Chapter 1 Chapter 6 Chapter 11
Chapter 2 Chapter 7 Chapter 12
Chapter 3 Chapter 8 Chapter 13
Chapter 4 Chapter 9 Chapter 14
Chapter 5 Chapter 10

Hosea, according to his own statement, in verse 1 of Chapter 1, was a contemporary of Isaiah. So He was concerned with the same problems that faced Isaiah. And it is not surprising that some of his prophecy is closely related to that of Isaiah. However, his message primarily concerned Israel instead of Judah.

Chapter 1

(Verse 1) The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah , and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel .


In the first verse of Isaiah’s prophecy, he tells us that the word of the LORD came to him in this same time frame. He only mentioned the four kings of Judah , and said nothing about Jeroboam the king of Israel . The reason for this is, probably, that his prophecy primarily was concerning Judah and Jerusalem , although he did sometimes therein mention Israel . But Hosea’s prophecy was chiefly concerning Israel . Yet it did sometimes refer to Judah . The Jeroboam mentioned here is not the one who rebelled against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, but is Jeroboam II, the son of Joash, king of Israel . We do not know at just what point in the reign of Uzziah the word of the LORD came to Hosea. But it was, likely, in the latter part of his reign. For the two kings between him and Hezekiah reigned 16 years each. And the time of this revelation to Hosea extended into the reign of Hezekiah.


(Verses 2 through 5) The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And the LORD said unto him, call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel . And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel .


As he said, this was only “the beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea.” It seems a strange commandment from the LORD. There has been some controversy concerning whether this was actually something that Hosea literally experienced in life, or just something that he experienced in a vision. Some argue that, since adultery is considered of God to be such a great sin, He would never actually have commanded Hosea to marry an adulteress. Therefore, according to their argument, this must have been only a vision that the LORD showed him, in which he heard this command, and saw himself follow it. On the other side of the argument it is maintained that these things are actually historical events. That is, in actual fact, Hosea heard this command from the LORD, and married such a woman. Then some argue that God would never give such a command to one of His servants. But He only gave Hosea leave to do what he already wanted to do anyway. This seems to be the changing of a command to permission, and appears less in agreement with the text than either of the other views. Since the thoughts and ways of God are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth, upon what foundation can we stand to say that He would, or would not do this, or that? Whether this was actual fact, or a vision given to Hosea, the lesson is the same. For the son born of this marriage was to be called Jezreel, because the time for the LORD’S avenging the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and bringing the kingdom of the house of Israel to an end, was at hand. And this child was God’s sign of the approach of that day. This great event would come to pass in the valley of Jezreel . The LORD would let Israel become defenseless, and be overcome in a battle in that valley.


(Verses 6 and 7)  And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel ; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah , and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen.


Some scholars tell us that “Loruhamah” means “unpitied.” And certain it is that the LORD declared that she was the witness that He would not pity Israel . He had shut Israel off from His mercy, and would bring upon them exactly what He had declared. He would utterly take them away. But, as is later declared in this prophecy, this utter taking away will not be forever, but only until they “shall return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.” Neither will all be cut off. At the same time the LORD will have mercy upon Judah , and will deliver them, not by their army and weapons of war, but by His own power. This He fulfilled, as recorded in II Kings 19:35.


(Verses 8 and 9) Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then God said, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.


The meaning of the name, “Loammi,” seems to be “Not My people.” And the LORD gave this name for this child as witness that He had cut off Israel , and declared that He was not their God.


(Verses 10 and 11) Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.


In spite of this cutting off the LORD declares in verses 4 through 7, He will always leave a remnant, so that the number of the children of Israel shall be innumerable.  And in the very place where He has declared to them that they are not His people, and He is not their God, they will be reclaimed. “It shall be said unto them, ‘Ye are the sons of the living God.’” In that day both the children of Israel and the children of Judah shall be joined together, and shall appoint themselves one head. The first part of verse 1 seems to be a prophecy of the very thing we now see in Israel . Certainly, they are not all gathered together yet. But they are from more than just the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which made up the “house of Judah ,” or the southern kingdom. And, though they are not all gathered, they did take upon themselves the name of Israel , instead of Judah . Yet they have appointed, or elected, for themselves, one head, or government, instead of being divided as they had been for centuries. “And they shall come up out of the land: for great is the day of Jezreel.” We have not yet seen the greatness of the day of Jezreel. But just as the LORD broke Israel in the valley of Jezreel , so shall He heal them in the day of Jezreel. And great will be that day.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 5) Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.


The first thing in this that we should notice is the change of words from those used in former verses. No longer are the names Loruhamah and Loammi used; but Ruhamah and Ammi. The syllable, “lo” is actually a negative. Now instead of calling their brethren “Loammi,” or “Not My people,” they are to say “Ammi,” “My people.” And instead of saying to their brethren, “Loruhamah,” or “Unpitied,” they are to say, “Ruhamah,” or “you that have obtained pity.” For God has declared, in verse 10 of the preceding chapter, that “in the place where it was said unto them, “Ye are not My people,” the saying shall be changed to “Ye are the sons of the living God.” Now they are to plead with their mother, the nation of Israel , and warn her to turn away from her wickedness and adultery, lest the LORD lay upon her the terrible penalty He has pronounced, and show no mercy to her children. She has, in her worship of idols, acted just as a prostitute, She has gone to any one of the idol gods that she thinks can be of any material profit to her. She thinks that they are the ones, who have kept her furnished with the necessities of life, and with its luxuries also. So she runs after them as a prostitute does after men that she thinks have money. As we shall see, for this cause she is to bear great chastisement.


(Verses 6 through 13) Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand. I will also cause her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me, saith the LORD.


This is the punishment the LORD will visit upon Israel for all her wickedness. All our lives we have heard the saying, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” And this passage certainly witnesses to the truth of this saying, so far as the law of God is concerned. He declares that Israel is ignorant of the fact that it is He, Who has given her all the things she so much enjoys, and, indeed, needs. Instead, she thinks her lovers, the idol gods she has been worshipping, have given her all these things. Don’t laugh at such ignorance, and think, “How foolish anyone would be to think such.” Just look at your own life, and, whether you have little, or much, of this world’s goods, consider where it came from. You may think, “My hard work, and my wisdom in the deals I have made, have enabled me to accomplish this.” But think again. How many do you know, who have worked just as hard as you have, and are your equals in intelligence, but have not been able to accomplish as much as you have? Then remember that you have what you have by the blessing of God. There are many today among what are sometimes called, “street people,” who have worked just as hard as you, or I. But their efforts have not been blessed as have ours. So give God the praise and glory that belong to Him. This Israel did not do. The LORD says that she did not know that it was He, Who had given her these things. Instead, she thought they were the rewards she had received from the idols she had served. He declares that after He encloses her with thorns and a wall so that she cannot find her lovers, these idols she has been worshipping, however much she seeks them, she will decide it was better with her in her former estate, and she will try to return to Him. But at that time, He will take away these blessings He has given her, and leave her with nothing. She will be more desolate than ever before. She will no longer have any joy, nor will she have any more feast days, sabbaths, or solemn feasts. He will even destroy her vines and fig trees, turn them into a forest, and let the beasts of the field consume them. In verse 13, when He says, “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me,” He does not mean that He is going to return her to those days, in which she had rejoiced. Instead, the meaning is that the desolation He has already pronounced upon her is a visitation for those things. She shall be thoroughly punished for them.


(Verses 14 through 18) Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her, her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt . And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.


This, together with the remainder of this chapter, looks forward to the final restoration of Israel , and the ushering in of the wonderful peace, not only among men, but even among the beasts of the fields, the fowls of the heaven, and the creeping things of the earth. The LORD shall “allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” That is, He will give her a great desire to return to Jerusalem , the city that had for so long been a wilderness. And there He will “give her, her vineyards, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope.” There can be no doubt that during the last half of the twentieth century we have seen the fulfillment of this part of this prophecy. None can say just how long it will be before the remainder of it will be fulfilled. But it will come to pass. Make no mistake about that. The Lord has spoken it; so it cannot fail. In the day (or time) of its fulfillment all the names of other gods will be taken away from Israel , and remembered no more. Israel shall no more call God “my Lord,” but “my Husband.” Just as the gospel church is so often spoken of as the bride of the Lamb, Israel is called the wife of Jehovah. In the day here announced shall be such peace as has never been known since the curse was placed upon the earth for the sin of man. All men, all beasts of the field, all birds of the air, and all creeping things of the earth shall be at perfect peace, not because they have agreed to do so, but because God Himself shall make a covenant for them. They will have no part in making this covenant. But they will keep it.


(Verses 19 through 23) And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.


This is the LORD’S declaration that this union between Him and Israel shall never again be broken. His righteousness, judgment, and lovingkindness shall be hers forever, and she will be forever faithful to Him. This will be “heard,” or witnessed, by Him, the heavens, the earth, and by all produced by the earth. To those, to whom He has said earlier in this chapter, “Ye are not My people,” He will now declare, “You are My people.” And their reply to Him will be, “You are our God.” Thus it will forever be.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 5) Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her unto me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: and I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; and thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.


Here Hosea was commanded to love a woman, who, though beloved of her friend, was an adulteress. This was to symbolize the relation between the LORD and Israel . So Hosea did not marry her, but bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Some may make some great thing out of the price Hosea paid. I will leave that part of the matter to them. The point is that instead of marrying her, he bought her. And this is the price he had to pay in the deal. Nothing is said about who it was to whom he had to pay the price. But since harlots make their living by selling themselves, it seems reasonable to conclude that he paid her. Then he made a covenant with her. “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.” This was to signify to Israel what the LORD had determined for them. He would leave them for many days “without a king, and without a prince, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.” Thus they would have neither a civil ruler, nor a spiritual leader. They would not even have an idol god, as would other nations. They would be “without an image.” And they certainly would have no sacrifice, no ephod, and no teraphim; none of the items of the worship of Jehovah. Their temple was destroyed in 70 AD. And until this day they have had none of these things. And they will not have such until a new temple is built, and, during the early part of the reign of the beast, he permits them to resume their sacrifices. However in the “middle of the week,” which most Bible scholars take to mean “after three and one half years,” he will cut that off, and set himself up “in the temple of God , shewing himself that he is God.” (II Thess. 2:4) Hosea says, Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days. This is when shall come to pass that which Zechariah sets forth in the fourteenth chapter of his prophecy.

It is then that the LORD will himself stand upon the mount of Olives, and bring to pass the wonderful things that are attendant upon that. When this is done, the children of Israel “shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.”


Chapter 4

(Verses 1 through 5) Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel : for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea shall be taken away. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.


Here instead of acting out a scenario to symbolize what He will do to them, the LORD calls upon the children of Israel to hear the word of the LORD. He declares that He has “a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,” and gives the reason for it. “Because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” He continues, and tells them what they are doing that is so terrible. “By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” This is a terrible condition for a people to be in. And when we take an honest look at the situation in our own country, we see a very close approximation of this in present society. Every item of this indictment can be seen among us. Adultery has become so common that many think there was nothing wrong with our former president having so many “affairs” even while in the highest office of the land.  Neither do they think he did anything wrong by his lying, and swearing false oaths. And concerning killing, a majority of the population of this country think it perfectly all right to kill the unborn babies. In fact they even want to take our tax money to pay for such. If we add these killings to the other murders that are being committed all around us, it would appear that indeed “blood toucheth blood;” it covers the land. He declares to Israel that because of this condition He will bring desolation upon the land. And that He did, just as He said. Not only did He bring it upon them, but He left them in this desolation for centuries. During that time, He said, “Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.” The finishing touch of this penalty was laid upon them in 70 AD, and is not yet fully removed. Still He says “Let no man strive, nor reprove another.” Even in this condition, there is to be no pointing the finger at another, and accusing him of being guilty of these things. For all are guilty. All the people are as they that strive with the priest. And this is something strictly forbidden by the law of the LORD. Because of this the LORD says that both the people and the prophet shall fall. Not only so, but He further says, “And I will destroy your mother.” Since the temple of God was at Jerusalem , all the Israelites spoke of Jerusalem as their mother. And the LORD says that He will destroy her. And that He did.


(Verses 6 through 11) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I also will 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. As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Whoredom and  wine and new wine take away the heart.


 The first statement in this text gives one of the foremost reasons for the destruction, or desolation, of the people of God. That reason is the lack of knowledge. One might then think that this would be easy enough to remedy. All we have to do is to teach them. BUT how can that be done when they reject knowledge? They do not want to learn, and will not learn. As I listen to many ideas that are among the LORD’S people today, I am made to wonder if that is not our trouble now, just as it was when Hosea was given this word. I know that we all have access to the Bible, both The Old and The New Testaments. And yet many of the ideas we hear set forth are not even remotely related to the doctrine taught in them. Are we rejecting knowledge today, as they did then? If so, hear what He says. “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. As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.” When I was a child, I often heard people, both men and women, some of whom might not even go regularly to church, and who made no claim to being preachers, say, just in ordinary conversation, “The Lord said that we should do this, or that;” or the negative side of the matter, “He said that we should not do it.” Now, it is seldom that anything is said about such, except by the preacher, and that when he is in the pulpit. Have we “forgotten the law of our God?” If so, What did He say that He will do? “I will forget your children.” The great cry today is, “My children will not listen to anything I tell them.” Perhaps we should take a look at what we have told them. Our normal conversation and our everyday actions tell them what is really on our minds, far more than what we say when we claim to be giving them instructions. The reason they will not listen to our instructions may be that our own lives and conversations may be so loud that they cannot hear the instructions we try to give. It grieves my heart to see parents teaching a baby, who is just learning to walk and talk, to do, or say, something they think is “smart,” but for which they will later want to chastise him. There is so much contradiction in the lives of many of us, that it is no wonder the children of today are in so much trouble. Thank God they are not all giving trouble. But many of those who are may be only reflecting the fact that their parents have forgotten the law of their God. Where that is the case, He says, “I will also forget thy children.” Parents, to what punishment are we condemning our children? When this is going on, as it was in Israel in that day, and as it may also be among our people in this day, we can only expect it to get worse until God lays His hand upon us. He says, “As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.” The more the population increases under these conditions, the more will they sin against God. And because of this, He will make the very thing in which they glory, or boast, to be their shame, or bring them to shame. When He says, “They eat up the sin of My people, and set their heart on their iniquity,” He is not saying that they, by so doing, destroy that sin and iniquity, but simply that it so whets their appetite for sin, that they become more and more active in it. Thus their situation becomes worse and worse. It becomes so bad that people and priest alike are caught up in it. And The LORD will surely punish them all for their iniquities. “For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” He will send famine upon them, so that they shall not have sufficient food, and neither will their population increase in spite of all the prostitution and adultery in the land. The latter portion of this might well describe present day society, inasmuch as there seems to be more fornication and adultery in the land to day than ever before: while, at the same time, there is so much abortion that it certainly holds down the increase of population. Yet this passage may refer more to what is called “spiritual adultery,” than to the natural sin. For Israel was engaging in all manner of idolatry. They were trying to worship every idol god they heard of. In following after either natural or spiritual adultery, they have left off to take heed to the LORD. For His commandments forbid both. Either of these, as well as drunkenness, ”wine,” destroy, or take away the ability of the heart to follow the commandments of the LORD.


(Verses 12 through 14) My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a-whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredoms, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.


Although whoredom and adultery, in the natural sense, are forbidden by the laws of God, He is here referring to idolatry more that to the sin of the flesh. Since Israel has so long practiced idolatry, even to asking counsel of their stocks and staves, mere pieces of wood that can of themselves do nothing, not even think, and have been offering sacrifice under every green tree because it gave a good shadow in which to rest, the LORD will not punish their wives and their daughters for their adulteries because they are only following the examples set before them. But for lack of understanding all of the people shall fall. Of course, the knowledge He refers to as being absent in them is the knowledge of God. He has already previously shown that their reason for not having it is not that it is not available to them, but that they have rejected it.


(Verses 15 through 19) Though thou, Israel , play the harlot, let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, The LORD liveth. For Israel slideth back like a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined unto idols: let him alone. Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredoms continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye. The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.


This first statement is a warning to Judah to not follow in the steps of Israel . Do not even come to the places, such as Gilgal and Beth-aven, where Israel has been offering sacrifices to idol gods. And do not even go there to take such allowable oaths as “The LORD liveth.” To go to such places is an abomination in itself. For Israel has been continually backsliding. Even when the LORD has chastened her for her idolatries, she has gone shortly back into them. Yet the LORD declares that He “will feed them as a lamb in a large place” When He says “Now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place,” he does not mean that He will do it immediately, as we might infer from the use of  “now” to introduce it. History itself shows that He did not do so. In fact, that promise still awaits fulfillment. We would be better advised to consider the “now” as “After all this” signifying that in spite of all their sins, He will yet do this. However it will be done when He finally restores Israel , as He so many times declares. As for the time presently before them, He says, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Just as He often does, He substitutes the name of one tribe of Israel , “Ephraim,” for the whole people. He will bring them to shame because of their sacrifices, not their sacrifices to Him, but those they have offered to idols. “Their drink is sour (fermented).” That is, they are drunken. They have continually committed whoredom, or idolatry, and her rulers shamelessly love to call upon the people, “Give ye.” They seemed to have the same idea that most politicians of today follow. They think that any problem can be solved by putting more money into it. But it would not keep Israel from being brought to shame for her idolatries. And neither will it save us today.


Chapter 5

(Verses 1 through 5) Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel ; and give ear, O house of the king: for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me: for now, O Ephraim, thou commitest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They 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. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.


This warning is to the priests, the house of Israel , and the house of the king. In short, the whole nation of Israel , with no one excepted. They were all involved in this from the least to the greatest. The gist of this warning is that judgment is against (“toward”) them all for their sins. And because all are guilty none shall escape. The snare and the net mentioned here are not the implements used by them for catching wild birds and animals, but their schemes for entangling and defrauding their neighbors. And those making use of such, (“the revolters,”) are strongly committed to slaughter, or murder, in spite of the many rebukes God has spoken to them all. They will not “frame,” or arrange their works in a manner that they may “turn unto their God.” Before someone cries, “But they COULD NOT do that,” let us refresh your memory. The scripture says, “They WILL NOT” do this. The question of what they can, or can not, do, has not been presented. What is under consideration is the fact that they have no desire to do it. The reason for this is that the “spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD. The pride of Israel is its own witness against him. It testifies to his face. Because of this Israel and Ephraim shall fall in their iniquity. (Both names refer to the same people, and are thus used for emphasis, to indicate that none shall escape.) As if this were not bad enough, “ Judah also shall fall with them.” While it is true that Jerusalem was not overcome until the time of the Babylonian captivity, many cities in Judah did fall at the same time as Israel , when the Assyrians overcame them.


(Verses 6 through 12) They shall go with their flocks and their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Beth-aven, after thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out My wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.


Although these people should take herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, offer them as sacrifice, and thus with them seek the LORD, they shall not find Him. For He has withdrawn Himself from them. They have been completely unfaithful to the LORD, and thus their children are illegitimate. Remember that Israel is considered as the wife of Jehovah, the LORD. Thus, as they have left Him and gone after idols, it is as if a woman has left her husband, and had children by other men. Those children are illegitimate, or “strange.” “Now shall a month devour them and their portion,” in view of the fact that they were to be besieged and overcome by the Assyrians, seems to mean that a month of such a siege will be sufficient to destroy both them and their possessions. So they are told to “blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah.” That is, they are to prepare for battle. For the enemy is on his way. Not only Israel , but Benjamin also shall be affected by this. Benjamin was the tribe that remained with Judah when the kingdom was divided in the days of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the first kings after the division. And the usage of the name here is the same as if he had said Judah . There can be no question about the desolation that is to come upon all of them. For the LORD has made known to them what “shall surely be.” Even the princes of Judah have been just as evil as men that take away the boundary markers of their neighbors. And this is a sin expressly forbidden by the law of God. Because of this the LORD says, “I will pour out My wrath upon them like water.” When He says, “Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he walked willingly after the commandment,” He does not mean that Ephraim followed the LORD’S commandment, willingly, or unwillingly. Instead he willingly followed the commandment of the princes of Judah , which, since they “were like them that remove the bound,” unquestionably gave evil commandments. For all these evils, the LORD says, “Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.” That is, He will cause them to deteriorate more and more until they are destroyed.


(Verses 13 and 14) When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah : I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.


When Ephraim and Judah saw the danger in which they were, they did not turn to their God, but went to the Assyrian king, hoping for help. But instead they were only in deeper trouble. The Assyrians overran the country, and took them captive. Isaiah explains that they were only the rod of the indignation of the LORD, and He is the One, Who sent them against Israel . Here the LORD says that He will be to both Ephraim and Judah as a lion that attacks, and goes away. He will take away, and none can rescue those taken. Certainly, Israel and Judah had sinned. And it was for their sins that this was to come upon them. But keep in mind that it is GOD, Who sent it upon them. Therefore it would accomplish exactly what He purposed it to do. So it is with us even today. And none but He can deliver.


(Verse 15) I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.


As with every promise of destruction and desolation upon Israel and Judah , the LORD also promises final restoration of them. That is the promise under which they are spared even today. Just as surely as the promise of their desolation was fulfilled, so shall be the promise of their restoration. It cannot fail, or be changed, no matter how many men may interpret it some other way.


Chapter 6

(Verses 1 through 3) Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us: He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: In the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and the former rain unto the earth.


No doubt this chapter sets forth the final restoration of Israel and Judah . But, like so many of the other prophecies, it also seems to speak of the coming of the Christ, in both His first and second advents. These particular verses seem to be a call by those, who have been put through such great chastisement, to their fellows to return to the LORD, Who has thus chastised them. Since, as David so often said, “His mercy endureth forever,” surely now that we realize that it is He, Who has torn and smitten us, He will also bind us up and heal us. It appears that verse 2 could very well be a prophecy of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ, and the fact that in the purpose of God we, in the legal sense were crucified, buried, and resurrected, with Him. Notice that he says, “After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” Was this not, effectively, exactly what He did? Our Lord Jesus told the Jews that, as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. There has been much argument about whether, as the gospel records are interpreted, He was in the grave three days and three nights. But they certainly fit the description given here. It was after two days, and in the third day, as time was then counted, that He arose. And the Apostle Paul explains to us in the first 11 verses of Romans 6, we were, according to the purpose of God, in the Christ in both His death and resurrection. Our Lord also told the Jews, “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) Here we have almost the same message in different words. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD.” Only those who follow on are His true disciples. And only they shall know the LORD. As is so often clearly shown in the word of God, the following on is not the means of our knowing the LORD, or of being His disciples indeed. But it does identify those who are His disciples. And to those who are His disciples indeed His coming is with the same refreshing effect as the rain upon the earth. So also, no doubt, will be His return when He will re-gather and restore Jerusalem , Judah , and Israel . That will be a day of great refreshing unto all of His people.


(Verses 4 through 7) O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah , what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against Me.


Thus the LORD considers the situation of both Israel and Judah . Any good that they ever attempt is like a morning cloud, or the dew. It soon vanishes away, leaving them with the same evil thoughts and ways that have prevailed with them for so long. He has sent unto them the prophets to tell them of their sins. He has even slain many of them. But they would not repent. So the judgments He has prepared for them are as sure as the light that goes forth. It will be poured out upon them just as He has told them. Verse 6 declares the principle, which our Lord told the Jews that they did not know the meaning of. He said that if they had, they “would not have condemned the guiltless.” Samuel also declares it to Saul in I Kings 15: 22-23. “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry.” But the men of Israel and Judah , just as do other wicked men, have transgressed His covenant, and dealt treacherously, or deceitfully against Him. It is for this that He will bring all this desolation and destruction upon them.


(Verses 8 through 11) Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel : there is the whoredom of Ephraim , Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.


It seems that Gilead was a city known in Israel as a place of healing. Jeremiah 8:22 says, “Is there no balm in Gilead ; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” But instead of a city of healing, she is now a city of them that work iniquity, and is covered with blood. Even the priests agree to commit murder, apparently to keep others from finding out what lewdness they practice. The “whoredom,” or idolatry, of Ephraim ( Israel ) is so great that she is completely defiled. So the judgments decreed are sure to come. There seems to be, in verse 11, a promise of the return of Judah from the Babylonian captivity that is to come upon them. At the time of the return of the LORD’S people there is a harvest set for Judah . Or this may look beyond the return from the Babylonian captivity, even to the final restoration of Israel . It will take place when the LORD returns the captivity of His people.


Chapter 7

(Verses 1 through 4) 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. 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. They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. 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.


This is very much in keeping with what Jesus said to Jerusalem , as He wept over her. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” The Lord had many times sent prophets to Israel to warn them that if they did not mend their ways there would be serious consequences to pay. But at every warning some new sin was found among them. Now they have so completely turned away from the LORD that He will no longer spare them. The judgment He has declared must be administered. They have become a land of wickedness, fully engaged in lying, stealing, robbing, and murdering. They have become so accustomed to such that they do not even consider that He remembers all their wickedness. As the modern expression has it, “they are in His face” with all their evil ways and deeds. Their king is so wicked that their wickedness makes him glad, and their lies please their princes. They are all adulterers so inflamed by their passions that they are like an oven that the baker has preheated while he waits for his dough to be properly leavened.


(Verses 5 through 10) In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. 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. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not. 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.


The princes, or advisers of the king, have gotten him drunk on wine, so that he is not in condition to make decisions that would be in the best interest of the people. The result is that he has stretched out his hand, or has taken part, with those who scorn the warnings of the LORD. And all of them are constantly inflamed, “hot as an oven.” Therefore they have devoured, or destroyed, their judges, and all the kings they have ever had that attempted to lead them rightly, have fallen. They are no longer here to guide them. Therefore “there is none among them that calleth unto Me.” What a terrible condition in which a nation can find itself! As we listen to the daily reports of the situation of our own nation, we are made to wonder, “Are we far behind them in our wickedness?” Ephraim, or Israel , “has mixed himself among the people.” That is, there is no difference between the officials and the people. All alike have forsaken the LORD. A “cake unturned” is burned on one side, and raw on the other, utterly unfit for anything. And that is Israel ’s condition. His strength has been devoured by strangers, his hair is turning gray, showing that he is getting old and feeble; and he doesn’t even know it. In such a condition, his pride is a witness against him. It testifies to his face; but he doesn’t believe it. And in this condition, none of them will even try to return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him. They are in a hopeless condition indeed.


(Verses 11 through 16) Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt , they go to Assyria . 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. 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. 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. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against Me. 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 .


No doubt, verse 11 is a reference to the fact that Israel was attempting to play Egypt against Assyria, and Assyria against Egypt , in the hope of gaining protection from one against the other. The LORD declared that this would not be profitable to Israel . And it was not. Assyria overcame them, and took them away captive, just as the LORD said. He pronounced destruction against them for their failure to seek help from Him. He it was, Who redeemed them. This redemption has no reference to the redemption and salvation found in the Christ, but to His redeeming them out of Egypt by the hand of Moses. They had often been told of this great work of the LORD. But in their present distress, they sought help from man instead of the LORD. In this they imagined mischief against Him. That is, they imagined that He was no longer able to deliver them. So they turned to others for help. This very much reminds us of those today, who say that, if the Lord, or His apostles were here to day, they would teach quite differently from what is written in the New Testament. They say that, what was taught then is out of date, and will not work in the modern age. So they seek to find answers in the philosophy of men instead of in the word of God. Is this not the same principle the LORD sets forth here? He says, “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 .” Since they do not return to the most High, they are like a bow that will not shoot straight. It is worthless; and so are they. Their princes, or leaders, shall be slain by the sword for the rage of their tongue. And this shall bring ridicule upon them in the land of Egypt . One of the very nations upon whom they are depending for help will only hold them in derision. What do you suppose He will do to these of our day who are following this same practice?


Chapter 8

(Verses 1 through 4) Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant, and trespassed against My law. Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.


Since the trumpet was the instrument used to sound an alarm and summon to the battle, the call of, “Set the trumpet to thy mouth,” is the command to prepare for the battle. That is, the delay is over. It is now time for the judgments already determined to be meted out. “He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD.” Of course, the eagle is one of the largest birds of prey, and it also is very swift in flight. So this declares that the trouble that is coming upon “the house of the LORD,” or upon Israel , is great, and that it will come swiftly. The reason for its coming is that they of Israel have transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and have trespassed against His law. The punishment that is coming is so great that “ Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know Thee.” This cry, instead of showing true repentance, is more in keeping with a saying often heard among combat veterans, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” And it simply means that in their suffering, they are so greatly frightened that they call upon the very God they have so lately forsaken. Now the LORD tells what they have done that has brought this upon them. “ Israel hath cast off the thing that is good _ _ _ They have set up kings, but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made themselves idols.” These are the things the LORD cites against them. Looking all the way back to the time of the Prophet Samuel, we see that Israel did indeed cast off the thing that is good, in that they no longer wanted the LORD to rule over them by His judges and prophets; but they thought they had to have a king, so that they would be like other nations. This, the LORD granted to them. And from that time on to the time of Hosea, there had been a succession of kings. Although many of them would not follow the LORD, but not only sinned themselves, but also caused Israel to sin. In addition to this they made and worshipped idols, instead of trying to follow the commandments of the God, Who had so graciously delivered them from the bondage of Egypt , led them to the land of Canaan , and built them into a great nation. Because they have done all these evils, the LORD says, “The enemy shall pursue him,” and they shall for this be cut off.


(Verses 5 through 7) Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; Mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud thereof shall yield no meal: if so be that it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.


Here the LORD turns to the “calf of Samaria .” It will be remembered that when the kingdom was split between Jeroboam and Rehoboam after the death of Solomon, that Jeroboam the king of Israel made two golden calves, and set them up as gods for Israel to worship instead of going up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD at the temple. The golden calves continued to be a snare to Israel , even to Hosea’s day. So the calf of Samaria had been the outstanding sin of Israel , and had therefore cut them off, and kindled the anger of the LORD against them. The question, “How long will it be ere they attain to innocency?” Is only another way of saying, “They will never become innocent.” Their sin will continue to remain upon them. Therefore this great punishment is not to be avoided. He then sets forth a principle that we today should also remember. “For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God.” This will apply to much more that that golden calf. If it is something made by man, it cannot be God. Therefore we are not to ascribe to it any power of either good or evil. It can do nothing. Although king Jeroboam had it made, it was still from Israel , not just from the king. They were all guilty. But the LORD says that, that calf shall be broken in pieces. We may not have a golden calf. But whatever we have that we put before God will also be broken in pieces. Such things amount to nothing more than sowing, or planting, the wind. There will be no harvest. If there were a harvest, strangers would devour it. And that is exactly what was about to come upon Israel .


(Verses 8 through 14) Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria , a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes. Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing. They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of Mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will He remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt . For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.


Although at the moment of Hosea’s prophecy Israel was not swallowed up, the time was so short until that would be literally true, and it had been determined by the LORD, that he could speak of it as already done. Israel was shortly to be carried away to Assyria . There he would be as much alone as would be a wild ass that someone has captured, and is keeping in captivity. He has been trying to hire both Assyria and Egypt , each to help him against the other. And both of them know about it. Therefore he will receive no help from either. His attempt to “hire lovers,” has completely failed. So now the LORD will gather them, and cause them to have a little sorrow “for the burden of the king of princes.” This seems to mean that they will no longer have the privilege of choosing their princes or their kings, since the LORD is going to gather them into the captivity of the Assyrians. This is to be brought upon them because of the altars they have made, at which to worship their idols. The LORD has “written to him the great things of His law.” But he has considered them as a strange thing. That is, he has refused to even consider them. They offer many sacrifices, claiming to be worshipping the LORD. But these offerings are not acceptable to Him. He will, therefore, remember their iniquity, in the sense of punishing it, and He will visit their sins. As a result, they shall return to Egypt . During the Assyrian campaign against them, many from Israel did go to Egypt . And many were carried to Assyria . Although Israel put on a great show of worshipping God, and built many temples, they forgot their Maker. And that was their downfall. Judah built many fenced cities. But the LORD said, “I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.” So both Israel and Judah were to receive great chastisement for their sins. As we look around today at the many great church buildings, “temples,” and see the abandonment with which the present day society is going into all manner of evil, we have to wonder, “Are we not walking in Israel ’s shoes, even now?” If so, what can we expect? Can the LORD not see us as well today as He did Israel in that day? Certainly we too should take heed to His word.


Chapter 9

(Verses 1 through 4) Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a-whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor. The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt , and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria . They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.


Hosea has often mixed his use of “ Israel ,” “Ephraim,” “he,” and “they,” when referring to the same people, which may have given some a little trouble in knowing exactly of whom he speaks. However, in this passage, he only uses “ Israel ,” “Ephraim,” and “they.” Of course, these all mean “the people of Israel .” The first thing said in this chapter is a command to the people of Israel . The LORD tells them to not rejoice as other people. The reason is that they have sinned, and are about to receive chastisement for their sins. It is not a proper time for rejoicing, but rather one for mourning. There will not be left unto them either bread or wine sufficient to sustain them. And they are to be driven out of the LORD’S land. That is, the land, which the LORD gave them when He led them out of Egypt , and settled them in Canaan , is to be taken from them. Part of them shall return to Egypt , while the remainder shall be taken to Assyria . He does not tell them, at this point, how long they will be thus scattered. But in other places He does say that it will not be forever. At His time, He shall re-gather them, and restore the glory of the kingdom. Now, however, He is only telling them how great will be this dispersion and the troubles attendant upon it. While in this time of chastisement they will be deprived of even the opportunity to make their offerings to the LORD. They are still under this deprivation. True enough Judah was delivered from the great Babylonian captivity, sufficiently that the temple was rebuilt, and the sacrifices restored, so that, at the time our Savior was on earth, they were still offering sacrifices. But Israel was not thus delivered. They are still under this situation. And since 70 AD Judah has also thus suffered. Their soul cannot “come into the house of the LORD,” because it is no longer there.


(Verses 5 through 9) What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins.


Since there will be no temple in which to offer their sacrifices and offerings, what will they do in either the days of their solemnities, or the days of the great feast of the LORD? All these things are gone, because even the temple of the LORD has been destroyed, and the people removed from the land of the LORD. Some of them are in Egypt , where they will also be buried. “The pleasant places for their silver,” both their homes and their temple, were destroyed, and their cities were laid waste. Nettles and thorns have taken them over. What terrible desolation! The “days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come.” That is, this is the time of the meting out of judgment for the sins of Israel . And Israel shall know it. They will not have to wonder what is the cause of their suffering. The LORD will teach them the cause. Even their prophet is a fool, or without understanding. And the spiritual man has been made mad, or insane, for the multitude of the sins and great hatred of Israel . They had shown their hatred of God by forsaking Him, and following idols. There was a time when the watchman of Ephraim, or Israel , was with God. But even the prophet is unto Israel as the net of the fowler in all his ways. That is, they try to avoid it as a bird would the net of the fowler. They are afraid of it. And though he is in the house of his God, they hate him. They have deeply corrupted themselves. But the LORD will remember their sins, and He will bring upon them the proper punishment.


(Verses 10 through 13) I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved. As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.


Here the LORD reminds Israel of His love and care for them, even from the beginning. He was as pleased with them, when He found them, as one would be to find grapes in the wilderness, or desert; or as one finding the first ripe figs on a fig tree that was bearing for the first time. In short, when He chose Israel , He loved them exceedingly. Remember how He wrought, by plagues, upon Egypt , to make them set His people free. He even slew the firstborn of both man and beast throughout Egypt . But at Baal-peor , Israel turned aside after the doctrine of Balaam, and committed horrible sins. Although He does not recount them, there are many more sins of Israel , not only in the wilderness, but also after they were established in The Promised Land, and even down to the time of this prophecy. For all of these things all glory shall depart from Israel like a bird flies away. There will be few children born to them. And those that are will be taken away by death, many even by being murdered. They will no more be in that pleasant place, in which they have been planted. When the LORD departs from them, woe shall certainly overtake them.


(Verses 14 through 17) Give them, O LORD: what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of Mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.


Hosea says, “Give them, O LORD.” then it appears that he is momentarily at a loss as to what he would ask the LORD to give them. Then, in keeping with what the LORD has already said in verses 11 and 12, he says, “Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” Under such conditions as this, there will be little, if any, continuation of their people. Then the LORD declares that it is for the wickedness of Ephraim, or Israel , that He hated them, and that He will drive them out of the pleasant land wherein He had planted them. Although He says, “I will love them no more,” He does not say that this condition will be forever. Because all their princes, or leaders, are always fomenting revolt, and leading them away from Him, He has smitten Ephraim, and will even slay their children. In verse 17, Hosea declares that, because they did not listen to Him, God will cast them away, and make them to wander among the nations. This, they are still doing, and will until the LORD’S appointed time of restoration of them.


Chapter 10

(Verses 1 through 4) Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars: according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us? They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.


 This sets forth the condition in which Israel finds himself, and the reason for his being in such a situation. He is an empty vine. That is, he is a vine without fruit. When he did bring forth fruit, he did it for himself. He never gave thought to the fact that his fruit was the blessing of the LORD, but “increased his altars;” not altars to the LORD, but to the many idols of the people around him. The more his land produced, the more he made “goodly images,” images that he thought to be fine works of art, and which he worshipped as his gods. This, of course, made the hearts of the people to be divided. They were constantly looking from one idol to the other, but never looking to the One true God. So they are found faulty, or at fault. Therefore the LORD shall break down their altars, and destroy their images. Then, and then only, will they realize that the reason they have no king is that they have not feared the LORD their God. And they will understand that a king cannot help them now. Because they have sworn false oaths, and made false covenants, their judgments are coming upon them like hemlock springs up in the furrows of their fields. There is no way to prevent this judgment from overtaking them.


(Verses 5 through 8) The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present for king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his counsel. As for Samaria , her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel , shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall on us.


Samaria was the capitol of Israel , and “Beth-aven” is “the house of Aven.” As we see in verse 8, “the high places of Aven” were “the sin of Israel .” These high places were the places where the worship of all these idols was carried on. The LORD tells them that “the calves of Beth-aven” shall bring great fear upon Samaria , such that the inhabitants thereof, together with the priests who have rejoiced over these calves, shall be in great mourning, because all the glory of these idols shall be taken away. Even the calves themselves shall be taken to Assyria as a present to Jareb the king of Assyria . This will bring shame upon Ephraim ( Israel ) and they shall be ashamed of their own counsel. The king of Samaria shall be cut off “as the foam upon the water. He will be no more. All the high places, the places where they worshipped their idols, shall be destroyed, and even thorns and thistles shall grow up on their altars. When these things take place, the people will call upon the mountains and the hills to fall upon them and cover them from the great judgments of the LORD.


(Verses 9 through 12) O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is My desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.


Verse 9 calls Israel ’s attention to an event that is recorded in Judges, chapters 19, 20, and 21. In this account we find that Gibeah was as evil as Sodom was in the day of its overthrow. Gibeah was a city of Benjamin . And because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of Gibeah all the other tribes of Israel were gathered in battle against Benjamin. The people of Gibeah are the ones to whom He refers as “the children of iniquity.” He says that, although the battle in Gibeah did not “overtake,” or more correctly, “overthrow,” them, the Israelites have sinned ever since that day. Surely, they had sinned before that time, but He emphasizes this incident because at that time Israel was doing battle  against “the children of iniquity.” And, apparently, such has never again been the case. The LORD declares that it is His desire only to chastise Israel . And to do this, “the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.” This statement seems to be somewhat obscure. It, perhaps, might refer to the practice of harnessing two animals together to a plow for the breaking of the ground. In such case, they would be bound in two furrows, or side by side. Thus when Israel sets forth to join themselves side by side in facing the crisis that is before them, the people will be gathered against them. And in this instance, “the people” refers not to the people of Israel , but to their enemies.


To give a different perspective of this we quote verses 9 through 11 from The New English Bible.


                                       Since the day of Gibeah Israel has sinned;

                                       there they took their stand in rebellion.

                                       Shall not war overtake them in Gibeah?

                                       I have come against the rebels to chastise them,

                                       and the peoples shall mass against them

                                       in hordes for their two deeds of shame.

                                       Ephraim is like a heifer broken in, which loves to thresh corn,

                                       across whose fair neck I have laid a yoke.

                                       I have harnessed Ephraim to the pole that he may plough,

                                       That Jacob may harrow his land.


Obviously, there seems to be some differences between this and the KJV translation. Since I have no expertise in the Hebrew Language, I shall not attempt to say which is correct.


Verse 12 is the LORD’S call to Israel , in view of the judgment that He has determined for them. His message is, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come.” This call seems to be clear enough. The only way to “sow to yourselves in righteousness,” is to set yourselves to do righteous works. Someone will surely say, “But we cannot of ourselves do righteous works.” No doubt, that is true. But do you believe that the LORD will tell you to do something without giving you the ability to do it? If so, you have a very erroneous picture of the LORD in your mind. When He gives us a commandment, He provides the ability to fulfill that order. The second command, “Reap in mercy,” is the automatic follow-up of the first. Just as surely as we sow to ourselves in righteousness, we shall reap in mercy. Then He says, “Break up your fallow ground.” Fallow ground is that ground which has been left idle for a while, just as we often let a field lie idle for a time. Israel was very well acquainted with this. For the LORD had commanded them to let their fields lie idle every seventh year. However, the fallow ground to which He refers here, is the working of righteousness, which they had left idle since the day of Gibeah. A long time indeed! How long have we left it idle? “For it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” The reason for obeying His commands is that now is the time to seek the LORD. And do not seek Him for a little while, and quit, thinking that it is useless to put forth the effort. Instead, continue to seek Him till He comes, and showers you with righteousness. Just as surely as He calls upon us to seek Him, and we obey that command, He will “rain righteousness” upon us. That is His promise; and it cannot fail.


(Verses 13 through 15) Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children. So shall Beth-el do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.


Again the LORD reminds Israel of what they have done. As is always the case, when one cultivates wickedness, the harvest he will reap from it is more iniquity. Therefore they have fed themselves with the fruit of lies. They did this because they trusted in their own way, in the power of man, “the multitude of their mighty men.” However they will find that their mighty men are not sufficient to take care of them. But all their “fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle.” The reference to Shalman seems slightly unclear, since this is the only reference to Shalman that we can find in the scriptures. One would think that he might be Shalmanezer, the king of Assyria . But his campaign against Israel was during the reign of Ahaz king of Judah , who is also one of the kings under whose reign Hosea received his prophecy. And the event here mentioned seems to have been somewhat earlier. Nevertheless, Shalman was, evidently, a man of great ferocity. He spared none, not even mother or child. So the destruction against Israel will be great. It will be done because of the great wickedness of Israel . And “in a morning,” that is, early “shall the king of Israel be cut off.”


Chapter 11

(Verses 1 through 4) When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My Son out of Egypt . As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.


Verse 1 is both historic and prophetic. No doubt, its historic value is all we would ever have considered concerning it had not the Holy Ghost inspired Matthew to mention its prophetic value. We shall look first at its meaning as a prophecy. In order to better understand it we must first consider one word in it as key to the entire verse. Although Israel is the name of the grandson of Abraham, who was the “friend of God,” and from whom the Israelites all count their lineage, we should consider why this name was given to him, and what the name means. In Genesis 32:24-29 is given the account of an experience of Jacob. And it was at this time that his name was changed to Israel . Verse 28 says, “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel , for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” There seem to be many interpretations of the name, “ Israel .” In the center column references in some Bibles it is said to mean “Prince of God,” while in others “He who wrestles with God,” or “God rules.” However, according to the statement of the angel to Jacob, it appears that the best reading would be “Prince.” Therefore, by making this substitution, we have, in the present text, “When the Prince was a child, then I loved Him, and called My Son out of Egypt .” See Matthew 2:15 for its fulfillment.


When we consider this statement as history, we can see its fulfillment in Exodus, particularly in Chapters 3 through 15. In calling Israel out of Egypt , the LORD wrought many miracles, and showed His mighty power. This He continued to do all through the wilderness, and even after He had settled Israel in the Promised Land. But, “As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.” The first “they” in this statement surely refers to the idols of the land; the second, to the Israelites; and the third, to the wonderful works God had wrought for Israel , in delivering them from the bondage of Egypt . So instead off showing either love or respect for the God, Who had so wonderfully delivered them, they sacrificed to Baalim, the idol gods of the heathen around them, and burned incense to graven images. This has ever been the way of man. He seems to prefer worshipping something his own hands have made rather than worshipping the great God of heaven and earth, Who is the source of everything good that he has ever had, has now, or ever will have. In spite of all his boasting of his great wisdom, what a foolish creature is man! The LORD says, “I taught Ephraim to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.” As we take a baby by his arms, or hands, and help him to maintain his balance so that he can walk, so did the LORD to Ephraim, or Israel . But in spite of this they did not realize that it was He, Who healed them. “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” Although the LORD taught them to walk, drew them with bands of love, took them out of bondage, and provided food for them, they still, as He said above, “sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images,” instead of worshipping Him.


(Verses 5 through 8) He shall not return into Egypt , but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And My people are bent on backsliding from Me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt Him. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together.


The statement, “He shall not return into Egypt ,” does not mean that none of Israel would return into Egypt . For indeed some of them did. But this they did on their own. They were not carried there as captives. Their captivity was by the king of Assyria and his army. The reason for this is that “they refused to return.” That is, they refused to return to the LORD, and continued on in their idolatries. Therefore the sword did consume their cities. And it was because of their own counsels, or decisions. The LORD says, “My people are bent to backsliding from Me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt Him.” Israel had such an inclination to backslide from Him that, if someone called them to the most High, none would exalt Him. They would all turn away to their idols. In spite of this great sin of Israel , the LORD, in verse 8, laments the fact that He must give them up to punishment. But make no mistake about it. He is not a failure. He is not giving them up as a lost cause, as many try to convince us today that He has to do for men, because He has done all He can for them, and they just will not accept Him. The great difference is that in the great work of salvation He has never offered Himself to man. His offering was made to the Father, Who accepted that sacrifice, and showed His approval of it by raising our Lord Jesus from the dead. So He “hath by one offering perfected forever them that are sanctified.” In the present instance, He is only giving up Israel to punishment for their disobedience.


(Verses 9 through 12) I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. They shall walk after the LORD: He shall roar like a lion: when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt , and as a dove out of the land of Assyria : and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD. Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.


In spite of all the sins of Israel , the LORD declares that He will not execute the fierceness of His wrath against them. He will not “return to destroy” them. The reason for His sparing them is not that they have not done enough evil to deserve it, and neither is it because they have repented of the evils they have done. It is that He is God, and not man. He is the Holy One in the midst of them. And He “will not enter into the city.” That is, to destroy it. His promise is that He will never utterly destroy Israel , regardless of the present day claim that He has forever cast them off, and given all the promises made to them to the gospel church. Actually, His faithfulness to the promises He has made to them is the basis upon which we can expect Him to also be faithful to those made to the gospel church. He declares that “they shall walk after the LORD.” Surely, this does not mean that He is going to immediately turn them away from their sins, and cause them to follow Him. He will send upon them the very punishment He has declared. But at His time He shall cause them to walk after Him. He will also roar like a lion, and the children shall tremble from the west. That is, those who have fled to Egypt , the country west of Israel , shall tremble. Trembling is usually a sign of fear. So this is a declaration that they shall be made to fear the LORD. Some might try to “spiritualize” this, and interpret it to have something to do with the work of our Lord Jesus in the great work of salvation. But, at that time, He did not roar as a lion. Instead, He came as a lamb. For He is “the Lamb of God, That taketh away the sin of the world.” Nevertheless, when He shall return, He will come as a lion, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah .” Then, indeed He shall roar. Then “’they shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt , and as a dove out of the land of Assyria : and I will place them in their houses,’ saith the LORD.” Then the LORD turns back to the present situation, and says, “Ephraim compasseth Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet rules with God, and is faithful with the saints.” Thus He signifies that the time for Israel ’s judgment is at hand. But Judah has not yet dropped to the level that calls for chastisement upon her. And history shows that Judah was spared about 134 years after Israel was taken captive, and dispersed by the Assyrians.

Chapter 12

(Verses 1 and 2) 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 . The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah , and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him.


The LORD turns again to His charges against Israel . He says that Ephraim is not feeding upon solid food, but upon the east wind. Since He calls it the “east wind,” there may be here some reference to the fact that the people of the east were noted for their many idol gods, as well as for their “mystery cults” in their religions. And these are no more beneficial than would be the effort to subsist upon the east wind as food. Whatever the significance, or lack thereof, it only increases the lies and desolation that have already done so much damage to Israel . In their deceit they have made a covenant with Assyria, and at the same time, carried oil (olive oil) to Egypt , for the purpose of bribing the Egyptians to help them against the Assyrians, with whom they made the covenant. So it is easy to see just how deceitful they are. Although at the end of the previous chapter, He said, “ Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints,” He still has a controversy with Judah . He does not say that He is ready to punish Judah . But the punishment of Israel is already established. And it will be according to his ways.


(Verses 3 through 6) He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept and made supplication unto him: he found Him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.


In verse 3 the reference is to the birth of Esau and Jacob, the account of which is given in Genesis 25:24-26. Verse 4 takes us again to Jacob’s wrestling with the angel, as recorded in Genesis 32: 24-29. There he found God, not that God was ever lost, nor that He is not everywhere, but simply that Jacob had no understanding of this fact until that occasion. Then he named the place “Beth-el,” the house of God. It is from that place and that experience that Jacob spoke to them, and even to us today. Because there he was made aware of the omnipresence of God.. So Jacob’s memorial is none other than the LORD God of hosts, Himself. Since this is true, the LORD commands Israel , “Turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” And this command is also to us today, as well as to Israel in that day.


(Verses 7 through 10) He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. 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. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.



Again the LORD tells us of the sin of Ephraim, or Israel . He is a dishonest merchant, who has become rich, and loves to oppress those not so fortunate as he. Yet he thinks that he has his sin so well concealed that it cannot be discovered. In spite of this the Lord, Who has been his God from the time of his being led out of Egypt , makes a promise to him. That promise is, “I will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast,” the Feast of Tabernacles. Not only does He now make this promise, but He has also made the same declarations by the prophets through the visions and similitudes they were given in their ministry.


(Verses 11 through 14) Is there iniquity in Gilead ? Surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are heaps in the furrows of the fields. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria , and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt , and by a prophet he was preserved. Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.


Since Gilead is a place that was known for its healing, He asks the question, “Is there iniquity in Gilead ?” There must be, for there is no more healing there. So He answers His own question. “Surely they are vanity.” Since iniquity is found there, Gilead is worthless. Gilgal is one of the places where much idol worship was carried on. They offered bullocks for sacrifice. And they had so many altars to the idol gods that, they even built them in the furrows of their fields. This is the LORD’S appraisal of Israel . Then He recounts very briefly Israel ’s history, beginning with his fleeing for fear of his brother Esau. He went to the land of Syria , and there kept sheep for Laban the father of his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Then He tells that it was He, Who brought Israel out of Egypt by the hand of His prophet Moses. In spite of all this, Ephraim, or Israel , provoked Him to anger most bitterly. And because of this He will leave his blood upon him. That is, He will judge him worthy of the punishment that is to come. He has brought it upon himself. “And his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.” That is, his Master shall chastise him for this reproach.


Chapter 13

(Verses 1 through 4) When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel ; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 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. Therefore they shall be as a morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and the smoke out of the chimney. Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt , and thou shalt know no god but Me: for there is no savior beside Me.


When Ephraim feared the LORD, and therefore was fearful, and was careful in his speech, he was highly regarded in Israel . The people listened to him, and heeded his counsel. But when he turned aside after other gods, he died, insofar as his influence for good is concerned. He was no longer the wise man he had been considered. How often it is found to be that way even today! Just a few years ago there seemed to be a rash of this very thing in this country. Men, who had by many been considered as great men of God, turned to sin in such a manner that it could not be overlooked. Their followers were so disappointed in them that they felt they had to renounce them. And because of their fall, many blasphemed the Lord and everything pertaining to Him. So it has always been when people put their trust in men instead of the LORD. “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.’” This description of Israel is literally true. For they did make images, and worship idols. In our present situation, it may be that the people did not turn to graven images; but they did turn to the things of the world, and set their hearts upon them, with the thought that if these “great Christian leaders” could do these things, certainly so could they. Some will surely say, “That is what they wanted to do all the time.” And that may be true. But the fact remains that the fall of leaders encourages sinners. But this is no excuse. For He says, “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.” Sometimes we see a few clouds in the early morning, that vanish away as soon as the sun gets up enough to heat up the atmosphere. And certainly we have seen a whirlwind pick up chaff, and take it away suddenly. And as the smoke arises from the chimney it quickly spreads out, and fades away. This is the lot of Israel because of their sins. And this is the lot of those who worship idols. This may not come immediately upon them, but it is sure, and will come at the LORD’S time. As the LORD continues, He says, “Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt , and thou shalt know no god but Me: for there is no savior beside Me.” This does not mean that the LORD came from Egypt , but that He has been their God since He brought them out of Egypt . He is the One, Who has taken care of them all along the way. The second part of this expression is both a command and a statement of fact. He commands them to recognize no other god, for He alone is God, and He alone is a Savior. Beside Him there is none. This is also a promise that at the time appointed of Him, they will be brought to realize that this is true, and will recognize no other. They shall know that He is their only LORD and Savior.


(Verses 5 through 8) I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted, therefore have they forgotten Me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: 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.


Notice how He turns back and forth from what He has done for them to what He will do because they have turned away from Him. He reminds them of His care for them when they were wandering in the wilderness. In spite of His goodness to them they have turned away from Him, to serve and worship other gods. Because of this He will bring upon them great destruction, as if a wild beast, such as a lion, a leopard, or a bear, should come upon them. They shall not escape.


(Verses 9 through 14) O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. 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? I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and I took him away in My wrath. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. 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. 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.


The LORD sums the matter up in this statement, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thy help.” All the desolation that shall come upon Israel has been brought by the sins of Israel . No one else is to be blamed for it. Yet, in spite of all this, in God alone is help for them. And this is really a promise of help, not just an invitation for them to come to Him for help, but a promise that He will help them without fail. He reminds them that He was not pleased with them when they rejected the judges He had given them, and desired a king. Yet, in His anger He gave them the king they wanted. But in His wrath He has taken him away. This taking away of the king has no reference to His taking the kingdom from Saul, and giving it to David. Rather, it is His bringing the kingdom to an end by the Assyrian captivity that is to come. “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.” This is not a reference to anything Ephraim has done, or may do, to try to hide his sin. If it were, the LORD would have declared the futility of such effort. Instead it is a declaration that He, the LORD, has put aside that sin, and hidden it Himself. Of course, as is true of so many prophecies, it is spoken in the present tense, not because it has already been brought to pass, but because in the mind of God it is already purposed, and therefore is as sure as if already done. Then He tells us that in the meantime the sorrows of a travailing woman shall be upon him. Further, he is said to be, not a lost sinner, but “an unwise son.” He will not be able to stay long enough “in the place of the breaking forth of children” to increase greatly in number. Instead he shall be reduced to a remnant. But he will still remain. And the LORD shall “ransom them from the power of the grave; “ and redeem them from death. A study of the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy, especially verses 20 through 28, will convince any serious reader that this is a promise of re-gathering Israel from all the places on earth where they have been dispersed, and restoring them to Jerusalem and the land of Israel . Not only so, but “repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.” He will not repent of His promise, nor will He change it, or abandon it. It shall be fulfilled at His appointed time.


(Verses 15 and 16) 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. 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 ripped up.


Again, actually for the last time, we go back to the terrible woes that shall be brought upon Israel from the time of the Assyrian captivity until the LORD’S restoration of them. Although Ephraim might have been fruitful among his brethren, he shall be diminished so that there will be only a remnant left, as indeed it will also be with all Israel . During this great time of desolation, the LORD will take away the treasure of all pleasant vessels. That is, there will be little in which Israel can rejoice. And thus we see her today. They have no temple, and they are not able to offer sacrifices, nor observe their holy days as before the dispersion.. Their land, and all their cities , were laid waste, and their people killed. Only in the past fifty years does there seem to be for them a little hope. And all the nations of the world seem to be trying to take even that away from them.



Chapter 14

(Verses 1 through 3) O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.


This is a call to Israel for their return to the LORD their God. The reason for their affliction is that they have sinned, and their iniquity is what has brought them down. This call they will heed when the LORD restores them to the land, which He gave in perpetuity to Abraham and his seed after him. Not only are they instructed to return to the LORD their God, but they are even instructed how to pray unto Him. They are to beg that He take away their iniquity, and receive them graciously. When He does this, they will “render the calves of their lips.” This is not a reference to the golden calves Jeroboam had made and set up for them to worship, but to the calves, or bullocks, they had offered, under the law, as sacrifices to God. Instead of burnt offerings, they will offer praise to the LORD their God. Never again will they depend upon their neighbors, nor upon the idols for help, but upon the living God, in Whom the fatherless find mercy.


(Verses 4 through 9) I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel : he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon . His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon . They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow up as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon . Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found. Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.


This is the LORD’S promise to Israel in the day of their restoration. It seems to be so clearly set forth that it would be impossible to comment upon it without running the risk of doing damage to it. He declares that He will Himself heal their backsliding, and love them freely. He is angry with them no more. As we consider the wonderful blessings He will at that time bestow upon them, it seems that we can add nothing to it. And, surely, we do not wish to take anything from it. Those to whom the LORD has given wisdom shall understand these things, and the prudent shall know them. Certainly, the LORD’S ways are always right. That, none can deny. And in them shall the just always walk. The transgressors can not do so, but fall by their own transgression.

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