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The subject contained in this Chapter hath respect to Ephraim Judah and Jacob: in it there is a mixture of reproof and commendation.
Under the figure of wind is here shown, the vanity and emptiness of the pursuits of Ephraim. anything, and everything, seems preferred by Ephraim, to the Lord!
Here the whole tribes or Israel and Juda are reproved. The Lord shows to what a degenerate state the both families were brought, and how different from the conduct of their first common father Jacob. Reader! it is a sad reproach to a family, when the descendants depart from the exemplary godliness of their fathers.
We have here the most honorable testimony of the Patriarch Jacob, in the record God the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to give of his conduct at Bethel in that memorable night, when expecting the furious anger of his brother Esau to break out upon him the following day. The history is given us, Genesis 32:0 and the Holy Ghost hath thrown so much light upon it of what is there said, by what is here recorded, that we can never sufficiently bless the Holy Spirit for his grace and condescension in this particular. I beg the Reader to recollect, that what the Prophet is here commissioned to tell the Church of the Patriarch Jacob, related to an event which took place a thousand years before. Jacob had been now dead for nine hundred and fifty years, and yet the Holy Ghost refers to it, as though it had been but yesterday. And how delightfully the Prophet is led to introduce it. He took his brother by the heel in the womb. So that he was an hero for wrestling from the very moment of his birth, as if to imply what great events in grace he would be remarkable for in the circumstances of his life. The history itself, with the cause, is very fully given us, Genesis 25:20-1.25.26 . And as Jacob began, so in the events that followed he manifested the disposition he had to struggle. By his strength he had power with God; yea, he had power with the Angel, and prevailed. The Patriarch, it is plain, knew both, and referred to this circumstance when a-dying. The God, said he, (as he blessed Joseph's children) that fed me all my life long unto this day: the Angel which redeemed me from all evil. Genesis 48:15-1.48.16 . Surely here Jacob rightly considered God the Father, in his covenant character; and the Lord Jesus Christ as the angel of the covenant, to whom he ascribed the great work of redemption. He had power with both: that is, I apprehend, he took hold of the strength of God's covenant promises, and Jesus's justifying salvation, and in that strength he prevailed by faith. See Isaiah 27:5 . He wept and made supplication unto him; that is, Jacob wept and entreated; not indeed for that the angel touched his thigh and made him halt, but because the object of his petition was so great, and Jacob knew who it was he wrestled with. And hence he called this angel with whom he wrestled God, a plain proof of Christ's being known to Jacob as God, for he said, I have seen God face to face, and my life was preserved, Genesis 32:30 . But what I beg the Reader yet more particularly to remark is, that as Jacob found God and his Christ in Bethel, so it is added, and there he spake with us. Who is the he that is here said to speak with us, but the Lord Jesus Christ? And who the us, but all the praying seed of Jacob, that as Levi the son of Abraham, so were we in the loins spiritually considered of our father Jacob, when Jesus met him. In confirmation see those scriptures, Hebrews 7:10 ; Galatians 3:29 . The Lord God of hosts, the Lord is his memorial: these blessed words come in at the close of this wonderful relation, as if to silence every fear or doubt that might arise in the timid mind. All the persons of the Godhead are alike engaged, in confirmation of the covenant redemption, to the spiritual seed of Jacob in Jesus; and Jehovah takes to himself this glorious title of character, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as his memorial forever to all generations. Exodus 3:15 . So truly blessed and gracious is the record here made of that memorable transaction, and so much light is thrown upon it by the Prophet under the Holy Ghost's teaching.
The Prophet here follows up the just and becoming resolution which ought to take place in every heart of Jacob's children, whether Ephraim or Judah, in pursuing the steps of their father. And he goes on in those verses to show the great folly, as well as sin, in not doing it. What a sad thing must it have been, that in the very place made memorable to the Father by the visions of God, and therefore by him called Bethel, the house of God; the children should make it Beth-aven, which signifies the house of an idol or iniquity! But, Reader! do remark the grace of God in what is said. The Lord did not cease to be to them the Lord their God; God in covenant. The Lord did not withdraw from them the gracious tokens of his divine presence; neither the ministry of his holy word, or his servants the prophets. He still spake to them by an open prophecy, and by private visions; although Gilgal, which was the city of the priests, abounded in transgression. I venture to think that there is in those verses strong allusions to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Similitudes and visions all directed their leading points to Him, and in Him had their accomplishment. Revelation 19:10 .
The Holy Ghost is here again pleased to refer to the history of Jacob, and affectionately speaks of him and his love. But if Jacob be so spoken of under those endearments of character; what must we say of the Lord Jesus Christ? Jacob fled to Syria to avoid his brother's anger. The Lord Jesus Christ came into this our world to remove his Father's anger from his people. Israel served for a wife: Jesus' zeal to his Father's honor and love for his spouse the Church, made him endure the contradiction of sinners against himself. The sheep of Jacob, and the heritage his services obtained him, cost him indeed labour. But Jesus laid down his life for his sheep. He died that his people might live; yea, He became sin, and a curse for his redeemed, that they might be delivered both from sin and the curse, and be made the righteousness of God in him. Oh! how do all characters among men sink to nothing, when brought into account in the view of the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:13 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 . How doubly aggravated, yea, bitterness itself doth Ephraim's provocations appear, while contemplating the Lord's grace! Yet, Reader! notwithstanding this, I pray you still to observe the over-abounding grace of our covenant God in Christ, that he doth not give up, or lose sight of his covenant relations to his people, in his dear Son, but (as you perceive in this verse) still calls himself Israel's Lord. Oh! the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Oh! how doth grace shine in the glories of God's rich, free, sovereign mercy in Christ Jesus! Precious, precious Lord, from whom cometh salvation; what shall the Church render thee of love and praise, for all thy mercies? Thanks, thanks be unto God, for his unspeakable gift.
PAUSE, Reader! and behold how God honored the Patriarch Jacob, a thousand years after his ashes had been mouldering in the dust! Behold what praise the Lord bestowed upon his servant's gallant faith; and learn from hence, how costly such sacrifices are in his sight, when coming up before him in his dear Son's name. Oh! that you and I may learn here from to wrestle with God in prayer, that like the Patriarch, we may have strength in the same source, and have power with God to prevail.
But, Reader! while looking at Jacob, let us not overlook Jacob's Lord. It is Jesus, that as a prince and a Saviour hath power with Jehovah, and hath prevailed. By his own righteousness, and by the incense of his merits and atoning blood, he comes off victorious, and must prevail Father! I will! is the language of our Lord. And while his pleadings are all for his redeemed, what is there then can be withheld, to the all powerful, all prevailing intercessions of his priesthood? Precious Lord Jesus! give me to see thee in thy daily office; now thou art entered into the presence of God for thy people. Thou hast indeed, like the Patriarch Jacob, thy type, served for thy wife, as he did for his; and dearly indeed purchased thy Church with thy blood. Oh! keep, Lord, thy redeemed, with thy power, and preserve them to thine eternal kingdom, and be thou, the Lord God of hosts, our everlasting memorial.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hosea 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany