As we continue through the Book of Hosea, Hosea continues to record God’s Word against the people of Israel. It is good for us to see the history recorded, but we should continue to seek what God’s Word has to say to us. As we move to chapter seven, Hosea tells us that Israel was a hardened sinner, and believed that they would not be held accountable for their sins. (NOTE: Hosea uses the terms ‘Samaria’ and ‘Ephraim’. Both terms still denote Israel. Ephraim was the largest and most dominant tribe of Israel, and Samaria was the capitol city.) God would have healed them, but they would not acknowledge Him. Hosea points to their sins by using a series of metaphors. Sometimes metaphors can be difficult as they may be confusing for people from different times in history, or new to the language. If I said to you, ‘what’s the matter, does the cat have your tongue?’, I imagine you would understand exactly what I was saying. But, what would you be thinking if you were just learning English? My grandchildren will sometimes use expressions that only their generation understands! (I recognize the words as English, but have no idea what it means!) So, let’s look at some of the metaphors used by Hosea.
Hosea says the people, “…delight the king with their wickedness…” (7: 3) The leaders of the people who should have been appalled by the wickedness of the people were thrilled by it and participated in it! Israel’s heart is inflamed after idols, “…burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir…” (7: 4). If you ever burned anything, you know that by poking or stirring the fire you could increase the burning. In this case, the people already, on their own, have turned to their sin nature. They don’t need someone else to encourage them in their sin. As a former teacher, I can think of countless times students have suggested their wrong doing was the result of someone else’s actions, or they should not be in trouble as someone else did it too. “Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.” (7: 6) The fire of their evil passion never went out. “Ephraim mixes with the nations;…” (7: 8) Israel was not keeping itself separate as a monotheistic nation, but was consorting with pagan nations. The Psalmist points to the sins of the people when he wrote, “but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshipped their idols which became a snare to them.” (Psalms 106: 35-36) “…Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over.” (7: 8) I’m sure you have made pancakes some time in your life. You know what would happen if you didn’t flip it! The people of Israel worshipped God, but also practiced Baal worship, or idol worship. They had two sides each completely different from the other. Today, we use the term, ‘Sunday Christians’. Hosea continues, “…his hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not know it.” (7: 9) He gives us the picture of an older man who is trying to ‘act young’. How foolish he is. His time is drawing short, but he fails to realize it. “Ephraim is like a dove easily deceived and senseless…” (7: 11) Israel was going from nation to nation (i.e. Egypt and Assyria) seeking help, but was ignoring God who could actually help. We might use the term ‘bird brained’.
Hosea speaking God’s message wrote, “They do not cry out to Me from their hearts, but wail upon their beds.” (7: 14) Israel saw a problem, but didn’t cry out to God. “…they (Israel) are like faulty bows…” (7: 16) They won’t shoot straight, misses the mark, and can be dangerous to the one using it! Hosea says of Israel, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind…” (8: 7) ‘Sowing the wind’ was a well-known proverb meaning what you are doing is worthless. “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6: 7) ‘Reaping the whirlwind refers to wickedness and the subsequent punishment. In vs. 8: 9 Hosea says Israel is “…like a wild donkey…” This means Israel desires to live unrestrained by God’s standard. I wonder if that attitude is prevalent today. In part 5 of our look at the Book of Hosea, we will hear of God’s punishment for Israel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.