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Ephraim and His Idols
These words are not intended as a threatening of the cessation of the Divine pleadings. There are no people about whom God says that they are so wedded to any sin that it is no use trying to do anything for them.
I. Ephraim is the name of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, one of the two into which the nation was divided. It is the people in the other, the neighbouring nation, that are spoken to; and what is meant by the 'letting alone' is plainly enough expressed for us in the previous verse: 'Though thou, Israel, be faithful, yet let not Judah offend....
Ephraim (Israel) is joined to idols; (Judah) let him alone'. That is to say, do you not go and walk in his ways, and meet a snare to your soul.
II. Between God's Church and the contiguous world let there be a gulf. Ephraim and the idols are confused and melted together, and the world and its idols are confused and moulded together in the same fashion. So then, if you are joined to them you are joined to their idols; and if you do not let Ephraim alone, you have community with the idolatry which belongs to him.
III. It is a very bad sign of a Christian man when his chosen companions are people that have no sympathy with him in his religion. There may be a great many things about religious people that may repel religious people as religious people of other characters, yet between you, if you are a Christian man, and the most unlike you of your brethren, there is a far deeper sympathy than there is between you and the irreligious man that is most like you in all these things.
A. Maclaren, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vi. p. 56.
References. IV. 17. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1140. Bishop Woodford, Occasional Sermons, vol. i. p. 32.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hosea 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter