A. A heart like an oven.
1. (1-3) The sinful ignorance and willful blindness of Israel.
“When I would have healed Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered,
And the wickedness of Samaria.
For they have committed fraud;
A thief comes in;
A band of robbers takes spoil outside.
They do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness;
Now their own deeds have surrounded them;
They are before My face.
They make a king glad with their wickedness,
And princes with their lies.”
a. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: The problem among the people and leaders of Israel was they forgot – willfully – that the LORD saw and remembered their sin. We often deliberately forget that the LORD sees and remembers when we sin. It may be secret before men, but not before God – He says, “they are before My face.”
i. The believer today should ask themselves: Have you forgotten? Do you think God doesn’t see? Do you think God is blind to your adultery or pre-marital sex? Do you think your pornography habit goes unnoticed? Do you think God’s eyes are closed when you get drunk or take drugs? There are many church-going people today who think that God forgets or never sees such things, because they do them and then they come to church and make a profession of godliness, pretending that those things are never part of their life.
ii. There is a precious promise for those who come to God under the New Covenant: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34). We often wish that time would make God forget our sin, but it doesn’t. Only the atoning substitute of Jesus, crucified in our place under the New Covenant makes God forget our sin.
b. When I would have healed Israel: God was willing to heal Israel from their sin and its effects, but not as long as they acted as if God did not see their sin. They had to treat God as He really is, a God who sees and remembers unrepentant, uncovered sin.
c. They make a king glad with their wickedness: This phrase, together with princes have made him sick (Hosea 7:5) and all their kings have fallen (Hosea 7:7) probably all refer to one of the successful assassination plots against the throne of Israel during the ministry of Hosea. Since there were four kings violently overthrown during his ministry, it’s hard to exactly know which one he means.
2. (4-7) Israel’s heart is inflamed after idols.
“They are all adulterers.
Like an oven heated by a baker;
He ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough,
Until it is leavened.
In the day of our king
Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine;
He stretched out his hand with scoffers.
They prepare their heart like an oven,
While they lie in wait;
Their baker sleeps all night;
In the morning it burns like a flaming fire.
They are all hot, like an oven,
And have devoured their judges;
All their kings have fallen.
None among them calls upon Me.”
a. Like an oven heated by a baker: Israel was inflamed with desire and passion after idols like the coals of a freshly stoked fire, ready to bake bread.
i. Paul used the same image of “burning lust” in 1 Corinthians 7:9: but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
b. None among them calls upon Me: Israel could not be hot, like an oven after idols and also call upon the LORD. They did in fact continue to sacrifice to the LORD (Hosea 5:6) but it was empty ceremony, not a true calling upon their covenant God.
3. (8-10) The pride and stubbornness of Israel.
“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake unturned.
Aliens have devoured his strength,
But he does not know it;
Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him,
Yet he does not know it.
And the pride of Israel testifies to his face,
But they do not return to the LORD their God,
Nor seek Him for all this.”
a. Ephraim is a cake unturned: The idea is of a “half-baked” cake. In that day, bread was often prepared as a cake that was cooked on both sides, something like a pancake. In thinking they can serve both the Lord and idols, Israel is like an unturned pancake – burned on one side, uncooked on the other.
b. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it: This makes the tragedy of Israel’s ruin worse. The nation is being ravaged by sin but does not know it. They should know it, because even the pride of Israel testifies to his face – yet in their blind ignorance they do not return to the LORD their God.
i. Man has an amazing ability to deceive himself when he is in sin. Well did Jeremiah say, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Considering how easily we deceive our self, and how our sin can be apparent to everyone but us, Israel’s condition isn’t unusual:
· Burned and ruined – but he does not know it.
· Strength devoured – but he does not know it.
· Aging and weakening – but he does not know it.
· Pride testifies against him – but he does not know it.
ii. It was said of Samson after Deliliah cut his hair: But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20). This is where the people of Israel – and some followers of God today – were. They are far from God and already suffering the effects, but they can’t see it.
c. Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it: Israel is as foolish as an old man who thinks and acts like he is still young.
i. “He began but to decline and decay, as a man doth when he grows toward 50.” (John Trapp, 1654)
B. Silly like a dove.
1. (11-12) Like a dove, Israel flies about to the nations.
“Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense;
They call to Egypt,
They go to Assyria.
Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them;
I will bring them down like birds of the air;
I will chastise them
According to what their congregation has heard.”
a. Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense: Hosea piles image upon image. Now Israel is like a bird fluttering about, confused and without direction. They think they can escape God by running to other nations, but the Lord says, “I will spread My net on them.”
b. I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard: Israel’s guilt is increased according to what they have heard. Greater knowledge means great accountability. As Jesus said, for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:48).
2. (13-16) In running to the nations, Israel has run away from God.
“Woe to them, for they have fled from Me!
Destruction to them,
Because they have transgressed against Me!
Though I redeemed them,
Yet they have spoken lies against Me.
They did not cry out to Me with their heart
When they wailed upon their beds.
They assemble together for grain and new wine,
They rebel against Me;
Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms,
Yet they devise evil against Me;
They return, but not to the Most High;
They are like a treacherous bow.
Their princes shall fall by the sword
For the cursings of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.”
a. They return, but not the Most High: Israel saw their problem, but not their sin. When God’s hand is against man, he easily sees he has a problem but often does not see it as sin against the LORD. So when Israel had problems, they wailed upon their beds, but not to the LORD. They sought remedies, but not from the Most High.
b. They are like a treacherous bow: Hosea adds another image, of a faulty bow that won’t shoot an arrow straight. Everything that comes from Israel misses the mark, because they are like a treacherous bow. They are like a useless and dangerous weapon.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission