is a practical disbelief of God’s omniscience and oversight of all mankind.  He does not think about God knowing all of his sin, he does not recognize that God is the judge of all mankind and will hold him accountable.  He lives as if God is blind, though God sees all; he lives as though God is unknowing, though God knows all.  He are like those described by the Psalmist:

 

“YET THEY SAY, THE LORD SHALL NOT SEE, NEITHER SHALL THE GOD OF JACOB REGARD it.  UNDERSTAND, YE BRUTISH AMONG THE PEOPLE: AND ye FOOLS, WHEN WILL YE BE WISE?” Psalms 94:7-8

Consequently his soul is like a rabbit in a snare, except this is a snare of his own making.  Many of the trials and troubles that man must endure are those that he has brought upon himself just as the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist indicates.

 

Psalms 9:16 “THE LORD IS KNOWN by THE JUDGMENT which HE EXECUTETH: THE WICKED IS SNARED IN THE WORK OF HIS OWN HANDS.”

 

And as a result of his sin being fully visible in the light of the countenance of God which is brighter than the noonday sun; he will suffer the wrath and anger of an Almighty God:

 

“FOR WE ARE CONSUMED BY THINE ANGER, AND BY THY WRATH ARE WE TROUBLED.  THOU HAST SET OUR INIQUITIES BEFORE THEE, OUR SECRET sins IN THE LIGHT OF THY COUNTENANCE.” Psalms 90:5-6

 

v.3They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.

 

            The people make their “KINGS GLAD WITH THEIR WICKEDNESS”.  It pleased the kings of Israel that the people would conform to their laws, worship the idols provided to them in Dan and Bethel, flatter and applaud them in their iniquity.  We have an example of this same kind of wickedness in the New Testament.

 

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also.” Acts 12:1-3  

 

When Herod saw that his wickedness pleased the people he proceeded further with it.  This is a parallel with what the kings of Israel were doing in the days of Hosea.

 

v.4They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.”

 

            “THEY are ALL ADULTERERS”; this phrase is meant in both the spiritual and literal sense.  They not dedicated to living a righteous, upright life but rather they were dedicated to a life of debauchery and the fulfillment of their lusts.  The analogy of an oven is used; do we know why?  An unclean heart is like an oven heated by a baker, the lusts and desires are like fuel that keeps it hot.  It is an internal fire that feeds upon itself, so that adulterers and fornicators literally burn in their lust.  The Apostle Paul uses the same expression:


And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” Romans 1:27

 

v.5 “In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.”

 

            Just as the lusts of the flesh are frequently fueled by strong drink the prophet uses this same analogy here to describe Israel.  Her spiritual adultery was fueled by the wine of pride, self reliance, refusal to submit to the authority of God.  Even in our own society, in most circles, it is a disgrace for anyone to be seen totally falling down drunk.  It is even more of a disgrace for a person in a position of responsibility, of honor or prestige.  The wise man records for us:

 

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Proverbs 31:4-5

 

            But not only is it a disgrace for a person in power to allow strong drink to rule him, but it is equally repugnant to God to have kings and rulers to be drunk with power and pride.

 

v.6For 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.”

 

            “THEY HAVE MADE READY THEIR HEART”, like someone just waiting for an opportunity to do evil, the unclean wait in their hearts for the opportunity to satisfy their lusts.  The analogy is one that may be somewhat unfamiliar to us today because they are compared to a baker who kindles his fire and provides the necessary fuel and then waits for it to reach the proper temperature.  Habitual sinners fuel the lusts of their hearts, plot and plan to be able to accomplish some evil.

 

v.7They 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.”

 

            Among the kings, princes and judges of the people even those who might have made a difference have been devoured, either overcome and joined in the evil or removed from their places of responsibility.  Their kings have followed only their own wants, their own lusts, have spiritually perverted their people so they are fallen.  There were none of the kings that were over the northern kingdom that were not corrupt and evil.

 

Read Hosea 7:8-10 – The Foundation of Israel’s Sin

 

v.8Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.”

 

            What was the foundation of Israel’s degradation and sin?  Had God not warned them about their relationship with the Canaanite people?

 

Exodus 23:23-24For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. 24Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.”

 

Deuteronomy 7:2-4And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: 3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4For they will turn away thy son from following me that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

 

But like rebellious children Israel refused to obey God’s commandment and fell into the very trap that they were warned to avoid.  They mingled themselves with the heathen, learned and copied their ways separating themselves from God by their disobedience to his laws and the worship of pagan idols.

 

v.9Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.”

 

            Israel’s strength, Israel’s deliverance all through the years of the judges and even in the years of the kings of Judah was her relationship with God.  One of the things that may seem strange to some is that they did not even know just how bad their situation was.  They had rejected the very thing that would have told them:

 

Hosea 4:6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”

 

Consequently they did not know the sadness of their condition.  They are like a person that is aging but in denial.  They either try to cover it up, act like it isn’t happening, or act the fool trying to imitate those that are younger.  Frequently, among men, troubled marriages and infidelity are the result, just like the relationship between Israel and her God.

 

v.10And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.”

 

            In their pride Israel would not turn to God in humility and repentance.  Even though God has rescued them from themselves many times in their history; they have forgotten these lessons.  Just as we studied in an earlier chapter:

 

Hosea 5:4-5They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD. 5And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.”

 

Read Hosea 7:11-16 – God’s Wrath Revealed

 

v.11Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.”

 

            Ephraim, or Israel, is like a Texas dove on the day the season opens.  She is fleeing in panic from field to field, from one adversary into the path of another.  When she was troubled by Egypt she fled to Assyria and made covenants with them.  When was oppressed by Assyria she fled to Egypt and made covenants with them.  Or they tried to buy relief from their oppressors as Ahaz of Judah did:

 

II Kings 16:8-9And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 9And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.”

 

And though it bought them a little time, in reality it only bankrupted the country and delayed the inevitable for a few years.

 

v.12When 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.”

 

            They only delayed the inevitable because no one can escape the judgment of God.  He says that he will throw a net over them like the Missouri Conservation department trapping turkeys to transplant them into another area.  Their chastisement is certain and just as the congregation of the people had been told; God is a jealous God and will not tolerate a divided allegiance from his people.  His commandments were:

 

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

 

Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; 15(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 6:14-15

 

The destruction that God promised is exactly what is going to happen to the Israelite nation; they would be destroyed from off the face of the earth to never again exist as a people or nation.

 

v.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.”

 

            Israel had indeed fled from God, abandoned the covenant that God had made with them, broke the laws that he had given them.  All of this in spite of God rescuing them time after time from their enemies and from certain destruction.  He had done so even in times near to the time of this prophesy.  During the reign of King Joash, just prior to the time of Hosea God had delivered Israel from Syria.  Just as the prophet Elisha had prophesied to this king in II Kings 13:17 we find the record of them being delivered in:

 

II Kings 13:25And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.”

 

God restored much of the kingdom that had been lost by previous kings.  He had rescued them again, during the reign of Jeroboam II, the king of Israel during the time of Hosea:

 

He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. 26For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel. 27And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.” II Kings 14:25-27

 

The Lord said that he would destroy them but instead he saved them once again but their response was only more transgression of his laws and rebellion against Him.

 

v.14And 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.

 

            Israel rebelled against God just like those who rebelled against Abimelech when he ruled over Israel as God’s judge:

 

Judges 9:27  And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.”

 

God was their rightful Lord and King.  God had always ruled the children of Jacob with equity and for the good of all; but Israel rebelled against him.  First of all by requiring a king like the nations around them, rejecting the kingship of God; and then in the years that followed by turning to pagan gods, pagan worship, abandoning the covenant the He had made with them.

 

v.15Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.”

 

            In spite of God’s intervention for them with their enemies, in spite of God strengthening them so that they could stand against those who would destroy them God says that even in their imagination they plot mischief, i.e. sin, against him.  They accepted God’s blessings, even the blessing of deliverance from oppression as their just due and then mocked him.  They had become as those God destroyed by flood:

 

Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

 

v.16They 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.”

 

            When Israel did repent it was insincere and a sham.  They pretended to repent, they pretended to turn from their wicked ways but it was all a pretense.  They did not really return their allegiance to God.  They were like a bow prepared for use but when drawn breaks and leaves the bowman defenseless.

            The princes of Israel quarreled with God and the laws of God.  They thought it their right to make their own laws.  Does that sound familiar?  Isn’t that what men are doing today?  In their pride and selfishness they rejected the laws of God.  Because of the condition of their hearts they would fall by the sword, some by assassination by their own people, others when they are conquered by their enemies.  Those that would flee to Egypt, as some from both Israel and from Judah did for refuge, would be derided and looked upon with contempt.

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport. LA; October 19, 2008