Hosea 13

 

 

The first eight verses of this chapter portrays anew the dreadful prevalence of apostasy

And idolatry throughout the nation. “The same strings, though generally unpleasing ones,

are harped upon in this chapter that were in those before” (Matthew Henry).  (I feel

the same way when I think back on the forty plus years of trying to teach the Adult

Bible Class, especially since some of the main ideas which God has laid on my

Heart and were directed towards the radio and television audience, which is

not the same each week.  Those faithful class members have been very tolerant

over the years! – CY – 2012).   They form the premises from which the prophet,

in the ninth verse, draws the conclusion that the conduct of Israel had been

suicidal; that they had brought on themselves the calamities which

they had experienced, and ULTIMATELY THE RUIN in which those

 calamities eventuated. The various particulars of their sin are enumerated,

with the provocation caused or the punishment incurred by each. Thus

THE IDOLATRY OF BAAL STRIPPED THEM OF THE AUTHORITY

THEY ONCE POSSESSED and issued in THE DISSOLUTION OF

THEIR STATE!  After they had been to some small extent reclaimed from this

national sin, and had somewhat retrieved their position, their perseverance in the

calf-worship and the progress of their idolatrous practices provoked Jehovah so

grievously as to threaten their sudden and entire destruction. Then their gross

 ingratitude to God for His great goodness and long-continued mercies, followed

 by pride and haughtiness and forgetfulness of the Most High, brought down on

 their guilty heads fearful vengeance. All these circumstances justify the conclusion

to which he comes, that while God had been their Helper and Deliverer all along,

they were chargeable with their OWN DESTRUCTION.

 

1  “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel;” - This

rendering of the Authorized Version

 

·        is supported by the Syriac, which is: “When Ephraim spake trembling,

then he was, and was great in Israel.” Rashi has a similar rendering of

the word retheth, which is an a[pax lego>menon hapax legomenon

once spoke - and causes the diversity of translation in this clause; but his

exposition of the whole sentence is vague and unsatisfactory. Referring it to

Jeroboam of the tribe of Ephraim, he explains as follows: “When Jeroboam,

zealous for God, spoke against Solomon hard words, and with terror,

Solomon was a great king.” Pococke’s exposition is in harmony with the

Authorized Version, and is the following: “When Ephraim spake with fear

and trembling (like his forefather Jacob, in his humble supplication to God),

he exalted himself in Israel.” But

 

·        the rendering adopted by most moderns, is decidedly preferable, as

agreeing better with the context, and much more in harmony with tribal

characteristics of Ephraim, as intimated in this very book, and exhibited

elsewhere. The translation we thus prefer is: “When Ephraim spake, there

was trembling; he, even he, exalted himself in Israel.” Such was the fear

inspired, and the deference paid to the authority of that powerful tribe. The

word reheth, though not found elsewhere, has a cognate root in Aramaic,

with the meaning here assigned to it; for ttr is to fear, shudder, tremble;

there is also, in Jeremiah 49:24, the word ff,r,, equivalent to “fear,”

similar in both sense and sound. The Chaldee supports this rendering; its

paraphrase is: “When one of the house of Ephraim spake, trembling seized

the peoples.” Also Aben Ezra and Kimchi. The former’s brief comment is:

“Before his speaking the peoples were afraid; and the word ttA has no

analogue except in the Aramaic.” Kimchi’s explanation is, “From the

beginning, before Ephraim sinned, the fear of him was great over the

peoples who surrounded him; for when he spake, fear and trembling were

wont to seize him who heard him; and he was great and strong among the

tribes of Israel, as it was said of him, ‘ And his seed shall be a multitude

of nations.’”  (Genesis 48:19)

 

·        The Septuagint renders reheth by dikaiw>mata dikaiomata

ordinances; statutes -  thus:” According to the word of Ephraim, he

adopted ordinances for himself in Israel,” that is, when Ephraim spoke,

the rest of the Israelites assented to his ordinances and rights, reverencing

his authority, so that the general sense differs little from the Chaldee.

 

·        Rosenmüller constructs and explains differently; his exposition runs

somehow thus: “When Ephraim spake, instituting that horrible worship of

the calves, he himself bore the sin of that horrible dictum, i.e. was guilty of,

and bore its punishment.” This explanation of açn is farfetched and

unnatural. We have no hesitation in preferring “lifted up,” i.e. his head, or

exalted himself, for, though it is usually the Hithp. that is employed in this

sense, examples also occur in which Qal is so used, for example Psalm

89:10 and Nahum 1:5.  (I would like to put a disclaimer in at this point –

I know just enough about Greek to be dangerous, although I make

every effort to give an accurate interpretation through research – however,

I know nothing about Hebrew!  - the Hebrew is included for those who

are knowledgeable in it – to those of us who do not understand Hebrew, this

is useless – however I encourage the reader to not cut corners thinking

all this web site is Greek and Hebrew, which it is not!  There are blessings

everywhere in its study, and COME ONLY FROM GOD, HIS CHRIST

AND THE HOLY SPIRIT! – CY – 2012).  Kimchi supplies rosho. We

adhere, therefore, to the rendering and exposition of the second point above –

“but when he offended in Baal, he died.”   This was not merely the calf-

worship which, for political reasons, Jeroboam instituted and his successors

retained, but the worship of Baal for which, no doubt, the calf-worship had

prepared the way, and which had been introduced by Ahab at the instigation

of his Sidonian queen, Jezebel. And though the people were partially and

temporarily reformed through the efforts of Elijah the prophet and by the royal

authority of Jehu, son of Nimshi, the evil was not eradicated, but frequently

broke out again. The exaltation of Ephraim was not so much his distinction

among his brethren as the governmental predominance at which that tribe ever

aimed.  That elevation, however, was soon followed by religious declension,

culminating in THE IDOLATRY OF BAAL, WHICH SOON SEALED

THE DOOM OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM, thenceforth given

up to DESTRUCTION.  The sentence of death was pronounced, and

the actual dying commenced with the introduction of idolatrous worship.

Thus, correctly, Kimchi: “He lifted up his head in Israel. And after he

offended in Baal he died, as if he said, he was beaten before his enemies,

as if he were dead, the power of his hand had departed.”

 

2 “And now they sin more and more (margin, add to sin), and

have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to

their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen:”  This part

of the verse declares their persistent adherence to idolatry. The note of

time, “and now,” marks the transition from the past period, when Baal-worship

had been introduced by Ahab and subsequently overturned by Jehu, to the prophet’s

own day. Not content with the calves of Jeroboam and the worship of Baal, they

added new superstitions and new hideous objects of worship. hk;Sem", a molten image,

like the molten calf of Aaron, is singular, but used collectively, so as to correspond

with μyBi["[}, idols, which is plural. The reference here is:

 

·        not to the calves or to Baal, but to various other idols which they had

adopted, as at Gilgal and Beersheba (Amos 8:14). Or,

 

·        not content with the calves, they introduced gods of their own as their

penates. The material out of which these molten images were

manufactured was silver. Kimchi, however, gives a curious explanation in

proof that the material was gold: “The calves,” he says, “were not silver,

but he means to say that, of the silver which they each one gave to procure

gold to make the calves, they made for themselves idols according to their

understanding; and these were the calves.”

 

The manner in which they made these idols was:

 

·        in their understanding, that is, in their understanding, such as it was, so

stupidly employed in such sensuous work, or their proficiency in the

art of graving. Kimchi explains it somewhat differently: “The explanation of

μnwbtb is, ‘As if they had carefully reflected on the matter what form they

should give it, and then had agreed to make a calf, as they did in the

wilderness.’” The reading of the word ytb is disputed, but without

sufficient ground. No doubt the Septuagint, which is followed by the

Chaldee, Arabic, and Jerome, probably read tn"Wbt]Ki, rad hnb, to build,

like tynib]T", figure, or tn"Wmt]Ki; for they translate

 

·        according to the likeness or fashion of idols; while some manuscripts of

Kennicott and De Rossi present

 

·        the reading μn"Wbb]Ki, according to their understanding, their own

peculiar notions or fancy, and not as Moses, who made everything after

 the pattern showed him in the mount.  (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5)

The full form would be μt;n,Wbt]Bi, but the feminine form is shortened before

the suffix, like hD;mi for ht;d;mi (Job 11:9); and Hn;pi for Tt;n;Pi

(Proverbs 7:8); μr;Wx for μt;r;Wx (Psalm 49:15). Some suppose it from

a masculine form, ˆWbT], of the same meaning. The defect of this man-

made god is expressed by its being all of it the work of the craftsmen,

WITHOUT ANY ELEMENT OF SENSE, SPIRIT, OR DIVINITY

IN IT!   On which Kimchi has well observed: “The whole calf is the

work of the hands of the craftsman; there is nothing spiritual in it; as he

says, ‘There is no breath at all in the midst of it’ (Habakkuk 2:19).”

“they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice (margin, the sacrificers of

men) kiss the calves.  The best explanation of this difficult clause is, in our

opinion:

 

·        that of Keil. His translation, though slightly different from that of the

Authorized Version, has the same general import; thus: “Of them (the

atsabbim, idols) they say, viz. ‘the sacrificers from among men’ equivalent

to ‘the men who sacrifice,’ Let them worship calves. By the apposition

zobheche adam, and the fact that the object ‘agalim is placed first, so that

it stands in immediate contrast to ‘adam, the absurdity of men kissing

calves, i.e. worshipping them with kisses (see I Kings 19:18), is

painted, as it were, before the eyes.” As parallel to zobheche adam, comp.

evyone adam (Isaiah 29:19). Several eminent modern commentators

give the same or a similar explanation, with the exception that, instead of

translating μh,l;, “of them,” i.e. the idols, as Keil does. They translate it “to

them,” i.e. the idol-worshippers. Kimchi in the main favors this

explanation; he says, “On their account (i.e. on account of the calves) the

priests of the calf say to the people who come to offer sacrifice: by the ya

yz he means: whoever of the children of men that wish to offer, ‘Let them

kiss the calves on their mouth; for their worship shall not be perfect until

they shall kiss them,’ for so was their custom.” But

 

·        many of the older interpreters among the Hebrews, as also Jerome,

Cyril, and Theodoret among Christians, refer the expression to human

sacrifices, thus: “Sacrificing men, they kiss, that is, adore, calves.” The

explanation according to this view, as given by Schmid, is to the following

purport: “To these who now worship many idols, and among them

Moloch, to whom they even sacrifice men, those the fathers of such as only

worshipped the calves or Baal, would say, if they were alive, ‘Let those

who sacrifice men give over such cruel sacrifice, and rather kiss calves as

we did.’” Rashi’s comment is: “The idol priests say to Israel, ‘He that

sacrifices his son to idols is worthy to kiss the calf, for he has presented to

him a pleasant gift.’ So have our rabbins in (the tract) Sanhedrin explained,

and it suits the text of Scripture bettor than the translation of Jonathan;”

while that of Aben Ezra is as follows: “To them say the sons of men, in

order to mock them [kiss the calves], because they kiss Baalim which are

the images of calves, as ‘And every mouth that has not kissed him’

(I Kings 19:17), while they shed innocent blood, and this is, ‘And his blood

shall he leave upon him’ (ch. 12:14). And lo! he has reversed the

manner of’ every man, for man kisses man who is his fellow, and slays

calves for his food.” The method of kissing the hand in worship is attested

by the derivation of the word adore, from ad and os; while in Job 31:27

we read of homage thus rendered: “Or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this

also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge.” The Septuagint, (as if

reading Whb]zi for zobheche,’ and ˆyfqçy, instead of ˆwqçy, translate by,

“They say, ‘Sacrifice (qu>sate thusate - sacrifice) men, for the calves

have come to an end’ [or, ‘failed,’ ejkleloi>pasi ekleloipasi - failed].” “

Thus,” says Jerome, in explanation, “is shown the greed of demons, who

are nourished on the blood of victims, when victims fail, they desire

men to be sacrificed to them.”

 

3  “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 cut of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. The

illative particle with which the verse begins has reference to the sins of

Israel, so great and multiplied that punishment could not be long delayed.

Their irrational and God-dishonoring conduct was bringing on them SURE

AND SWIFT DESTRUCTION.  The prophet employs four figures to exhibit

their political extinction. Two of these, the morning cloud and early dew, or

rather the dew early passing away, have already been employed by him to

characterize the transient nature of Israel’s goodness; here they denote the

evanescent nature of their national existence. The other two are the chaff

and the smoke; the former whirled away by the storm-wind from the

threshing-floor, the latter dissipated and speedily vanishing as soon as it

escapes from the chimney or lattice. Such shall be the utter extermination

of Israel. The senselessness of their idolatry had been treated with derision

in the preceding verse; the punishment of their sin is sternly denounced in

this. Kimchi comments concisely and correctly thus: “Therefore they shall

go to destruction, and shall be as the morning cloud, or as the dew speedily

disappearing in the morning, which vanishes when the heat of the sun has

touched it; so they shall go away speedily. So also shall they be as chaff —

it is the fine particles of straw, which the wind whirls away from the

threshing-floor; thus shall they be whirled away from their land. Or as a

pillar of smoke which goes forth out of the lattice, which shall speedily

disperse and cease.” Instead of hB;rua} lattice, from bra, to knit or twist,

the Septuagint, according to Jerome, read hB,r]a" locusts, as may be

inferred from their rendering ajtmi<v ajpo< ajkri>dwn -atmis apo akridon

vapor from locusts -  the Complutensian edition of the Septuagint, erroneously

written in some copies dakru>wndakruontears -  that is, vapor from locusts

or from tears.

 

These next two verses make it evident that the punishment inflicted on

Israel could not reasonably be accounted too severe; such had been the

goodness of Jehovah and the gross ingratitude of Israel.

 

4 “Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt,” - The

prophet here commences a recital of God’s favors to Israel from ancient

times, all which they forgot, ungratefully and impiously turning aside from

the worship of Jehovah. Jehovah had been Israel’s God long before, but

never before had the evidence of His power and love to His people been so

signal and conspicuous as at the period of the Exodus and onward -  “and

thou shalt know no god but me:” The use of [d;te in the imperfect is to

connect the future with the past. It may be rendered either

 

·        “Thou knowest,” viz. a God of such wonderful attestation thou

knowest or findest not beside me — the opposite of the statement,

“Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us

serve them” (Deuteronomy 13:2); or

 

·        “Thou shouldest not know or recognize any god beside me.” So

Kimchi: “Thou shouldest not know other gods, nor serve them beside me,

for ye see there is no helper Beside me.” Likewise Rashi: “Thou shouldest

not rebel against me.” Also Aben Ezra: “How hast thou turned to kiss the

calf, which does not save nor satisfy, and hast left him who has been thy

God from ancient days, who has helped thee and knows all thy necessities.”

The word yjil;Wz (from lWz, which, as the cognate Arabic signifies, “to go

forth or away”) is synonymous with yTil]Bi.

 

“for there is no Saviour beside me.”

 

“I did know thee in the wilderness,” - The pronoun at the

beginning of the verse is emphatic: As for me; or, I it was that knew thee.

The meaning of the sentiment is: I acknowledged thee with kindness, with

paternal care and kind providence watching over thee. “Thou shouldest

gratefully acknowledge me,” is the comment of Kimchi, “because I knew

thee in the wilderness, and cared for thy necessity in the wilderness, in

which there were no means of livelihood.” – “in the land of great drought.”

The root of the word tboWal]T" is bal, unused in Hebrew, but signifying,

in Arabic, “to burn, dry, be dry,” akin to bj"l;. Aben Ezra correctly

explains it to be “a dry and thirsty land, and so in the Arabic language; and

(that it is so called) on account of all hardships being in it, is the allegorical

explanation and not the literal sense.” Instead of a lengthened enumeration

of all God’s loving-kindnesses to Israel at the Exodus and during the desert

wanderings, the prophet sums up all in the expressive, “the Lord thy God

from the land of Egypt;” and “I it was that did know thee in the

wilderness.” It is as though He had said, “I pitied thee in the bondage and

among the brick-kilns of Egypt; I brought thee forth with a strong hand

and outstretched arm; I led thee through the wilderness; I relieved thee in

thy straits; I gave thee bread from heaven to satisfy thy hunger, and water

from the rock to quench thy thirst; I defended thee from enemies; nor did I

relax my care till I gave thee the goodly land of promise.”

 

6 “According to their pasture so were they filled;” -  The literal

rendering is, according to their pasturing so were they filled. The

reference is rather to the care in pasturing than to the pasture-ground. By

God’s care to the sheep of His pasture they waxed full – “they were filled,

and their heart was exalted” -  Two consequences followed from God’s

great goodness to Israel — the immediate consequence was pride of heart;

the more remote was forgetfulness of God. Perhaps these results should

rather be regarded as concurrent, being in point of time simultaneous or

nearly so  - “therefore have they forgotten me.” This forgetfulness of God is

identified with the abandonment of His worship in the Chaldee Version,

which is, “They have abandoned my service.” The metaphor contained in

this verse is taken from a domestic animal, which, in a too luxuriant

pasture, becomes headstrong and unmanageable. Thus Rashi: “As soon as

they came into the land of their pasture, they were filled.” The last clause

of the verse notices the misuse which Israel made of the riches and blessing

of Jehovah, by forgetting their gracious Benefactor; this the prophet

attributes to the abuse of the blessings so richly bestowed upon them. Aben

Ezra identifies the blessings here mentioned with those vouchsafed to them

on their entrance into Canaan; thus: “The prophet enumerates the benefits

which Jehovah bestowed on their fathers when they came out of the

wilderness into the land of Canaan.” Kimchi quotes, as a parallel to this

passage, Deuteronomy 8., of which it is undoubtedly a reminiscence; he

says, “When they entered into the place of their pasture, and it was the land

of Canaan, they had all good, and were filled; and their heart was exalted,

and they forgot me, as it is said in the Thorah that they were ready to do

so. He said, ‘Lest when thou hast eaten and art full… then thine heart be

lifted up, and then forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out

of the land of Egypt… who led thee through that great and terrible

wilderness… who fed thee in the wilderness.’”  (8:12-16)

 

Verses 7-8 teach that the result of their sins is inevitable destruction, and that

Jehovah, merciful and gracious though He is, has now divested Himself of all

compassion on them. The appropriateness of the terrible figures here employed

arises from the fact that Israel had been compared in the previous verse to a

flock fed and filled in a luxuriant pasture; the punishment of that flock is now fitly

compared to “the tearing in pieces and devouring of that fattened flock by wild

beasts.” The beasts in question are a lion, a leopard, a bear, a lioness, and fierce

wild beasts in general.

 

7 “Therefore I will be unto them as a lion:” - The verb, yhia’w; is the

future changed into the preterite or past tense by vav consecutive, and

marks the consequence of forgetting God. So Aben Ezra: “The preterite in

reference to the evils which Jehovah brought upon them.” While the past

thus implies that the punishment has commenced, the futures which follow

denote its continuance. Rosenmüller regards the preterite here as prophetic

and continuative, and paraphrases the meaning by, “I have at length

become and have been, and shall continue to be to them.” He considers the

reference of the preterite to be to past disasters, especially the various

defeats sustained by Israel at the hand of the Syrians (II Kings 8:12;

10:32) and the Assyrians (Ibid. ch.15:29). He also very aptly compares

Isaiah 63:7-10 in relation to the subject in hand. The Prophet Isaiah,

after relating the loving-kindnesses of the Lord and His praises and His great

goodness to the house of Israel on the one hand, and their rebellion and

vexing His Holy Spirit on the other hand, adds, “Therefore he was turned to

be their enemy, and he fought against them”  -“as a leopard by the way

will I observe them.”  The lion and the leopard are frequently conjoined, as

animals of like natural ferocity, by the ancients both in sacred and secular

writings. The outlook on the way is for the purpose of springing upon the

passers-by. The word rWva is properly

 

·        the future of rWç, to look around, and thence, to lie in wait; but

 

·        some, taking the initial aleph as radical and the word as participle of

rv"a;, translate it by “trodden way,” that is, away trodden and frequented

by men and animals. The Septuagint and Vulgate again, also Jerome, Hitzig,

and Ewald,

 

  • translate it by” on the way of the Assyrians,” either referring to the time

when they would be led captive by the Assyrians or when they persisted in

going thither to sue for aid. But the name of Assyria is always written

rWça;, as Rashi rightly observes: “In every place where yva occurs in

Scripture (i.e. as a proper name) it has daghesh (i.e. in the shin); yet here it

has raphe, [to show] that it is not the name of a place, but a verb: ‘I

observe and keep watch,’ as ‘I shall observe him, but not nigh’

(Numbers 24:17).” Kimchi explains the verse as follows: “Because they

have forgotten me, I also have rejected them, and have left them in the

hand of the peoples; and have become to them like a lion or leopard, which

observes the way, and is prepared to tear whatever passes by it on the way.

Just so have I been to them, for I have caused their enemies to rule over

them, and they have not had power to deliver themselves from their hand

until they returned to me, and I took pity upon them.”

 

8 “I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend

the caul of their heart,” - The noun bdo is epicene, that is, the one form serves

for both genders, as here the masculine includes the feminine, and is used as such.

Of all animals, Jerome says, the she-bear is the fiercest, either when robbed of her

whelps or in want of food. Seghor being that which encloses the heart, is either

the pericardium, the immediate and proper enclosure of the heart, or the breast itself.

The reference is to a beast of prey which seizes its victim by the breast and tears

it open, so that the heart is exposed. The verb çgp is akin to [gp, the

meaning of the root-syllable gp, to meet, strike, being the same in both.

Such is the continuation of the picture of the threatened punishment. The

picture of the severity of the Divine judgment here presented is very

terrible. Kimchi remarks on this picture: “A bear robbed, whose young

ones they have slain, which is bereft and bitter in spirit, if it find man or

beast rends it speedily.” Some understand the verse figuratively, as though

it meant “‘I will rend their obstinate heart,’ the enclosure of the heart being

equivalent to a shut or obstinate heart, as, in v. 5 of this same chapter, ‘a

land of drought’ is pretty much the same as ‘a dry or parched land.’ Thus

the Chaldee translates, ‘I have broken the wickedness of their heart.’” And

there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.”

Sham there refers:

 

  • to ‘al-derekh of the preceding verse; or,

 

  • as Kimchi explains it, as referring to their cities: “There in their cities

shall I destroy them by pestilence and by the sword of the enemy, like

the lion that teareth without pity;” or,

 

  • more simply still, “there on the spot.” The tjiçe, equivalent to hT;a, is

the wild beast as opposed to ybi, domestic animals. While some were to be

destroyed by famine and pestilence, others would perish by the wild beast

of the field. “Also,” says Kimchi, “shall the wild beast of the field rend

them outside (i.e. outside their cities), as, ‘ I will also send wild beasts

among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle,

and make you few in number.’”  (Leviticus 26:22)

 

9 “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”

The literal rendering of this verse is:  It hath destroyed thee, O Israel, that

 thou hast been against me, against thy Help. The ellipsis is accounted for

 by the strong emotion of the speaker, tjiçe is the Piel third person, and has

the suffix of the second person, from which the pronoun hT;a may be

supplied as subject of the concluding clause. The preposition be has here the

meaning of “against,” as in Genesis 16:12 and II Samuel 24:17, while ybi is in

apposition to it. The Hebrew commentators take as a verbal form; thus Rashi:

“Thou hast destroyed thyself, O Israel;” and Kimchi: “The calf has destroyed thee

which he had mentioned above; he says, ‘This has destroyed thee; for unless this

had been so, thy help had been in me.’”

 

  • The Septuagint and Jerome take Ëjjç as a noun, the former

translating by th~ diafqora~ - tae diaphthoradestruction

through corruption – “Who will aid thee in thy destructions” the

latter by “Thy destruction, O Israel; but in me is thy help,” the noun being

of the form rBedi rFeqe. The explanation of Rashi, who understands

the verb as second person preterite Piel with suffix, is: “‘Because thou

hast acted unfaithfully against me, thou hast rebelled against thy help.’ The

Scripture uses brevity, but he who understands the language of Scripture

will recall to mind that yb yk is ‘because against me is the rebellion with

which thou hast rebelled. And if thou shouldst say, What does it concern

thee? Against thy help hast thou rebelled when thou didst rebel against

me.’” Kimchi remarks in the two beths servile that one of them would

suffice, and that the sense might have been expressed by Ërz[ yb yk

or Ërz[b yna yk . All the disaster and destruction previously

mentioned are charged on ISRAEL’S MISCONDUCT,  they had

brought all upon themselves by their rebellion against Jehovah who would

otherwise have been their Shield and Deliverer. The sense is well expressed

by Calvin thus: “How comes it, and what is the reason, that I do not now

help thee according to my usual manner? Thou hast indeed found me hitherto

to be thy Deliverer.... How comes it now that I have cast thee away, that

thou criest in vain, and that no one brings thee any help? How comes it

that thou art thus forsaken, and receivest no relief whatever from my hand,

as thou hast been wont to do?  And doubtless I should never be wanting

to thee, if thou wouldest allow me; but thou closest the door against me,

and by thy wickedness spurnest my favor, so that it cannot come to thee.

It then follows, that thou art now destroyed through thine own fault:

 

Something then hath destroyed thee.” It will be observed that the rebellion against

Jehovah here complained of is not that of all Israel, when they are said to have

rejected Jehovah by asking a king of Samuel; but the defection of the ten tribes

that cast off their allegiance to the house of David and made Jeroboam their king.

 

Verses 10-16 are at once a conclusion and commencement — an inference from

what preceded, and the beginning of a second line of proof showing that, while their

ruin was by themselves, THEIR RESTORATION WOULD BE BY GOD!

When the kings and princes whom they had sinfully sought, and who had been given

to them in anger would fail, God Himself would be their King, as is stated in vs.10-11.

Further, when in consequence of their iniquities treasured up, their sorrows and

sufferings would be extreme, as stated in vs.12-13, yet they would be raised up as

out of their graves, as promised in v.14.

 

Israel had shown contempt for Jehovah by putting confidence in kings of their own

choice, yet these kings could not afford them help, whence the questions of v.10.

The usual rendering is at fault.

 

10 “I will be thy King:” -  This should rather be, Where now is thy king? though

ehi may be either verb or adverb – “where is any other that may save thee

in all thy cities?” Better take both clauses together and in connection, thus:

Where, now, is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities?

 

  • The word ehi we take, with Ewald, to be a dialectic variation for hY"ae,

or shortened form yae, and this is strengthened by awOpae, equivalent to the

Greek pote pote - afore- (any, some-) time (-s), at length (the last),

(+ n-) ever, in the old time, in time past, once, when. or Latin tandem,

 for sake of emphasis. The purpose for which the Israelites had asked a king

was that he might “judge them and go out before them to fight their battles”

(I Samuel 8:20). The question, then, does not indicate the want of a king,

or the prevalence of a state of anarchy, but that a crisis had come when such a

king as they had requested should exhibit his prowess and display his power.

(The same result will be the end of the United States Progressive attempt

to renounce God and put GOVERNMENT  in His place – CY – 2012)

It is as though the prophet asked, or rather God by His servant, “Where is

now the king that can defend the besieged cities, or deliver the attacked

 fortresses; and defeat the Assyrian foeman who is now threatening both?

Or where are the judges (shophetim), or the princes (sarim), who constitute

his cabinet or royal counselors (in our case czars of all things???  - CY – 2012)

sharing in the counsels of state, and administering the affairs of the kingdom

under him?” The answer implied is that those visible helps, on which Israel

had so confidently calculated, TURNED OUT VALUELESS,  the kingly

constitution on which they had set their heart proved a failure, as far as

help and deliverance were concerned.

 

  • Kimchi and others take yha as first person future of the verb hyh;

thus: “I shall be established for ever, but where is thy king? Whereas thou

didst reject my kingdom, and demanded a king who should save you; and it

should be he that would save you in all your cities against which the

enemies came.”

 

11 “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.”

The imperfects yja and yqa here are correctly explained by Keil as denoting

“an action that is repeated again and again, for which we should use the present;

and refer to all the kings that the kingdom of the ten tribes had received and was

receiving still, and to their removal.” Hitzig calls it here the historical present.

Jerome, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi refer the first clause to Saul as given in anger;

and the second to Zedekiah as taken away in wrath.

 

12 “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.”  This

verse is intended to remove all doubt about the punishment of sin,

whatever interval may have elapsed. The day of reckoning would certainly

come, for the sin of Ephraim was neither forgotten nor blotted out. As a

miser puts his money in a bag and seals it to prevent it being lost, so the

Almighty had, as it were, hoarded Ephraim’s sin, putting it in a bag and

tying it. A parallel expression occurs in Job 14:17, “My transgression is

sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.” Usually when men

put money into a bag, purse, or treasure-house, they count it; so the sins of

Ephraim were reckoned, laid up in the treasury of wrath, till the amount

should be full and the day of reckoning arrive. The sinner himself is

represented as treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath.

(Romans 2:5).  Aben Ezra only remarks on the place where it is treasured: “It is

bound up in my heart; I shall not forget it as they have forgotten me, as is written

above” (v. 6, “They have forgotten me”).

 

13 “The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him:” -

The threatened punishment that is to overtake them is compared to the

throes of a parturient woman, on account of their severity, as I Thessalonians 5:3.

Their sinfulness, which stands in the way of their success, shall be succeeded by

severe sufferings and many sorrows. But eventually these worldly sorrows shall,

under Divine grace, issue in the godly sorrows of repentance: then, and not till then,

shall a new and happier period of existence be ushered in. The sorrow of travail

shall give place to the joy of birth Delay of confession and repentance defers

that joy, prolongs the sufferings, and puts the life of both parent and child

in peril, so far as their personality is identical – “he is an unwise son; for he

should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”  Here the

unwisdom of Israel is accounted for: it is folly, SHEER FOLLY THAT

POSTPONES REPENTANCE  and delays efforts and aspirations after new

spiritual life.   The literal rendering of the last clause is:

 

  • For it is time, he should not tarry at the place of the breaking forth of

children; or rather,

 

  • When it is time, he does not place himself at (literally, stand) or come

forward to the opening of the womb; and some translate ti[e

 

  • “at the time,” but that would rather require t[el]; it might, indeed, be

duration of time, and Aben Ezra so renders it: “Therefore at the time he

will not stand in the breaking forth of children.” Also Wunsche: “He is an

unwise son, for at the time he stands not in the breaking forth of children.”

It might be expressed, as in the Authorized Version, with a slight

modification; thus: For otherwise he would not stand long time in the

place of the breaking forth of children. The figure is now shifted from the

mother to the child; such abrupt and sudden transitions are not infrequent

in Scripture, especially in the Pauline Epistles (compare - e.g. II Corinthians

3:13-16). The danger is represented as extreme, as may be inferred from

the similar expression, “The children are come to the birth, and there is

no strength to bring forth” (II Kings 19:3; Isaiah 37:3).  A perilous period

in Israel’s history is indicated, and to escape the danger he must make no

tarrying, but advance at once into the new life of faith and repentance.

Kimchi has the following comment: “Because he has compared his pains

to the pain of a woman in travail, he says, ‘The children are not wise,’

as if he said, ‘The coming generations, who have seen their fathers in

affliction because of their iniquities, are not wise, and do not consider that

distress has overtaken their fathers because of their iniquity; and turn not

from the evil deeds of their fathers, but have done wickedness like them.’”

He adds: “There are children lively by nature in their coming forth out of

the womb; so also would these, if they were wise, not stay a single hour

in distress, but immediately on returning to the Lord be delivered out

 of their distress.”  The Septuagint omits the negative and render ym by

ejn suntribh~| - en suntribaebreak; broken to shivers; bruise i.e.

the heart.  “This wise son of thine [employed ironically] shall not stand [or,

‘endure’] in the destruction of his children or people.” “Turn you at my

reproof:  behold, I will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make

known my words unto you.”  (Proverbs 1:23)

 

14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from

death:” - God here promises them deliverance from utter ruin; the grave shall be thus

deprived of his victim, and the victim rescued out of the tyrant grasp of death. hd;p;

is to redeem by payment of a price; lag by right of kinship; while lwOav], the under

world, is derived by some from la"ç;, to ask or demand, and is favored by such

statements as the following: “There are three things that are never satisfied,

yea, four things say not, It is enough: the grave,” and so on; “Who enlargeth his

desire as well, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.”  Others derive it from

laç, equivalent to l[ç (by a softening of the ayin into aleph), to be hollow;

but this signification of the word is not satisfactorily established. A third

derivation is lWv, to hang down loose or slack, then to be deep, or low, and

so the noun comes to signify sinking, depth, abyss. “O Death, I

will be thy plagues; O Grave, I will be thy destruction:”  Thus yhia, is

incorrectly taken by some for the first person future of hyh; it is more properly

taken in the sense of “where,” as in v.10 of the present chapter. Úyr,b;b] is plural,

referred by some to rb;d;, hence dikhh~ - dikaeae- judgment, punish, vengeance,

justice - Septuagint -  it is, however, the plural of rb,d,, pestilence, and Úb]f;q;,

pestilence, destruction, from bfoq], to cut off, akin to bfj. Hitzig says that bfoq]

lboq], and ˆfoq] are originally infinitives, and the last two designate instruments or

members, and thus give a sort of support to the traditional ke>ntron –-  kentron

goad; prick; sting - of the Septuagint.

 

Now, this verse has been understood by some in the sense of consolation; and by

others in that of combination. In the latter sense it is understood by the Hebrew

commentators, and by not a few Christian interpreters. Thus Rashi: “I am He who

redeemed them from the hand of Sheol, and delivered them from death; but now

I will set myself to speak against thee words of death.” Aben Ezra: “I redeemed thy

fathers; now I shall be thy deadly pestilence; I will also be thy destruction.”

Kimehi is more diffuse, as usual; he explains thus: “I would have redeemed

them from the power of Sheol, if they had been wise. But now that he is

not wise, but a fool, and denies my goodness, it is not enough that I shall

not redeem thee from death, but I shall bring upon thee death by pestilence,

and by the sword, and by famine, and by evil beast.” The condition

supplied by Kimchi is entirely arbitrary and without anything in the context

to suggest it. Calvin in like manner interjects a condition; thus: “I will

redeem them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death;

that is, except they resist, I will become willingly their Redeemer. Some

have, therefore, rendered the passage in the subjunctive mood, ‘From the

hand of the grave I would redeem them, from death I would deliver

them.... I will then redeem them, as far as this depends on me;’ for a

condition is to be introduced, as though God came forth and declared that

He was present to fulfill the office of a Redeemer. What, then, does stand in

the way? Even the hardness of the people. He afterwards adds, ‘I will be

thy perdition, O Death; I will be thy excision, O Grave.’ By these words

the prophet more distinctly sets forth the power of God, and magnificently

extols it, lest men should think that there is no way open to Him to save,

when no hope according to the judgment of the flesh appears. Hence the

prophet says, ‘Though men are now dead, there is yet nothing to prevent

God to quicken them. How so? For He is the ruin of death, and the excision

of the grave;’ that is, ‘Though death should swallow up all men, though the

grave should consume them, yet God is superior to both death and the

grave, for He can slay death, for He can abolish the grave.’ (“O death,

where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death

is sin; and the strength of death is the law.  But thanks be unto God -

who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I Corinthians 15:55-57  - “….Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death..”

- II Timothy 1:10).  He afterwards proceeds to “answer to that which is said

of Paul quoting this passage. The solution is not difficult. The apostles do not

avowedly at all times adduce passages which in their whole context apply to

the subject they handle; but sometimes they allude to a word only, sometimes

they apply a passage to a subject in the way of resemblance, and sometimes

they bring forward passages as testimonies. When the apostles use the testimonies

of Scripture, then the genuine and real truth must be sought out; but when

they glance only at one word, there is no occasion to make any anxious

inquiry; and when they quote any passage of Scripture in the way of

resemblance, it is a too scrupulous anxiety to seek out how all the parts

agree. But it is quite evident that Paul, in I Corinthians 15., has not quoted

the testimony of the prophet for the purpose of confirming the doctrine el

which he speaks. What then? As the resurrection of the flesh was a truth

very difficult to be believed, nay, wholly contrary to the judgment of

nature, Paul says that it is NO MATTER OF WONDER ...because

IT IS THE PECULIAR PREROGATIVE OF GOD TO BE THE

PERDITION OF DEATH AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE

GRAVE!   He is endued with that incomprehensible power by which he can

raise us from a state of putrefaction; nay, since He created the world from

nothing, He will also raise us up from the grave, for He is the death of

death, the grave of the grave, the ruin of ruin, and the destruction of

destruction; and the simple object of Paul is to extol by these striking

words THAT INCREDIBLE POWER OF GOD  which is beyond

 the reach of human understanding.” Others viewing the subject in the

same light, read the clauses interrogatively, and the imperfects in a

subjunctive sense; thus:

 

“From the power of Sheol should I ransom them?

From death deliver them?’

 

The answer being, “Certainly not.”

 

“Where are thy pestilences. O Death?

Where is thy destruction, O Sheol?

Let those pestilences and that destruction

be produced for Ephraim’s ruin.”

 

“repentance (relenting) shall be hid from mine eyes.” This Rashi explains:

“I will feel no regret over this calamity.” But we greatly prefer the sense of

consolation assigned by many Christian interpreters to the passage. No

doubt the verse before and that following this fourteenth verse are a threat

which probably induced so many, as we have seen, to include this verse in

the menace. But the abruptness of the prophet’s style sufficiently accounts

for A BRIGHT MESSIANIC PROMISE  to relieve the gloom of the dark

predictions among which it is interjected. Redemption from the power of Sheol

signifies, not merely deliverance from danger and deliverance from death,

but deliverance from the under world by rescuing the living from the region

of the dead, or rescuing from the realm of death those already subject to

his grim dominion; while the destruction of death is celebrated in words of

triumph, as Theodoret says, “He gives command to sing a paean over

[literally, ‘against’] death.” To the Israelites the promise signified the

power of the Lord to redeem from death and restore them from destruction

to newness of life, just as the dead dry bones of Israel in the valley of

Ezekiel’s vision are restored to life  (Ezekiel  37:1-14).  The use which Paul

makes of this verse when he couples it with the words of Isaiah, “Death is

 swallowed up in victory,” in Isaiah 25:6-9 (one of my favorite scriptures –

CY – 2012); I Corinthians 15:55, is to confirm THE FULL AND FINAL

ANNILIHATION OF DEATH AT THE RESURRECTION!  This fuller

and deeper meaning, dimly unfolded to Old Testament saints, was clearly brought

to light in New Testament Scripture  “….Jesus Christ, who hath

abolished death, AND HATH BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY

TO LIGHT THROUGH THE GOSPEL!”  (II Timothy 1:10).  The absence of

repentance denotes THE IRREVOKABLE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF

THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF SALVATION!  Pusey has pertinently remarked

upon this verse: “God by His prophets mingles promises of mercy in the midst of

His threats of punishment. His mercy overflows the bounds of the occasion upon

which He makes it known. He had sentenced Ephraim to temporal destruction.

This was unchangeable. He points to that which turns all temporal loss into gain,

that eternal redemption. The words are the fullest which could have been chosen.

The word rendered ‘ransom’ signifies rescued them by the payment of a price;

the word rendered ‘redeem’ relates to one who, as the nearest of kin, had

the right to acquire anything as his own by paying that price. Both words,

in their exactest sense, DESCRIBE WHAT JESUS DID, BUYING

US WITH A PRICE… AND BECOMING OUR NEAR KINSMAN

BY HIS INCARNATION.  (I am writing this on Christmas Eve – one

hour before Christmas Day – the time when we celebrate THAT

INCARNATION WHEN GOD BECAME MAN IN THE PERSON

OF JESUS CHRIST Thanks be unto God for His “UNSPEAKABLE

GIFT” – II Corinthians 9:15 - CY – 2012) The words refuse to be tied down

to a temporal deliverance. A little longer continuance in Canaan

(nor this world)  is not a redemption from the power of the grave;

nor was Ephraim so delivered.”

 

15 “Though he be fruitful among his brethren,” - It should rather

be, for he bear fruit among brethren. yKi, in this verse, is neither a particle

of time, “when,” nor a conditional particle, “if,” but “for,” adducing “a

reason to prove that the promised grace of redemption would certainly

STAND FIRM.”   Ki is distinguished from μai by being “only used in cases

where a circumstance is assumed to be real For one that is merely

supposed to be pebble, μai is required,” as may be inferred from the

interchange of the two words in Numbers 5:19-20. The name

Ephraim, signifying “double-fruitfulness,” shall be verified, confirming the

promised redemption from death, and, by the pledge of blessing, which the

name implies affording a guarantee that the coming storm would not quite

overwhelm them. The play on the name Ephraim fixes the meaning of

ayrip]y", the aleph taking the place of he. The Septuagint diastelei~ - diastelei -

equivalent to “shall cause a division,” and Jerome’s divider, suppose

dyrip]y" or aylip]y". But though fruitful among the other tribes, yet the abuse

of that fruitfulness invited the instrument of destruction. There is an

allusion to the patriarchal blessing, “Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well”

(Genesis 49:22); the source of his fruitfulness was that well or fountain; while the

drying up of it would be the certain cause of barrenness -  “an east wind shall

come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness. Thus, while

Ephraim presents the pleasing picture of a fair and fruitful tree, the element

of destruction is already on the way. A wind, the east wind, with its rude

vehemence, blighting heat, and desolating effect, was coming. It was a

wind, not coming by chance, but commissioned by Jehovah as a minister

of vengeance to execute His wrath. It was, moreover, a wind issuing forth

from its home in the desert, and fraught with fiery heat from the scorching

sands of the Arabian desert“and his spring shall become dry, and his

fountain shall be dried up:” -  This flourishing tree, planted by the living

spring, to which it owed its vigor and verdure (“Blessed is the man that

walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way

of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is

in the law of the Lord; and in His law doeth he meditate day and

night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf shall not wither;

and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3) – was doomed soon

 

 

 

to wither, in consequence of the drying up of the waters that nourished it, by

the east wind – “he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.” Here the

figure merges in the fact. The Assyrian conqueror was the blustering east wind,

that swept like a whirlwind with his armies from the east. He not only

ravaged the country, but rifled the treasures of the capital The keli

chemdah included all the valuables and treasures of Samaria referred to in

the following verse. Kimchi explains the verse as follows: “For Ephraim

was fruitful among brethren as long as he did not make calves. He became

increasingly great and fruitful among his brethren, as Jacob said of him....

And now that he has sinned, an east wind of the Lord shall come; and it is

the King of Assyria that is meant. And he compares him to the east wind,

because it is a wind from the east, for the land of Assyria lies to the east of

the land of Israel; and further he says, ‘east wind,’ because it is a violent

wind. And he says, ‘wind of Jehovah,’ to magnify the wind and emphasize

it; and he says also, ‘spirit of Jehovah,’ because Jehovah the blessed stirred

up his spirit (i.e. spirit of the King of Assyria) to come against Israel,

goeth up from the wilderness;’ wind is always in the wilderness. Or the

explanation is, because the wilderness is between the land of Israel and the

land of Assyria; and before this wind, which is the King of Assyria, is dried

up the fountain of Ephraim, which was at first like a tree flourishing by the

waters.” And now before this wind shall its spring become dry and its

fountain dried up. The verb vwObye, as from vwOB, is an irregular formation

for vybiwOh, as on the contrary we find the Hiph. vybiwOh, as if from vbey;.

 

16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God:”

Others translate shall atone, i.e. bear guilt or punishment. In the latter sense it is

from μçea;, to atone or suffer the punishment of contracted guilt; in the former

sense it is from μm]v;, and it is translated accordingly by ajfanisqhdetai~ -

aphanisthaedetai shall vanish in the Septuagint., and pereat by Jerome; so

also Aben Ezra:  “It shall be laid waste;” Kimchi: “The aleph has sehwa alone,

and the signification ‘desolation,’ and so the dwellers therein shall be made desolate.”

He thus intimates that aleph, having schaa alone without seghol, does not belong

to the root, which is not μça (for its future would be μva’T,), but μm"v;. Rashi,

however, understands it in the sense of “atone,” or “find out her guiltiness;” he says,

“From now will her guilt manifest itself.” The reason of Samaria being thus

mentioned is not only that it was the capital of the northern kingdom, but,

as Kimchi says, “it confirmed Israel in the worship of the calves; for if the

kings had been good, they would have brought back Israel to what was

good.” The ki assigns the reason of Samaria’s desolation or guilt; it was

rebellion against Jehovah, for Samaria was the seat and center of idolatry,

and hence it spread throughout the land – “they shall fall by the sword:

their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child

shall be ripped up.”  The destruction thus described was to be complete.

 

 

  • The present population would perish by the sword;
  • the future progeny would be extinguished and
  • all posterity cut off.

 

Not only the children already born, but those unborn, were devoted to destruction;

and all this in the most savage and barbarous manner. The word llewO[ (from ll[,

to meddle, gratify one’s self, indulge one’s caprice) presents childhood on the

side of playfulness or petulance. The pronominal suffix attached to yrh

refers to the city; and the feminine noun itself, forming subject to verbs in

the masculine, arises from the fact that the feminine of the imperfect plural

becomes rarer; or because the feminine plural only gradually distinguishes

itself by a peculiar form from the masculine. The cruelties here specified

may have been occasioned by those of the same kind with which Menahem

King of Samaria smote Tiphsah. On that occasion “all the women therein

that were with child he ripped up” (II Kings 8:12 and 15:16).

 

 

 

Baal-exaltation (vs. 1-4)

 

The first clause is better read, “When Ephraim spake, there was trembling;

he was exalted in Israel.” The contrast is between what Ephraim once was,

and what his offending in Baal had now brought him to. Once he was great

in Israel. He had authority, influence, power to inspire terror. Now he was but the

wreck of his former self. He would be swept away like chaff before the whirlwind.

 

  • THE FIRST FALSE STEP. (v..1.) It is the first false step in sin which

needs specially to be guarded against. Israel’s first false step as a separate

kingdom was the denial of God’s spirituality, and the breach of His

commandment, in the setting up of the worship of the calves. This was:

 

Ø      Trespass in a fundamental article. It was practically the denial of the

Godhead. It made God like — not to corruptible man-but, worse, to

four-footed beasts (Romans 1:23). They called their worship still

Jehovah worship, but God repudiates it as in no sense His. It was

really Baal-worship.  God gives the sin its right name.

 

Ø      The admission of a wrong principle. The principle was that of

self-will in religion. Setting aside God’s commandment, Ephraim

claimed to organize his worship after his own heart. He would have

no law but his own will. It was to gratify himself that he had set up

an independent kingdom. It was to gratify himself that he now set up

the golden calves.  The adoption of a wrong principle by an individual

or nation is the sowing of a seed out of which is sure to spring ulterior

mischief. Israel reaped from this seed of self-will, sown in the heart of

the constitution, an unforeseen harvest of evil and woe.

 

Ø      A fatal step. One false step is often decisive of a whole future, it was so

with our first parents. Adam’s sin determined the spiritual condition of the

race. “In Adam all die” (I Corinthians 15:22). It was so with this first

false step in Israel. “When he offended in Baal, he died.” He died:

 

o       Morally. We die morally the moment we determine to take

our own will rather than God’s as the law of our life. Self-will

is the seed-principle of sin. It is a seed of death.

 

o       As a nation. That was the step which settled Ephraim’s future.

It determined the direction of his after-way. Looking back from

the end, it could be seen that this was the time when the fatal

course was entered on. Virtually, this step doomed him.

As Adam, on the day of his transgression, became a dying man,

though he did not actually die till long after, so Israel, in this

early sin, wrote out their sentence of death as a people.

 

  • SIN’S PROGRESS. (v. 2.) Sin, like strife, is in its beginning as the

letting in of water. Israel, having admitted into its midst a wrong principle,

went on from bad to worse. Idolatry spread in the nation. In the practice of

this idolatry the people were:

 

Ø      Extravagant. “They have made them molten images of their silver.”

They lavished their wealth upon their idols. People are generally willing

 to spend extravagantly upon their vices.

 

Ø      Ingenious. “Idols according to their understanding; all of it the

work of the craftsmen.” Not content with the gods of their neighbors,

they invented new forms of idolatry for themselves. They were ingenious

in forming, adorning, and diversifying their idols. Nothing they could do,

however, could make the objects of their ingenuity aught else than idols.

“All of it the work of the craftsmen” — this only. And to this product

of their own crafts they bowed themselves down. Men whose hearts

are too proud to bow to God are ready to bow down to idols of their

own making (Isaiah 2:8-9).

 

Ø      Intolerant. “They say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the

calves.” The world will brook no refusal to worship at its shrines - e.g.

the tyranny of codes of fashion.

 

  • VANISHING PROSPERITY. (v. 3.) Four images are employed to

set forth the swiftness, suddenness, and completeness with which

Ephraim’s once lordly prosperity would vanish. These are

 

 

Ø      the morning cloud;

Ø      the early dew;

Ø      the chaff driven by the whirlwind;

Ø      smoke escaping from a chimney (or window).

 

Some of these things are:

 

o       Beautiful at first. The cloud hangs gay and gilded in the

morning sky, and the dewdrop sparkles with a heavenly

beauty as it catches the sun’s rays.

 

o       Unsubstantial. The cloud, though fair, is a mere mass

of vapor. The dew but borrows its sparkle from the light.

The chaff is husk without substance.  The smoke, rising

at first in a solid-looking column, or in thick, heavy

folds, is bodiless and without coherence.

 

o       They rapidly vanish. All the four metaphors represent

something that appeareth for a little time, and then

vanisheth away” (James 4:14).  The cloud is gone while

yet we gaze on it. The dew, drenching grass and flowers

at dawn, soon dries up with the heat. The wind rapidly

bears off the chaff. The smoke scatters, or is dispersed

by the breeze, and vanishes.  In combination, the figures

point to different causes of vanishing. Internal lightness

(chaff), dissipation of parts (vapor, smoke), external

absorption (sun and air), strong forces of destruction

(whirlwind). The whole show the short-lived nature of

the sinner’s prosperity. Its beauty is not abiding. It

has no substance. It is soon swept away.

 

  • GOD, NOT BAAL. (v. 4.) The end of this judgment was, not

utterly to destroy the people, but to drive them out of false confidences,

and tend them to the right knowledge of God. It would bring them to see:

 

Ø      That God had been faithful to them, though not they to Him.

“Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt.”

 

Ø      That there was no God but Himself. “Thou shalt know no

 God but me.”  They worshipped Baal as God, but experience

only showed that he was none.

 

Ø      That God was the only Savior. “There is no Savior beside me.”

Yet He was a Savior. He had sought to be their Savior all through.

He would save them still, if they would but turn to Him.

 

 

Self-exaltation (vs. 5-8)

 

As Moses had foretold (Deuteronomy 8:10-18; 32:15), when Israel became prosperous,

he forgot God, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. The exaltation of Baal was

itself an act of self-will — a species of self-exaltation. The egoistic principle, however,

had more direct manifestations. We have in these verses:

 

  • GOD KNOWN IN ADVERSITY. “I did know thee in the wilderness, in

the land of great drought” (v. 5).

 

Ø      God knew Israel, in the great care He exercised over the nation,

leading it, providing for its wants, protecting it, and showing it manifold

tokens of His goodness.

 

Ø      Israel knew God. The nation was never nearer to its God than during

these years of severe trial and hourly dependence. It believed in Him,

waited on Him, trusted Him, and was — at least latterly — willing to

serve Him. Adversity had its uses. It did the people good, It made a

strong nation of them, fit to conquer and occupy Canaan.  “It is

good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn

thy statutes.”  (Psalm 119:71)

 

  • GOD FORGOTTEN IN PROSPERITY. (v. 6.) As the people grew

prosperous, they forgot God. The stages are:

 

Ø      Sense of repletion. “They were filled.” Satisfied with the good

things of earth, they did not feel the same need of God’s blessing.

They had not the same sense of dependence.

 

Ø      Uplifting of heart. “Their heart was exalted.” Prosperity tends in

this direction. It uplifts the heart. It makes the possessor of wealth

proud, self-sufficient, arrogant.

 

Ø      Forgetfulness of God. “Therefore have they forgotten me.”

This was their base ingratitude. Yet the sin is common. The more

we receive from God — so perverse and prone to depart are we —

the more ready we are to forget Him. We feel as if we were

 independent. We are full. We reign as kings without Him.

 

  • THE PENALTY OF SELF-EXALTATION. (vs. 7-8.) Pride in the

creature is the sin which more than any other provokes God to wrath. The

Greeks, with just discrimination, viewed the gods as specially wroth with

the man who unduly exalted himself. Ubriv hubris – insolence; over-

bearing - never failed to bring down on the unhappy mortal who was guilty

of the sin “swift destruction.” God here likens Himself to the wild beasts

that tear the flock — so fierce and unsparing is His anger. He will be “as a lion,”

“a leopard,” “a bear bereaved of her whelps.” Strange images to apply to Him

whose name is Love! But love, outraged and grieved, is the most vehement and

fierce of all passions.  God’s love, because it is intense and real, is not to be

trifled with, and, when roused to anger, is terrible to encounter. Better meet

wild beasts of the forest than fall into the hands of the living God.

 

 

 

God-exaltation (vs. 9-14)

 

God is exalted, negatively, by the overthrow of whatever is opposed to Him

— in Israel’s case, by the humbling of their pride, the discovery of the

vanity of their earthly trusts, and the overthrow of the sinful kingdom; and,

positively, by the ultimate triumph of His purpose of salvation — a triumph

even over death.

 

  • ISRAEL THE AUTHOR OF HIS OWN DESTRUCTION. (v.. 9.) It

was a destruction:

 

Ø      For which he only was responsible. “Destroyed thyself.” It was

entirely the result of his own perverse behavior.  Had he taken God’s

way, all would have been well with him. But — so the words literally

run — he was against God. He chose of his own will the way which

God told him was the WAY OF DEATH!  The sinner’s ruin is

entirely his own work. God refuses all responsibility for it. He has no

pleasure in the death of him that dieth (Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11).

 

Ø      Resulting from refusal of Divine help. “Thy help.” This

aggravated the sin. “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no

physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter

of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22).  God wished to be

Israel’s helper, but Israel would not let Him. Sinners perish though

salvation is within reach. “This is the condemnation, that

light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather

 than light,” (John 3:19); “Ye will not come unto me that ye

 might have life” (John 5:40).

 

Ø      Which his self-sought helpers were unable to avert. Israel found

in his hour of need the vanity of trusting to his earthly helpers. “Where

 is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities? and the judges,

of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?” (v. 10). Baal

failed him (ch.8:5; 10:5); the Assyrian failed him (Ibid. ch. 5:13); his

kings failed him (ch.10:3, 15). Thus it was demonstrated that God is

the only Helper, that there is no Savior beside Him (v. 4). God in

Christ is the only Hope of the sinner. He is an all-sufficient Hope,

if the sinner will only be persuaded to apply to Him. Instead of this,

how many “refuges of lies” do men resort to!  (Isaiah 28:15,17;

compare Hebrews 6:18).

 

  • ISRAEL PUNISHED BY THE GRANTING TO HIM OF HIS OWN

DESIRE, (vs. 10-12.) Often nothing will please the sinner but to get his

own way. God, in wrath, sometimes grants the sinner his own way

(Romans 1:24, 26, 28).  When he gets it, he finds it to be to his hurt. This is

illustrated in the case of Israel.

 

Ø      The desire for a king. “Thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give

me a king and princes” (I Samuel 8:5-7).  The kingdom of Israel

had its origin in SELF-WILL and was an embodiment of that

principle. Rehoboam’s rough answer afforded the occasion of revolt,

but the desire of the northern tribes to have a king of their own was

the real soul of the movement. It was a rebellion against the

house of David (I Kings 12).  The people set up kings, but not by

God (ch.8:4).

 

Ø      The desire granted. “I gave thee a king in mine anger.” Partly

as a punishment of the sins of David’s house, and partly as a

punishment of the tribes themselves, God granted the wish for a

king. The REBELLIOUS SPIRIT  in which the separate

kingdom was set up was chastised by the calamities

brought upon the nation by its SELF-CHOSEN RULERS.

There is a difference between granting a desire and approving of it.

It does not imply approval that Jeroboam was designated

beforehand by the prophet as the person to whom God would give

the kingdom. God did give Israel its king, but it was “in anger.”

Doubtless had Jeroboam, on receiving the kingdom, walked in

God’s ways, his rule, as having a relative sanction from Heaven,

would have been established (I Kings 11:38). But it was obvious,

both from the spirit of the man, and from the motives of the

rebellion, and the temper in which it was carried out, that

nothing of this kind could be expected.

 

Ø      The king given in anger taken away in wrath.I took him

 away in my wrath.” The northern monarchy brought only evil

on the nation. The principle of self-will in which it originated

wrought itself out further into state-idolatry, Baal-worship,

frequent revolutions, intestine conflicts, alliances with Assyria

and Egypt, sins and crimes of every description. The

kings vied with each other in their wickedness. They set an

example which their subjects were only too ready to follow.

(Same in the United States over the last half-century of a

downward spiral – Jeremiah 5:31 – CY – 2012).  Thus wrath

was prepared which at length swept them away like the whirlwind.

Their king perished with them. The monarchy fell, never to rise

 again.

 

Ø      In the wrath which overtook the kingdom, hidden iniquity

was brought to mind. “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;

 his sin is hid” (See Ezekiel 8:7-18).  His whole career was

remembered against him. Like a thing treasured up, put past,

but not forgotten, it was brought forth at the appointed time for

punishment. No sin escapes the remembrance of God.

Unrepented of, it will have to be reckoned for in

THE DAY OF JUDGMENT!

 

  • ISRAEL UNDULY DELAYING HIS CONVERSION. (v.13.)

The pangs of distress which came on Israel were, had he understood their

end, MEANT FOR HIS SALVATION.   They ought to have issued in

a change of heart, and in “newness of life.” While, however, he felt alarm,

conviction, and compunction for what be had done, Israel failed to come

to the birth of a GENUINE CONVERSION.  He was an unwise son,

who prolonged the birth labor by refusal to come forth.

 

Ø      The delay of conversion is a cause of NEEDLESS PAIN.

 How much better had Ephraim come forth at once, instead of

thus, as it were, lingering in the womb! Many delay their

conversion by”

 

o       indecision,

o       unwillingness to part with some darling sin,

o       slowness of heart to believe God’s promise,

o       the thought of what the world will say, what friends

will say.

 

They, thus unnecessarily,  prolong their distress, fear, and pains of

conscience, and shut themselves out from the peace, joy, and

comfort of the new life of grace.

 

Ø      To delay conversion is to risk the loss of life. The infant, delaying

to come forth, dies in the womb. Israel, because it refused to be taught

by the sorrows which had come upon it, was, as regards the nation at

large, to be destroyed. It would perish through its delay of

conversion.  Procrastination in spiritual child-birth is a cause of

SPIRITUAL DEATH!   Compunctions die away, the Spirit ceases

to strive, anxiety disappears, the crisis passes and never comes back.

 

Ø      Israels conversion, though long delayed, will yet take place.

A remnant of the people will be preserved, and these — though the

process is slow and tedious — will yet be reborn to God. The nation

will be recovered as from death (v. 14; Isaiah 66:8).

 

  • GOD THE RANSOMER EVEN FROM DEATH. (v. 14.) God’s

gracious purpose in the case of Israel, of the elect soul, of humanity,

cannot be defeated. The words contain a pledge:

 

Ø      Of national restoration. Israel, though now cast away, will yet

be recovered as from death (ch.6:2; Romans 11:15). God had

promised to be the God of this people, and His love would triumph

even over their unbelief and sin, Their recovery will have in it all

the marvel of a resurrection.

 

Ø      Of spiritual renewal. There is a spiritual death from which recovery

is more difficult than from national death, or even from the death of the

body.  A NATION, HAVING PLAYED IT ROLE IN HISTORY,

AND PERISHING, RARELY RECOVERS THE LIFE IT HAS

THUS LOST!   (This is something the 21st Century America needs

to ponder with the psalmist’s selah attached to it! – CY – 2012)

It needs the power of God to restore national life to Israel. It needs a

yet higher exercise of God’s power to restore life to their souls, dead

in long-continued unbelief. But every soul by nature is “dead in

trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1),  and needs a moral miracle to

be wrought upon it to give it life. GOD ALONE can ransom it

 from death. Each conversion is a new triumph over him that hath

the power of death.

 

Ø      Of bodily resurrection. Salvation would be incomplete if it left its

subjects still under the power of physical death. This is clearer under

the New Testament than it was under the Old, but it underlay the

promise of salvation there also. Christ has made the truth perfectly

distinct. He has, by His own resurrection, brought life and

 immortality to light (II Timothy 1:10). “The last enemy that

shall be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:26). Death meanwhile

claims all as his prey. He reigns over all. He comes to men in

innumerable forms of horror and anguish. His plagues are

terrible. But Christ will rescue His own even from the power of this

inexorable destroyer. Then, in their full sense, the words of the

prophet will be fulfilled  “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave,

where is thy victory?” (Ibid. v.55).

 

 

Justification of the Ways of God to Man (vs. 1-8)

 

Israel had been the cause of their own calamities — another proof that sin is the

procuring cause of all human suffering and sorrow. God’s character is seen to be

 EVERLASTINGLY THE SAME  — long-suffering and merciful, ever

gracious to penitents, abounding in goodness and truth to all, but by no

means clearing the guilty. (Exodus 34:7)

 

  • THE SECRET OF SUCCESS. Most men are fond of power, all men

value prosperity; yet few men know the right road, and fewer still pursue

it. Righteousness is the right road to success of any kind, and the sure way

of elevation; it exalts either nation or individual who practices it.

(“Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any

people” – Proverbs 14:34).

 

Ø      As long as Ephraim worshipped the true God and abstained from

idolatry, which subsequently became their besetting sin, they had

power and pre-eminence. When they spake, their word was with

power and not infrequently inspired terror; it was sure to come with

authority and to command respect among the other tribes of Israel.

Ephraim had long been the premier tribe, enjoying the credit of great

names, Joshua and Samuel; and of great deeds, the defeat of Midian

and the death of the two Midianite princes, Oreb and Zeeb; also of

great privileges, the national sanctuary having been for three centuries

and a half at Shiloh, within the confines of that tribe. Nor were they

slow to assert themselves and advance their claims.

 

Ø      But the tide turned. They offended in Baal; then came national

degradation and political death — they fell by their own hand

as moral suicides.  Sin brought Ephraim down from his high and

exalted position, and laid his honor in the dust. He became like a

dead man, despoiled of his authority, deprived of many of his

subjects, and on the verge of ruin; his activities and vigor gone

and his dignity departed, himself already dead though not yet buried.

When Ephraim forsook God and took to worship images, the state

received its death-wound, and was never good for anything after.

Note: deserting God is the death of any person or persons.”

 

  • SIN IS A DOWNWARD SLOPE. The sin of idolatry was gradually

developed in Israel. It began with the modification of the national worship

by Jeroboam, when he changed the place and plan of that worship. When

he had audaciously transferred the place of worship from Jerusalem to Dan

on the Syrian frontier, and to Bethel on the border of the kingdom of

Judah, in order to keep the people away from Jerusalem, the true place of

worship and seat of the Davidic dynasty, he proceeded further to introduce

the worship of the calves — a relapse, at least as to form, into the idolatry

of Egypt (I Kings 11-15).  His design was not, indeed, the introduction of a

new and rival deity, but the modeling of Jehovah’s worship under an external

and symbolic form. The sin did not stop here; it progressed until, in the days of

Ahab, the Phoenician deity Baal became an object of worship. It was bad

enough to make a graven image or material representation of the true God

and bow down to it, thus violating the second commandment and

neglecting the solemn instruction that the worship of God must be

spiritual, not material  (John 4:24), but it was still worse to introduce other

gods, as the Phoenician Baal, in direct violation of the first commandment of

the Law, which requires the exclusive worship of Jehovah. Thus the sin

of idolatry progressed in Israel. Nor is this all; along with the worship of Baal

the idolatry of the calves, as we learn from this Scripture, still survived two

hundred years after its introduction by Jeroboam. Thus they “grew worse

and worse; coveted more idols, doted more upon those they had, and grew

more ridiculous in the worship of them.” Superstition is an expensive thing.

Israel used much of the means God had given them in making molten images.

It is a whimsical thing; men follow their own fancies in carrying it out. It is an

unspeakably stupid thing; that image which is man’s work, man’s wisdom,

the product of man’s willfulness, becomes the object of man’s worship. It

is, moreover, a debasing thing; the fervor of their worship is stimulated by

an authoritative, perhaps a royal, edict, enjoining reverence and homage to

the senseless image of a calf.  But whether the command proceeds from

priests, or people, or prince, the kissing of the calves was in token of “the

adoration of them, affection of them, and allegiance to them as theirs.” It

has been justly remarked by Pusey that “sin draws on sin.” This seems to

be a third stage in sin:

 

Ø      First, under Jeroboam, was the worship of the calves.

Ø      Then, under Ahab, the worship of Baal.

Ø      Thirdly, the multiplying of other idols (I Kings 17:9-10),

penetrating and pervading the private life,

even of their less wealthy people.”

 

  • THE SHORT-LIVED STATE OF SINNERS. They have often the

show of prosperity, but their prosperous state is short-lived. “I have seen,”

says the psalmist, “the wicked in great power, and spreading himself

like a green bay tree” (or a green tree growing in its native soil). “Yet he

 passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could

 not be found”  (Psalm 37:35-36).  This truth is illustrated by four very

striking similitudes:

 

Ø      The morning cloud glowing in the early sunshine, assuming

phantastic forms and displaying varying hues of beauty, often

presents itself as a forerunner of the rain-shower to moisten the

dry parched ground; but ere long it vanishes, and the

cloudy morning ushers in a clear and rainless day.

 

Ø      The early dew, with its pearly drops so bright and beautiful

on the grass of a summer morning, which appears as if to promise

sufficient moisture to the earth even in the absence of the long looked

for rain, is soon brushed aside by a passing foot, or coal rates before

the day has far advanced. Both similitudes had already been

employed by the prophet to exhibit the fleeting and transitory

nature of Israel’s religious profession and the consequent

disappointment to the Divine expectations, so they are used

 here in turn to represent the transient character of sinners’

 prosperity and their disappointment from worldly things.

The two other similitudes, though less pleasing, are equally

powerful as representations of what is evanescent.

 

Ø      The worthless chaff, which is whirled away in winnowing;  and

 

Ø      The offensive smoke, which, as has been pithily said, swelleth,

welleth, and vanisheth — both soon dissipated and disappearing.

 

While these four emblems in common,” says Pusey, “picture what is fleeting,

two, the early dew and the morning cloud, are emblems of what is in itself

good, but passing; the two others, the chaff and the smoke, are emblems of

what is worthless.”  The dew and the cloud were temporary mercies on the

part of God which should cease from them; good in themselves, but, to their

evil, soon to pass away.’... Such dew were the many prophets vouchsafed

to Israel; such was Hosea himself, most brilliant, but soon to pass away.

The chaff was the people itself, to be carried out of the lord’s land;

the smoke, “its pride and its errors, whose disappearance was to leave the

air pure for the household of God.”

 

  • SIN IS BASE INGRATITUDE TO GOD.

 

Ø      God assures Israel that, however far they had degenerated and fallen,

however much they had changed, the change had been entirely on their

side, not on his; as though He had said, “And I, even I,” for the pronoun is

emphatic, “am still Jehovah, the same unchanging and unchangeable Being,

the same in mightiness to succor, the same in willingness to help is also thy

God, the same in covenant relation, the same in faithfulness to every

promise, and the same in ability to fulfill the word He has pledged.”

 

Ø      He pleads their past experience and the many proofs He had given them

of His goodness; He appeals to them in regard to His treatment of the

fathers and founders of their race, going back to the period of the Exodus,

and thus gently hinting the covenant entered into at Sinai and reminding

them of its conditions. In view of God’s faithfulness and their own

faithlessness, of God’s goodness and their ingratitude, of His enduring

mercies which they and their progenitors had experienced for centuries,

and of the fitful and infrequent conformity of their conduct therewith, they

must surely have hung their head in shame and cried out in the language

of another prophet, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee,

but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day.”  (Daniel 9:7)

 

Ø      The law of reciprocity demands a return on the part of the people of

God. He had made Himself known to them by His Word and by His

works, by His providences and by His prophets; He had made Himself

known to them as their fathers’ God, as their own God in a special

relationship, acknowledging them as His peculiar people, He naturally

claimed, not only their knowledge, but acknowledgment of Himself.

It was their bounden duty, in turn, to acquaint themselves with Him,

to know Him to be their God and no other, to acknowledge Him in His

ineffable perfections, in His glorious attributes, and in the ordinances of

His worship, and also to own allegiance to Him alone. And if all this

was a duty incumbent on Israel, surely it is a duty equally incumbent,

yea, much more so, upon ourselves; while neglect of such duty on

our part brands us with an ingratitude deeper, blacker, and baser than

that of Ephraim when the prophet wrote.

 

Ø      He backs all with the assurance of His saving power, and assigns as a

special reason for knowing and acknowledging God that there is no

Saviour besides Him. Of this He had given abundant proof by the

deliverances He had wrought and the provision He had made for

them, as for their fathers before them, under the most trying

circumstances, when they were in the wilderness, in the land of great

drought. The very idea of God implies saving power on His part, and

happiness in time and eternity for all who are His true Israel; and

“as where we have protection we owe allegiance, so where we have

salvation and hope for it we owe adoration.” Now, a friend

in need is a friend indeed. Such a Friend was God to Israel, an

all-sufficient Friend; and just such a Friend is God to His people still.

(The song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” below has been

sung for over a century in our churches.  Joseph M. Scriv­en wrote

this hymn to com­fort his mo­ther, who was across the sea from him in

Ire­land)

 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

 

  • SIN, BY REASON OF CERTAIN AGGRAVATIONS, BECOMES

MORE HEINOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. This is the case specially

when the good gifts of His providence are used to the dishonor of God and

the neglect of His service. It was thus with Israel, when pride of heart and

forgetfulness of God were the return they made Him for all His goodness to

themselves and their fathers during all the years that had been from their

entrance into the land of promise. The Lord Hhimself had been their

Shepherd; He had tended them with greatest care, leading them in green

pastures and by still waters. But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked”

(Deuteronomy 32:15).  How often is this conduct of Israel repeated!

Prosperity pampers pride, and pride makes men forget God, as if it

were men’s necessities that kept them mindful of God.  It is sad that

those favors which ought to make us mindful of God, and studious

what we shall render to Him for all His benefits, should make us

 unmindful of Him, and regardless of what we do against Him. We

ought to know that WE LIVE UPON GOD WHEN WE LIVE

UPON COMMON PROVIDENCE,  though we do not, as Israel in

the wilderness, live upon miracles.

 

  • SIN’S SAD SEQUEL. The sins of the people grew worse and became

more aggravated; the Divine judgments are in proportion. In v.3

of the chapter they are threatened with the evanescence of their

prosperous condition, but something much worse and more alarming is

predicted (vs. 7-8) as ready to follow. Not only was all good to be taken

from them, but all evil was to come upon them. The Lord’s flock is to

lose the Shepherd’s care; thus deserted, they will soon fall victims

to savage beasts — nay, their former Shepherd not only abandons them

to beasts of prey, but does Himself assume the character and put forth

the fierceness of such beasts. The ferocity of the lion, the fleetness of the

leopard, and the fury of the robbed or ravenous she-bear, now represent

the means which He employs against them. And as if it were not enough

to specify the lion, the leopard, the bear, and the lion a second time, he

adds “the wild beast,” that is, wild beasts in general. It appears as if the

dreadfulness of all wild beasts combined was required to exhibit the

 power of God’s wrath and the fury of His anger. If the sinner escaped

from the lion, a leopard overtakes him; or if he escapes the vigilance of the

leopard’s keen vision, a bear meets him; in a word, the fierceness of all

wild beasts together is not equal to that of God’s wrath. “All the

dreadfulness of all creatures in the world combined meets in

the wrath of God.” A sorrowful contrast is here presented. God had once

watched over them for good; now, leopard-like, he watches their

wanderings, and with lynx-eyed vigilance waits as if to take advantage

of them. On the other hand, their heart had been puffed up with pride,

 as well as hard and closed against the gentlest admonitions and most

 faithful instructions; now their heart shall be torn open with leonine

 force and violence. Sinners may shut the remonstrances and warnings

of the Divine Word out of their hearts and remain obdurate, but afflictive

 providences or untoward events of some kind, may at God’s pleasure

TEAR AWAY THE OBSTRUCTION AND, AND TEAR OPEN THE

HARDEST HEART!  Whether the opinion of those who think there is a

reference here to the four ancient monarchies is founded in fact, or is only the

mere offspring of fancy, we care not to examine. That there is a resemblance

between the terrible threats of this passage and the terrible treatment which

the people of God experienced at the hands of those monarchies, there can

be little doubt. Of the four monarchies represented by beasts in the seventh

chapter of Daniel:

 

Ø      the Babylonish was the lion,

Ø      the Persian a bear,

Ø      the Grecian a leopard, the fleetness of which suitably set forth the rapidity

of Alexander’s exploits, all of which he performed in the space of twelve

years, while he himself at his death had only reached the age of thirty-three

years.

Ø      The Roman empire is not likened to any one beast in particular, but is

described as dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, with great iron

teeth, devouring and breaking in pieces and stamping the residue with the

feet, its ten horns standing for the ten kingdoms into which it was

subsequently parceled.

 

Terms to Ponder

 

Man’s Perversity                   God’s Restorative Mercy                 Self-Destruction        

False Security in Sin              Humiliation in Sin                               Moral Suicide

 

 

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