Hosea 2

 

1 “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.”

Divine mercy being now received, the recipients are urged to extend to each

other the right hand of fellowship, exhorting one another, encouraging one another,

confirming each other in the faith, and mutually provoking each other to love and

good works.  (Galatians 2:9; Hebrews 10:24)

 

2 “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not thy wife, neither am I her

Husband:” -  In this second chapter the same cycle of events recurs as in the first,

with this difference, that what is expressed by symbol in the one is simply narrated

in the other. The CYCLE is the common one of SIN:   its usual consequences

of SUFFERING and SORROW; then SUCCOR and SYMPATHY in case of

 repentance. The persons addressed in the verse before us are those individuals in

Israel who had still retained their integrity, and who, notwithstanding surrounding

defection and ABOUNDING UNGODLINESS  had continued steadfast in

their loyalty and love to the Lord. They might be few in number, widely scattered,

perhaps unknown to each other, and of comparatively little note; yet they are here

called on to raise their voice IN SOLEMN WARNING  and EARNEST

PROTEST against THE NATIONAL DEFECTION and WICKEDNESS.   

The congregation in its totality, or whole people taken conjointly, is compared to

the mother, but individual members to the children, and the sense is that they are to

plead with each other to bring them back to the way of goodness. The nation as

such, and in its impiety, is the mother; the pious persons still found in it are here

REQUIRED TO TESTIFY FOR GOD both by EXHORTATION and

EXAMPLE.  The congregation of Israel is compared to an adulteress, and the

children of the different generations to the children of whoredoms. Before them

the prophet says, ‘Plead with your mother.   Adultery per se is a virtual dissolution

of the marriage-tie; idolatry is spiritual adultery; the close and tender relationship into

which God has graciously condescended to take Israel is rendered null and void, and

that through Israel’s own fault. God threatens the renunciation of it, unless perchance

the pleading of the still faithful children might recall the erring mother to penitence and

purity. (One has to wonder what gets into the minds of the ungodly?  Why are they

so adamant in not wanting to be reminded of God and His saving love!  - CY –

2012).  A case the converse of this is that presented in Isaiah 1:1, where the mother’s

divorce is attributed to the unfaithfulness of the children. Where, asks the

Lord in that passage, is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I

have put away?… for your transgressions is your mother put away.” Ki

before the second clause is either recitative, introducing the words of

pleading, or assigns a reason; the latter seems preferable -  “let her therefore

put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between

her breasts.”  The word mippaneyha is rather to be rendered “from her face”

than “out of her sight.” The expression is to be taken literally, as the word

“breasts” in the parallel clause proves.  Since Hosea compares her to a harlot, he

attributes to her the ways of harlots; for the harlot’s way is to adorn her face with

various kinds of colors, that she may appear fair in the eyes of her paramours

(II Kings 9:30).  But in addition to ornamenteth as earrings or nose-rings, and other

ways of decking herself (see Isaiah 3:16-24), as by painting, the expression may imply

lascivious looks and wanton expressions of countenance (see Proverbs 7:10-23);

while the mention of breasts may indicate the making of them bare for the purpose of

meretricious blandishments, or as indicating the place of the adulterer (compare

Ezekiel 23:3 and Song of Solomon 1:13). The Jewish commentators adopt the

 latter sense.  (In contrast:  for a positive and holy relationship, see Proverbs 5:15:19).

The harlot’s countenance indicates boldness, while the breasts implies shamelessness.

 

3 “Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born,” - 

The Lord, by His servant the prophet, enforces the preceding exhortation by a

stern denunciation, and the threat of further severities unless averted by repentance;

as an injured husband withdraws from a faithless wife all the gifts and presents he

had made for her adornment, leaving her poor and bare. Not only the removal of

her garments by way of degradation and disgrace, but exposure in that position

to insult and ignominy would ensue. In other words, the nation is threatened with

deprivation of all the blessings previously lavished upon them — property,

prosperity, population, and privileges; while dishonor of the deepest dye would

AGGRAVATE THEIR MISERY!   (Let America Beware – in Sunday’s Courier-

Journal and today’s Kentucky New Era – the term “Fiscal Cliff” was used, in

one instance, even by a political cartoonist, but there seems to be no connection or

recognition by the artists, nor by the people they attempt to influence, of the more

dangerous “MORAL CLIFF” off  which we are falling! – I have long understood

the danger of immorality bringing the world to its knees, at a much faster pace

and in a more direct route, than  the threat of CLIMATE CHANGE! - this

being November 19th - CY – 2012)  The day of the nation’s birth denotes the

weakness and wretchedness of their infant state. To this corresponded their

servile, suffering condition during their bondage and oppression in Egypt.

The figure of birth represents the time they are slaves in Egypt.  The Prophet

Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:4) expands the idea, occasionally employing the very words of

Hosea -  “and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and

slay her with thirst.”  This part of the verse is susceptible of two explanations.

The faithless female, under which character the northern kingdom is personified,

may be compared to a wilderness, that is,  fruitless, parched, and productive only

of thorns, thirsty and waterless. This comparison of a woman to a desert is wanting in

suitability, and seems in some degree awkward in itself, beside being out of

harmony with the closing clause; for to slay with thirst,” however

applicable to a person, cannot with any propriety be said of a place,

whether desert or otherwise. No doubt the wilderness may stand for those

dwelling in it. We prefer, therefore, the alternative rendering, “make her as

in a wilderness, and set her as in a dry land.” - “Lest I pronounce against them

such a sentence as of old in this desert (Numbers 14:35), “In this wilderness

they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” There is, moreover, a

natural connection of ideas between a wilderness, a dry land, and thirst. The

nation’s birth, represented by or compared to their sojourn in Egypt, naturally

suggests the idea of their wandering in the wilderness after their exodus from

that country; a wilderness, again, suggests what is an ordinary feature of such

a district, namely, a dry land; while a region thus without water is suggestive

as well as provocative of thirst.  I will make thee like the wilderness which is

open to every one, and in which, moreover, one finds no means of subsistence,

nor anything that man needs; so I’ll withdraw my goodness from them,

and they shall be surrendered as a prey to every one.”

 

4 “And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of

whoredoms.”  The connection of this verse is carried on from the preceding, viz.

and lest I will not have mercy upon her children. An exceedingly apt illustration

of this verse is given by Jerome. It is to this effect: When the children of Israel were

brought out of Egypt, the parents perished in the wilderness; but the children of those

who had thus perished, and whose carcases had thus fallen in the wilderness, were

spared and permitted to enter the land of promise. Now, however, the case is

different, and the punishment aggravated. The adulterous parent perishes, and

the children of that parent perish also. Further, the reason is assigned in the

concluding clause. The children proved themselves no better than the mother that

bore them; they were THE WORTHLESS PROGENY OF A WORTHLESS

PARENT!  (Compare II Peter 2:12)

 

5 “For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath

done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers,” -  The charge of

idolatry under the figure of harlotry, spiritual harlotry, is reiterated. “Mother” is

repeated in and emphasized by the parallel words, “she that conceived them.”

A somewhat similar form of expression is that in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are

estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking

lies.” To bosh, to be ashamed, belong the Hiphil forms, hebhish and hobhish

 (the latter formed from zabhish), properly “to put to shame,” but also “to

practice shame or do shameful things.” The nature of her shameful conduct

is more definitely and distinctly expressed in the clauses which follow; and consisted

of several particulars. There is the persistent pursuit of her lovers; then the

unblushing boldness with which she avows her determination to continue

that course; and next come her expectations from them – “that give me my

bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink

(margin, drinks).”  The original word here rendered “lovers” is the Piel

participle, which may have either its usual intensive sense or its occasional

causative sense in which it is taken as “wooers.” It matters little which way we

understand it. The more important point is to determine who or what are

here meant by lovers. Most commentators understand them to be those

nations whose friendship Israel set such store by — the Assyrians and the

Egyptians and other nations, with whose idols Israel committed fornication,

and from which in distress they vainly hoped for help.  The Assyrians and

Egyptians joined in alliance to the Israelites, who delivered them from their

enemies, so that they lived safely, in return for the gifts (tribute) which they

(the Israelites) were in the habit of giving them. And as they lived in tranquility

in virtue of the compact entered into with them, the prophet represents it as if

they supplied them with all the necessaries of life. For with their help they tilled

their land without fear and in safety traded from country to country.” Kimchi

quotes at the same time his father’s (Joseph Kimchi) interpretation: “But my lord

my father of blessed memory explained ‘after her lovers’ of the sun and moon

and stars, which they worshipped; while their intention was that they gave them

their food and their sufficiency, as they said, “But since we left off to burn

incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her,

we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by

the famine.”   (Jeremiah 44:18)

 

 

The Prophet Exhibits the Gross Sin of 1dolatry (vs. 2-5)

 

The prophet in this section exposes the shame as well as sin of idolatry. It

is a mistaken notion to suppose, with some, that the tribe of Judah is here

urged to plead with the tribes of Israel; for Israel cannot, with any

propriety of speech or figure, be spoken of as the mother in this case,

however possibly they may be addressed as brethren and sisters. The

Church or nation is the mother, and the individual members, as nursed and

brought up by her, are the children. The doctrines symbolized in the

preceding chapter are here more fully developed and plainly set forth.

 

  • PLEADING COMMANDED. The explanation which Calvin gives of

the first clause of this second verse is ingenious, yet we must regard it as

rather specious than sound. Instead of “plead,” he employs the word

“contend;” and interprets the contention to imply that Israel, instead of

censuring the seeming severity of God’s dealings with them, should rather

condemn their mother’s sin as the guilty cause of that severity, and thus

cast the blame of their sufferings, not on God, as though he had falsified his

covenant, but upon their mother, the Israelitish Church or kingdoms that

had fallen away and fallen far from fulfilling the conditions of the covenant.

After referring to the mark of disgrace fixed on the children born by a

marriage with a wife who has been repudiated by her husband, he says,

“When a husband repudiates his wife through waywardness, the children

justly regard him with hatred. Why? ‘Because he loved not our mother as

he ought to have done; he has not honored the bond of marriage.’ It is,

therefore, usually the case that the children’s affections are alienated from

their father, when he treats their mother with too little humanity or entire

contempt. So the Israelites, when they saw themselves rejected, wished to

throw the blame on God. For by the name mother are the people here

called; it is transferred to the whole body of the people, or the race of

Abraham. God had espoused that people to Himself, and wished them to be

like a wife to Him. Since, then, God was a Husband to the people, the

Israelites were as sons born by that marriage. But when they were

repudiated, the Israelites said that God dealt cruelly with them, for He had

cast them away for no fault. The prophet now undertakes the defense of

God’s cause, and speaks also in his person. ‘Contend, contend,’ he says,

with your mother [your dispute is not with me].’ He brings this charge

against the Israelites, that they had been repudiated for the flagitious

conduct of their mother, and had ceased to be counted the children of

God… the blame of their rejection belonged to the whole race of Abraham

(i.e. the mother); but no blame could be imputed to God.” We rather

understand the pleading mentioned as that which the pious remnant of the

nation, who had still kept themselves separate from idolatry and the general

degeneracy, are exhorted to address to their mother, that is to say, to the

bulk of the people with the heads of the congregation and rulers of the

nation. It is the duty of believers to plead for God and His truth, even

though the great body of Church or nation should be opposed to them.

This is specially the case in times of spiritual leanness, and in days of deep

declension or entire apostasy. Thus our Lord and His apostles pled with the

people of the Jews in their days, charging their rulers, the chief priests and

scribes and Pharisees, with the gravest dereliction of duty. Yet there must

be tenderness in this pleading. It is remarkable that, as Jerome remarks, he

commands “the sons (children) to speak not at all to the wife of their father

whom she forsook, but to their mother who bare them.” Neither is there,

on the other hand, any impropriety in thus pleading with an erring parent,

for we find that Jonathan thus pleaded with his father, Saul, on behalf of

David. Humble and modest, yet firm and faithful pleading, is not only

lawful, but dutiful even on the part of private persons against national

corruptions or public profanations, as of God’s Name, or Word, or day,

or worship.

 

  • PENITENCE ENJOINED. Though Israel had forfeited her right to the

name or privilege of wife since she had so grievously fallen away from

faithfulness and affection, and though God disowned the relationship as she

had virtually dissolved her marriage union by her unfaithfulness, yet she

had not actually and formally received the bill of divorce putting her away;

in other words, her outward and public rejection. There was thus still left

space for repentance, and room for hope in case of repentance. So

great is the mercy of God, that if she lent an ear to the pleadings of her

children orphaned through her misconduct, and put away her whoredoms or

defilements with many lovers, and her adulteries or departures from her

rightful Husband and Lord, she might hope for restoration. Thus God deals

with sinners in general, if they will only hearken to the admonitions and

invitations of His Word, and put away from them the objects, one or

 many, of their sinful attachment, which withdraw their affection from

HIM WHO IS THEIR TRUE AND PROPER OBJECT!  There is a

practical comment by Matthew Henry on the close of this verse which appears

to us well worth quoting. He says, “Every sinful course persisted in is an

adulterous departure from God; and here we may see what it is truly to

repent of it and turn from it.

 

Ø      True penitents will forsake both open sins and secret sins; will put

away, not only the whoredoms that lie in sight, but those that lie in

secret between their breasts — the sin that is rolled under the

tongue as a sweet morsel.

 

Ø      They will both avoid the outward occasions of sin and mortify the

inward disposition to it.”

 

  • PUNISHMENT THREATENED. The punishment threatened in case

of impenitence consists of several particulars.

 

Ø      There is destitution of the extremest kind. Israel would be

stripped of all the favors, temporal and spiritual, which God had

bestowed, and be so situated that she could not help herself. The

idea is more fully developed by Ezekiel, who in ch.16:4-5 presents

us with a most pitiable picture — that of an infant exposed, neglected,

nude, and helpless: “As for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born

 thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to

 supple thee; thou was not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None

eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee; but thou wast cast

 out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that

 thou wast born.”

 

Ø      Next to destitution is desolation. In this particular the representation

Is that of a wilderness and a dry land, or rather of a traveler in such a

district.  The nature of the wilderness or of the way through it is easily

inferred from other Scriptures; thus we read of Israel’s departure from

Horeb: “We went through all that great and terrible wilderness”

(Deuteronomy 1:19);  again it is written, “He found him in a desert

land, and in the waste howling wilderness” (Ibid. ch. 32:10). A

traveler, in journeying through that waste and howling and terrible

wilderness, would meet with many a rough road, many a rugged way,

many a rocky ascent, many an uncultivated waste, many a harsh sound,

many a scaresome sight, many a tangled spot, many a thorny place,

many a toil, and many a trial. Travelers passing through such a scene

of desolation are said to wander “in the wilderness in a solitary

 way.” (Psalm 107:4)

 

Ø      The dangers of the wilderness are manifold. There is the place of

lions’ dens, and of the mountains of the leopards. (Song of Solomon

4:8).  There, too, the  Israelites of old encountered the fiery serpents

that infested it. (I recommend Spurgeon Sermon:  Number 1500 or

Lifting up the Brazen Serpent - # 6 – this web site – CY  - 2012) 

For a  time they had been restrained, but afterwards they were

uncontrolled, and even commissioned to chastise the erring Israelites.

 

Ø      Death itself is included in the threatened punishment:  “And slay

her with thirst” (v.3).  There is no water to cleanse, no thirst-satisfying

fountain, no life-giving spring. Of wayfarers in such a region it is written,

They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted in them.”

(Psalm 107:5)

 

  • POSTERITY INVOLVED IN THE THREATENED PUNISHMENT.

The repetition of “lest” at the beginning of v. 4 is needed to make the meaning

plain and carry on the connection. Particular members of a Church or nation

too often share the sins of the general body or rulers of the people (see

Jeremiah 5:31); so too children, frequently following in the footsteps of

godless parents, suffer by the sad heritage of those parents’ guilt; for

God “visits the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and

fourth generation of them that hate Him”  (Exodus 34:7).  It has been

well said that “God visits the sins of the parents upon the children until the

entailed curse be cut off by repentance.”

 

  • PERSISTENCE IN SIN. The harlotry and shameful conduct of the

libidinous woman, who represents Israel in this passage, evidence the

greatest perversity. In spite of warnings and threatenings, in spite of

entreaties and exhortations, and in spite of inducements and invitations,

Israel persists in her iniquitous idolatry and perseveres in her

 Shameless conduct. Like an abandoned woman, who has renounced

all the instinctive modesty of womanhood, and who, instead of waiting

for the addresses of paramours, actually takes the initiative, and pursues

them with her unwomanly appeals, Israel goes after her lovers, that is,

 her idols, or, as some think, her idolatrous allies We may not, however,

overlook the fact that, besides the gross idolatry of Israel, THERE IS A

SPIRITUAL IDOLATRY UNTO WHICH ALL ARE EXPOSED,

and to which many are addicted. Anything that draws away our thoughts

and affections from God, or that occupies that place in our heart

that belongs to Him, IS AN IDOL — not so rude as the image of wood,

or stone, or metal, but not less perilous, not less pernicious, not less insidious.

Let us beware of following such lovers; let us beware of spiritual harlotry,

and of shamefully pursuing wealth, or fame, or power, or pleasure, AND

OF TURNING ASIDE FROM GOD!

 

  • PROSPERITY REGARDED AS THE BESTOWMENT OF IDOLS.

Israel in time of plenty forgot the important lesson that her prosperity came

from God. Her sottish stupidity was only equaled by her ingratitude (We

have just come through Thanksgiving Day – this being November 25, 2012 –

CY), when she attributed all she had to those miserable idols on which her

heart was fixed, and of which she showed herself so dotingly fond. Put by

Jehovah into the possession of such a life-some land, of food in abundance,

of raiment — garments inner and outer — and of the luxuries as well as the

comforts of life, she forgot — basely forgot — that she continued a

pensioner on His providence and blessed by His bounties. Bad enough and

base enough as such ingratitude was, it was still worse to transfer her

 love and her gratitude to idols dumb such as blinded nations fear.

How unspeakably mean it was on Israel to form such a low estimate of religion

as to value it according to the worldly advantages to be derived from it, or

in proportion to the selfish interests served by it! How much worse still to

depend on idols for such advantages, and in hope of furthering those interests!

 

6 “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall,

that she shall not find her paths.” i.e. - her lovers shall not be able to help her,

meaning Assyria and Egypt.  The sudden change of person from the third to

the second is very observable. This directness of address is, in this instance, expressive

of deep indignation. She had avowed her determination to pursue her evil courses

shamefully and sinfully, as if in despite and defiance of the Almighty. In deep and

undisguised displeasure, and with a suddenness springing from indignation, He affirms

His determination to thwart her course of sin and shame; as though addressing

her personally and promptly, He said, “Then thou shalt not be able to carry

out thy plan or accomplish thy purpose; I will see to that.” The hedge and

wall are elsewhere, as in Job 1:10 and Isaiah 5:5, used for protection and defense,

here for prevention and obstruction, and similarly in Job 19:8, “He hath fenced up

my way that I cannot pass, and He hath set darkness in my paths;” and in

Lamentations 3:7, “He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out,” and v. 9,

He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.”

After quoting his father’s explanation of lovers, he proceeds: “So their way is as if

there were in it a thorn hedge, and thorns that she could not pass through it, and could

not find her paths in which she walked.” The fence here is double one a hedge of

thorns, sharp, prickly, and piercing, such as forbid her forcing a way through: the other

a wall of stone that cannot be climbed, or leaped, or otherwise got over. We

need not try to specify the particular circumstances that thus hedged in and

walled about the adulteress — whether fightings within or foes beleaguering without,

whether straitened means or stress of circumstances raising an impassable barrier

against the practice of idolatry, or an enforced conviction of its futility. If, she seeks

to Assyria and Egypt, they will not give her their friendship and their help.

 

7 “And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them;

and she shall seek them, but shall not find them:” - This portion of the verse

expresses the consequence of the preceding. However eagerly she follows after

them — and the form of the verb (Piel conjugation) expresses that eagerness —

she shall only experience the ineffectual nature of her efforts, and feel the impossibility

of overtaking the darling objects of her pursuit. However earnestly she seeks them

(here the Piel is used again), she shall find every passage barred and every outlet

obstructed, so that, unable to find them, she shall be forced to abandon her

search as utterly vain and impossible -  “then shall she say, I will go and

return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.

The difficulties of her position, the distress in which she found herself,

stimulated her to increased eagerness in pursuit of her lovers; but it was

only for a brief space, and the efforts were unsuccessful; the means as well

as opportunity for the sacrifices and services of idol-worship failed, the

obstacles placed in her way were insurmountable. Or, rather, the

disappointment was so great and grievous, when all the fondly cherished

hopes of help, or succor, or support from those idols were frustrated and

found entirely vain, that heartsick and chagrined by lack of success, she resolves

on a change of course. With mingled feelings of remorse and penitence she

makes up her mind to retrace her steps. She recalls the better days, the

happier time, the more prosperous circumstances, of fidelity to her first and

rightful husband and head; and now she is just ready to return to him. She

is just now at that stage at which the prodigal in the parable had arrived

“when He came to himself,” and when he said, How many hired servants

of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I

will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:17-18).  She will not say this until

she has borne the captivity a considerable time.”

 

8 “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and

oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”

From vs. 6-13 inclusive, the suffering and sorrow consequent on, and

occasioned by, her sins are enumerated; yet now and again certain

aggravations of her guilt crop up. Here we have an account of her

ignorance of, and ingratitude to, the true and or of her mercies, together

with her sinful misuse and sad abuse of those mercies. The products of the

earth WHICH GOD BESTOWED ON HER were corn and wine and oil —

ALL THAT WAS NEEDED FOR FOOD, FOR REFRESHMENT, AND

EVEN FOR LUXURY; the prosperity in trade or commerce with which He

favored her resulted in the multiplied increase of silver and gold. The perversion

of these blessings consisted in her employment of them in THE SERVICE

OF BAAL  or of idolatry in general. The sin of refusing to acknowledge the

Author of such manifold mercies was grievously augmented byTHIS

GROSS ABUSE OF THEM.   The last clause is a relative one, asher, as

frequently being understood; while the words asu labbaal do not signify that

they made those metals into images of Baal, as implied in the Authorized Version;

nor yet that they offered them to Baal; but that they prepared or employed them in

the worship of that idol and the service of idolatry in general. ˆgd, rad. hgd, to

cover, multiply, i.e. multitude and plenty covering ever everything; comp.

tego, vwOryt, rad. vry, take possession of the brain in intoxicating: rhxy,

rad. rhx, to shine. All the goodness in the possession of which Israel was,

she had not except from me; because I sent my blessing on the corn

 and wine and oil, and sent my blessing upon the work of their hands,

so that they had abundance of silver and gold; but Jeshurun waxed fat

 and kicked.  (Deuteronomy 32:15)

 

9  “Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time

thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool

and my flax given to cover her nakedness.”  The abuse of the Divine

bounties mentioned in the preceding verse fully justifies the series of

punishments that follow. God thus vindicates those penal inflictions.

Accordingly He threatens them in this ninth verse with the deprivation of

the bounties which they had misused as the means of idolatry and sin; in

v.10 with disgrace; in v.11 with the departure of all her merrymakings;

in v.12 with the destruction of the sources whence the means of idolatrous

worship were supplied; and in v.13 with days of visitation proportionate to

the time of declension and apostasy. The first clause of the verse under

consideration is better rendered:

 

  • according to the common Hebrew idiom, which employs two verbs to

express one idea in a modified sense, the first denoting the manner, and so

equivalent to an adverb with us, and the second signifying the matter; and

it is thus translated by Keil: “Therefore will I take back my corn.”

 

  • We admit the ray consecutive is opposed to this; and the Septuagint has

ejpistre>yw kai< komiou~nai epistrepso kai komiounaicome and

take.  The manner of the dispossession intensifies the punishment, just as their

abuse of those possessions had augmented their guilt. The food, refreshment,

and raiment are to be taken away this certainly would be bad enough by itself,

but the suddenness of the stroke adds poignancy to the infliction. The

prospect of an indifferent harvest and of a bad vintage for weeks previously

might have prepared them in some sort for the disaster. But when the time

of harvest has already come and the season of vintage just arrived, by some

sudden, unexpected calamity, whether tempest or hostile invasion, the

bread-corn perishes and the wine-grapes are destroyed. The food is thus

snatched, as it were, from their mouth, and the cup dashed from their lips;

the sadness of the catastrophe is immensely increased by the sudden

rudeness of the stroke by which it comes. Nor is this all.  In the case of the

raiment, or rather the material, the wool and the flax out of which it is

formed, its removal reduces the intended wearer to perfect nudity, or, if we

understand it as figure, to abject poverty and absolute penury. Whether as

in v. 9, the disaster is attributed to hostile invasion - at its season when I shall

bring the enemies, to take away the corn and the wine; or of Divine judgment::

“I will return and take away my corn in its season, and my wine in its appointed

time, because I will send a curse upon them in the time of harvest and at the

season of vintage, instead of the blessing I used to send upon them. And so on

all the work of their hands I shall send a curse, and all their gain shall be put into

a bag with holes (Haggai 1:6); and they shall not have bread to eat nor raiment

to wear.

 

10 “And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none

shall deliver her out of mine hand.”  Deprivation is followed by disgrace,

dispossession by dishonor. The figure of a faithless female being continued, the

calamities of Israel are pictured in the extreme deplorableness of her condition.

The word navluth does not elsewhere occur, but its meaning is not difficult to

ascertain. It denotes literally, “slackness,” “laxness,” or A WITHERED STATE,

 from navel, to be withered, and may be translated either “her shame” or

“her turpitude.” The Septuagint has ajkaqarsi>an akatharsian - uncleanliness.

Thus she is exposed to the derision and disgust of her former admirers and paramours;

while deliverance is out of the question. Her lovers are the idols, or, Egypt and

Assyria, which cannot deliver her.”  She who once was the object of delight is

become the object of disdain and contempt; nor is there any of her quondam

lovers desirous of or able to deliver her out of the hand of Him who administers the

justly deserved punishment.

 

11 “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons,

and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”  The enumeration is complete,

“Her feast days” were the three annual festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and

Tabernacles. “Her new moons” were the monthly celebrations at the commencement

of each month. “Her sabbaths’’ were the weekly solemnities of one day in seven,

dedicated to the Lord. Then there is a general summing up of the whole by the

addition of “all her solemn feasts,” — all her festal days and seasons, including,

besides those named, the beginning of the years, the solemn assembly or holy

convocation on the seventh day of the Passover and on the eighth day of

Tabernacles. Preceding the enumeration is the general characteristic of all

Israel’s festivities. They were times of joy, as we read in Numbers 10:10,

“In the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the

beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets;” and in

Deuteronomy  12:12 it is expressly declared, “Ye shall rejoice before the

Lord... ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants,

 and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates.” ALL

THIS WAS TO CEASE:  THE COMING CAPTIVITY WOULD

RENDER ALL SUCH CELEBRATIONS IMPOSSIBLE!  For in the

distress there is no new moon and no sabbath; and the beginnings of months

and sabbaths on which offerings were presented were days of joy. And so

with respect to the feast days and solemn assemblies, which were days of

rest and quiet joy, they shall not have in them any joy IN CONSEQUENCE

OF THEIR GREAT DISTRESSES!  He subsequently adds, “There is a chag

which is not a moed, but joy wherewith men rejoice and eat and drink; and it is

called chag,” referring to Solomon’s feast of dedication; “and there is also a moed

which is not a chag, as for signs and for seasons (moedim), and at the appointed

time I will return unto thee” (raced, from r[y, to appoint as time and place).

 

12 “And I will destroy (make desolate) her vines and her fig trees, whereof

she said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me:” - God had

already threatened to deprive Israel of the means of support — the corn, wine,

wool, and flax; He now threatens the removal of the very sources whence that

support was derived. The vine and fig tree are usually conjoined, and by a common

synecdoche convey the idea of all those sources that combine to support life and

supply its luxuries. When the united kingdom of Judah and Israel, before the

disruption, had obtained the zenith of prosperity in the reign of Solomon, it is thus

expressed: Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and

under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon”

(I Kings 4:25).  Yet Israel knew not the time of her merciful visitation, and not only

turned aside to idols, but most stupidly and most inexcusably attributed the many

mercies she enjoyed to the idols which she worshipped. Like a foul adulteress

despising the tokens of her husband’s affection and delighting in the rewards of

lewdness received from licentious paramours, Israel forfeited all her

privileges, and forced the Lord to withdraw his bounties and destroy their

very source. ˆp,g,, rad. ˆpg, equivalent to ˆat, to be bent, from the arch

made by its drooping boughs, hn;aet], rad. ˆat, equivalent to ˆnt, to

extend from its length - “and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of

the field shall eat them.”  The places where fig trees flourished and vines

abounded shall be stripped of those trees, with their pleasant fruits — shall

become a forest. The vineyards being no longer hedged or fenced, no

longer cultivated or cared for, the beasts of the field shall, in consequence,

find free ingress and roam there at large, devouring and devastating at

pleasure. The Septuagint translates the first part of the above sentence by

kai< qh>somai aujta< eijv martu>rionkai thaesomai auta eis marturion

 “and I will make them a testimony,” thus reading, according to Jerome,

d[e, instead of r”[“y; while Cyril comments on the words so read as follows:

“For these things being taken away shall testify as it were against Israel’s depravity,

and render their punishment more signal, and make the wrath conspicuous.” The

context, however, militates against the reading in question, for in time of war or

general devastation places, through neglect, grow trees and brushwood,

where wild beasts lair and lay waste. The explanation of the verse is well

given by Kimchi in his commentary: “Because she said, ‘These are the hire

of my harlotry;’ because she said that from the hand of her lovers came the

corn and must and oil and all good things; — I will make them a

desolation, that she may know whether she had those good things from me

or from them. hnta, because he has compared her to a harlot, he calls

those good things hnta, equivalent to hnyw ˆnja; while their signification

is identical with yanj, and their root, hnt [extend, reach, give], the aleph

being prosthetic. But Jonathan renders hnta by rq”y], precious things.

And he mentions the vine and the fig tree because grapes and figs are the

best part of the food of man after the produce of the earth (i.e. corn); and

already he had said, ‘I will also take away my corn in its season.’”

 

13 “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she

burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her ear-rings and

her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forget me, saith the

Lord.”   The name of Baalim, that is, Baals in the plural, has respect to the

various forms of the Baal-idolatry,or modification of the Baal-worship; for

example, Baal-peor, Baal-be-rith, Baal-zebub, Baal-perazim, Baal-zephon,

Baal-zamar, Baal-shalishu. The name of Baal came to be used generally as

the designation of any idol or false god. The days of the Baals were the

days consecrated to Baal, and on which the WORSHIP OF THE

TRUE GOD WAS TRANSFERRED TO THAT IDOL!   It matters little

whether we render “wherein” or “to whom,” referring to ymy, in which case,

however, we should expect μb, though the latter answers better to the meaning of

the preposition le in μhl. After mentioning the object of their idolatrous worship,

God specifies the manner of it, which was the burning of incense, the part of the

Process being employed by synecdoche for the whole. Every mincha, or meat

offering, which was presented by itself as a free-will offering was

accompanied with frankincense; every day, morning and evening, incense

was burnt in the holy place; while on the great Day of Atonement the high

priest carried a censer of coals from the golden altar into the holiest of all

and there burnt incense before the mercy-seat. But the word has often a

wider sense than that of burning incense, and is applied to the offering of

any sacrifice whatever. Just as the festivals of Jehovah were transferred to

Baal, so His service was turned into that of Baal. Thus Israel prostituted

herself and acted the part of a spiritual adulteress by her worship of idols.

The same unsavory figure is resumed; and her assiduous efforts to worship

the idol acceptably and propitiate his favor is presented under the figure of

a whorish woman decking herself with meretricious ornaments

nose-rings and jewels, THUS MAKING UP BY ARTIFICIAL MEANS

FOR THE LACK OF NATURAL BEAUTYto attract the attention

 and gain the admiration of her lovers. Thus Aben Ezra: “The meaning of d[tw

is metaphorical in allusion to a whorish woman who puts a nose-ring in her nose

and a necklace on her neck to make herself beautiful, in order to find favor in

THE EYES OF THE ADULTERER.  The word d[“ has for its verbal root

hd[, to overstep the boundary, transgress, plunder, draw to one’s self, put on;

while hy;l]j,, (masculine yil”j]) is from hlj, to rub, polish, be smooth. But

when all fails to draw lovers unto her, she casts aside the last remaining fragment

of female delicacy (self-respect), and goes in pursuit of lovers (becomes

aggressive and chases men.  Thus did Israel. She put Baal or other idols in

 place of Jehovah; she made a transfer of Jehovah’s festivals to Baal; she burnt

incense or offered sacrifice to her idol INSTEAD OF THE TRUE GOD,

 she went to great pains to secure the acceptance of her false deities; “and me,

says Jehovah very emphatically,” she forgat;” that is, me the true God, her

bountiful Benefactor, her gracious Lord. and loving Husband, she forgot.

The visitation expressed by dqp with accusative of the thing, and l[ before

the person, is paraphrased  “For the transgressions of her (Israel’s) iniquity in

the exile I will visit upon her the time that she served Baalim; and I will let

them remain long in exile for punishment, because they have left my service

and served other gods.  And even upon children’s children shall come this

punishment, although they do not serve strange gods in exile; thus is the

 sentence [literally, ‘judgment’] of their punishment, because their children’s

children shall not be perfect in the service of God and in His commandments in

exile, therefore thus shall the iniquity of their fathers who served strange gods

unite with their own punishment.

 

 

The Pains and Penalties that are Attached to Sin (vs.6-13)

 

In the Book of Judges it is stated once and again that, when the children of

Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, He delivered them into the hand of

their enemies. “They forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them

into the hands of the spoilers that spoiled them (Judges 2:13-14); The

 children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord And the Lord

 sold them into the hand of Jabin King of Canaan(Ibid. ch. 4:2);

“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord

delivered them into the hand of Midian.” (Ibid. ch. 6:1)

 

  • THE DIFFICULTIES PLACED IS THEIR WAY. First there is a

hedge, which no one can crush through without risk of painful lacerations.

God frequently draws round sinful pleasures, as a fence, severe sufferings

to warn men against their indulgence. But when all restraints are cast aside,

and men will force their way through all such fences, there is another

 mode of Divine operation, which opposes an insurmountable barrier

to men’s lusts. If a hedge may be broken through, a wall cannot; if a hedge

fail to check men in their onward career of sin, a wall will effect the purpose.

If thorns in the flesh do not deter men from sinful gratifications, a wall is

raised up that cannot be passed over, when, through failure of bodily

strength, the crippling of worldly resources, the removal of opportunity or

occasion, or otherwise, those gratifications become impossible (Romans

1:27; Proverbs 5:9-12).  The sorrows which Israel suffered by their idols

and idolatrous alliances were only the hedge, and served merely for a

partial and passable fence; the wall was a complete separation between

them and their sins.

 

  • THE DEFEAT OF HER DESIGNS. The most vigorous pursuit fails,

the most minute search is frustrated. For years and centuries the Hebrew

race has had their eyes directed to a temporal Messiah, who would lead the

armies of His people, fight their battles, triumph over all enemies, and raise

them to the highest pinnacle of human greatness, and their nation to a

proud preeminence among the kingdoms of the earth. We know the result.

God has hedged up their way and walled up their path. So, too, with

sinners in general. God often seeks by cross providences to withdraw

man from his purpose. He places thorns and snares in the way of the

froward, making the way of sin difficult, sometimes impossible, so that they

follow after their beloved lusts but do not overtake them, and seek them but

cannot find them. How different with the search after gospel grace! It is

“ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.”  (Matthew 7:7-8)

 

  • THE DETERMINATION AT LENGTH ARRIVED AT. The

disappointments which Israel meets with bring them to a sense of sin and

its sorrows (Luke 15:17),  Having long and eagerly sought satisfaction in the

pursuits of the world and in the pleasures of sense, they are forced at last to

acknowledge their mistake. Such things do not and cannot satisfy; they are

husks that starve but do not support a hungry soul; their idols cannot

succor them in the time of need. They recall the early history of their

nation, and, contrasting the past with the present, are convinced of the

better days that had long gone by. They thought of the time when Jehovah

was the God of Israel, sitting between the cherubim, and when the

prosperity of the people had kept pace with their piety. How different

now!  How different ever after Jeroboam seduced them to the idolatry of the

calves, or Ahab indoctrinated them in the heathenish rites of the dual

deities of Phoenicia! The retrospect persuaded them of their sad mistake in

departing from their true Husband and Head. Finding themselves hardly

bestead, their condition desperate, and their hopes blighted, they determine

to retrace their steps, and with sentiments and language closely akin to the

prodigal in our Lord’s parable, they set about the accomplishment of their

purpose.

 

  • THE SAD MISTAKE OF ISRAEL. In the time of their plenty and

prosperity they mistook the source of their blessings, as also the right use

of them. They attributed them to their idols, and abused them in their

service. Worldly prosperity was what Israel, in the period of degeneracy,

most cared for. (Is not this characteristic of the United States today? - CY –

2012)  What contributed to bodily gratification, luxurious living,

and worldly wealth, was most esteemed by them. These they counted

blessings, and regarded as the bestowments of their idols. Just as in

Jeremiah’s time their brethren, or rather sisters, of Judah clung obstinately

and stupidly to the evil and error of their ways, saying, “We will certainly

do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense

unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we

have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of

Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals,

and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the

queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted

all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.”

(Jeremiah 44:17-18).  Whatever excuse the heathen may have had when they

spoke of their corn as coming from Ceres, and their wine as the gift of Bacchus,

and their wealth as bestowed by Plutus, Israel had none; for they had early been

instructed in the knowledge of the one living and true Cod, and early as

well as impressively reminded that the good land, which yielded the corn

and on which the vine and olive grew, was God’s gift; and that it was God,

moreover, who gave them power to get wealth, so that however plentiful

the silver and abundant the gold, they owed all to Him  (Deuteronomy

8:18).  Worst of all, they not only mistook the Author of these mercies, but

perverted them to the service of a rival deity, thus provoking Jehovah to

jealousy with that which was not God, but the miserable idol of Sidon,

Tyre, and Phoenicia.  (Ibid. ch. 32:21)

 

  • SEVERE CHASTISEMENT WAS THE CONSEQUENCE. This was

to be expected. Created things are given to man for his service, and man

himself was created for God’s service; but when man perverts the creatures

which God has given him, and, instead of serving and glorifying God by

means of them, actually employs them in ways and for purposes derogatory

to the Divine glory, no wonder the Almighty, in just indignation, should

snatch them from him who so misuses and abuses them. As in v.8 the

addition of the personal pronoun to the verb gives emphasis, so in v. 9

the repetition of the possessive pronoun with the nouns serves the same

end. “She did not know, not she, that I even I it was that gave her corn and

wine and oil,… therefore I will take away my corn, my wine, my wool, and

my flax.” God requires two things at least in return for his mercies:

 

Ø      that we gratefully acknowledge the Giver in the gifts; and

Ø      that we employ them in His service or to His glory.

 

Men praise the fruitful earth, but it is God that makes the earth fruitful;

men talk learnedly of the laws of nature, but it is God that invests nature

with those functions, or arranges those natural sequences called laws;

men boast of good fortune, but such fortune is only the bounteous providence

of God. Whether, then, it is articles of food, or materials of raiment, or the

precious metals which represent wealth that men possess, it is God that

either gives or withholds at pleasure. How beautifully this lesson is

inculcated in that precious chapter, the eighth of Deuteronomy! “When

thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God

for the good land which he hath given thee;” and again, beware that

“thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand

hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy

God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth.” Further, the

question with Israel, as with the heathen both then and now, is, What

shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we

be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31) whereas the question should be. “How

shall we use God’s gifts to God’s glory; so that whether we eat

or drink, or whatever we do, we may glorify God?” (I Corinthians

10:31)  The abuse of God’s mercies abridges the time of their

enjoyment; when we misuse or mismanage our stewardship, He turns us

out of office, and tells us we may be no longer stewards; when we forget

the Giver and forsake His service, we forfeit our interest in his gifts. The

manner, too, of their removal adds justly merited severity to the stroke.

Just as the time of reaping arrives, the harvest becomes a heap; just as

the ship reaches the port, it becomes a wreck; just at the season when

all seems sure and hopes are highest, the blight descends and expectation

ends in bitterest disappointment.  (Compare Psalm 78:30-31)

 

  • SHAME AGGRAVATES THE CHASTISEMENT. A sense of shame

is sometimes the most painful punishment; men of greatest physical

courage have often been found devoid of sufficient moral courage to bear

up against a laugh or resist a sneer. Besides, when insult is added to injury,

the indignity is complete. When Israel prospered, her folly was covered

and her sin cloaked; her lewdness was long concealed, being unseen,

or overlooked, or thought lightly of. But when the prosperity is withdrawn,

the covering is cast aside and the cloak torn off. Outward prosperity,

while it lasts, is like gilding over many a lewd life, or like veneering

 over a loose character. But when, in the providence of God, the day of

adversity comes, the inward vileness becomes transparent; when Israel fell

from her prosperous state, her corruption was made manifest, even in the

sight of the idols she loved, and whose love-tokens she fancied herself to

have enjoyed, or of the idolatrous nations whose alliance she courted, or of

the sun and moon which as deities she worshipped; she is stripped naked, and

exposed to shame, contempt, and insult. Nor is there any hope of remedy

or prospect of recovery. It has been well remarked that “those who will not

deliver themselves into the hand of God’s mercy, cannot be delivered

 out of the hand of his justice.”

 

  • SORROW FOLLOWS SHAME IN THE DAY OF ISRAEL’S

DISTRESS. Israel continued to keep up the outward ordinances of

religion, but the inward essence had long departed; there was the

semblance of worship, but the reality was altogether absent; there was a

form of godliness, but it was destitute of the living power. Jeroboam had

made the worship of Jehovah a state religion. The changes he introduced

were with the view of furthering his political interests. The worship he

established was a sort of rival worship, so that the breach between the ten

tribes and the two might become wider and still widening. (Is this not

the issue today between Secularists and Fundamentalists?  Between the

blue states and red states? – CY – 2012)  He changed the manner of worship

by the introduction of images or symbols, so that Jehovah was worshipped

under the form of a calf, as though in allusion to the cherubim over the mercy-

seat; he changed the place of worship from its central seat at Jerusalem to Dan

in the north and Bethel in the south; he changed the time of worship, at least in

the case of the Feast of Tabernacles, from the seventh month to the eighth, as

though the harvest was later in the north than in the south; he changed the

ministers of worship, taking the priests out of all the tribes without distinction,

and not from that of Levi, which had resisted his innovations and refused

 to sanction his godless novelties. But notwithstanding these changes — and

important changes they were — he retained so much of the national

worship as suited his purpose, and did not clash with his usurpation or tend

to weaken his authority. Israel still had the weekly sabbath, memorial of

creation work completed; and the month-sabbath, a monthly dedication to

God. They had the three yearly festivals — the pesach, with the chag hamatzoth,

to commemorate the deliverance from Egypt; the chug hashbuoth,

or feast of weeks, called also chag ha-gatzir, the feast of

harvest, and yom ha-biccurim, day of firstfruits; and the chag ha-asiph, the

feast of ingathering, or chag ha-succoth. feast of tabernacles, or simply

chag, the feast by way of eminence, the completion of the ingathering of

fruits and vintage, and commemoration of Israel dwelling in tents in the

wilderness; they had all the other solemn feasts of thanksgiving to God for

special providences or particular blessings. With all these feasts were

associated merry-makings, especially with that of tabernacles; but now God

takes all these away. The outward joy had for long been severed from that

inward spiritual joy of true religion; only the semblance remained, FOR

THE SUBSTANCE WAS GONE.  And now shadow as well as substance

is to pass away. God in judgment turns their joy into sorrow, their mirth into

melancholy. “Sin and mirth,” says an old writer, “can never hold long

together; but if men will not take away sin from their mirth, God will

take away mirth from their sin.”

 

  • RUIN OF THEIR PROSPECTS AS WELL AS OF THEIR

POSSESSIONS. The threatened destruction of their vines and fig trees

affected, not only their present and actual possessions, but also their future

and possible prospects. The fruits of one year, or even of several, might

fail; but other years of better harvests and other seasons of greater

fruitfulness might repair in some measure the loss. The destruction here

threatened, however, is not only that of one year’s fruits or of one season’s

produce, but the cutting off of all future hope. It is not only the

destruction of the fruits, but of the trees, and so a ruin without remedy.

Neither is it a partial destruction — some of those fruit-bearing trees being

still spared — but total; the country would be laid waste, the fences would

be broken down, the enclosures taken away, and the vineyards left as a

common; the fig trees would give place to forest trees, and wild beasts devour

and dwell amid the ruins. Yet Israel could not say that this ruin was unmerited,

for the prophet is careful to remind them how foully they had abused the

favors of God’s providence, and scandalously regarded them as the fruits

of their idolatry, the gifts of their idols, or the hire of their spiritual adultery.

 

  • RETRIBUTION COMMENSURATE WITH THEIR WRONGDOING.

God’s chastisements in this, as often in other cases, bear an obvious proportion

to the heinousness of men’s sin and the time of its continuance. Like wicked men

and seducers in general, idolaters wax worse and worse (II Timothy 3:13).

From the wrong way of worshipping God under the images of the calves

according to their own devices, they had proceeded to the grosser sin of

setting up an idol in His place. This idolatry had long continued, and that

continuance made an era in their history here named the days of Baalim.

 

Ø      The variety of this idolatry is specified. They worshipped Baal under

divers forms, for divers purposes, and in divers places; and hence the

plural, Baalim.

 

Ø      We may notice the devoutness of their idolatry. The burning of

incense preceded the morning and succeeded the evening sacrifice

of a lamb in the temple. It was symbolical of prayer and thanksgiving;

it was, in fact, the highest and holiest of the priest’s functions, as we

may infer from Luke 1:9.

 

Ø      Further, the preparation and pomp of this service to which Israel

prostituted the wealth she possessed, decking herself, adulteress-like,

with her earrings and her jewels, and lavishing the good gifts of God’s

providence on contemptible and filthy idols.

 

Ø      Her eagerness for idol-worship is as noticeable as it is lamentable.

Unsought, unsolicited, without inducement or allurement, she takes the

initiative, and with unblushing importunity makes advances to her lovers.

 

Ø      The BLACKEST SIN OF ALL and in some sort the source of all,

was her FORGETFULNESS OF GOD!  Alas! how often do men

and women abuse the best gifts of God, and pervert them to the vilest

purposes! How often are they far more zealous in a wrong course

than in the right! How often do sinful pursuits engross their noblest

powers! How often does the storm of evil passion sweep away all

thoughts of God out of their mind!   How often, amid the lusts

of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, the pride of life, groveling avarice,

soaring ambition, and schemes of worldliness, do men FORGET

GOD ALTOGETHER or at least how often do they consecrate to

self, or sensuality, or sin in some of its countless forms, the thoughts,

affections, and love WHICH GOD CLAIMS JUSTLY HIS DUE!

 How often, too, does God visit with terrible retribution the sins of such!

 

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak comfortably unto her.” As in vs. 2-5 we have an exposure of Israel’s

sin, and in vs. 6-13 an enumeration of her sufferings by penal inflictions; so vs.14-23

contain a touching exhibition of Divine succor and support. The transition is abrupt.

Vs. 14-17 exhibit the gradual change wrought in Israel through the progressive means

of improvement employed by Jehovah. Israel’s future is here reflected in the

mirror of her past history. The events of that history are elegantly

employed to represent as by type or symbol the mercies in store for Israel,

wayward and rebellious though she had proved herself to be. Laken (from

le causal, and ken, so, equivalent to “because it is so”) at the beginning of

this verse (14) is rendered by some,

 

  • “but” or “yet;” but its natural signification is “therefore.”

 

  • “Therefore” implies because Israel can only be turned from her foolish

idolatry by the penal measures named. Aben Ezra also understands it here,

as elsewhere, in its literal sense; thus: “After she [the unchaste wife

representative of Israel] shall know that all this evil has come upon her

because that she had forgotten me, and had not known at the beginning

that I dealt kindly with her; and when she will say, ‘Yet will I go and

return to my former husband;’ then will I allure her with words.” htp

is from the root tp cognate with the Arabic in the sense of “dividing,”

“being open,” “standing open;” thence it signifies “to be susceptible of outward

impressions,” “allow access and entrance;” in Piel, “to make one open.... be

susceptible or inclined,” “induce by words.” The word laken, “therefore,”

has somewhat puzzled commentators, because the connection between the

judgments threatened in the preceding verses and the mercies proffered in

what follows is not to a superficial view at once apparent. Yet it is mercy

and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each

other.  (Psalm 85:10).   It is:

 

  • the connecting link between the enormity of our sins and the greatness

of the Divine mercy; between the vileness of our iniquities and the riches of

Divine grace. In like manner the psalmist prays, “Pardon mine iniquity,

for it is great” (Psalm 25:11); and God promises by the prophet, “For

 the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me,

 and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.

I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore

comforts unto him and to his mourners” (Isaiah 57:17-18).  Long previously

God had said, “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake;

for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).

The secret of such striking contrasts is that where sin abounded grace

did much more abound (Romans 5:20). 

 

Egypt having been to Israel the house of bondage, the exodus from that land represents

deliverance out of a servile, suffering condition.

 

  • The wilderness or Arabian desert into which they were brought on

leaving that country was a place of freedom. They were emancipated, and

breathed the free air of the wilderness; they were exercised with salutary

discipline after their emancipation; as they traversed the wilderness they

were trained and tried. The allurement which prefaces their deliverance

refers to the persuasion of Moses and Aaron, who found it necessary to

persuade and even coax their countrymen to turn their back on their

bondage and follow the leaders whom God had sent them. The

“comfortable words” mentioned in the clone of the verse were

addressed to them at a subsequent period, when, allured out of the strange

land where they had sojourned so long, they were led forth into the wilderness.

The“comfortable words” comprehended both temporal and spiritual

mercies - relief in every time of emergency, deliverance in danger and

distress, a plentiful supply of their necessities, with pardon of their sins,

assurances of grace, and renewed tokens of God’s favor on repentance.

A difficulty has been found in the words, “and bring her into the wilderness,”

Being interposed between the alluring and the speaking comfortably. The

difficulty is removed;

 

  • by translating vav, not by “and,” but by “after,” as if equivalent to acher;

thus: “After I shall have brought her into the wilderness I wilt allure

and comfort her.” Then the meaning would be, “After I have humbled them

thoroughly as I did their forefathers in the wilderness, then will I speak

comfortably unto them.” God humbled their forefathers in Egypt, yet that

did not suffice; He humbled them afterwards in the wilderness, and then

brought them into Canaan. Many times God sends successive afflictions

upon His own people, to break their hearts, to humble them thoroughly,

and at last “HE SPEAKS COMFORTABLY UNTO THEM!”  But:

 

  • the wilderness may be viewed in another light. Besides the distresses

experienced in the wilderness, there were deliverances enjoyed. The

reference here may be to the latter, and all the more as this part of the

chapter deals with merciful providences. The particle vav and other words

of the verse then retain their natural sense; and, instead of a denunciation

of further afflictions, God declares to Israel that He will perform on their

behalf such works of power, wisdom, and goodness, at once great and

glorious, merciful and wonderful, as He had wrought for their forefathers in

the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. Thus the Chaldee: “I will

work miracles and great works of wonder for them, such as I wrought in

the desert;” as though he said, “Whatever the condition may be into which

you shall be brought, yet you shall have me working in as glorious a way

for your good and comfort as ever I did for your forefathers when they

were in the wilderness.”

 

 

The explanation of “wilderness” above, combining, as it does, deliverance yet

discipline, care yet chastisement, deserves the preference; it is neither to be

explained exclusively in the sense of promise, nor, on the other hand, exclusively

in the sense of punishment.  “I will lead her into the wilderness, which for her is

like a wilderness and a dry parched land; and there she shall lay it to heart

that it was better with her when she did my will than when she rebelled

 against me.”

 

15 “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor

for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth,

and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” The consolations

of God are not confined to words; they comprise works as well as words. Friendly

doings as well as sayings are embraced in the Divine goodness, and

MANIFEST THE DIVINE MERCY!  On emerging from the wilderness, fruitful

vineyards, such as Sibmah, Heshbon, and Elea-leh, east of Jordan. and fertile valleys,

like that of Achor near Jericho, to the west of Jordan, as soon as they have crossed

the river, shall be given them. These vineyards and valleys would thus be the first

installments of God’s promise, and a prelude to the possession of the

whole, so that the door of hopeful expectation and of joyful anticipation

would be thrown wide open to them. The verb hw[ has three meanings —

“humble one’s self.... answer,” “sing.” Hence the Septuagint and older

interpreters adopt tapeinwqh>setai tapeinothaesetairespond there –

: Calvin, “respondent;” and Aben Ezra and Kimchi, “she shall sing and play.”

The last deserves the preference. No wonder if, under such circumstances, Israel

responded with songs of praise and thanksgiving, as in that early day of the nation’s

youth, when, coming up out of Egypt, they sang the song of Moses by the Red Sea’s

margin, while Miriam and the maidens of Israel in full chorus completed

the harmony. Now, all these experiences of the past were TO REPEAT

THEMSELVES IN THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL.  Their past captivity or

dispersion was obviously implied in this promised deliverance and God’s gracious

dealings with them in the future. There is a different explanation of one

expression in this verse, which deserves careful consideration — an

explanation which turns on what once transpired in that valley, and the

meaning of the name of it, troubling, derived from that transaction; we

refer, of course, to the affair of Achan (Joshua 7:1-26). The punishment of the

transgressor in that case, and the putting away of sin in connection with penitence

and prayer, reopened, after defeat, the door of hope, and restored the

enjoyment of Divine help. The discomfiture that so troubled the host of

Israel was immediately followed by the victory at Ai, which inspired them

with the hope of soon possessing the whole land. So with Israel after the

captivity — a dreary night of weeping was followed by a bright and blessed

morning. So, too, in time to come, when, after a long and sorrowful

expectation, Israel shall return from the lands of their exile to their

fatherland, or by faith and repentance to the paternal God, the light of

better and more hopeful days shall  dawn upon them. To the idea of

troubling Kimchi attaches the notion of purification, quoting with approval

Rashi and Aben Ezra to the same purpose. His comment is: “Because at

the beginning, when they went into the land in the days of Joshua, this

misadventure befell them, namely, the matter of Achan, he gave them

confidence that they should not fear when they assembled in the land, and

that no misadventure would occur to them, as they would all be refined and

purified because, in the wilderness of the peoples, they would be purified.

And that valley of Achor shall no more be called so, for its name is for

depreciation; but a name of honor shall be given to it, and it is a door of

hope. And inasmuch as he says ‘door,’ and not ‘valley,’ as it should be, it is

because it shall be to them as a door, since from there they shall enter into

the land as they did at the first, and it shall be to them hope and the aim of

what is good; consequently they call it the door of hope. And the sage

Rabbi Abraham explains the valley of Achor to be the valley of Jezreel,

viz.’ because I [Jehovah] troubled her there, it will turn to a door of hope.’

And R.S.I. (Rashi) of blessed memory explains it as the depth of the exile,

where they were troubled; so ‘I will give her a door of hope, the beginning

of hope, that out of the midst of those troubles I will give her a heart to

return to me.’” To the same purpose he quotes a brief comment of Saadia

Gaon. μr,k,, cognate with Arabic karma, to be noble, equivalent to “the

more fruitful and productive.” The word mishsham is, according to some,

 

  • an expression of time, equivalent to “from the time of their departure

from the desert,” — others explain it as

 

  • thereout,” i.e. “I will make their vineyards out of it,” -  “from there or

thence.” It is taken in the last mentioned sense as follows: “From the

 wilderness I will give the whole land, which she formerly possessed,

as if He said, ‘I will constitute her there in the wilderness to do good

 to her in her land,’ because that in the wilderness of the peoples He will

purify them and consume the rebellious and the transgressors, so that the

remainder shall fear (or flock reverently to Him). Consequently they shall

need consolations, and He shall speak to their heart. Because God —

blessed be He! — shall give them their land as at the first; therefore He

says, ‘And I will speak to their heart.’ And although we have explained

that the consolations shall spring out of the distress which they endured in

exile, yet will the whole be as well for the one (viz. the consolation) as for

the other (the trouble).” It is aptly remarked by Aben Ezra, in relation to the

vineyards, that “the words form a contrast to the other words of the

prophet, ‘And I will destroy their vine;’” – And why has the prophet

only mentioned their vineyards (i.e. when purposing to give them the whole

land)? Because he had mentioned in their punishment, ‘I will destroy her

vines,’ he mentions in the promised consolation her vineyards.”

 

16 “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi;

and shall no more call me Baali.  17  For I will take away the names of

Baalim ouit of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their

name.”  In these verses a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel, under the figure

of a marriage contract, is predicted. The name by which Israel shall address her

beloved shall be henceforth Ishi, not Baali; that is, a term of tender affection,

not of stern authority.

 

  • The title of “My Husband” will take the place of “My Lord.” Some

suppose that the latter title was the idol’s name, which, in the lips of Israel,

had superseded that of the true God, the meaning being

 

  • Thou wilt no more call to me, My Baal.” Nay, the names of Baals

shall become so abhorrent to their better feelings, as well as hateful to

Jehovah, that they shall pass away at once from their mouth and from

their memory, never more to be mentioned and never more to be

remembered. “Ye shall serve me out of love, and not out of

fear; ishi denoting marriage and youthful love; baali, lordship

and fear.”

 

18 “And in that day will I make a covenant for them” - A state of tranquility

was to follow, a sort of golden age was to ensue. With both  the rational and irrational

creation they would be at peace, enjoying security from the one and safety from the

other. Peace would be established with the hostile forces of the outer world, and peace

at the same time national and political -  “with the beasts of the field,” viz,

the wild beasts, as contrasted with behemah, tame animals — “and with

the fowls of heaven,” i.e. birds of prey, destructive of the fruits of the

field — “and with the creeping things of the ground:” - detrimental to the

products of the earth, they would be in league; while weapons of war

would be devoted to destruction -  “and I will break the bow and the sword

and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.”

The bow, sword and battle being broken, and not only so, but BANISHED

OUT OF THE EARTH so that Israel, free from the alarm of a night attack,

and protected by night as well as by day, would be made to lie down safely.

Milchamah is constructed with by zeugma; or it includes ALL IMPLEMENTS

OF WAR except the bow and sword, which he has already mentioned.

 

Much as was included in these promises, more and better was to follow. The

divorced wife was to be taken back; the marriage contract, which her shameful

adultery had vitiated, was to be renewed, and past offences condoned. This

certainly evidenced extraordinary forbearance and affection. But it was not all.

A new and higher relationship was to be entered on; so entirely had God forgiven

and forgotten, if we may so say, all the multiplied and aggravated transgressions of

Israel against Him, that that people is not to be received back as a repudiated wife,

but to be henceforth regarded and treated as a chaste virgin, and in that capacity

betrothed unto the Lord.

 

19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me

in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies.

20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness:  and thou shalt know the

Lord.” – “And I will betroth thee unto me”  is the gracious promise thrice repeated,

and each time with an additional element of mercy; nor is this betrothal of a temporary

character and of short continuance, like the previous marriage compact which the wife’s

guilt a short time had rendered null and void. IT IS A DURABLE BETROTHAL

LASTING FOR EVER!   Next to the time during which this betrothal shall continue

is the manner in which it is effected, or rather, the basis on which it is established.

Justice and judgment present righteousness under two aspects —

subjective and objective. Tsedeq, equivalent to tseda-qah, being right, is

subjective righteousness and an attribute of God. Mishpat, equivalent to

objective right, either as executing judgment or as existing in fact Some

attribute these characteristics to God and some to Israel, while others to

both. Rashi and Kimchi understand both words tsedeq and mishpat,

subjectively and in relation to the Israelites. The former: “In righteousness

and judgment wherein ye shall walk;” the latter: “In righteousness which

the Israelites shall practice.” Wunsche and Hengstenberg understand the

righteousness and judgment of God’s doing justice and faithfully fulfilling

His covenant obligations to Israel. The latter has well remarked in relation

to mishpat when distinguishing it from tsedeq, that a man may render what

is right to persons and yet not be righteous; that is, there may be objective

apart from subjective righteousness. Keil attributes the attributes in

question, not only to God fulfilling His covenant engagements to His

people, but purifying them through just judgment, and THUS PROVIDING

FOR THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS!  That God possesses these is undeniable,

but it is equally obvious that He bestows righteousness on His people both by

IMPUTATION and IMPARTATION;  He also executes righteousness in their

case, purifying them by salutary chastisement, His object being, not only to

cleanse, BUT TO KEEP CLEAN. And yet such is the frailty of man’s fallen

nature, and so many are the faults and the failings to which he is liable, that

loving-kindness (God’s condescending love, chesed, equivalent to ajga>ph

agape - love) and mercies (inmost compassion on man’s weakness, rachamim,

spla>cgna splanchnabowels; inward affection; tender mercy ) on God’s

part must be added to righteousness and judgment in order to SECURE

THE STABILITY OF THOSE WHOM HE TAKES INTO COVENANT

and the continuance of the contract. Nay; for the attainment of the desired

end still more is requisite, for, after all His bestowments and all His discipline,

and in addition to all His favor and forbearance, His faithfulness (unwavering

steadfastness, emunah, corresponding as the reverse side to and securing the

leolam) is indispensable to Israel’s perseverance; and thus, notwithstanding

Israel’s failures, JEHOVAH’S FAITHFULNESS GUARANTEES

ULTIMATE AND LASTING SUCCESS.  The special quality on Israel’s

side is true knowledge of God.  (Greatly emphasized by Peter in I and II Peter)

 

22 “And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and

they shall hear Jezreel.   And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and

I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say

to the people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

The eighteenth verse pictures a scene of peace for Israel’s future; the verses

following warrant the expectation of its perpetuity, owing to the higher and holier

relationship; the last two verses before us are a vivid description of UNLIMITED

PROSPERITY.   The corn and wine and oil appeal, by a graphic personification,

to mother earth; earth appeals to the canopy over the heavens; and the heavens

appeal to HIM WHOSE THRONE IS IN THE HEAVENS,  but whom the

 heavens and heaven of heavens cannot contain.  Soon the floating cloud is

seen and the falling rain is heard; the parched earth drinks in the moisture; and its

products, being nourished and refreshed, supply to the utmost the wants and

wishes of Jezreel.  This is the picture:  in the season of salvation, the heavens

shall give their dew, and the earth shall give her increase.  God will Hear the heavens

which were shut up when they were in the land, as in the days of Ahab; on their

return to the land at the time of salvation they shall no more be shut.’ And He says,

‘I will answer,’ as if the heavens asked that they might give rain according

to their manner, and I will answer; [as if] their earth [asked] that they [the

heavens] might give rain after their manner, even showers of blessing. And this

‘ I will answer’ denotes that my favor shall be on them [the heavens]. ‘And

they shall answer the earth,’ as if the earth asked rain and longed for it.

‘And the earth shall hear when it shall give its increase, and the tree of the

field shall give its fruit…’ ‘And they shall hear Jezreel,’ for in the

multiplying of good things the eaters thereof multiply, for the steppes shall

be full of the sheep of Israel. In the punishments He called the name of

Israel Jezreel, because they were scattered among the nations. In the time

of salvation He likewise calls them Jezreel, because they were sown in their

land; accordingly, He says afterwards, ‘I will sow them to me in the land.’”

Such is the prophet’s pictorial representation of a prosperity including food

in abundance, refreshment limited by moderation, and even luxuries

without stint. Old things are passed away; sinful things have ceased; there

is A COMPLETE REVERSAL  of the sorrowful circumstances into which

 sin had plunged Israel. God’s scattering has now become God’s sowing.

“I sow her”  that they may multiply and be fruitful as the seed of the earth.” The

unpitied one HAS FOUND MERCY, the rejected one is received

WITH REJOICING.   “I will say to them which were not my people,

Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God!”

 

 

 Sympathy with Israel in Spite of Their Sins (vs. 14-23)

 

The laken which introduces v.14 is rendered by some “notwithstanding,” and

this is what we might expect; but it is opposed by linguistic usage. We muse adhere

to the ordinary translation, which is “therefore.” The word thus translated tends to

exalt our idea of God’s goodness. Israel had sinned and forgotten God; the

“therefore” we would expect, and the inference we would draw is Gods final and

forever abandonment of such a sinful, God-forgetting people. Not so, however.

Israel had sinned by idolatry, and sunk into a depth of misery from which

they were utterly unable to extricate themselves. But their extremity is

God’s opportunity; their misery appeals to God’s mercy; and what man

could not do, and man would not do if he could, GOD DOES, lifting Israel up

out of the pit of misery into which, through sin and forgetfulness of God,

they had plunged. Not their desert, but their distress, turned the eye of

Divine compassion upon them. “His ways are not as our ways, neither are

his thoughts as our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  “He hath not dealt with us,”

says the psalmist, “after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities”

(Psalm 103:10).  He had indeed dealt with Israel in wrath, and prepared the

people to put away their idols, and now, to prevent them giving way to despair,

He deals with them in mercy.

 

  • RELIEF IS THE FIRST MANIFESTATION OF THIS MERCY. That

relief is described in terms calculated to remind them of God’s gracious

dealings with their forefathers, and to recall His merciful deliverance of

them out of Egypt.

 

Ø      Several incidents connected with their redemption out of the land of

bondage are laid hold of by the prophet and impressed into his

prediction, which is thus rendered beautifully vivid and picturesque, of

future deliverance. Among these incidents, which give such a life-like

coloring to the prophecy, are God’s persuasion of Israel through His

servants, Moses and Aaron; their exit from Egypt, and entrance into

the wilderness on the way to Canaan; his cordial and comforting d

ealings with them in the wilderness, when He gave them that fiery,

yet just and good and holy Law, instructed them in the ways and

means whereby they might worship Him acceptably, and took them

into covenant with Himself.

 

Ø      The Prophet Isaiah speaks of the wilderness becoming a fruitful field,

and again of the wilderness and solitary place being gladdened, and of

the desert rejoicing and blossoming as the rose. Whether, then, the

wilderness itself shall bloom with vineyards for Israel, or whether, on

emerging from the wilderness, they were to be put in possession of

vineyards in the promised land, the promised blessing of restoration

remains the same; while the responsive song of praise and thanksgiving,

such as Moses and the men of Israel sang for the glorious triumph at

the Red Sea, and in which Miriam and the women of Israel responded,

shall be repeated on the occasion of Israel’s rehabilitation in their former

inheritance.

 

Ø      A remembrancer of a practical kind is interjected, if we are to

understand Achor rather appellatively than locally. That remembrancer

of Achan’s sin, and Israel’s suffering in consequence, teaches the lesson

sometimes difficult to realize, that the bitterest sorrow becomes the

source of sweetest comfort to penitent souls. God subjects His

people to humbling providences in order to make them contrite; He

awakens within them painful convictions, to prepare them for heavenly

consolations; He tries them by distressing circumstances, but it is by way

of wholesome discipline; by all their wanderings in the wilderness He

humbles and proves them in order to do them good at the latter end.

If, too, like Israel, we put away sin, the accursed thing within us, we

may confidently hope for God’s presence with us, and power to

 prevail over all enemies around us.  Mortifying sin expels the

troubles from the camp; “trouble for sin, if it be sincere, opens a

door of hope, for that sin that truly troubles us shall not ruin us.”

 

  • REVIEW OF GOD’S DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL. In the strong

language of prophecy, Israel had been married to God, but had proved

unfaithful; going after other lovers, and thus committing spiritual adultery,

which is idolatry. Her unfaithfulness had exposed her to the just judgments

of God, issuing in her captivity.

 

Ø      From vs. 14-23,  promises of mercy take the place of

denunciation and reproof.  Because of Israel’s adultery God

had threatened her with a bill of divorce; but now He allures her,

 that is, woos her again, as a young man a maiden whom he

means to make his wife, and in the sequel actually renews that

relationship, as we learn from the words, “At that day thou shalt

call me Ishi” — “my Husband” (v.16).  He here dwells with

complacency on His manner of dealing with her when alluring or

wooing her in order to make her His wife. Having brought her into

the wilderness, or a state of trouble and distress, and thereby humbled

her, He wins her heart, not merely by pleasant words, but by most

valuable presents.

 

Ø      These precious gifts are comfort, hope, and joy. These are the

present manifestations of His love which He promises to bestow on

Israel. He gives, or rather restores, the vineyards which had been

forfeited; that is to say, He gives not only necessaries but delights,

not only subsistence but abundance.  Vineyards affording wine,

which comforts and makes glad the heart of man, imply comfort,

with the subsidiary notion of rest and peace, from the figure of men

sitting restfully and peacefully under their own vine and fig tree. The

second gift is hope. A door of hope, wide and effectual, is opened

before God’s people, and they are privileged to enter in. The third

is joy, spiritual joy, so that they have good ground and a right

disposition to celebrate with songs of joy the praises of their Maker,

who is at once their heavenly Husband and gracious Benefactor.

 

Ø      We must, however, note the manner of bestowal. It takes place after

much trouble and great abasement. He gives “her vineyards from

thence,” the reference being to the wilderness mentioned in the

preceding verse.  After difficulties and distresses in a land where they

had been hardly bestead, and a condition in which they had been much

straitened, they would have comforts of a most valuable kind. Further,

the valley of Achor denotes the valley of trouble, and derives its name

from having been the scene where God troubled the troubler of Israel,

when Achan, who by his sin had troubled the host of Israel, was stoned

to death. (Joshua ch.7).  SIN IS THE SOUL-TROUBLER STILL  

and when sin is slain and forsaken, with sorrow of heart and bitterness

of repentance, the door of hope flies open. Just as the valley of

Achor was the door of hope to Israel, inasmuch as it was the first place

they got possession of on entering Canaan, and inasmuch as, valley of

trouble though it was, it became the source of much good to them; so

the valley of trouble and humiliation is often the opening up of hope and

comfort to the believer. Conviction of sin causes trouble. The awakened

sinner is troubled by a sense of guilt and fear of deserved wrath; but

such troubling opens the door to conversion and comfort.

 

Ø      The history of Israel repeats itself in the history of God’s people still:

 

o       The trials of the wilderness were past, and Israel anticipated rest

And happiness in the land of promise, but on the very threshold

a sore trouble awaited them. So with ourselves; we may fancy

trouble past, and flatter ourselves with future happiness, at the

very time when other great and sore troubles are awaiting us.

 

o       As Israel got vineyards from the wilderness, so God prepares

us for great mercies by sore troubles or severe afflictions. “The

afflictions of the saints are not only harbingers of mercies, but

doors of hope to let in mercies, means to advance their

 progress.  God commands light to shine, not only after

darkness, but out of darkness. Joseph’s prison, David’s

persecution, Daniel’s den, made way for the glorious mercies

God had in store for them.” Many a one can say, “The undoing

of worldly prosperity has been the making of me in religion;”

in times of trouble, therefore, it is our duty to be patient, and

our privilege even to be joyful.

 

o       Instead of “door of hope,” the Septuagint translates,

to open their understanding;” and, though an inaccurate

rendering, it conveys the meaning of God’s having opened the

understanding of Israel to perceive the sinfulness of sin, God’s

hot displeasure against it, the dreadfulness of His wrath, the

holiness of His commandments, and the duty of putting away sin.

 

  • RENUNCIATION OF IDOLATRY IS IN CASE OF ISRAEL

ANOTHER RESULT OF DIVINE MERCY. He draws them, and they run

after Him; He makes them willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3).

Relief from suffering is followed by renunciation of sin; THIS IS A

BLESSED CONSUMATION!

 

Ø      Other lords had dominion over her, but now she renounces all these,

and devotes herself TO JEHOVAH ALONE!   So with sinners

when they give up the sin that does most easily beset them. No longer

is some beloved lust the subject of their thoughts or the object of their

affections; no longer are they wedded to sensuality, or avarice, or

ambition, or worldliness, or pride, or passion, or sin in any form; their

Maker is now their Husband-even the Lord of hosts, which is His name.

Nay, more; they acknowledge God as their Lord and Master, and so

He is; they look up to Him as their Patron and Protector, and so He is;

they confess His right of ownership so as to dispose of them according

to His sovereign will and pleasure — and they do well,  for so He is.

 

Ø      But, above all this, they can come nearer to Him and claim a closer

connection; with holy boldness they can approach His throne with

more confidence and less apprehension than Esther to her imperial

husband, when she touched the golden scepter which he held out

to her. The Church can address Jehovah not merely as Baali

“my Lord,” but with true wifely affection as Ishi — “my Husband.”

Or, if the distinction we have intimated be disallowed, the name of

an idol shall never again be put in the place of the living God,

according to the injunction in Exodus 23:13, “Make no mention

of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of

thy month.” So with whatever lust, or evil appetite, or sinful

gratification, or vicious course we have had for an idol, let it not

be once named among us.

 

Ø      But how is the change effected? It is God Himself who by His grace

brings it about. “I,” says God, “will take away the names of

Baalim out of her mouth” (v.17).  The very name is to be treated

with abhorrence; it must never more be mentioned, but consigned to

the oblivion of the past. God Himself girds His people with strength

for the sacrifice; “for it is God which worketh in you both to

 will and to work, for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

 

“The dearest idol I have known,

    Whate’er that idol be,

Help me to pluck it from thy throne,

   And worship only thee.”

 

  • RESTORATION TO PEACE LIKE THAT OF PARADISE. Once sin

is renounced and man is at peace with God, he has peace with all around.

 

Ø      A scene of peace did once prevail on earth; it was in Paradise. In

Those Eden bowers our fore parents enjoyed sweet peace; they had

peace with each other, peace and communion with God. Day was

succeeded by night, and night melted into day; they slept, they waked,

they walked; they kept that Paradisaical spot and dressed it. Above,

around, within, the Divine favor brightly shone. No sound of discord

was anywhere heard, nor did jarring note intrude. But soon as man

broke the peace by turning rebel against God, the beasts, that till

then had been subject to man and rendered him willing service, rose

in fury and in fierceness against him. Man by sin turned a foe to

himself, roused to rage the creatures before subject to him,

and was at war with his fellow.

 

Ø      But when Israel returns to allegiance to God, the various sections of

animate creation shall resume subjection to him. Wild beasts of the

most savage nature, or bloodthirsty disposition, or venomous character,

shall be at peace with him (Isaiah 11:6-9); the fowls of heaven, the

winged emissaries of the evil one, that snatch the Divine Word out

of the heart, shall lose the power of injury; enemies resembling the

creeping things of the ground, however harmful before in enticing to

low lusts, and leaving the slimy trail of sin behind, shall be restrained

from hurting. Not only so; the curse of war shall cease. Jehovah pledges

Himself by covenant to bless Israel with peace; but the promise carries

us on to that happy day when the Prince of peace shall restore peace to

the individual heart, peace to the domestic hearth, and peace to the

human family throughout all the world.

 

Ø      When the weapons of war shall have perished, men shall dwell, not

only in safety, but security. They shall be fearless of every foe; fearless

of all the powers of evil; fearless in life, for perfect love casteth out

 fear”  (I John 4:18), fearless in death, and triumphant over the last

enemy. May the good Lord hasten that time when

 

“No strife shall rage, nor hostile feuds

    Disturb these peaceful years;

To ploughshares men shall beat their swords,

   To pruning-hooks their spears.

 

No longer hosts, encount’ring hosts,

   Shall crowds of slain deplore:

They hang the trumpet in the hall,

   And study war no more.”

 

  • RENEWAL OF THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT OR COVENANT. If

we take this Old Testament picture and put it in a New Testament frame,

or if we take this Old Testament flower and transplant it to the New

Testament parterre, we shall realize the words of the apostle to the

Ephesians, when he says, “Christ also loved the Church, and gave

Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing

of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious

Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it

 should be holy and without blemish.… This is a great mystery: but

I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”  (Ephesians 5:25-27,32)

 

Ø      The betrothal is in righteousness, in truthful sincerity, without the

suspicion of dissimulation on the one side or the shadow of hypocrisy

on the other; in judgment, with due deliberation, not rashly, not

unadvisedly, not through some sudden or fitful impulse; in loving-

kindness, in outward acts of kindness and innumerable love-tokens;

in mercies, in bowels of mercy; this is the source whence all those

countless acts of kindness proceed, the fountain from which such

abundant streams of love flow forth; in faithfulness, in stability on

the part of God, with whom there is no variableness, neither

shadow of turning” (James 1:17), and steadfastness on the part

of the saint. These are the precious stones in the wedding-ring

which the bride, the Lamb’s wife, receives — righteousness

and judgment, lovingkindness and mercies, faithfulness

and thus the guarantee of A UNION THAT WILL LAST

FOR EVER!

 

  • REVIVAL OF PROSPERITY. In this part of the picture — and a

beautiful picture is here presented to us — we see a specimen of the

manifold wisdom of God, and of the many links in the chain of His

providence. The boldness of the figure, and the beauty of the

personification exhibiting the chain of second causes, and their connection

with THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE OF ALL,  have been much admired.

When the people of God stand in need of, and prayerfully seek, outward

comforts, “immediately the corn and the wine and the oil, as if they heard their

complaints, shall say, O Lord, we would help Jezreel, and satisfy these thy

servants. The corn shall cry to the earth, O earth, let me come into thy

bowels; I will rot there that so I may bring forth fruit for this people. The

vines and the olives shall desire the earth to receive them, to impart juice

and nourishment to them, that they may refresh these reconciled ones of

God. The earth shall say, Oh that I may receive the corn and wine and oil

that I may be fruitful in my kind! but, ye heavens, I can do nothing except I

have your influences, and the warm beams of the sun to make me fructify;

come, therefore, and assist me, that I may bear fruit for Jezreel. And the

heavens shall cry, Lord, we would fain help the earth, that the earth may

help the corn and wine and oil, that they may supply Jezreel; but we can do

nothing without thy hand; therefore hear us and suffer us to ram upon the

earth, that it may become fruitful.” Thus the creatures plead with each

other for the saints of God; God hears the heavens, and the heavens the

earth, and the earth the corn and wine and oil, and the corn and wine and

oil supply abundance to the people of God.

 

Ø      If the creatures cry to one another for help to the people of God, shall

we turn a deaf ear to the appeals of God’s afflicted people when they

cry for help to us? Or shall we refuse to hearken to the call of God

when He summons us to help forward His cause and extend His

kingdom?

 

Ø      If God hears His creatures when they cry to Him for our support, what

encouragement we have to believe that He will hear His own Son,

when, as Advocate and Intercessor, He pleads on our behalf and

in the presence of God for us!  (Hebrews 9:24)

 

 

 

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