Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 13

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-16

Chapter 13

Now when Ephraim was speaking trembling ( Hsa Hosea 13:1 ),

That is, when Ephraim was not proud and exalted, but recognized their own weakness and all,

then the LORD exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died ( Hsa Hosea 13:1 ).

The Bible says, "Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people" ( Proverbs 14:34 ). When Ephraim was trembling... "He that humbles himself shall be exalted, but he who exalts himself shall be abased" ( Luke 14:11 ). How true it was with Ephraim. When they spoke trembling, God exalted them. But when they offended in their worship of Baal, they were destroyed.

And now Ephraim sins more and more, for they've made them little molten images of silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: and they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves ( Hsa Hosea 13:2 ).

And so they would make these little silver calves and wear them around their necks on a chain and it was a good luck omen to kiss it. When you wanted something good to happen you'd kiss your little god that you've got hanging around your neck. This was happening among the people of God.

Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passes away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as smoke out of the chimney ( Hsa Hosea 13:3 ).

So Hosea is great at picturesque speech and at writing. And so he talks about their being driven away as the morning cloud, the fog that burns off in the morning, or as the early dew of the morning that dries up as the sun comes up, or as the chaff that blows out of the threshing floor with the wind, or as the smoke that comes out of the chimney but disappears into the atmosphere.

Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me ( Hsa Hosea 13:4 ).

This is, of course, the covenant that God had made with them, the covenant whereby they would be established in the land, the covenant whereby they would be blessed that they would worship the Lord God and have no other gods. But they had broken that covenant.

God said,

I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought ( Hsa Hosea 13:5 ).

When you were in that area where you had to depend upon Me, I knew you; you were calling upon Me all the time. Always in trouble, always calling upon the Lord.

But according to their pasture ( Hsa Hosea 13:6 ),

So they were filled when they came into the land and they were in this fertile land and they began to be prosperous.

and they were filled; and their heart was exalted; then they forgot God ( Hsa Hosea 13:6 ).

How true it is with so many people. They seek God in the time of trouble, in the time of need, in the time of poverty, but when riches increase then they forget God. They get all caught up with their possessions. They lose the true perspective of life and they get their priorities all out of whack.

Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and I will rend the caul of their hearts, and there will I devour them like a lion: and the wild beast shall tear them ( Hsa Hosea 13:7-8 ).

Now, here he's using these animals, talking about how he's gonna destroy Ephraim and all. But it brings to mind the prophecy of Daniel where the lion is Babylon, the bear is the Medo-Persian Empire, the leopard is Greece, and the wild animal is the Roman Empire. So here again these nations God is going to use as instruments of judgment against Ephraim. And so they were, first they were subjected by the Babylonians. Of course with Israel, the Assyrians, then the Babylonians and then the Medo-Persians and then the Greeks conquered them, and then conquered and subjugated by the Roman Empire, the wild beast. And so these very animals that are used in Daniel to represent these kingdoms are used also in Hosea representing the kingdoms that God would use as instruments of judgment against His people who would turn their backs on Him.

O Israel, you have destroyed yourself [God said] ( Hsa Hosea 13:9 );

God wants a person to face the responsibility of their own actions. Don't blame someone else for what you are. You're responsible yourself for what you are. You're gonna have to answer to God for what you are.

O Israel, you have destroyed yourself ( Hsa Hosea 13:9 );

Now they were saying, "Our fathers have eaten sour grapes and our teeth are set on edge." God said, "That's not so. You've destroyed yourself. Your teeth are on edge because you've eaten the sour grapes; you've destroyed yourself."

but in me is thy help ( Hsa Hosea 13:9 ).

Even though a person has made a mess of their lives, yet God still stands by ready to help them. "In Me is your help." God said,

I will be your king ( Hsa Hosea 13:10 ):

Just turn your life over to Me, turn your life over to My lordship.

where is any other that may save thee in all of your cities? ( Hsa Hosea 13:10 )

There's no one else that can save you. Turn your life over to God; let Him make your life what He would have it to be.

thy judges of whom you said, Give us a king and princes? I gave you a king in my anger, and took him away in my wrath. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children ( Hsa Hosea 13:10-13 ).

Literally from the Hebrew, "coming to the place of birth but not being born."

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death ( Hsa Hosea 13:14 ):

The nation was to go down, in a sense, to the grave, which they did. You remember, the Lord took Ezekiel to the valley that was full of dry bones and was scattered and God said to Ezekiel, "Can these bones be made to live again?" And Ezekiel said, "Lord, you know." And he watched the bones as they came together and as they stood on their feet, the skeleton stood on his feet and muscle and sinew and flesh and all came upon it, and the word of the Lord came Ezekiel the prophet saying, "Thus saith the Lord, so will I gather together again My people who have been scattered throughout all the world and I will bring them back and I will plant them into the land and I will make them a nation there and I will put muscle and flesh upon them and they shall dwell in the land."

All right, here again, God said, "I will bring them back from the grave." Israel was for two thousand years without a homeland, scattered throughout the world, nationally dead, but God promised that He would ransom them from the power of the grave, that He would redeem them from death. And so He has. And Israel is now a nation once again as a witness and a testimony of the faithfulness of God to His Word.

We were travelling in Israel and we picked up a young girl who was in the Israeli army, and my wife began to engage her in conversation. And she said, "Do you believe in God?" And she said, "Oh, no." My wife said, "Well, have you ever read the Bible?" She said, "Of course, we have to. It's required reading in our schools." And she said, "Well, what do you think about the Bible?" She said, "Well, it's just stories that men made up because they have to believe in something, and so they made up these stories about God so you could have something to believe in." I said to her, "Why do you think this land belongs to you?" She said, "Well, God promised... " I said, "Wait a minute. You don't believe in God. Those are just stories that men made up because they needed something to believe in." She started thinking back and I said, "Do you know that because of you being in this land I believe in God?" I said, "Your being here is one of the proofs that this is not a bunch of fairy tales, that this is really the Word of God and that God is true to His promise." I said, "Otherwise you wouldn't be here now and you'd have no right to be here. But because God is true to His promises you are here and you're proof that God exists."

Here God promises,

I'm gonna ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes ( Hsa Hosea 13:14 ).

Paul probably was thinking of this passage in Hosea when he closed off his first epistle to the Corinthians in chapter 15. And he said, "And then shall be brought to pass the same." The same probably being this reference here in Hosea "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? For the sting of death is sin, but thanks be unto God that through Jesus Christ we have victory over sin" ( 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ). So that sting of death has been removed through Jesus Christ and he's no doubt referring here to God's destruction of death and grave as a fearful last enemy of man.

Though he be fruitful among his brothers, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up and he shall spoil the treasure of all the pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate; for she has rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women who are pregnant shall be ripped up ( Hsa Hosea 13:15-16 ).

The horrible judgment as God pronounces that which is going to happen. Not that which God brought--that which they brought upon themselves because they would not turn to God. Don't blame God for the tragedies that befall an individual. God does everything to avert these tragedies and to cause you to avert these tragedies by turning to Him. And God stands there and says, "Don't do that, you know, you're gonna get hurt."

It is like, say you had a very obstinate, stubborn child that insisted on playing in the street, and you come home and you find him playing out there in the street. You say, "Now don't play in the street. It's dangerous to play in the street." And you'd spank your child. So you come home again and there he is playing in the street and you warned them, you spanked them, you punished them, you restrict them, you do everything you can to keep them from playing in the street. And one day they're hit by a car and they're severely injured. And he says, "Why did you do that to me, Daddy?" "I didn't do that to you. I tried to keep you from that. I knew it was dangerous. I warned you it was dangerous. I tried to keep you from it. I punished you. I tried to reprimand you. I tried to correct you. I did everything I could, but you insisted." And so is man. God warns you, "Look, that path is gonna bring you to destruction. That path is gonna bring harm. That's gonna hurt." And God warns, God reproves, God corrects, God does everything He can to turn you, and still in your stubborn obdurate way you go right on in it until those things that God told you are gonna result from taking that path happen to you and then people say, "I don't know why God ever allowed this to happen to me. If He's a God of love, why did He allow it to happen?"

Well, you see, you are the one responsible because you've gone against God. God has done His best to keep you from that hurt, from that injury, but you would refuse to listen and hearken and obey. As the prophet said, "God speaks to us through similitudes."

Years ago, when we were back in Toledo, Ohio, we were ministering to the Northend gang there and we promised them a beach party up on Lake Eire. So we went up to a beach there in Lake Eire, and in the evening we went swimming and then we built this giant bonfire and we had wieners and so forth and we were gonna have a party for these kids. And as we built this fire, suddenly the flame attracted thousands of these June bugs, and they started flying into the flame. Well, some of the guys thought that they were gonna be helpful and rescue these June bugs from their destruction because they were flying right into the flame and just being, you know, sizzled. And so these guys got out there and they started batting. You know, the bugs would come flying, they'd bat the bugs back, you know, and knock them down and pick 'em up and throw 'em away, and the bugs would just circle and zoom right back into the flame. And these kids are doing their best to keep them out, but with all of the batting and everything else, you know, they'd sort of roll over in the ground and recover and get, you know, just take off and fly right back into the flame. And I said to them as we started to have our serious time, I said, "You remember early in the evening as you kids were trying to keep the bugs from destroying themselves in the flame. And you did your best." I said, "If you were listening, God was speaking to you and telling you that He's trying to keep you from destroying yourself in the fire. He's done everything He can, but if you will not listen, if you will not obey, if you will not hearken, you can destroy yourself and you will destroy yourself." It was a very heavy message. God spoke to them by a similitude. God uses similitudes often to speak to us. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hosea 13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/hosea-13.html. 2014.
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