Hosea Article #15
Relentless? Has one experienced when another is simply untiring of task, faith, political association, mindset, or goal? Hosea 13 is a distinction of God’s relentlessness on his chosen people. God finally determines that they will not be a people of respect again until the Millennial Reign of Christ. Why? Dan Hubbard of Hubbard Ministries puts it this way regarding Hosea 13:1 & 2:
“Viewed together, their sin is a total perversion of values. A craftsman’s work is elevated to divine status; human beings sacrifice their offspring to a metal object from whose lifeless form they also beg help; persons embrace with adulation the images of the very animals that they use for ploughing, threshing and hauling.”
Hosea 13 is brutal in how it describes the consequences of the sin of the Northern Tribes of Israel and as shepherded by the Tribe of Ephraim. If one’s realities of the actualities Hosea prophesies per Israel are too harsh to stomach, one may wish to skip this article. It is God speaking his judgement words through Hosea. If this chapter does not strike fear in the heart of the half-hearted and insincere Christian at home or in a worship service, it should. Half-hearted believers BEWARE!
Let’s begin with verse 12 then retreat to the beginning of this chapter. “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store.” Bound up as in packaged and kept in store to later be retrieved. This is absolute reason for the Northern Kingdom of Israel to fall into great fear of God. No longer will they be appeased, shepherded, guided and protected by the God who made them his chosen through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their sin will be packaged and stored evidence against them. It is wise to remember that Old Testament salvation was to a tribe or nation (ethnos) of people. The New Testament is to individuals. Several times in Old Testament scriptures the people of Israel suffered as a group for the sin of others within that group.
Hosea 13:2 is poignant. Israel sins more and more. It is akin to us today. When we get away with something over and over it becomes what is called our Modus-Operando with no obvious consequences. We got away with it before so why not continue getting away with it? It is as if our continual repetition of sin has become protected by some type of Teflon. “They sin more and more” but seemingly without consequences. How is this so? The Northern Kingdom of Israel has prospered greatly while walking away from God. They think there is to be no consequences.
Human sacrifice on manmade alters and to manmade gods. Recall but a few years earlier Elijah on Mt. Carmel challenged the prophets of Baal and King Ahab along with Queen Jezebel. Life is created by God. Even the life of animals and plants exist only because God spoke them into existence. How does man think he has a greater authority to take the life of an unborn or just born child? They are like the morning mist [13:3b]. They will be swept away. Their judgement is coming.
Hosea 13:4, “besides me [God] there is no savior” has the use of a lower case “s”. It means nothing will save Israel outside of God himself. This is a promise, not just a comment or conjecture. So the word savior (O.T.) and Savior (N.T.) are apparent parallels in this passage of Hosea but have differing context. It also means that the war and treaty pact Israel signed with Assyrian and the bribery of Egypt with shipments of Olive oils will not save them from God’s judgement.
The next verse (6) is what it is like to live for self. People promise anything if hungry but forget the promise once full. This is existential humanism at work. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard suggested: the best use of our capacity for making choices is to freely choose to live a fully human life, rooted in a personal search for [personal] values, rather than an external code. An external code refers to another who is attempting authority of you. Once satisfied or gratified, seek the next adventure. This is the Israel of Hosea. Within the next 120 years this will be the Israelites of Judah. F. B. Meyer puts it well…In the wilderness we are thankful enough for His help, but when we reach the land of the vine and olive, we follow the devices and desires of our own hearts. Might this be true of any insincere so-called Christian or many church/denominational perishers? Once satisfied for this week, we retreat to our real lives.
“I gave you a king in my anger and took him away in my wrath.” God did not want Israel to be anything but a theocracy. He allowed [king] Saul to go to the throne of Israel. Samuel made it clear that a demand for a king back in the time of the Judges of Israel was not wise, but God allowed it. Hosea 13:11 proves it. God did select King David and Solomon but the existence of a king put a buffer between them and him. For many years both Judah and Israel too often depended on their king to save them, not God. Judah had some good kings who tried to lead as God wanted but even Solomon fell short. The Kingdom of Israel went in the direction of idols and existentialism. Want additional evidence of why God wanted a theocracy, not kingdoms? It was the choice of kings that ultimately divided the United Kingdom (nation) of Israel into two smaller kingdoms…Rehoboam (Judah) and Jeroboam (northern Israel).
Now Hosea 13 gets blunt. I will fall upon them as does a mother bear robbed of her cubs. There is no mercy. To get between a mother bear and her cubs is usually one’s last fatal mistake. God will rip his people apart. This “rip them apart” means more that to separate them geographically. They have suffered traumatic times ever since 722 B.C. and 606 B.C. Even today they are the butt of global hate. There are no or very few logical reasons for this global hate but God ordained it in Hosea so it is as it is.
Was this the first time God was driven to great anger by Israelis? One great example of another is in Exodus 32. They made a golden calf after Moses seemed to go missing in Mt. Sinai. This is where he was given the Ten Commandments by God’s finger.
“‘I have seen these people,’ the LORD said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you [Moses} into a great nation.'” (Exodus 32:9-10)
Hosea 13:13 has too many differing translations attempting to say the same thing but in so many different ways. Simply put, it means Israel will no longer tarry or remain in the place of the birth of their sons. This separation will be like the birth-pains of a woman. The Assyrians would be very brutal. In ONE example, the captive Israelis of the Northern Kingdom were stripped naked by Assyrian soldiers. They were made to travel without shelter or sandals suffering greatly due to the elements over many weeks of travel other locations. Many thousands were taken to barren lands where mankind had yet to settle, tame, and plow the lands for crops while being exposed to the wild animals of that day…lions, bear, and leopards.
Hosea 13:14 almost seems out of context. God promises to pay their ransom; redeem them from death (End Time); all followed by punishment of dry lands, the dangerous east wind, Samaria [Ephraim/Israel] bearing her guilt, falling by a future sword, infants being slain and women torn asunder. There is nothing here but a nasty future for them, that is, until the millennial reign of Christ.
JIV NOTE: The Apostle Paul quoted the Septuagint translation of Hos_13:14 in describing our triumph over death in our sharing in the resurrection of Jesus: O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (1Co_15:55) . The Septuagint was ordered written during the time of Ptolemy of Egypt. He inherited a portion of the Alexandrian Empire in the mid-3rd century. The Apostle Paul used the phrasing of this Greek translation over 300 years after it was written.
Rev. Dr. Jstark