In Chapter 6, the people made their plea and the Lord replied. That reply of the Lord continues in this chapter.
When I would heal Israel, the inequity of Ephraim is uncovered, and the evil deeds of Samaria, for they deal falsely; the thief enters in, bandits raid outside, and they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds are all around them; they are before My face.Hosea 7:1-2
This passage is fascinating. I think 100 different sermons could come from these words.
"When I would heal Israel..."
In Chapter 6 Israel pleas for the people to repent to enjoy the healing and forgiveness of the Lord. Maybe this is a prophesy of future sincere repentance or maybe just show repentance to engage the Lord's help (or both), but the people assume not only His forgiveness, but also complete restoration, healing, and provision. This says much about the Lord's faithfulness; but, in the latter case, also a complete lack of awareness of their own part in the covenant and relationship.
He told them endlessly that their continued blessing relied on their portion of the covenant. He even showed them by continually forgiving and restoring them, even the worst of them, such as Ahab, if they showed any genuine remorse at all. It seems, rather than learning that their behavior was causal, they seemed to have learned that the only thing required of them was to request forgiveness.
I get it.
I have areas of my life in which I want to follow my heart and flesh, and not wisdom and righteousness. And I have paid the price over and over again. And then I wise up, walk the right road again, and then that pesky flesh starts longing and the enemy starts whispering...and the cycle starts all over.
And, most likely, so do you.
Maybe it's a sin you consider benign. Maybe it's an everyday task that's not sinful in itself, such as shopping, eating, speaking with friends, cleaning, exercise, or even church-related activities. But over time you and the enemy of your heart have conspired to take the creation of God and make it an idol. It's where you go when you are troubled. It is a comfort and you begin to find that you can use that, rather than an active relationship with God, to meet your needs.
I know because it's been our story since Eve. "I know what I need more than God does. I care more about my future than Him. I can decide for myself what's good for me."
Recognize Eve's error in thinking?
Are you sure you aren't incline to similar thinking with, at least, one fruit in your garden?
What's the cure?
It's the same prescription as before you and I became dependent on our favorite idol (or two or three or nine). Repentance, yes; but also consistent, disciplined prayer, studying the Word, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and obedience to God's wisdom and righteousness. Dying to the flesh as our portion of the covenant.
But that's not what we read in Hosea 6. They didn't lay out their plan to return to the Lord. How things would be different, how they would change to obey the covenant; just a simple sentence and then on to the list of things God would do for them.
So, in this chapter, Hosea 7, God points out that the previous attempts to heal Israel only proved out their iniquity and evil. Thieving inside, raiding outside, and assuming God wasn't keeping track. They just had to wait until the battle didn't go their way and He'd step in-- as always. They didn't know their days were numbered and the number was really small.
But now they see it. Now their wickedness is all around them and He is nowhere to be found.
Verse 3 even goes on to say that their wickedness makes the king glad. That's so sad. That the king no only fails to lament evil; but is heartened by it. We see that today. Riot and burning cities are called "peaceful protest" IF the rioters are in service of the political party in power. Criminals are arrested and released because the victims matter less than the politics. Unwise and wicked people are brought to the White House to pander to certain groups while real heroes go unrecognized, unsupported, and often opposed.
I guess we take solace in that it is a tale as old as these ancient cultures.
Verse 3 also states that the princes were made glad by their lies.
Verses 4-7 goes on to further describe the rulers as all adulterers, with burning lusts like an oven so hot that it doesn't need to be stoked all night. The king oversees drunken celebrations and stretches out his hand to the scoffers (reminds me of Psalm 1). God also describes the group of rulers here with fiery hearts in their plotting, smoldering anger, and increasing in their heated ways until the kings are destroyed. (Ryrie points out that 4 of Israel's last 6 kings were murdered.)
Then, at the end of verse 7, God points out that none of them call on the Lord.
Verses 8-12 go on to describe Israel's folly with various details and comparisons.
- The Lord points out that Ephraim mixes with other nations (instead of leading them to God)
- "Ephraim becomes a cake not turned." I assume that means a cake with one side to the fire and the other not receiving heat- so it falls.
- Strangers devour his strength (yet he does not know it)
- His hair is turning gray
- They don't repent; they don't seek the Lord; but they do seek other nations, such as Egypt.
- For this, He calls them a silly, senseless bird that He will net out of the sky and chastise.
To the idea of the "cake not turned" in verse 8, Wiersbe uses the phrase, "half-baked" and has a great application for Christians. When these ancient middle-eastern people made bread, they put the dough on a rock, so it needed to be turned over or it would be half raw. Like a pancake that doesn't get flipped. Wiersbe's point is that if a Christian is half baked on the Rock and half raw to the world our behaviors will be as unbalanced and inconsistent as the half baked cake. Our church small group watched a video series this spring from Summit Ministries on "worldview." It easy to know the Christian worldview because it's all things biblical. However, one trap we noticed in our group is that Christians often assume that because they are Christians, they have a Christian worldview. While that is probably true for some parts of our lives, it's more probable that we have areas of our lives that more closely resemble a worldly-worldview. We have to challenge ourselves and pray that the Lord searches our heart to find those half-baked concepts that are rooted in culture, and not the bible.
Then, all descriptions and comparisons aside, He cuts to the point in verse 13.
Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me.Hosea 7:13
TWO exclamation points! That's terrifying. God is raising His voice. The end is near for His people in Israel.
In verse14 we learn that they do wail and assemble for their grain and new wine; but not to the Lord. They actually turn away from the One who could save and provide for them.
In verse 15 He points out that He is the one who trained and strengthened them and yet they devise evil for Him. Today is the same. He built this nation and now truth from the bible is labeled hate speech.
All of these descriptions and metaphors culminate in the final verse16:
- They turn, but not upward, like a deceitful bow.
- These princes will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue
- This will be their derision in the land of Egypt
Put your trust in those idols we read about in the early verses, and find derision from those you think will help you. Reminds me of the young man hanging around Folly's doorstep in Proverbs chapters 1-9.
It doesn't end well for that young man, just as it doesn't end well for Israel soon after Hosea's warnings.