HOSEA: LOOKING BEYOND JUDGMENT TO RESTORATION
XIX: Israel's Inevitable Doom For Rejecting Her Deliverer
A. God's punishment is very painful, but afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness, Hebrews 12:11.
B. This was the theme of Hosea, the "'death-bed prophet of Israel'" and the last prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel before it fell to Assyria in divine punishment. (ESV Introduction to Hosea)
C. Hosea 13:1-16 describes Israel's inevitable doom for rejecting her Deliverer, the Lord, so we view the passage for our insight, application and edification (as follows):
II. Israel's Inevitable Doom For Rejecting Her Deliverer, Hosea 13:1-16.
A. Ephraim's prominent place among Israel's tribes once caused other tribes to tremble when he spoke, but he then became guilty of Baal worship and was as good as dead due to God's impending judgment, Hosea 13:1. The tribe only added to its sin, making for itself skillfully crafted idols, and the tribe's men stooped to kiss the gold calves at Dan and Bethel, Hosea 13:2. [The NIV and ESV interpret verse 2 to mean they practiced human sacrifice, but a better translation is, "Men who sacrifice kiss calves," Bib. Know. Com., O. T., p. 1405.]
B. God's judgment would make these idolatrous men quickly vanish like the morning mist, the early dew, the chaff swirling from a threshing floor and smoke escaping through a window, Hosea 13:3; Ibid.
C. However, using the emphatic pronoun 'anoki in front of the verb, God declared, "But I Myself am Jahweh [I AM], your Elohim [Creator God] from [the time of your sojourn] in the land of Egypt," Hosea 13:4a. Israel was to know no other god but the Lord, for there was no other Savior besides Him, Hosea 13:4b!
D. God recalled He had cared for Israel in the burning heat of the wilderness in the Exodus, when He fed them with manna, they were satisfied, but when they were satisfied, they turned proud and forgot Him, Hos. 13:5-6.
E. Because they forgot their only Deliverer, God promised to become just the opposite of a Deliverer in judgment, becoming as it were a lion or leopard, lurking by the path of His people, like a bear robbed of its cubs, and He would tear them open, tearing them apart and devouring them like a wild animal, Hosea 13:7-8.
F. Israel would be destroyed because she had turned against the Lord, her helper, Hosea 13:9. Her king and town rulers whom she had desired to have rule over her would not be able to save her, Hosea 13:10.
G. Israel had asked for a king so God in His anger had given her kings with the crowning of Saul in 1 Samuel 8:6-9; 12:12 and with her secession from the Davidic king under Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12:16), but in His anger, God would take the king away during the invasion of the nation of Assyria, Hosea 13:11; Ibid.
H. Ephraim's sins were stored up and kept on record by the Lord, so her punishment was sure to come, Hosea 13:12. The nation had not responded to God's calls to repent, so as the figurative pains of childbirth were to come to the nation, Israel like an infant without wisdom so as to repent would not come to the opening of the womb, what would lead to the certain death of the mother and the infant, Hosea 13:13; Ibid.
I. God claimed that though the nation was then helplessly doomed to death and the grave due to its wickedness, He would yet ransom Ephraim from the power of the grave and from death and He followed this claim with two requests for first death and then the grave to show their power if they could, Hosea 13:14 NIV. [Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 that this prediction will be fulfilled in the resurrection of believers.]
J. The Lord had decided to have no more compassion for Ephraim so that even though the tribe thrived among his fellow tribes, an east wind from the desert would come in God's punishment causing Ephraim's spring to fail and his well to dry up, and his storehouse to be plundered of all its treasures, Hosea 13:15 NIV.
K. In the end, the people of Samaria, the capitol city of Israel, would have to bear their guilt for rebelling against their God. They would fall by the sword, and their little children would be dashed to the ground in being slain and their pregnant women ripped open, violent atrocities in the Assyrian invasion, Hosea 13:16.
Lesson: Though God was Israel's Great Deliverer in bringing her up out of Egyptian bondage through extensively providing for her living needs only to give her the Promised Land, when she forsook the Lord for false gods, she forsook her Deliverer, and that Deliverer then turned into her Destroyer in leveling severe punishment against her.
Application: (1) Since our Gracious God is also a Consuming Fire in punishing sin (Exodus 20:5-6; Hebrews 12:29), may we cleave to Him alone as God and forsake all competing false idols for blessing and escape His discipline. (2) May we rejoice in God's future victory over sin that leads to death and the grave in the believer's resurrection, and adjust our living in hope of that blessed destiny.