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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                             THE PROPHET HOSEA


     The Minor Prophets begin with the book of Hosea. There are twelve of
these books which are called by the name "minor prophets" not because their
contents are of less authority than the preceding prophetic books, but on
account of their size. The Jews considered them one book and the Talmud
says of them, "our fathers made them one book, that they might not perish
on account of their littleness." The term "minor prophets" was used by the
church in early days. Augustinus states: "The prophet Isaiah is not in the
books of the twelve prophets who are therefore called minor, because their
discourses are brief in comparison with those who are called 'greater'
because they composed considerable volumes." Jewish tradition claims that
the present arrangement was made by the great synagogue formed by Ezra.
This arrangement is not chronological. Joel precedes Hosea, while Hosea,
Amos and Jonah were nearly contemporary; Obadiah is difficult to place. The
introduction to the book enters into the question of date. Micah, the
Morasthite, ministered between the years 757 and 699 B.C. Nahum, the
complement and counterpart of the book of Jonah, also prophesied during the
period of Isaiah. Habakkuk is later than the preceding prophets. He speaks
of the invasion of the land by Chaldeans as imminent; his prophetic office
was probably exercised during the second half of Manasseh's reign.
Zephaniah prophesied under the reign of Josiah, between 642 and 611 B.C.
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are post-exilic.

                            Hosea and His Times

     The first verse of the book determines the period of Hosea. He
prophesied while Uzziah was reigning in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel, as
well as during the time when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings over
Judah. His whole prophetic ministry covers probably over seventy years, so
that he must have reached a very old age. His prophecy is directed almost
exclusively to the house of Israel, which had degenerated in a short time
and Hosea lived during these awful years. Jeroboam II was almost the last
king who ruled by the appointment of the Lord. After him kings made their
way to the tottering throne of Israel by murdering their predecessors.
Shallum slew Zechariah; Menahem slew Shallum; Pekah killed the son of
Menahem; Hosea killed Pekak. All was anarchy in Israel.

     The religious conditions were still worse. Nearly all these usurpers
had made alliances with foreign powers which resulted in the introduction
of the immoral, corrupt Phoenician and Syrian idolatry. The first Jeroboam
had set up a rival worship so that the people would not go to Jerusalem to
worship in the divinely appointed way. Jeroboam had been in Egypt (1 Kings
11:40; 12:2) where he had seen nature worshipped in the form of a calf,
This worship he introduced in the identical words which their fathers had
used when they worshiped the golden calf in the wilderness. (See Exodus
32:4 and 1 Kings 12:28). Outwardly the different ceremonies of the law, the
feasts of Jehovah, the new moons and Sabbath days, the sacrifices and
offerings were maintained, but all was a corrupt worship. The calf was the
immediate object of that idolatrous worship. They sacrificed to the calf (1
Kings 12:32); they kissed the calf (Hosea 13:2) and swore by these
idol-calves (Amos 8:14). As Dr. Pusey states: "Calf worship paved the way
for the coarser and more cruel worship of nature, under the names of Baal
and Ashtaroth, with all their abominations of consecrated child sacrifices,
and horrible sensuality." It led to the most awful sins and degradation.
Here is a description of the moral conditions prevailing in the days of
Hosea, a condition brought about by the false worship and departure from
God. Hosea and Amos acquaint us with it. All was falsehood (Hosea 4:1; 7:1,
3); adultery (Hosea 4:11, 7:4, 9:10); bloodshed (Hosea 5:2; 6:8); excess
and luxury were supplied by secret or open robbery (Hosea 4:2; 10:13;
11:12; 4:11; 7:5; 6:4-6; Amos 4:1); oppression (Hosea 12:7; Amos 3:9-10);
false dealing (Hosea 12:7; Amos 8:5); perversion of justice (Hosea 10:4;
Amos 2:6, 7); grinding of the poor (Amos 2:7, 8:6). Adultery was
consecrated as an act of worship and religion (Hosea 4:14). The people, the
king and the priests were all steeped in debauchery. Corruption had spread
everywhere; even the places once sacred through Jehovah's revelation,
Bethel, Gilgal, Gilead, Mizpah, Shechem, were special scenes of vileness
and wickedness. Remonstrance was useless for the knowledge of Jehovah was
wilfully rejected; they hated rebuke. To understand the message of Hosea
and Amos these conditions, both religious and moral, must be fully

                           The Message of Hosea

     Like the message of other prophets Hosea's message is one of judgment
and future mercy. He announced the coming judgment as certain and
irreversible. They were to be led away into captivity. His sons and
daughters born to him by Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, expressed this
coming judgment in their names which were given to them by divine
direction. "Lo-Ruhamah"--I will have no mercy; and "Lo-ammi"--not my
people. Then he announced in the name of the Lord, "I will cause the
kingdom of the house of Israel to cease;" "I will have no mercy upon the
house of Israel:" "They shall be wanderers among the nations;"--"They shall
not dwell in the Lord's land;"--"Israel is swallowed up; she shall be among
the nations like a vessel in which is no pleasure." In the greater portion
of his message there is an exposure of the people's moral condition and
their impenitent state.

     But there is also the message of mercy, which is found in the very
beginning of the book. Here are a few of these comforting words, which
still await their fulfillment in the day when they shall "seek the Lord
their God, and David their King (the Messiah); and shall fear the Lord and
His goodness in the latter days" (3:5):--"I will betroth her to me
forever;"--"They shall fear the Lord and His goodness;"--"He will raise us
up, and we shall live in His sight;"--"Till He come and rain righteousness
upon you;"--"I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem
them from death,"--"I will heal their backsliding;"--"I will be as the dew
unto Israel, He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth its roots as

     "It belongs to the mournful solemnity of Hosea's prophecy that he
scarcely speaks to the people in his own person. The ten chapters, which
form the center of the prophecy, are almost wholly one long dirge of woe,
in which the prophet rehearses the guilt and the punishment of his people.
If the people are addressed, it is, with very few exceptions, God Himself,
not the prophet, who speaks to them; and God speaks to them as their judge.
Once only does the prophet use the form so common in other prophets 'saith
the Lord.' As in the three first chapters, the prophet, in relation to his
wife, represented the relation of God to His people, so in these ten
chapters, after the first words of the fourth and fifth chapters;--'Hear
the word of the Lord, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants
of the land;'--'Hear ye this, O priests;'--whenever the prophet uses the
first person, he uses it not of himself, but of God. 'I,'--'My,'--are not
Hosea, and the things of Hosea, but God and what belongs to God. God
addresses the prophet in the second person. In four verses only of these
chapters does the prophet himself apparently address his own people Israel,
in two expostulating with them (9:1, 5); in two calling them to repentance
(10:12 and 12:6). In two other verses he addresses Judah, and foretells
their judgment mingled with mercy (4:13). The last chapter alone is one of
almost unmingled brightness; the prophet calls to repentance, and God in
His own person accepts it, and promises large supply of grace" (Dr. Pusey).

     We learn then from the message of this book, what is so largely
written in all the prophets, that there is a glorious future in store for
all Israel. Judah and Israel both will receive the promised blessing and
glory in that day when the King comes back, when Ephraim joyfully cries out
"I have seen Him" (14:8).

     The conditions in Israel also find their counterpart in our own times.
Christendom has turned its back in greater part upon the true worship,
rejects the truth, yea the highest and the best God has given, the Gospel
of Christ, hence the moral decline and apostasy and ere long a greater
judgment than that which fell upon Israel.

                           The Division of Hosea

     Hosea (meaning "salvation") in his style is abrupt and sententious. As
already stated in the introduction he is the prophet of the ten tribes,
though Judah is also mentioned by him. The book begins with two symbolical
actions commanded by Jehovah, to illustrate Israel's adulterous condition
and Jehovah's enduring love for His people in spite of their faithlessness.
This is followed by a terse prophecy as to the condition of the people for
many days and their return in the latter days (chapters 1-3).

     The main portion of the book begins with the fourth chapter. This part
begins with "Hear the Word of the Lord." in this section their religious
and moral degradation through the priests and their coming ruin is
announced. Then follows a description of the judgment which was to come
upon Ephraim (the house of Israel) and also upon Judah. This is beheld by
the prophet in a solemn vision (5:8-15), followed by a brief prophecy as to
what will take place when the remnant of Israel returns unto the Lord
(6:1-3). Then the Lord reproves them for their inconstancy, their
immorality, their lewd priests. From chapter 7 to 13 we have similar
remonstrances, with renewed announcements of the judgments on account of
their wickedness, idolatries, leagues with heathen nations; the judgment is
to be exile. What is to be their lot is predicted. This punishment is not
to be delayed; it will, however, not destroy them, but purge them, leaving
a remnant. The last chapter is one of gracious promise of what will take
place in the day of their return. The division of this book is therefore



     There are different subdivisions which will be pointed out and
followed in the analysis and annotations.

     The book of Hosea is quoted a number of times in the New Testament.
See Matt 2:15, 9:13, 12:7; Rom. 9:25, 26; 1 Cor. 15:55; 1 Peter 2:5, 10.

                         Analysis and Annotations


                                 CHAPTER 1

                  Israel's Sin and Promise of Restoration

     1. The introduction (1:1)
     2. The prophet's marriage and birth of Jezreel (1:2-5)
     3. The birth of Lo-Ruhamah (1:6-7)
     4. The birth of Lo-ammi (1:8-9)
     5. The future restoration (1:10-11)

     Verse 1. This superscription gives the period of Hosea's ministry.
First stands the statement that the word of the Lord came to him. Hosea
means salvation; his father's name, Beeri, means "my well." Both are
typical names. Critics have pointed out that Hosea was undoubtedly a
resident of the northern kingdom of Israel, yet he mentions but one of the
kings of Israel, Jeroboam, while four kings of Judah are given in this
introduction. Inasmuch as Hosea long survived Jeroboam, the king of Israel,
and the Judaic kings extend far beyond the time of the one Israelitish
king, it has been alleged that the second part of the superscription does
not harmonize with the first. Such is not the case. The superscription is
made in this manner for some purpose. Hosea marks his Prophecy by the names
of the kings of Judah, because in Judah the theocracy remained. He mentions
Jeroboam (the Second), whose reign ended in the fourteenth year of Uzziah,
because he was the last king of Israel through whom God acted and
vouchsafed help to the rival kingdom. All the other kings of Israel who
came after Jeroboam, by whom the Lord sent deliverance to the ten tribes (2
Kings 14:2 7) were therefore recognized by the prophets of God; the kings
which followed were robbers and murderers, whose names the Spirit of God
finds unfit to mention in the prophetic ministry of Hosea.

     Verses 2-5. In the beginning of his ministry, when Hosea was a young
man, the Lord commanded him to take unto him a wife of whoredoms and
children of whoredoms, and that for the reason, because the land hath
committed great whoredoms, departing from the Lord. This command was at
once executed by the prophet; he took to wife Gomer, the daughter of

     We are confronted with an interesting question. What is the nature of
these transactions? Were they real events, that Hosea literally took this
woman and had children by her, or were they nothing but pictorial,
visionary illustrations of the spiritual adultery and unfaithfulness of
Israel? Did the prophet actually and literally enter into such an impure
relationship, or, is it wholly an allegory? Luther supposed that the
prophet called his lawful wife and children by these names at a certain
time to perform a kind of drama before the people and thus remind them of
their apostasy. The objectors to the literalness of this incident, and
defenders of the allegorical explanation, have pointed out that it would be
unworthy of God to command and sanction such an unchaste union. The
allegorical meaning is entirely excluded by the text, which speaks of a
literal transaction. All is related as real history, the marriage and the
birth of the children. We quote first Dr. Pusey's words in support of the
literal meaning of this command by the Lord.

     "We must not imagine things to be unworthy of God, because they do not
commend themselves to us. God does not dispense with the moral law, because
the moral law has its source in the mind of God Himself. To dispense with
it would mean to contradict Himself. But God, who is absolute Lord of all
things which He made, may, at His sovereign will, dispose of the lives or
things which He created. Thus, as sovereign judge, He commanded the lives
of the Canaanites to be taken by Israel, as, in His ordinary providence, He
has ordained that the magistrate should not bear the sword in vain, but has
made him His minister, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth
evil. So, again, He, whose are all things, willed to repay to the
Israelites their hard and unjust servitude by commanding them to spoil the
Egyptians. He, who created marriage, commanded to Hosea whom he should
marry. The prophet was not defiled by taking as his lawful wife, at God's
bidding, one defiled, however hard a thing this was."

     This is the strongest defense of the literal interpretation of this
incident. But there is another interpretation possible, which we believe is
the correct one. As the context shows the symbolical meaning of Hosea's
marriage is to illustrate Israel's unfaithfulness. But Israel was not
always unfaithful; she played not always the harlot. Of necessity this had
to be symbolized in the case of the prophet's marriage. The question then
arises, was Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim an impure woman when Hosea
married her, or did she become unchaste after her marriage to the prophet?
We believe the latter was the case. The Hebrew does not require the meaning
that she was impure at the time of the marriage; in fact, as already
indicated, the supposition that Gomer lived the life of a harlot before her
marriage to the godly prophet, destroys the parallelism, which the
prophet's message embodies, with the relation of God to Israel. The
expression "a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms" simply intimated
to Hosea what the woman he married was going to be. If not taken in this
sense it would mean that Gomer had already children when Hosea married her.

     Gomer was called "a wife of whoredoms" by the omniscient Lord, in
anticipation of her future conduct. She fell and became immoral after her
union with Hosea, and not before. In this way she became a symbol of
Israel, married unto the Lord, but afterwards became the unfaithful wife.
With this view, the entire prophetic message of Hosea in the beginning of
this book harmonizes. The name of the woman is likewise suggestive. Gomer,
the daughter of Diblaim, means "Completion--a double cake of figs."
Israel's wickedness is symbolized as complete and the double cake of figs
is symbolical of sensual pleasures. And the prophet in spite of her
unfaithfulness still loved her and did not abandon her. This illustrates
Jehovah's love for Israel.

     Then she bore him a son. Expositors have stated, "The children were
not the prophet's own, but born of adultery and presented to him as his."
But that can not be the meaning in view of the plain statement "she
conceived and bare him a son."

     The Lord commands him to call this son "Jezreel." Jezreel has likewise
a symbolical meaning. It means "God shall scatter" (Jer. 31:10); but it
also means "God shall sow" (Zech. 10:9). Thus Israel was to be scattered
and sown among the nations. Jezreel was the valley in which Jehu executed
his bloody deeds. On account of his hypocritical zeal, the blood of Jezreel
is now to be avenged, and the kingdom of the house of Israel would cease.
Thus the name Jezreel (resembling in sound and form "Israel") indicates the
speedy end of Israel, scattered and sown among the nations, on account of
their whoredoms (see Ezek. 23).

     Verses 6-7. Next a daughter is born. Here "bare him" as found in verse
3 is omitted. The prophet receives a name for her--Lo-ruhamah, which means
"not having obtained mercy." Interesting are the two renderings of the Holy
Spirit of this passage in the New Testament. In Romans 9:25 it is rendered
"not beloved" and in 1 Peter 2:10, "hath not obtained mercy." Love and
mercy were now to be withdrawn from Israel and they were to be taken away

     Then the house of Judah is mentioned. They shall be saved by the Lord
their God, because He has mercy on them. Their salvation was not by bow, by
sword, or by battle, horses and horsemen. It was only a little while later
when the Assyrian, who was God's instrument in the execution of judgment
upon Israel, came before the gates of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem was saved in
the manner as predicted here, not by bow or sword, but the angel of the
Lord smote the army of 185,000 in one night. And later Judah was saved and
a remnant brought back from Babylon. Then there is a future salvation for
Judah in the end of the age.

     Verses 8-9. Another son is born and "God said, Call his name Lo-ammi,
for ye are not my people and I am not your God." Lo-ammi means "not my
people." Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi are symbolical of Israel's rejection and
the withdrawal of God's mercy. That this is not to be permanent the next
two verses make this clear.

     Verses 10-11. Abruptly we are transported from the present into the
distant future, and a prophetic utterance of great depth follows. The tenth
verse is quoted by the Holy Spirit in Romans 9 and gives full light on the
meaning of the passage here. God's sovereignty is the theme of the ninth
chapter of Romans: "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on
the vessels of mercy, which He has afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom
He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As He saith
also in Osee (Greek form of Hosea), I will call them My people, which were
not My people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to
pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people,
there shall they be called the children of the living God" (Rom. 9:23-26).
Here is the commentary of Hosea 1:10. It means first that Israel shall be
reinstated; but it also means the call and salvation of the Gentiles, and
Gentiles called in sovereign grace are to be constituted "the sons of the
living God." It is a prophetic hint on the blessing to come to the
Gentiles, and that blessing is greater than Israel's.

     The eleventh verse is a great prophecy and remains still unfulfilled.
Some expositors claim that it was fulfilled in the return of the remnant of
Jews under Zerubbabel. But the Babylonian captivity is not in view here at
all. The great day of Jezreel will come, when King Messiah, our Lord
returns. Then shall Judah and Israel be gathered together under one head,
and gather once more to their national feasts in the land.

                                 CHAPTER 2

                 Appeal and Punishment for Unfaithfulness
                         The Resumed Relationship

     1. The appeal and complaint (2:1-5)
     2. The punishment for Unfaithfulness (2:6-13)
     3. The resumed relationship and its great blessing (2:14-23)

     Verses 1-5. Who is addressed in the first verse of this chapter? Some
think the children of the prophet are meant. The godly in Israel, those who
obtained mercy, are addressed, for the Lord acknowledges such still as
"Ammi"-my people. The godly are to plead with the rest of Israel their
mother, but who is disowned by Jehovah as the wife, on account of her
adulterous conduct. Then the Lord threatens her with severe punishment
because of her unfaithfulness. She is to be stripped naked and be as in the
day she was born (see Ezek. 16:4). Nor would there be mercy for her
children because the mother, Israel, continued to go after her lovers.

     Verses 6-13. Her way is to be hedged up with thorns; a wall of
separation is to be raised and to keep her from her lovers. And if she
follow after them and make a sinful alliance with them (symbolical of the
idol worship of heathens which Israel practiced) she would not find them.
Thus she might return to her first husband, to Jehovah. Israel had received
from the Lord corn, wine, oil, silver and gold. Then they attributed it all
to Baal and used it in idol worship. In verses 9-13 the punishment is fully
made known. She is to be left alone; the gifts and blessings will be
withdrawn; her lewdness is to be uncovered, all mirth will cease and the
days of Baalim, spent in licentious worship, would be visited upon her in

     Verses 14-23. Immediately after the announcement of her punishment
follows the assurance or future mercy. Israel's conversion is promised
(verses 14-17) and the great mercies of Jehovah's covenant are to be
renewed (verses 18-23). The Lord of love will not forever abandon His
people and though Israel has played the harlot so long, with no willingness
to return unto Him, He Himself in infinite love is going to woo her back.
He will allure her, as He brings her into the wilderness, and there speak
"to her heart" (the Hebrew meaning). That will be in the coming day when
the Lord will remember the remnant of His people during the time of Jacob's
trouble and save them in that day. Then she will get her vineyards, her
place of blessing, promised to Israel as His earthly people. The valley of
Achor shall be the door of hope. In that valley Achan died, on account of
whom all Israel had fallen under the ban (Josh. 7). There judgment had been
enacted and after that blessing was restored to Israel and the ban was
removed. Achor means "troubling." When Israel is in that great trouble, the
great tribulation, the valley of trouble will become the door of hope, for
then the Lord will forgive them their sins, cover them with His grace and
redeem them by His power. Then the singing times begin again for Israel.
"She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when
she came up out of the land of Egypt." Songs of praise on account of
accomplished redemption by Jehovah's power will then burst forth (Exod. 15;
Isa. 12). She will be fully restored to her former relationship, typified
by marriage. "It shall be in that day, saith the Lord, that Thou shalt call
Me Ishi (my husband), and shalt call Me no more Baali (my master)." She
will be re-married to the Lord, symbolically speaking, and become the
earthly wife of Jehovah, while the church, the espoused virgin, becomes in
glory the Lamb's wife (Rev. 19:6-8).

     But greater blessing will be connected with that coming day of
blessing, when Israel is received back (Rom. 11:15). Verse 18 tells us that
creation will then be blest; the time of its deliverance has come. Here the
same is indicated as in Isaiah 11:6-7 and Romans 8:21. The end of wars
comes then and universal peace blesses the whole earth. This is always the
order in the divine forecasts. First, Israel has to be brought back, and
after that the blessings for the earth and the nations, including that
peace, which the blinded world-church tries to secure without the Lord
Jesus Christ. All these promises as to the future of Israel, her
restoration and spiritual blessings, are unrealized. "It is infatuation to
think that all this was fully accomplished in the return of a remnant from
the captivity. The result is that even Christians, misled by this miserable
error, are drawn away into the rationalistic impiety of counting God's Word
here mere hyperbole to heighten the effect, as if the Holy Spirit deigned
to be a verbal trickster, or a prophet were as vain as a litterateur. No;
it is a brighter day, when the power of God will make a complete clearance
from the world of disorder, misrule, man's violence and corruption, as well
as reduce to harmless and happy resubjection the entire animal kingdom."

     In that day all the great covenant blessings will return to redeemed
Israel. Betrothed again to Jehovah in righteousness, in judgment, in
faithfulness and mercies, Israel will know Jehovah. There will be an
uninterrupted line of blessing from the heavens down to every earthly
blessing. Heavens and earth will be gloriously united, and in answer to the
call of His people the heavens will hear and cover all with blessing, for
Satan's power is now gone. Israel is no more Lo-ammi, but they will be "His
people" and He will be "their God," while the redeemed nation itself will
be a blessing in the earth.

                                 CHAPTER 3

                    Israel's Past, Present, and Future

     1. The past (3:1-3)
     2. The present (3:4)
     3. The future (3:5)

     Verses 1-3. The command here is not that the Prophet should enter into
relation with another woman, but it concerns the same Gomer, the unfaithful
wife. It seems she left the prophet and lived in adultery with another man.
"And Jehovah said unto me, Go again, love a wife, who is beloved of her
friend and who is an adulteress; just as Jehovah loves the children of
Israel, who have turned towards other gods, and love raisin cakes" (correct
translation; used in the idolatrous worship). She is not called "thy wife,"
simply "a wife"; yet the prophet is told to love the adulterous wife. This
woman, whom the Lord commands Hosea to love, he had loved before her fall;
he was now to love her after her fall, and while in that condition, in
order to save her from abiding in it. It was for her sake that she might be
won back to him. Such is the love of Jehovah for Israel.

     He bought the adulteress for half of the price of a common slave
(Exod. 21:32); it denotes her worthlessness. The measure of barley
mentioned reminds of the offering of one accused of adultery, and, being
the food of animals, shows her degradation likewise. He thus was to buy her
back, not to live with him as his wife, but that she might sit as a widow,
not running after others, but wait for him during an undefined, but long
season, until he would come and take her to himself. While she was not to
belong to another man, he, her legitimate husband, would be her guardian.
Israel's spiritual adultery is in view in all this.

     Verse 4. Here we have direct prophecy, a very remarkable one, as to
Israel's present condition. It is to be their state for "many days." These
"many days," unreckoned, are the days of this present age, in which Israel
is in the predicted condition, while God visits the Gentiles, to gather
through the preaching of the gospel a people for His Name, that is, the
church. Their condition is to be threefold: Without a civil polity, without
king or prince; without the appointed Levitical worship, no sacrifice;
without the practice of idolatry, to which they had been given, without
image, ephod and teraphim-- the distinctly priestly garment, the ephod; the
teraphim, the tutelary divinities, which they used before the captivity.
Before the captivity they had kings; now they have none, would have none;
after the captivity Judah had princes; no princes during the "many days."
The real approach to God according to the Levitical service was to cease,
for during the "many days" there would be no sacrifice. This has been
Israel's condition for nineteen hundred years. What a wonderful forecast of
the present we have here! Clearly then, this describes the present
condition of Israel--the most anomalous spectacle the world has ever
seen--a people who go on generation after generation without any of those
things which are supposed to be essential for keeping a people in
existence. They have lost their king, their prince; they have neither the
true worship nor the worship of idols. They are unable to present a
sacrifice, because they have no temple and no more priesthood. Here is an
evidence of the supernaturalness of the Bible, one which no Jew nor
destructive critic can deny.

     Verse 5. Afterward--in the latter days. These two statements open and
end the prophecy concerning their future. The "afterward" is not yet; the
latter days are still to come. Their future is returning and seeking the
Lord, their God and David their king. This is Christ. Nearly all the
rabbinical writers and expositors explain it in this way. David himself
this could not be. It is He who is David's Son and David's Lord, our Lord
(Ezek. 37:23, 24). Here we have the prediction of the future conversion of
Israel to the Lord, in the latter days, the days of His coming again.

     (The Targum of Jonathan says on Hosea 3:5: "This is the King Messiah;
whether he be from among the living or from the dead. His name is Messiah.
The same explanation is given by the mystical books Zohar, Midrash Shemuel
and Tanchuma. The greatest authorities among the Jews are one in declaring
that 'the last days' mean the days of the Messiah; we have reference to
Kirnchi, Abarbanel, Moses Ben Nacham and many others.)


                                 CHAPTER 4

                  The Lord's Controversy with His People

     1. The condition of the people (4:1-5)
     2. The loss of their priestly relation (4:6-11)
     3. Israel's idolatry (4:12-19)

     Verses 1-5. This chapter begins with a terse description of the
condition of the professing people of God. First, we have the negative
side--no truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God. And there was no truth,
because they had rejected the Word of the Lord, hence the result no mercy
and no knowledge of God. It is so still whenever and wherever the Word of
God is set aside. Then follows the positive evil which was so prominent in
their midst: Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, and
abundant shedding of blood. Such was the continued moral condition of the
house of Israel, the ten tribes. It was all the result of having rejected
the Word of the Lord and having turned away from Him. The result of
unbelief, destructive criticism and denial of the truth is today, as it was
then, swearing, lying, stealing, killing and the immoralities of our times.
Therefore judgment would overtake all, even the land itself.

     Verses 6-11. The people were destroyed for lack of knowledge, the
knowledge of God and His truth. They had lost their place of nearness to
the Lord, their priestly character into which the Lord had called the
nation (Exod. 19). Therefore they would be rejected to be no longer in
priestly relationship to Jehovah. And the priestly class was as corrupt as
the people--"like people like priests." They were to be punished for their
ways and their doings.

     Verses 12-19. Having left Jehovah they had turned to idols, asked
counsel of a piece of wood and practiced divination. This abominable idol
worship was practiced upon the tops of mountains. There, under trees, they
gave themselves over to the vile rites of Baal-peor and Ashtaroth, both men
and women abandoned themselves to the grossest sins of the flesh. And the
Lord threatens that He would leave them alone in their vileness and not
correct them, that they might be brought back. The first chapter of Romans
is illustrated by verse 14; they glorified not God, became idolators and
then God gave them up to their vile affections.

     Then there is a warning to the house of Judah in verse 15. The most
sacred places, like Gilgal, had become the scene of the idolatry of the ten
tribes. Bethel, the house of God, became a Beth-aven, the house of vanity.
If Judah offended and committed the same whoredoms, she would not escape
judgment. The warning was unheeded.

     "Ephraim (the ten tribes) is joined to idols; let him alone." Ephraim
was too far gone; further remonstrances would not help, and so the evil is
permitted to go unchecked, to run its full course.

                              CHAPTER 5:1-6:3

                The Message to the Priests, the People, and
the Royal House                  Judgment,
                     Affliction and the Future Return

     1. The message of rebuke (5:1-7)
     2. The judgment announced (5:8-15)
     3. The future return and the blessing (6:1-3)

     Verses 1-7. The first verse shows who is addressed: the priests, the
house of Israel and the house of the King. Judgment was in store for them,
for Mizpah and Tabor, the places of hallowed memory, had been turned by
their idolatrous worship into a snare. An old and interesting tradition
among the Jews states that at Mizpah the apostates waited for those
Israelites who went up to Jerusalem to worship there, to murder them. The
next verse seems to indicate something like this tradition.

     "And the apostates make slaughter deep; but I am a chastisement to
them all." (See also chapter 6:9.) And the Lord saw it all. "I know
Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me." He knew the whoredoms of Ephraim
and the defilement of Israel. Their evil deeds kept them from returning to
their God, for the demon of whoredoms had taken complete possession of them
and it kept them in sin and rebellion. Pride was the leading sin of
Ephraim, it was to testify against them and both Israel and Ephraim would
stumble on account of their guilt and Judah would share the same fate. And
though they go with their flocks of sheep and their herds, willing and
ready to sacrifice, they shall not be able to find Him, for He hath
withdrawn Himself.

     Verses 8-15. Then follows a vision of judgment. The judgment is seen
as having already fallen upon the guilty nation. The horn (Shophar) is
blown in Gibeah and the trumpet in Ramah; the alarm is sounded. Gibeah and
Ramah were situated on the northern boundary of Benjamin. The enemy was
behind Benjamin pursuing. There will be no remedy and no escape (verse 9).
"The princes of Judah have become, like the removers of landmarks: I will
pour out upon them my wrath like water" (verse 10). A curse is pronounced
in the law upon those who remove the landmarks (Deut. 27:17). Judah instead
of taking warning from the disaster coming upon the northern kingdom, the
ten tribes, sought gain by an enlargement of their own border. The princes
of Judah, instead of weeping over the calamity, rejoiced at the removal of
Israel as the means of removing the boundary line and increase their
estate. Wrath was in store for Judah. To Ephraim the Lord would be as a
moth. To the house of Judah He would be as rottenness. The moth destroys.
Both terms, moth and rottenness, are symbols of destroying influences
working against the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Isa. 50:9,
51:8; Psalm 39:11; Job 13:28). Then they turned to the Assyrian for help
and to King Jareb. But there was no help. Jareb is not a proper name, it is
an epithet applied to the king of Assyria and means "He will contend" or
"He will plead the cause." Like a lion would be the Lord to Israel, and
like a young lion to Judah. The same symbolical language is used in Isaiah
in connection with the Assyrian, the rod of God's anger (Isa. 10). "Their
roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they
shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and
none shall deliver it" (Isa. 5:29). Thus judgment came upon them and they
were carried away as a prey. And like the lion after his attack withdraws
to his den, so the Lord would withdraw from them, leave them and return to
His place, waiting till their repentance comes and they seek Him early in
their affliction.

     The last verse of this chapter has a wider meaning than the past
judgment which came upon the house of Israel. The Lord of glory came to
earth and visited His people. He came with the message and offer of the
kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He came unto His own, but
His own received Him not. After they had rejected Him, delivered Him into
the hands of the Gentiles to be crucified, He returned to His place. There
He is now at the right hand of God, waiting for that day, when the remnant
of Israel will repent and seek His face (Acts 3:19-20). That will be in
their coming great affliction, in the time of Jacob's trouble.

     Chapter 6:1-3. The division of the chapter at this point is
unfortunate. The three verses of chapter 6 must not be detached from the
previous chapter. Here we have the future repentance of the remnant of
Israel, that is during the great tribulation. Believingly they will
acknowledge His righteous judgment and express their faith and hope in His
mercy and the promised blessings and restoration. They express what their
great prophet Moses so beautifully stated in His prophetic song, that great
vision given to him, ere he went to the mountain to die. "See now that I,
even I, am He and there is no god with Me; I kill, and I make alive; I
wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand"
(Deut. 32:39). "After two days will He revive us; on the third day He will
raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (literally, before His face)."
They have been dead spiritually and nationally, but when the two days of
their blindness and dispersion are over, there is coming for them the third
day of life and resurrection. Jewish expositors have pointed out the fact
that a day is with the Lord as a thousand years. They state that they will
be in dispersion for two days, that is, two thousand years, after which
comes the third day of Israel's glorious restoration. One Rabbinical
commentator says: "The first day we were without life in the Babylonian
captivity, and the second day, which will also end, is the great captivity
in which we are now, and the third day is the great day of our
restoration." Like Jonah was given up by the fish on the third day, so
comes for Israel a third day of life and glory. Then the latter and the
former rain will fall upon their land again, and, blest by Him, their
Saviour-King, they will live in His sight. But the passage, no doubt, also
points to the resurrection of our Lord, the true Israel in a hidden way.

                              CHAPTER 6:4-11

                  Divine Mourning over Ephraim and Judah

     1. What shall I do to thee? (6:4-6)
     2. Their transgression (6:7-11)

     Verses 4-6. The Lord grieves and mourns over the condition of the
people whom He loves. After the brief glimpse given of their great future
of glory we are brought back into the days of Moses. The Lord grieves and
mourns over His people whom He loves, who today are still beloved for the
Father's sake (Rom. 9). But while He loved them, their love was like the
morning cloud, like the dew, vanishing soon away. The morning cloud looks
beautiful, gilded by the rays of the rising sun, but it quickly disappears
through the heat of the sun; the dew glitters in the early morning, but
soon it is gone. Thus was their love, fluctuating and changing. How often
is the love of His heavenly people like the morning cloud and the dew!
Thank God that His love never changes! The Prophets He had sent to them
came, therefore, with words of condemnation, instead of words of comfort
and cheer. They came to hew, as stone or wood is hewn, and the message of
judgment they proclaimed condemned them; this is the meaning of the
sentence, "I have slain them by the words of My mouth."

     Verses 7-11. "Yet they like Adam have transgressed the covenant; they
have dealt treacherously against Me." As God had made known His covenant to
Adam, given him a commandment, so He had made a covenant with them and made
known unto them His will. Like Adam they had transgressed the covenant.
Adam had been called into relationship with His Creator and a place of
blessing and favor in Eden had been given to him. He transgressed, and
after his fall he was driven out. This happened to Israel. Called of God,
who entered with them into a covenant and gave them the land of promise,
but when they transgressed, like Adam, they were also driven out. Iniquity
and blood was everywhere. Even the priests lurked as a band of robbers and
murdered the travelers on the way to Shechem, one of the cities of refuge.
(Note correct translation: "Upon the way they murder (those who go) to
Shechem" verse 9.)

     (Attention has been called to an important distinction. Man is called
a sinner. The Gentiles as such are never called transgressors. We read in
the New Testament of sinners of the Gentiles, but never "transgressors" of
the Gentiles. Adam was under a law, which he broke and by it he became a
transgressor. Israel was under the law, which they broke and became
transgressors. But no covenant existed with the Gentiles, nor had they the
law given to them; hence while they are lost sinners, they are not called
transgressors in the sense in which the covenant people are called

     The horrible thing was that Israel was steeped in whoredoms; they were
not only spiritually adulterers, but following the idol worship they lived
in literal harlotry and lewdness. Judah, too, would get a harvest. But the
final sentence of this chapter, "When I return the captivity of My people,"
is a prophecy, not concerning the return from Babylon, but that other great
restoration which is yet to come. Looked upon in this light the entire
verse is prophetic. "For thee, also, Judah a harvest waits, when I shall
turn the captivity of My people." When God restores His people in His
promised covenant mercies then Judah will be visited by judgment as it will
be in the end of this age.

                                 CHAPTER 7

                       The Moral Depravity of Israel

     1. Their moral depravity (7:1-7)
     2. Mingling with heathen nations (7:8-16)

     Verses 1-7. All the gracious efforts of the Lord to heal Israel
resulted in a greater manifestation of the iniquity of Ephraim. Instead of
turning to Him in true repentance and self-judgment their evil heart turned
away from Jehovah, and they continued in their downward course. They did
not consider that the Lord would remember all their evil deeds and punish
them for it. The king and the princes, the political heads were as corrupt
as the priests, they were pleased with the impenitence and wickedness of
their subjects. Then follows a graphic description of their moral
depravity. They were adulterers, burning with lust, "like an oven heated by
the baker, who rests, stirring up (the fire), after he has kneaded the
dough until it be leavened." They indulged in all the vile, obscene
practices connected with the idol worship of the heathen about them. They
were also drunkards and were heated with wine as they were with lust. They
made their heart like an oven; their baker (meaning their own evil will and
imagination) slept all night, but, awakening in the morning, their lust is
stirred up again. Nor did anyone call upon the name of the Lord.

     Such was the moral depravity of a people with whom the Lord had
entered into covenant, the favored nation. The source of it was unbelief
and the rejection of His Word. The sad history of Israel is repeated in
professing Christendom today.

     Verses 8-16. The Lord called Israel to be a separated nation, but
Ephraim mingled with the heathen (not, people) and is compared to a cake
not turned. They adopted heathen ways, heathen manners and heathen vices.
Like an unturned cake, which is black and burnt on the one side, while
above it is unbaked, such was Ephraim's condition. Such a cake was fit for
nothing; it had to be thrown away. The strangers with whom they mingled
devoured their strength, nor did they not notice the signs of their speedy
national decay. This is the meaning of the statement, "Gray hairs are here
and there upon him, and he does not know it." Furthermore, Ephraim is
likened to a silly dove without understanding. Instead of flying back to
Jehovah their help and rest, they fluttered, like a moth around the flame,
around Egypt and Assyria, trying to find deliverance there. But while
fluttering from Egypt to Assyria and from Assyria to Egypt, they did not
see the net which was spread for their destruction--that net was Assyria
itself. In this net the Lord caught them; their freedom would be ended and
captivity begin. Then follows the divine Woe. "Woe unto them! for they have
wandered from Me. Destruction upon them, that they have transgressed
against Me!" The divine lament cried after them, "I would have redeemed
them, but they spoke lies against Me." While they may have cried with their
mouth, their heart did not. They were like a deceitful bow on which the
archer cannot depend, so the Lord could not depend upon Israel. God had, to
apply the symbol, bent Israel as His own bow against evil and idolatry, but
they turned themselves against Him.

                              CHAPTER 8:1-9:9

                   The Apostasy is Followed by Judgment

     1. The judgment announced (8:1-7)
     2. The apostasy which resulted in judgment (8:8-14)
     3. Warning against self-security (9:1-9)

     Verses 1-7. The prophet is commanded to sound the alarm of the
impending judgment. The message is that the enemy will come swift as an
eagle upon the house of the Lord, which here does not mean the temple
(which was in connection with Judah), but Israel as the chosen people was
the house, the dwelling-place of the Lord. All their spurious profession,
their false claim, "My God, we know Thee, we, Israel", will go for nothing,
because they transgressed the covenant and the law. The obnoxious thing
they did is stated in verse 4. They had separated themselves from Judah and
chosen their own kings and princes in self will, thus putting themselves
outside of the theocracy; idolatry speedily followed. In Bethel they had
erected the worship of the calf, the great abomination in the sight of the
Lord. He rejects their corrupt worship, and ere long the calf of Samaria
will be broken to pieces, like the golden calf their fathers made in the
wilderness. They sowed the wind and the whirlwind would be the harvest
(chapter 10:13, 12:2; Job 4:8; Prov. 22:8). They sowed vanity and evil; the
tempest of destruction would be their reaping. What they sowed would not
yield fruit at all. The Hebrew contains a play of words, "Tsemach brings no
Quernach," which may be rendered, "shoot brings no fruit."

     Verses 8-14. Israel had been swallowed up by the nations, that is, by
mingling with them. By their doings they have become like a despised
vessel. Their sin was going up to Assyria, like a wild ass, suing there for
love and favor. They were like a stubborn brute going there by itself.
Ephraim was even worse than the stubborn ass. They formed unnatural
alliances with the Gentiles. There they gave presents, hiring lovers,
literally rendered, "Ephraim gave presents of love" to practice her
whoredoms. They forgot their Creator, God; their sacrifices Jehovah
despised. Therefore the judgment.

     Chapter 9:1-9. Under the reign of Jeroboam II Israel enjoyed great
prosperity. It seems they had a bountiful harvest, corn and wine was in
abundance. They gave themselves over to feasting and rejoicing. It was at
such an occasion when the Lord sent this warning against their own
security. Their captivity is announced where they would eat things unclean
and feast days will no longer be possible. Then the prophet beholds them as
already in the Assyrian captivity. They went away and turned towards the
south to escape the sure destruction. But "Egypt will gather them, Memphis
will bury them." Their precious things of silver will give way to thistles
and thorns. The day of visitation was at hand; their iniquities are
remembered and their sins will be visited.

                            CHAPTER 9:10-11:11

                   Retrospect, Israel's Failure and Ruin

     1. Israel once beloved, now fugitive wanderers (9:10-17)
     2. Their guilt and punishment (10:1-11)
     3. Exhortation and rebuke (10:12-15)
     4. The mercy of a merciful God (11:1-11)

     Verses 10-17. Like a wayfaring man who finds grapes and figs in the
desert and delights in them, so the Lord found Israel in the desert and
they were His pleasure when He led them out of Egypt. But they requited His
love by going after Baal-peor, one of the filthiest gods of heathendom. To
this they consecrated themselves and practiced their vile abominations.
Therefore the glory which He had given to His people will fly away like a
bird and their licentious worship of unnatural vices would avenge itself so
that there would be no pregnancy and no birth, the promised increase would
stop. It seems verses 14-17 are an outburst of the prophet. How literally
the sentence has been fulfilled. "They will be wanderers."

     Chapter 10:1-11. Here is another retrospect, Israel once called to be
a thriving vine (not empty), called to be fruitful; but Israel did not
bring forth the expected fruit. As the nation abounded and prospered they
increased their idol altars; as the land yielded its increase in the same
measure they made their images. Their heart was smooth, or deceitful, for
this they will now have to suffer. "Their heart is smooth; now will they
make expiation." They will have no more king. The smooth or deceitful heart
is described in verse 4, while in the verse which follows the judgment upon
their calves they worshipped is announced. It, the calf, will be carried to
Assyria to be made a present of to the king. The high places will be
destroyed and thorns and thistles will overgrow its altars. Then they will
say to the mountains, "Cover us!" and to the hills, "Fall upon us!" Well,
it is to read In connection with this prophetic statement what our Lord
said about the judgment of Jerusalem in Luke 23:30 and what is written in
connection with the breaking of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:16.

     Gibeah is mentioned (verse 9). The corruption of Gibeah is also noted
in chapter 9:9. The horrible abomination of Gibeah is recorded in judges 19
in consequence of which the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. And the
people had become as wicked and guilty as Benjamin at Gibeah. The nations
are now to be used to punish Israel. "And the nations will gather
themselves against them, when I bind them for their offenses" (verse 10,
literal translation).

     Verses 12-15. Here is a break in the judgment message. If they would
return to the Lord and would sow righteousness, they would reap mercy. But
such sowing is impossible unless the fallow ground is broken up, that is,
true repentance and a heart return unto the Lord. "For it is time to seek
the Lord, until He come and rain righteousness upon you." In what infinite
patience He waited for the repentance of His people! But while He would
save them, they would not! Still God's gifts and calling are without
repentance and the day will come when a remnant of Israel will seek the
Lord; then He will come and rain righteousness upon them.

     How different was their condition! The Lord rebukes them, for they had
ploughed wickedness, and reaped iniquity. The noise of war is now heard;
Shalman (a contracted form of Shalmanezer, the King of Assyria) is
advancing and shall destroy all their fortresses as he destroyed
Beth-arbel. (There is no further record of Beth-arbel and its destruction.)
And who was responsible for all this havoc and the impending calamity?
"Thus has Bethel done to you, for the evil of your great evil. In the early
morning the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off." Bethel was the seat
of Israel's idolatry, it drew God's wrath and finally ended the monarchy in
Israel and their national existence.

     Chapter 11:1-11. This chapter starts with a beautiful allusion to
Israel's youth, when in sovereign love He called Israel, His firstborn son,
out of Egypt, redeeming them by blood and power (Exod. 4:22-23). But this
passage is quoted in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: "That it
might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out
of Egypt have I called My Son" (Matt. 2:15). The blending together of
Israel and Christ is very interesting. Christ is the true Israel and goes
through the entire history of the nation, without failure and in divine
perfection. He was carried as an infant into the land where Israel suffered
in the fiery furnace; and finally He died for that nation and in some
future day through Him, the true Israel (called such in Isa. 49), Israel's
great future and glory will come to pass.

     But while the Son of God, the true Israel, was perfect and holy in all
His ways, Israel was unfaithful. This record of Jehovah's faithfulness and
mercy is here unfolded. He sent them prophets who called them, but they
turned away from Him and gave themselves over to the Baalim and the
idol-gods. How loving He had been to them! He led them, took them into His
arms and healed them. He drew them with cords of love and was towards them
"as those that would raise the yoke-strap over their jaws, and I reached
out to them to eat" (verse 4). It is a beautiful picture of His great
gentleness with them. Perhaps some of them were anxious to turn to Egypt
and find a home there and thus escape the cruel Assyrian. But the Lord
declares that they shall not return to Egypt, but Assyria is to be their
king, because they refused to return. The sword of judgment would do its
work completely (verses 6-7). Then follows a most wonderful outburst of
deepest sorrow over the stubborn nation:

          How should I give you up, Ephraim?
          How shall I surrender thee, Israel?
          How should I make thee like Admah?
          Or set thee like Zeboim?
          My heart is turned within me;
          My repentings are kindled together.

     It is the same Lord who speaks here, who centuries later stood before
the city and broke out in loud weeping when He beheld the city: "If thou
hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong
unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke 19:42). "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which
are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall
not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the
name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:37). How He loves His people! And though He has
punished them, He does not forsake them; He will not be angry forever; He
is a covenant keeping God, "For I am God and not man" (verse 9). "For I am
the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal.
3:6). And so here, this chapter of Jehovah's mercy ends with the assurance
of their future restoration and blessing. "They will follow the Lord." That
will be "when like a lion He roars." That is the day when He appears again
as "The lion of the tribe of Judah." Then, in that day, like a bird from
Egypt they will hasten back and like a dove from Assyria. "Then will I make
them dwell in their houses, saith the Lord." Here is another prophecy of
their restoration to their own, God-given home land.

                           CHAPTERS 11:12-12:14

                              The Indictment

     1. Ephraim's indictment (11:12-12:2)
     2. Remembrance of the past (12:3-6)
     3.   What Israel had become (12:7-14)

     Chapter 11:12-12:2. Lying and deceit had been Ephraim's course towards
Jehovah; instead of trusting Him and following Him faithfully they had
attached themselves to idols, while Judah still outwardly cleaved to
Jehovah, though it was in a rambling way. The word translated "ruleth"
means rambling. The better rendering of the sentence is "and Judah is also
rambling towards God (or unbridled against Him) and towards the faithful
Holy One." But while outwardly Judah seemed to be all right, Ephraim fed on
wind, was occupied with the vain, the empty things, increased in lies and
desolation and turned to Assyria and Egypt for help, sending as a present
olive oil to the latter and making a covenant with the former (see 2 Kings
17:4). Then the mask is torn from Judah's face. The Lord had a controversy
with them also and would repay them according to their evil deeds.

     Verses 3-6. Jacob's sons are now reminded of Jacob's experience.
Though he was so weak and sinful yet the Lord in marvelous grace met him.
The experience at Peniel is recalled. "Yea, he had power over the angel,
and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him." There he learned
the sufficiency of grace and his strength was made perfect in weakness. The
angel who appeared unto him that night was none other than the Son of God.
What a reminder it was to them. "He found him (Jacob) in Bethel!" In the
very place where the Lord found Jacob and Jacob found the Lord, they had
set up their awful, God-denying idol worship. Where God had shown such
mercy there they practiced now their abominations. Jehovah, the God of
hosts, was still the same. He is the Lord who changes not. He was waiting
still for their return. To such a God, who keeps His covenant promises they
were urged to return and prove their true return by keeping mercy and
justice and by waiting on Jehovah continually. But the call of grace and
mercy was unheeded.

     Verses 7-14. The Lord calls apostate Israel a merchant, that is in
Hebrew "Canaan." (Canaan means traffic; see Ezek. 17:4.) They had become
Canaanites with the balances of deceit, loving to oppress. They had become
fraudulent merchants, by cheating and oppression. Their wrong attitude
towards Jehovah, having forsaken Him, led to a wrong attitude towards their
fellowmen. Instead of repenting they boasted, "I am become rich, I have
found me out substance." They were breaking the law continually (Lev. 19:36
and Deut. 25:13-16). Yet in all their lawbreaking they prided themselves of
being a righteous nation. "In all my labors they shall find no iniquity in
me that were sin." How all this fits a good part of the Jews today is too
well known to need further comment.

     Some day it will be different through the grace and mercy of the
never-changing Lord. He is the Jehovah who delivered them out of Egypt; all
their blessing and prosperity they owed to Him; He had guided and preserved
them, and all their sinning would not diminish His faithfulness to them.
They are going to dwell again some day in tents, a reference to the feast
of tabernacles, that great feast which typifies the coming millennial
blessings for restored Israel. Such had been the continued testimony of the
prophets He had sent, who announced the coming judgments and the final
blessings in a future day. But now everything was ruin on account of their
idolatry. Gilgal was the seat of a part of their idolatry (chapter 4:15,
9:15). Then once more they are reminded of their progenitor Jacob. He fled
before Esau his brother, yet though he was weak he served faithfully for a
wife and for a wife he kept guard and Jehovah guarded and blest him. So He
would concern Himself with them again. The twenty-sixth chapter of
Deuteronomy throws light on this passage. But what was Ephraim's condition?
Instead of acknowledging all Jehovah had done for Jacob and his offspring
they provoked Him to bitter anger, therefore the Lord would punish them.

                                CHAPTER 13

                        Ephraim's Ruin and judgment

     1. Ruin and judgment (13:1-8)
     2. It is thy destruction, O Israel! (13:9-11)
     3. Mercy to follow wrath (13:12-14)
     4. The desolation of the nearing judgment (13:15-16)

     Verses 1-8. In the beginning Ephraim was humble, and knowing his
dependence, he spoke with trembling. Then he became puffed up, exalted
himself in Israel, loving the preeminence, it led on to the schism from
Judah and the house of David. The next step after this separation from
Judah was idolatry, then the dying of the nation began. This sad history of
Ephraim, revealing the steps of decline, beginning with self-exaltation and
ending in ruin and death, has often been repeated in the individual history
of countless multitudes among the professing people of God.

     Then they went from sinning to sinning, from bad to worse, just as in
our own days, the apostates in Christendom go from bad to worse in
fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:13. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse
and worse, deceiving and being deceived." Idolatry flourished on all sides.
They added idol images in Gilgal and Beer-sheba to the golden calves (Amos
8:14). Then the judgment is announced. Just as the rising sun quickly
disperses the morning clouds and the dew, so they should pass away (chapter
6:4). They would be like the chaff driven with a whirlwind out of the
threshing floor (Psa. 1:4, 35:5; Isa. 17:13, 41:15-16); they would be like
the quickly evaporating smoke, which comes out of the windows of a house
without a chimney.

     Then the Lord reminds them of their former relationship and that He is
the true God, "and there is no Saviour beside Me." In the land of the
wilderness He knew them and there He cared for them and provided all their
needs. But instead of acknowledging Him, they became full; self-exaltation
followed, and then they forgot Him. Throughout the Word of God
self-exaltation, pride is always given as the starting point of departure
from God and the consequent ruin.

     Verses 7-8 are interesting. They are to be rent by wild beasts, which,
symbolically, represent the Gentiles. The ten tribes were carried away by
the Assyrian, while later, when Judah met its judgment, the whole land was
devastated by the lion-empire (Babylonia); by the bear (Medo-Persia); by
the leopard (the Graeco-Macedonia); and finally by the dreadful beast, "the
beast of the field shall tear them," the Roman power.

     Verses 9-11. "It is thy destruction, O Israel, that thou art against
Me, against thy help." What they had done in lifting themselves up, in
forsaking Jehovah was spiritual and national suicide. They were alone
responsible for their destruction. Where was their king to save them out of
such ruin and destruction? The house of David with which the covenant had
been made they had forsaken. He reminds them again of an episode in their
past history, when they, their fathers, were rebellious and asked for a
king. Such kings like Saul had been their kings which reigned over the ten

     Verses 12-14. Ephraim deliberately held on to his sin. Their iniquity
was bound up; it was laid by in store. The reference is to the oriental
custom of tying up money and other valuables into a bundle and hiding it
somewhere. It was done for security. So the Lord would see to it that their
sins and iniquity would not be forgotten; all their sins were preserved for
punishment (see Deut. 32:34). Sorrow and great trouble should come upon
them. It has been thus in the past, it will be so in the future, in the
time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). When that time comes, when all their
hope and strength is gone (Deut. 32:36-43) then He will deliver. Then all
the enemies will be put down. Redemption from death and the plagues will
come; they will be ransomed from the power of Sheol (not hell). Israel will
be raised from its national death-sleep. Long she has been buried among the
nations, without spiritual and national life, like those who are in the
power of Sheol. But Jehovah will deliver the faithful portion of Israel and
Judah, and they will rise from the dust of the earth, the symbol of their
national restoration. To use this passage, as it has been done, to teach
the restitution of the wicked, is wrong. It has nothing to do with the
wicked dead and their future, but all applies to the restoration of Israel.
(See the annotations of chapters 16 and 37 of the Prophet Ezekiel.)

     Verses 15-16. These verses describe the horrors of the coming judgment
by the Assyrians (2 Kings 8:12, 15:16, and Amos 1:13).

                                CHAPTER 14

                  The Return and the Glorious Redemption

     1. The exhortation to return (14:1-3)
     2. The glorious redemption (14:4-9)

     Verses 1-3. This chapter is a wonderful finale to the messages of
Hosea. What tender entreaties! What gracious assurance! What glorious
promises of a future redemption! it is Jehovah beseeching His people, those
who had forsaken Him, outraged His character of holiness and who had
despised Him. First is the call to return. God's hands are tied as long as
His people stay away from Him and do not return to Him in true repentance.
No true salvation and deliverance for His people is possible without a true
heart return unto Him. It is this for which He looks and waits.

     Then the Lord Himself puts His word and a prayer into their mouth. He
loves to provide all. "Take with you words and turn to Jehovah and say unto
Him, Forgive all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so will we render the
calves of our lips." Could their poor, darkened and mistrusting hearts ever
even have imagined to ask thus of Him? Their consciences were defiled; the
burden of guilt was upon them. But Jehovah does not mention their sins and
their guilt, but tells them just to pray for forgiveness and for a gracious
reception. And He who tells His wayward people to pray, to turn to Him, to
pray for forgiveness, He who assures them that He hears, assures them of a
gracious receiving, will never fail. How full of comfort these sentences
are to all His people at all times! We can imagine that in Hosea's day
there were individual Israelites who took these words to heart. After them
generations of Jews read them and turned individually to the Lord, found
forgiveness and became the objects of His grace. And we too, as His people,
when we have gone back in our spiritual life, can find our comfort here,
and appropriate all this in faith as we act upon His Word. In the future
the remnant of Israel will take these gracious exhortations to heart, and
before the glorious redemption is given to them return to the Lord with
this prayer.

     "So will we render the calves of our lips." Literally rendered it is
"we will pay as young oxen our lips," i.e., present the prayers of our lips
as a thankoffering; we will be worshippers. Such is the result of a real
return unto the Lord with sins forgiven and restored to His fellowship. The
days of singing are coming for Israel in that day when they return unto Him
and He appears in His glory to be enthroned as King. It will usher in the
singing times for all the world, including groaning creation, then
delivered. Then follows the evidence of their genuine repentance. It is
expressed in words suited to the condition of Ephraim in Hosea's day. They
repudiate Assyria; they acknowledge that no salvation is there, but only in
Jehovah. No longer will they trust in their own strength and in the
strength of their horses; no longer will they turn to idols and call them
"Our God," but they will acknowledge Him in whom the fatherless findeth
mercy. Israel, God's firstborn son, had been the prodigal, was fatherless,
though the Father's love never gave them up. But now the prodigal returns
and knows there is One in whom the fatherless findeth abundant mercy. All
this true repentance will be manifested at the close of this age, when the
remnant of Israel turns to the Lord.

     Verses 4-9. His gracious answer to such repentance follows. Three
times Jehovah speaks "I will." This is the word of sovereign grace. (See
annotations on Ezekiel.) The three "I wills" are: (1) I will heal their
backslidings; (2) I will love them freely; (3) I will be a dew unto Israel.
They are arranged in a most blessed order. Mercy, love and gracious
refreshment resulting in fruitfulness and beauty, such is the order. The
past is wiped out, the present is love and the future is glory. Like the
lily, like Lebanon and like the olive-tree, Israel is to be. The lily
denotes beauty; they will be clad in the beauty of holiness. Lebanon stands
for strength and stability; they will become the nation of power which can
never be moved. Then they shall be once more the olive tree; the broken off
branches will be put back (Rom. 11:16, etc.). The blessings of the restored
Israel in the millennium are given in the seventh verse.

     Beautiful is verse 8. "Ephraim (shall say), 'What have I to do any
more with idols? I hear and I look upon Him; I am like a green fir tree.
From Me is thy fruit found.'" Ephraim, the cake half turned, Ephraim, of
whom it was said, he is joined to idols, leave him alone, now repudiates
the idols. And why? I hear and I look upon Him! The vision of the Lord
turned the stubborn heart. It is so still; the great power is to hear Him,
to look upon Him. In that day Israel will look on Him whom they pierced,
the great turning point in their future history. Then the nation will yield
the fruit through their fellowship with Him. Blessed ending of this
prophecy. "For the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in
them; but the transgressors shall fall therein."

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