The Love That Lapses
The Love That Lasts
C. J. Rolls, D. D.
BOOKS of the BIBLE
THE BOOK OF HOSEA
THE SALVATION OF THE LORD
TITLE: The name “Hosea” is from a familiar root, “Yeshuah,” from which we derive the word, “Salvation,” or the “Lord saveth.” The verb form appears in ch. 1:7, “I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”
The word “Saviour” of ch. 13:4 is derived from the same stem. See also ch. 13:10. The word “Salvation,” derived from the root of this name, occurs 77 times in the Old Testament. The fulfillment and realization of salvation was made manifest by the incarnation. The Greek equivalent of the name is Jesus, and He is, in His own person, our salvation. (Luke 2:29‑30.) The name of the great conqueror of the seven nations of Palestine, Joshua, has exactly the same meaning.
As a contemporary of Isaiah, this prophet bore the saving name of the Messiah Whom he foretold and of Whom he was a type.
THEME: To declare God’s lovingkindness, tender mercy and forbearance with a disloyal people, and His readiness to reverse the calamities caused by their failures, and change the punishment for national sins on the conditions of repentance and return to Him.
KEY WORDS: This is one of the most dramatic, tragic and pathetic messages of the Old Testament. Its key words are illuminating, — “return,” 24 times; “whore” and “whoredom,” 22 times; “know,” 21 times; “Egypt,” 12 times; and “iniquity,” 10 times; “love,” 16 times; these are among the more important.
We might divide the message into two main portions:
1. The Divine communications rejected and the ruinous relapse. (Chs. 1‑7)
2. The Divine communications received and its resultant repose. (Chs. 8- 14)
TEACHING: The method of instruction in this prophecy may be indicated as follows:
Firstly, demonstration in order to assure conviction. Chs. 1-3.
Secondly, revelation in order to impart knowledge. Ch. 4.
Thirdly, correction in order to obtain obedience. Ch. 5, also Ch. 11:7‑12.
Fourthly, education in order to beget discernment. Ch. 11.
Fifthly, salvation in order to procure deliverance. Ch. 13:1‑6.
Sixthly, restoration in order to promote testimony. Ch. 14:1‑4.
Seventhly, submission in order to secure fruitfulness. Ch. 14:5‑9.
The most grievous form of sin is that of showing infidelity and disloyalty in the face of infinite love with all its sacred bonds of intimacy. On this account the severity of the judgment becomes quite reasonable, even though it appears relentlessly inflexible. The sublimity of God’s love triumphs over the unfaithfulness, and secures again a responsive affection from a people who were prevailed upon to return to the One Who had befriended, bought and blessed them.
Ch. 1. The unholiness of the national state is fully disclosed by the opening of the message. God had an exclusive right to His people’s love, for He had redeemed and reconciled them, and through the years had been their Guide and Guardian.
Ch. 2. Their unfaithfulness to this dignified relationship is impressively symbolized in the sacred relationship of marriage, which they had despised and disregarded.
Ch. 3. The unworthiness Israel displayed of receiving the overtures of the Lord’s love is plainly depicted. Hosea’s marriage with Gomer and its tragic aftermath, is a symbolical transaction that becomes a verbal prophecy.
Ch. 4. The unheedfulness of their attitude is summed up in ch. 4:l0, while they pursued a course which is described by the participles, swearing, lying, killing, stealing, backsliding and committing adultery.
Ch. 5. The unwillingness on the part of the people to repent resulted in God withdrawing from their company, in His warning them of the consequences of their iniquity and in waiting, lest, haply, they might consider their pathetic condition and repent.
Ch. 6. The unresponsiveness. The pressing invitation is renewed, combined with the sad refrain: “O, Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?” “O, Judah, what shall I do unto thee?”, for their goodness is described as being like the passing of a morning cloud and the melting of the early dew.
Ch. 7. The unconcernedness. “There is none among them that calleth unto me.” (v. 7) “They have spoken lies about me.” (v. 14) “They consider not in their hearts.” (v. 2) “Woe unto them for they have fled from me.” Notice the sixfold use of “ME,” vs. 13-15.
Ch. 8. The unmindfulness. Israel had forgotten its maker, v. 14. Turning away from God did not satisfy the heart, so the nation tried to fill the aching void by erecting temples.
Ch. 9. The unrestrainedness. “They have deeply corrupted themselves,” vs. 9 & 10, and this led to a joyless temperament, a senseless tendency and a fruitless testimony.
Ch. 10. The unproductiveness. “Israel is an empty vine.” The nation had sought the spectacular, the sensational and the speculative, but all of these were without foundation and they found themselves devoid of defense or security.
Ch. 11. The unsteadfastness. “My people are bent to backsliding from me:” Yet in spite of I, the rainbow of Divine mercy is clearly seen reflecting His electing, emancipating and enriching grace.
Ch . 12. The ungratefulness. “I that am the Lord thy God from the Land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.”' (vs. 9, 14) How wonderfully owned and honored His Prophets. (vs. 10, 13)
Ch. 13. The undesertedness. Because in the Divine immutability, the insistent Saviour pleaded and entreated with the people in their waywardness. He emphasized that there was no hope in any other direction by declaring, “There is no Saviour beside me.” His absolute authority is also expressed in the ten “I wills” of the chapter.
Ch. 14. The unresistingness. The 22 appeals to return were eventually responded to, and immediately the forgiving love of God was assured. They heard the gracious words “I will heal,” “I will love,” and “I will be as the dew unto Israel.”
By virtue of their having previously forsaken God and at this stage having turned away from idolatry, they, as a nation, were in a fatherless condition. This accounts for their pathetic plea, “In Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” (v. 3) God's loving forgiveness and lavish favor instantly followed.
The figures used are wonderfully instructive and include the freshness of the dew, the fairness of the lily and the fragrance of Lebanon. These gracious benefits replaced the drought, defilement and dearth that had so long blighted their civil and social life.
Yet such blessings in themselves were not enough to meet the national need. Unless cleansing is followed by constancy, forgiveness combined with fidelity, and faith conjoined with fruitfulness there can be no lasting stability. Therefore their roots were to become strong like the bastions of the Lebanon forests. Their beauty was to be as the olive, they were to revive as the corn and flourish as the vine.
The corn, wine and oil imply fruit, more fruit and much fruit. He forgave their guilt, and furnished them with gifts.
Such love is beyond all telling, more perfect it breaks the backs of all words when we attempt to describe it. More majestic than the heavens, more extensive than the firmament, more expansive than the ocean, His love surpasseth knowledge. Hosea dwells more on the love of God than any other Old Testament prophet.
“Who is wise and he shall understand these things, prudent and he shall know them.” (Hos. 14:9)
The Sole Source of Salvation — The content of this book compels the careful reader to stand subdued in solemn awe, and to wonder with profound admiration at the dealings and disposition of Divine love. Only a heart that is as dry as the Sahara can ponder the message of this prophecy and refrain from tears when considering the outrage perpetrated by sin's treachery. The regenerate soul can but bow in worship at so marvelous a display of God's saving grace.
The entire message throbs with intense emotion, pulsates with the deepest expressions of sympathy, and reverberates most eloquently with the tender compassion of God's wondrous lovingkindness. In a few masterful strokes we are given the account of a stirring romance which is used as a type to represent a nation’s betrothal to God in spiritual wedlock. Israel had disowned her marriage bond, flirted with idolatry, and through her woeful whoredoms had wounded the Divine heart of infinite love by debasing every sacred sanction, and by prostituting every God-given gift to the use of the mean, the base and the devilish. The Prophet was called upon to pass through the unenviable experience of entering into the depths of painful feeling that he might share by grief companionship the sufferings of God.
The words of the apostle Paul in the New Testament, suggest that he, too, courted the fellowship of agonizing grief when, in contemplating Christ, he said that his one desire was to “know Him ... and the fellowship of His suffering.” Very few of the Lord's people are sensitive enough, sympathetic enough, or strong enough, to enter such a sphere of association, and share such suffering. What a disclosure of sin at its ugliest is made herein; what a description of judgment at its highest is given, and what a display of love to the uttermost is unveiled. These three features form the structural framework of the prophecy.
The dastardly nature of sin, the defiling stain of sin, the degrading shame of sin, the divorcing vice of sin, the devouring lust of sin, the destroying power of sin, and the deadly issues of sin are fully uncovered.
Against these outrageous attitudes and activities of evil the judgment of God is directed, a judgment which is definitely shown to be righteous in its cause, reasonable in its condemnation, retributive in its character, resolute in its counsel, and realistic in its comprehension of all the facts of the case. Shining the more brilliantly because of the lurid background, the scintillating glory of God's love is never seen to greater advantage. The sordidness of sin and the severity of judgment are outweighed by the sublimity of Divine love. Love censures the hideous habits of sin; love seeks the offending one; love serves in order to reconcile; love survives the prolonged period of disregard; love suffices amidst severest trials; love shows a sympathetic spirit; love sustains its lines of communication; love sacrifices its all to save; and love suffers the agony of death to redeem. Of love so enduring and steadfast, the last word can never be spoken. Therefore the most heinous sin is violating the virtue of such venerable love by vulgarly outraging its sacred susceptibilities.
The Saviour Sought His Spouse
from the Sinful of Earth
Heights are dwarfed and depths seem shallow!
For time's brief span to speak His worth
Earth's widest space is cramped and narrow,
God gave Himself in lowly birth!
He stooped in death to conquer sin,
And to high Heaven our souls upraise.
The volume of the thunder's din
Is far too faint to voice His praise.
His skilful wisdom soars above
The snowy peaks and starry skies,
No mind can measure perfect love,
This ocean main all else outvies.
He lavished freely jewels and gold,
With pearls of rarest purity;
He gave rich robes that ne'er grow old,
Expressing spotless sanctity.
He loved the lowly, lost and lone,
He sought from earth His queenly bride
To share His everlasting throne,
And in the Father's house reside!
All virtues in this Bridegroom blend,
And in Thy presence safely dwell.
Redeemer, Saviour, Bridegroom, Friend,
No virtue can Thy grace excel.
The course outlined in the opening section covering chs. 1‑3, includes ten main movements.
The proposition commanded, by which Hosea was directed to marry a woman from unsavory associations.
The pollution reported, in connection with Gomer's manner of life.
The partnership contracted, and the commencement of married life.
The perversity indicated in the matter of Gomer's lapse into unfaithfulness.
The punishment prescribed which reflects God’s judgment against Israel.
The proposals resisted that were made by the Lord to an unfaithful nation.
The penalties inflicted which were intended for corrective discipline.
The promises intimated that were calculated to encourage a change of behavior.
The purposes revealed depicting the ultimate design and aim.
The parable interpreted as being a demonstration of the love of the Lord toward Israel.
In the O.T. History there is found no other instance in which a prophet of God is called upon to enter into the deepest degree of agonizing grief and appalling anguish in the sphere of domestic life, in order to demonstrate to a people the grievous way in which they had wounded the love of God.
The heart of Hosea was appointed to enter the innermost of painful suffering, and to encounter the utmost of serious injury to his sensitive nature. In his compact of love he had entered into relationship with a reclaimed harlot, who later shattered the bond in a most lewd and vulgar manner by returning to her former vice of prostitution for hire.
Gomer violated the closest companionship, the comeliest virtues, the choicest values, and the costliest vows.
God chose to take the natural relations associated with courtship, marriage and home life, in order to illustrate the deeper realities of His identification with Israel. Gomer was deflected from the obligations she had agreed to honor, and abandoned herself to the lowest forms of indecency, immorality and social vice.
God used these tragic happenings to impress upon the nation the regrettable state of apostasy and inconstancy that prevailed through centuries of history.
Israel had been called to enter into a spiritual union of the most intimate nature with an immortal Lover. She was, therefore, responsible to rightly represent the One Who had chosen her to fill so dignified a relationship, and to reflect, in some degree, the glories of His name and beauties of His nature.
God had lavished upon Israel all the moral gifts and spiritual graces that were essential to holiness of life, and had frustrated the forces that sought to prevent the fulfillment of His purpose.
Hosea summons many facts from the nation’s previous history in support of the golden opportunity God had given to Israel. Side by side with these, he recounts the fickleness and failure that had hindered her from rising to the occasion to fulfil her obligations.
ISRAEL’S IMPIETY Ch. 1
The object lesson dealt with here commands the attention of the apostles of the New Testament. For instance, Paul speaks of Lo-ruhamah as implying “not beloved” in Rom. 9:25, while Peter refers to the same name as indicating “hath not obtained mercy,” I Pet. 2:10. The word, as used in Hosea, is in the intensive form, therefore, both “loved” and “mercy” are contained in its meaning, which expresses the deep, tender yearning of the innermost soul over the one loved. A suggestion of this attitude is reflected in the word “pitieth,” which means to “yearn over” as used in Psa. 103:13.
The name Gomer is derived from a root meaning, “to finish” or “complete,” “to come to an end” is the rendering in Psa 7:9, and again “ceaseth” Psa. 12:1, etc., etc. Does this mean that Gomer had filled up her cup of iniquity, or does it suggest that God would perfect that which concerned both her and Hosea? We would suggest the latter in the light of Rom. 9:28. The God Who had invited Israel to become His very own, and Who bestowed rare and remarkable gifts upon her, was at this time being wholly ignored. She had become another’s, which clearly describes her adultery.
The Pleading Voice appeals, v. 2. Following the fall from fidelity she next becomes faithless, and as in Tennyson's Idylls, the guilty Queen Guinevere failed to appreciate the friendly kindness shown to her.
The Warning Voice arrests, vs. 3-4. When a nation deserts God, dullness, dryness, and deadness are the result. In the description of the outcome in this case Israel is stripped of apparel and adornment, scorched like an arid desert, and slain as an abandoned delinquent.
The Correcting Voice accuses, v. 5. The more stringent the restrictions that are placed in the path of the wayward, the greater the evidence of God's loving intent for the wanderer. When the gardener makes the fence secure, it is in order to prevent the plundering destroyer from doing his work of spoilation. Those who accept the false friend and abandon the true, forge for themselves a lifelong trouble. The fickle lover may appear to be glamorous and generous, but the Faithful One is graciously and gloriously genuine. The choice of the false is always costly and will, in future days, exact tribute. The call of the true requires chastity in behavior, but yields bountiful treasure in return. “The pure in heart ... shall see God,” everywhere, in the great events or small.
The period of the prophetic ministry of Hosea ranged from King Uzziah to Jeroboam II, therefore, his active service at the very minimum lasted for over sixty years. The Northern Kingdom had become notorious for nullifying foreign alliances with adjacent nations, and many forms of corrupt worship had been introduced into the land from the surrounding countries. The darkest days to the history of the Ten Tribes were running their course. Decadence was never more pronounced, nor the downward trend more gloomy. The administration was swayed by selfishness, and party passion was steeped in sordid political intrigue, causing the country to sink lower and lower in moral ruin.
Hosea realized the one available source of strength, and was therefore able to say with David, “My help cometh from the Lord.” He certainly knew the secret of real comfort and good hope through grace.
The truth of this realization is both suggested and supported by the meaning of his father's name. “Beeri” means “Well of Jehovah,” and is derived from a root implying, “to dig,” “to write,” or “to declare.” The only occurrences of the verb form are found in Deut. 1:5; 27:8; and Neh. 2:2. The noun is derived from “a well,” or “a pit,” or as rendered in Jer 2:13, “cistern.” Surely then “Beeri” speaks of the well spring of life, the fountain from which the prophet drew his strength, Isa. 12:3. This picturesque future reminds us of the Source of our satisfaction.
“Oh, Christ He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I've tasted.
More deep I'll drink above:
There, to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand.
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.”
ISRAEL’S INCONSTANCY, Ch. 2
The nation of Israel had been specially selected and separated to function as a vessel sanctified and meet for Jehovah's use. Her unwarrantable unchastity and shameful selfishness brought upon the tribes the swift and severe chastisement of God. The character of this chastisement is described in Hos. 2:6-13. The Lord placed a hindering difficulty in the way to retard the nation’s downward course. He prevented the realization of the projects planned by causing the harassing disappointment of v. 7. He also promoted the embarrassing circumstances that helped to deprive Israel of her requisites, vs. 8‑9. He purposely withheld supplies because they were being used to facilitate indecencies, and eventually brought about her humiliating disgrace, v. 19. The Lord also prevented further participation in the normal, reasonable and seasonable festivals and functions, and precipitated the whole community into a hapless plight of distress, v. 11. He likewise pronounced the destruction of the fruits of the earth to bring upon this comely heritage, harmful desolation, v. 12. In addition to all these things, He pledged a suitable recompense for their misbehavior in the idolatrous courts of Baal in order to bring the wayward to the place of hopeless despair, v. 13.
The eight “I wills” in this section, vs. 6‑13, should be particularly noted, for when God determines discipline of this nature, no one can escape, “none shall deliver out of My hand,” v. 10. All the while this wickedness was going on, Israel kept up an outward semblance of piety. The new moons, sabbaths and solemn feasts were all regularly celebrated, v. 11. God refuses to tolerate fickle piety, false joy, and feigned loyalty, and so he framed a decree to frustrate, once and for all, the possibility of such festivals being continued. For the sake of brevity we have confined each of these seven deplorable features to the compass of a sentence, but when combined, they reflect a decadence that staggers the imagination.
ISRAEL’S IMPROPRIETY Ch. 3
The worst form of infidelity is that which outwardly professes faithfulness, while, inwardly, disloyalty reigns. The sham and show of a formal pretence had long since faded from Gomer's manner of life. She had become openly reprobate, and had not only forsaken her true lover, but was publicly fraternizing with the fallen who had stained their honor and soiled their purity. Habits of sin lead to hardness of heart which makes it impossible for the soul to hate evil, “Neither doth he abhor that which is evil.” Even the dearest recollections of the deepest degree of fellowship that has existed in the past, deters no longer.
A time came in Israel's history when she not only secretly, but flagrantly and openly as a nation, violated the law of love and Lordship she had formerly revered. Worse than that, she held in veneration the hideous gods of idolatrous shrines.
Of all sin this is ugliest and most hateful — that a people brought into right relationship with God should not only ignore the high and holy bond of union, but go out to commit spiritual adultery. Better far never to have known the sanctity of God's stately and sensitive love, than, having experienced its fair and fragrant sincerity, to willfully wound it by acts of basest lewdness.
Thc baneful vulgarity of heathenish corruption is by no means as infamous as sin against infinite love. Most clearly, then, does Hosea depict the principle that God’s faithful love never inflicts judgment unless the grievousness of sin demands it. We cannot minimize the enormity of unfaithfulness in the face of such perfect love. Surely there is no defilement so desperate, and no debasement so despicable, as that of women abandoning themselves to prostitution for hire at the shrines of sensual worship, Hos. 4:14. A real need exists of making application of some of these truths to the church of our own day. All too frequently, divinely-bestowed gifts are being used for unchrist-like ambitions, and in God's name activities are carried on which cause a good deal of blatant criticism to arise among labor unions and workers' organizations. No form of treachery is as despicable as that of Ahithophel and Judas in their betrayal of beneficent friendship and bountiful generosity.
Reversing — The Valley of Achor with its awful memories of ignominious defeat is to be turned into a stronghold of radiant hope. The mercies of the moment are not to be minimized by the haunting memories of the past, but mingled with the merit of a mighty Lover. Achor has become proverbial as the place of trouble and tragedy; it is now to be transformed into a distinguished triumph with a desirable trophy. The heartbreaking treachery of Achan takes us back to the dawn of national deliverance. He was a man whose wickedness was characterized by weakness and willfulness. Having already shared the society, security and surety of the redeemed of the Lord, he played traitor to his people and brought upon them shameful dishonor and serious disaster. Such misconduct marred all relationship and debarred the culprit from sharing the blessings of the kingdom. The misbehavior of Israel had merited law and justice, not love and justification. But God was out to reverse past history. The rough rocks, steep slopes and frowning foes were to move out of the picture and give place to the queenly qualities of hope. The word “allure” is used in the Scripture fourteen times and is associated with the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Here God uses the method adopted by the enemy, but with Holy intent. The deepest experiences of spiritual discipline are best suited to solitude. The fact of allurement into the wilderness shuts out all other listeners. The list of the violations of love confessed will never be published for there are no reporters there so the sharp spear of deadly gossip is forever stilled. Nor can the defilements, discords, dangers and disturbances of the old surroundings of the valley-of‑trouble intrude into the sacredness of the interview.
While I was working with Dr. Walter L. Wilson of Kansas City, a young married woman with her two little girls called at the surgery. Upon entering the consulting room, she left the children in the waiting lounge. Her story was of the usual type. Her husband had found someone who gave him more time and attention, and when she had completed her story of woe, the Doctor looked at her, and said, “Yes, and you are largely to blame.” He asked the young wife if she did her best when preparing meals, to select the food she knew her husband liked best. “No,” said she, “I would not put myself out for him, to prepare anything he liked.” “And was that always your attitude?" asked the Doctor. “No,” said she. “At one time I prepared everything that he said he liked, but I would not do it for him now.” “And do you ever go out to meet him when he is returning from the office?” asked the Doctor. “No” she said, “I have long since given over that practice. He prefers other company to mine.” “Very well,” he said, “I will now tell you what to do. This paramour is giving him all the time he wants, she is meeting his wishes at every turn, and the only way to rectify the situation is for you to go one better. Ask him tomorrow morning when he leaves for work what time he will be home, and what he would like most for his dinner. Dress the two children in their newest, prettiest frocks; dress yourself in your very best; be ready at the corner when he turns into your street. Say to him as he approaches, ‘Daddy, we are so glad that you've come home,’ and let him take the hand of each child as he walks to the house. When you get inside greet him the way you used to do, and tell him you have something nice for his dinner. Practice this for a week, and come back and tell me the result.” She replied, “I don't know whether I could do it, Dr. Wilson.” “Did you once do it?” he asked. “Oh, yes,” she said, “I was in the habit of doing it once.” Then he said, “You do it again.” The remedy was crucial, exasperating, but she faced it, and did it and in three weeks' time returned, with a new light in her eyes, and the care‑worn appearance gone. She said to Dr. Wilson, with tears streaming from her eyes, O Doctor, it worked so wonderfully. I cannot tell you all, but we had the matter out in solitude, and everything is now put right. Thank you so much for the advice.”
Revealing — “And the Lord took Israel aside,” and, in the solitude, loftier heights than the cliffs of Achor loomed on the landscape, a society of Holy fellowship, set in the surroundings of spiritual sacredness, with a distant outlook of greater and more radiant glory, greeted her. Achor was to become a fresh spring for the renewal of courage to stiffen character and sustain in conflict. Well may we repair again to the valley, reflect on the adversary who was inflicted with ignominious defeat, and then recall the secret of victorious recovery. The place of rebuke and retreat will then become the place of revelation, rapture, and rejoicing.
The southernmost Cape in Africa had for centuries been called the Cape of Death because the ships that tried to negotiate the treacherous currents seldom returned. At length in 1487 the great Portuguese sailor, Admiral Diaz, turned the prow of his vessel into the teeth of the gale and succeeded in navigating the turbulent waters. To his amazement on the eastern side he discovered a vast placid ocean, whereupon it was considered appropriate to rename the African promontory, and change it from the Cape of Death, to the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama followed the course ten years later, and landed at Goa on the west coast of India. So likewise the Valley of Achor with its humiliation was transformed into a vision of hope with prospective triumph.
Responding — “Thou shalt call him Ishi, my husband.” This is consistent with the great prophet Isaiah, and corresponds to his declaration in Isa. 62:4-5. God requires from His people whole-hearted and utter, unreserved committal. How close He draws: Into what a degree of intimacy He initiates us, and invites our participation, yet He will not share a title or a treasure with another. He refuses the double heart and cannot accept such. Love is one for one. To love is to live. To love earnestly is to live effectively; to love endearingly is to live enduringly; to love evermore is to live eternally.
God will not tolerate any longer the more common name for husband, “Balli,” meaning “Master,” for this title had been prostituted to evil associations, it savored too much of Baal-peor, Baal-zephon, Baal-gad, Baal-zebub, and a score of others. “I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth,” v. 17. What a cleansing! To have the very remembrances of the former lewd, licentious lapses obliterated so that the slightest degree of recollection is lost to all consciousness.
“Who wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All of which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou mightest seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come.”
Ratifying — The confirming of the covenant ratifies the relationship forever, v. 18. The world of nature is so harmonious that the harassing things become harmless. The hostile factors are now a help; forces that frustrated hopes are now listed among the friendly aids. The noxious things become innoxious; in place of the perturbation of war, there is prevailing peace. All hostility is transmuted into harmony. The Septuagint Version of the last line of v. 10, reads, “I will make thee to lie down in hope.” It is rendered “in safety,” Psa. 4:8, Deut. 33:12,28. The figure is that of reclining restfully and safely in the delectable field of hope where perfect peace prevails, all this because the glorious Bridegroom is now both Guardian and Guide. The Shepherd-lover has secured His objective. Creation itself contributes to the charm of the contentment shared in His companionship.
Reinstating, vs. 19‑20 — As the beauties of earth and bounties of heaven combine in blessing the betrothed, so, nearer and nearer, dearer and dearer, becomes the relationship. The immutables of the triune God are indicated and intimated in the three-fold testament of intention —“I will betroth,” “I will betroth,” “I will betroth.” Let us consider carefully the character of this changeless covenant, for no neutral tints appear here. The colors are flaming, gorgeously brilliant and intense.
Firstly. — It is contracted “for ever,” indicating the unending durability of this most intimate of all bonds of sacred fellowship.
Secondly. — It is “in righteousness” — signifying the untainted dignity of both the Bridegroom and the betrothed.
Thirdly. — It is “in judgment” — verifying the unassailable decorum and rectitude of the contracting parties, so that no lawful accusation can be raised by anyone. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?”
Fourthly. — It is “in loving kindness” — certifying to the unblemished disposition, devoid of even a shadow or sensation of inconstancy.
Fifthly. — It is “in mercy” — indicating the undeniable desirability of the companionship in which every kindly considerateness is expressed and enjoyed.
Sixthly. — It is “in faithfulness” — guaranteeing through an abiding, unchangeable decree, all necessary maintenance, in demonstration of the Spirit of mutuality, amity and unity.
Seventhly. — It is a full recognition, “Thou shalt know the Lord,” in a sublimely complete realization. This unqualified discernment of the inherent virtue and inestimable value of the character of the Beloved will forever exclude all misapprehension and misunderstanding.
The forecast of the union here given describes the full comprehension and the highest realization of the sublime environment, supreme endowment, and serene endearment of love between God and the soul. The inestimable and incomparable features that are embraced in the pledge and privilege of this immutable decree certify to the love which makes us one. Inestimable beauty, impregnable integrity, instinctive mutuality, imperishable sympathy, infinite fidelity, and intelligent sensibility — against such there is no law. In this astounding mystery of grace, God bends and stoops in mercy, to seek, select and sanctify a bride from fallen humanity. With our finite minds we cannot plumb the heights, fathom the depths, scan the expanse, or gauge the degree of love so affable, ineffable and adorable. He Who sways unparalleled dominion demonstrates His unselfish devotion by issuing a decree to deliver from the disgrace of sin, and exalt to the society of Heaven, a redeemed and regenerated humanity.
“From Heaven He came and sought her,
To be His Holy bride,
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her sake He died.”
Reciprocating, vs. 21‑22 — The figure of reconciliation visualized in the heavens answering the earth pictures harmony restored, and the will of God swaying the earth with the same sceptre that rules the heavens. Heaven is regulated and earth ruled by the will of God, which gives us a foreview of what is to be enjoyed when the prayer Christ taught His disciples is fulfilled, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The description given shows heaven, as it were, appealing to earth to receive the showers of blessing, and earth answering by appropriating the refreshing, and renewing rain. Then again, earth is seen approaching heaven with adoring praise, and heaven accepting the tribute of earth’s ascription. Material figures are used to illustrate the features of profounder spiritual realities. The earth must first be right with God, and then the whole order of the universe will be right with man. The beauty of the panorama baffles comprehension. The Apostle Paul declared that God had “made known to us the mystery of His will,” which, as we noted, is the main subject of this section, wherein it is used fourteen times. Paul goes on to say that “In the new order of the fullness of times He will gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are in earth even in Him.” What an amazing unity this represents! What astounding uniformity! What absolute harmony is purposed by the will of God in Christ Jesus! No wonder in that same epistle the innermost meaning of wedlock is adopted as a miniature metaphor to prefigure the eternal union of Christ and His Church. Eph. 5:26, 27, 32.
The means Hosea adopts is that of using temporal sustenance as a type and from it he denotes the measureless spiritual substance assured by the covenant. The corn, wine and oil signify the bread of life, the wine of love, and the oil of joy, or we may speak of these as being the sustaining corn, the gladdening wine, and the anointing oil. The main point emphasized is that all things are adjusted so as to amplify and animate the life and love of the newly‑entered society established in holiness. When the soul is fully assured of heaven's provision and protection, there is no need to fret or fear about hell's power.
Realizing, v. 23 — The rementioning at this stage of the names of Hosea's three children is profoundly important. Jezreel is used as a figure of scattering the nation in ch. 1, but by variation of the vowel points, the meaning is changed in this case to “sowing.” They are to be planted or set in the kingdom for development and dominion in contrast to being scattered in the world for disharmony and dishonor.
Lo-ruhamah — “not having obtained mercy,” is changed to Ruhamah, “having obtained mercy,” and Lo‑ammi — “not my people” — is changed to Ammi “my people.” This culmination is the outcome of a great reversal, and notice that the last verse in ch. 2 is a repetition of the first verse of the same chapter, as if used as a refrain to communicate an achieved aim. Therefore, the truth of Isaiah is demonstrated, viz., declaring the end from the beginning, Isa. 46:10.
Remembering, ch. 3:1 — Israel was not chosen as a people because of being affable and lovable, Deut. 7:6‑9. God’s faithfulness to His promise made to the fathers is given as the reason why He so resolutely and readily honored His word. The enormity of Gomer’s guilt and the indecency of her iniquitous behavior did not quench Hosea's love, nor did the floods of ingratitude drown it. Notice how this fact is clearly indicated in the use made of the words, “Beloved of her friend,” Hos. 3:1. The sensual appetite that longed for flagons of wine and cakes of raisins was stronger than spiritual apprehension and adoration. Here in the two parts of a vitally-connected symbolism supply the illustration of the truth which is presented in the prophecy, while the prophecy itself is the explanation of the symbolical transaction. In other words, the single truth is submitted first in illustration and then by explanation. The explanation of the meaning of the illustration is stated in the words “according to the love of the Lord for the children of Israel,” v. 1. The theme is so lovely and lofty in beauty that it is worthy of more careful consideration and space than we can devote to it. Hosea previously went to a certain section of the community to win the fallen, he is now bidden to go promptly to the same society and win back the faithless.
Redeeming — “So I bought her,” ch. 3:2. The root of this word is rendered “digged” in eleven instances, of which Gen. 26:25; 50:5; also Job 6:27 are examples. On two occasions the word is rendered “buy,” and here “bought.” See also Jer. 1:20, 22; Psa. 57:6; 119:85. A matter of importance for each one of us is to remember the pit from whence we have been digged. To use a colloquialism, Hosea was sent to dig Gomer out.
The conclusion of this illustrative story is indicated in a sentence. “According to the love of the Lord toward the Children of Israel.” The true quality of friendship is interpreted as being the attachment of love, while the quintessence of that friendship is the adherence of loyalty. True love is not an attitude which stands hard by when the sea is smooth, the sky blue, the supplies plentiful, and the strength vigorous, but forsakes when the way is rough, the task rugged, the provision restricted, and the weather rigorous. The best friend is better far than a thousand butterflies that flit from flower to flower in the sunshine, but fly away when the storm begins to gather on the horizon.
The Lord fondly loved Israel in all the fervor of His sympathetic strength and steadfastness. Such knowledge is wonderful in the extreme. Yea, He faithfully loved without variableness or shadow of turning. He freely loved and furnished all requisites for redemption, rest, and rejoicing. He feelingly loved and was most considerate in His care, courteous in His gentleness, and generous in His gifts. He familiarly loved and refused to be treated as an absentee or as one distant. The constant demonstration of His nearness and intimacy was exhibited by His dwelling in the midst of the nation. The Lord faithfully loved and remained unchanged in the presence of ungratefulness and unbelief, although His name was profaned and His patience provoked.
Reviewing — Nothing in history is so problematical as the persistent persecution of the Jews and yet, withal, their perpetual preservation. Although they are citizens in every country in the world, they are denied citizenship in a national home. Although banished, buffeted and bereaved, and forbidden the rights of a country with their own governing policy, they, nevertheless, flourish and are maintained in undiminished hope and in an unbroken spirit of expectancy. They still await the call of the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah. No other people possess a line of descendants that witnessed the golden age of Egypt, the greatness of Nineveh, the grandeur of Babylon, the growth of Medo‑Persia, the Grecian conquests, and the glory of Rome. These, and many other features, form a definite proof that they are being preserved through the centuries to participate in the ultimate consummation revealed in ch. 2. They are yet to return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their King. We sometimes overlook that the meaning of David is “beloved,” and the voice from the excellent glory actually said, “This is my son David in whom I am well pleased.”
THE LORD'S INTEGRITY
The sublimity of the Divine method exhibited in Hos. 2:14‑23 is unsurpassed in all Scripture. The entire presentation of the Lord's activity is pervaded with an atmosphere of absolute ability, attractive courtesy and amazing fidelity. Dignity of resource, combined with determined resolve, is indicated by the fourteen‑fold use of “I will,” which is the great hallmark of covenant immutability.
Not by some special emotion or exceptional vision does the Lord display His affection, but by a deliberate, definite, determined and gracious action. His rare and delicate sensitiveness stands out more conspicuously when we consider the corruption of the one upon Whom He sets His love. What a matchless picture this is of tireless patience and tender pity! Behold, what is this to which our attention is summoned? I will afflict? Nay, I will allure. Oh the wonderful superhuman logic of infinite love! I will draw them away from the undesirable associates, take them aside from the critical crowd to the solitude and secrecy of the wilderness. In God's delicate design He is slow to expose the sin, but swift to emancipate, exonerate, endear and endow the sinner. This divine Suitor is superior to all other lovers in His attractive charm, resourceful care, and adorable grace. The alluring is followed by giving, “I will give.” He bestows the most beneficent gifts, breaks the power of cancelled sin, and bedecks the life with immortal virtue. What integrity in the face of such infidelity!
A thorough investigation was commanded in order to ascertain the real cause of the relapse and reckless course taken. Violence and corruption had ravished the land, while virtue and compassion were vanquished, and had wholly vanished. The result of the inquiry proved conclusively that there was not the slightest suggestion of inconstancy on God's side nor was there any legitimate reason why Israel should have lapsed into lewd whoredom.
The moral disparity in the physical relationships was in some measure attributable to the desecration and prostitution of higher privileges which amounted to spiritual adultery.
ISRAEL’S INDECENCY Ch. 4: 1-10
The first cause is declared three times to be lack of knowledge, vs. 1‑6. The divine light was shining so brightly, and the love was evidenced so clearly they should certainly have known their Preserver and Protector. The word rendered “rejected” in v. 6, is also translated “despised,” Lev. 26:43, Num. 11:22. Righteousness had departed from the administration, and in its stead, swearing, lying, killing, and stealing, were the order of the day, v. 2. When the affections are alienated from God every activity is likewise affected. Reproof was now resented, and prince, priest, and prophet were embroiled in the charges laid. See Hos. 3:4; 4:4, 5. The result was they were smitten with sorrow, stricken with silence, and subjected to stumbling, vs. 3‑5. All interference with the inflicting of the sentence was forbidden, v. 4.
The Lord is said to have a controversy with the nation, which implies a legal cause with a lawful charge attached. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that Jehovah had righteous claims which were being wholly ignored, and in order to prevent misunderstanding among the surrounding nations and all future posterity, God exposed the crime and expressed the sentence. In ch. 4 charges are laid, the conduct is described, and the condemnation passed upon the offenders.
Every rank is rebuked, every class censured and every association accused. The common practice was to forget the law, so God pledged to forget those whom they loved. The state of the soul is extremely sad. The array of accusation is alarming. They were unmindful of the lLaw, unfaithful in their love, unfruitful in their lust and unheedful toward their Lord, v. 6‑10.
The word for “sin” and “sin‑offering” in Hebrew is one and the same, and the implication of v. 8 is that the priests encouraged the people to sin for the sake of having sin-offerings brought to them to indulge their own selfishness. On their iniquity they set their soul. Sensual indulgence causes grave injury to spiritual insight.
In spite of the costliest benefits conferred, the people were unconscious of their responsibility to reciprocate, were unconcerned about obligations of obedience, and were unconstrained by gratitude to acknowledge their indebtedness to their Lord and Master. To make the case even more critical they dishonored divine decrees, and made defiant demands to gratify indulgence. The handiwork of God was ignored, the holiness of the Most High disregarded, and the honor of the lofty One impinged.
The excellent sublimities of Jehovah should cause everyone to magnify His goodness. The summits of His sanctuary are all fairness in beauty and purity, and His personal perfections transcend His noblest works. But Israel rejected knowledge, and in return was rejected, v. 6, because she had left off taking heed to Jehovah, v. 10. Where had she been as a nation, but for His majestic instancy and faithful constancy?
ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY Ch. 4:11- Ch. 5
The undeniable offence is not merely obvious to the omnipotent One, but so openly flagrant that the casual observer can not help but see it. The hills, mountains, oaks, poplars, and elms were witnesses to the whoredoms perpetrated. The wanton wickedness and disgusting demeanor are summed up under the woeful figures of wine and women wrecking the heart, vs. 11 & 14.
How unwise for an enlightened people to approach and consult idols of wood, to adopt divining rods, and to credit to such the ability to advise and counsel. As if to worsen matters, they invoked the holy name of the Most High while engaged in their worship, v. 15. Pietistic pretence is worse than public prostitution. The hideous hypocrisy they practiced was more heinous than their vice. Where is there a slave that can mollify such mockery? Idolatry innoculates the soul with the virus of immorality and intemperance, so that sensuality becomes linked with superstition and is followed in turn by every thing of crudity and cruelty. No state can be more undesirable, no social life more unclean, and no sentiment more unholy than these abysmal depths into which Israel had sunken. The majority of the ten tribes did not even wish to understand the enormity of their crimes and were therefore dispersed.
“Ephraim is joined unto idols, let him alone.” What! Ephraim entwined with evil, wedded to wickedness, linked with lewdness, covenanted to corruption, married to Molech! What an evil state! Ephraim heard, but did not heed the warning, and so hazarded his soul. The beginning was so harmless and inoffensive. They were simply worshipping God through representation that was merely intended to grip and hold their attention. From this unsuspecting initiation they were eventually led into idolatry.
The Prophets warned of this very peril, but without avail. How dangerous it becomes to dabble in such a practice just because some relative indulges in it! The mightiest messenger, Elijah, failed to frustrate the practice in Israel. When we reject reproof, hardness of heart results, and hardness is followed by haughtiness, and haughtiness by hypocrisy. But we should remember that the careless, heedless, reckless life that despises instruction is doomed.
Chapter 5 — The controversy continues and the charge is laid against all ranks. Priests, kings, and people were involved in idolatry. The sinister nature of such sin is that it first entices, then it enslaves, and eventually exposes the victim to the wrath of God.
The unholy union Israel contracted caused God to withdraw His company from them in utter disgust, v. 6. Notice the nature of the nation’s deportment. The charge has included in it deceit v. 1, revolt v. 2, insult v. 3, guilt v. 4, conceit v. 5, cant v. 6, incest v. 7, and tumult v. 8. Ancient Jewish tradition teaches that at Mizpah and Tabor, which were centers of idolatry, groups of men hid themselves beside the highways and suddenly rushed out to ensnare those who were proceeding to Jerusalem for worship. The word “slaughter” is nearly always used of slaying the sacrifices in the book of Leviticus, but here, all too often, pilgrims were the victims.
The vagrancy and villainy that idolatry breeds violates every vestige of spiritual virtue. In themselves, idols lack the qualities that entitle them to the respect and reverence or all such as are just and upright. Somehow there is a strong tendency in the human heart to want something to behold rather than something to believe. Gaudy glitter is considered preferable to the glorious grace of God. Tawdry tinsel is esteemed more highly than trust in truth. Sensuous séances are sought after more eagerly than spiritual secrets. These people vaunted their vulgarities to such an extent that God withdrew Himself. The word may be rendered, “He delivered or freed Himself from them.” The priests, clad in the saintly robes of the sanctuary, cloaked their corruption, participated in outrage, while the state policy connived and condoned idol worship. The spirit of idolatry motivates its votaries equally as does the immortal Spirit of God move and energize those who venerate God.
The rulers of the State were under the awful spell of evil, v. 4. Impartial justice, imperial righteousness, and immortal goodness of God were ignored. Because of a warped disposition, the nation deliberately dispensed with reality and substituted sorcery. The speed with which they are to be severed from their ill‑gotten gains by the execution of the sentence upon them is suggested in the word “month.” Within four weeks everything would be gone, v. 7. God was no longer their portion; compare Psa. 16:5; 71:26; 119:57; 142:5; Lam. 1:24.
After the destruction of Ephraim, the judgment was also to overtake Benjamin. The former had walked in the commandments, not of God, but of Jeroboam who initiated the idolatry into Israel, v. 11. God plainly declares what His attitude will be.
“I will be unto Ephraim as a moth.”
“I will be unto Ephraim as a lion.”
The change in the divine attitude must have been startling and acute enough to shock their susceptibilities had Israel not looked upon Assyria and Egypt as nations that were outside the boundaries of the administration of the Almighty, while they themselves constituted the inner circle of His intimate associates.
How staggering the thought that the Lord would work invisibly and invidiously as a moth, and as rottenness from within for their destruction, and as an obvious overbearing oppressor from without, for their devastation. The lion pounces upon its prey regardless of pity, so would Assyria devastate the land. “The Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.” Isa. 7:18.
The moth may come out of a folded mantle, the fly may emerge from a festering carcass, the bee may appear from the far-flung forest, yet these are within the orbit of omnipotence for Him to use when and how He will. Mysterious powers may be hidden away that God can harness to fulfil His plan. The Lord's controlling purpose and comprehensive providence are untrammeled by the limitations of human thinking. Are we in the habit of confining God's activity to the smallness of parochial perimeters and circumscribed circles? Momentous movements that fashion the forces exercised in national judgments and which in turn determine destinies often have a very insignificant origin. We may well ask. “What can a moth or a fly or a bee achieve?”
ISRAEL’S IMPENITENCY Ch. 6
Some at least realized the separation sin had wrought, but their resolution to return lacked sincerity. This fact is indicated in the immediate context:
“They consider not in their hearts."
“They have not cried unto Me with their heart."
Ripples of regret are soon ruled out; rumblings of remorse may roll across the soul without effecting a real deep repentance. Although at times baffled and burdened, the nation failed to bring the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart. The seven-fold use of the third personal pronoun, “He,” should be noted in vs. 1‑3. In their recognized distance from God they did not dare use the pronoun “Thou,” yet they still possessed a clear-cut recollection of the majesty of divine mercy. Had they not experienced His help and healing centuries before? Exo. 15:26. They well remembered the delicate sympathy of God's disposition, but lacked that decidedness and devotedness that would otherwise have secured to them the recovery, revival, and refreshment they so desperately needed.
Faith in the faithfulness of God's promises that expects believingly, relies trustfully and depends confidently was wholly absent. Could they possibly ignore the many mercies, the mighty deeds, the miraculous protection, the marching arrangements, the measureless provision, the memorable deliverances, the magnificent kindness, and the manifest beauty of the Lord?
Hosea 6:3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
The Responsive Complaint, v. 4 — The sorrows of an almighty Lover are expressed in vs. 4‑11.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?”
“O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?”
Love mourns when all possible resources for restoration are exhausted without the designed recovery being effected. God bemoaned that their goodness was as a morning cloud which looked so promising at dawn, but dwindled away as the day developed.
The seven‑fold use of the pronoun “I” in the divine response should be clearly marked.
The Reproving Chastisement, v. 5 — The words of the Prophet had flashed fire when denouncing the social sins of the nation. The accusations, however, were blended with appeals. “My judgment is as the light that goeth forth,” which signifies God's judgment as being clear and convicting and impossible of being challenged or obstructed. Today the perverted codes of national morality in public, politic, and civic life which cater for loose living, need the same vigorous protest of the prophet's voice.
The Regrettable Cause, v. 6 — “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” The unmerciful methods practiced, and the unmitigated murder of spiritual aspiration were intermingled with the many sacrifices of the Mosaic order. Such behavior was blasphemous and utterly incongruous. Why devote a sacrifice to God while their own hearts were devoid of sympathy toward their fellows whom they were slaughtering instead of saving? The priests themselves instead of accepting sacrifices for the salvation of the people were making them idolaters and teaching them to commit lewdness, whereas they should have taught them the knowledge of God.
The Repressed Covenant, v. 7 — “They like men have transgressed the covenant.” Solemn vows were violated, sacred contracts were cancelled without concern. Sacrificial pledges were prostituted, stipulated instructions were ignored, steadfast bonds were broken, statutory resolves were repudiated, while selfish indulgences and sinful impunities were greedily and flagrantly perpetrated. Some people are like snails, they leave a slime track wherever they go.
The Renegade City, v. 8 — Ramah of Gilead was one of the shelter cities of refuge but had become a harmful peril instead of a hallowed place of security. The city of refuge was changed to a center for robbers. The worst is always the prostitution of the best. The priests who should have been the exemplars of morals were encouraging murders by overthrowing the people's faith in the true God. Little wonder that Jeremiah said, “Is there no balm in Gilead: is there no physician there?” (Jer. 8:22)
The Revealed Crime, v. 10 — This ugly, unseen ulcer that was sapping away the very strength of social and spiritual life was uncovered. Irrespective of how clever the device no man can so conceal craftiness, as to deceive God. “There is nothing hid that shall not be revealed,” said our Lord. Congested corruption and clotted crime had been cloaked under religious garb, and the Lord tore away the covering and exposed the vicious viper concealed there. Compare also Jer. 5:13‑31.
The Renewed Caution, v. 11 — The harvest is stated as having already been appointed and is sure of being reaped if sin be persisted in. In view of the tendencies of Judah, the warning is renewed. Was the harvest to be similar to that of Isa. 17:11? The prophet had similarly warned Babylon, Jer. 51:23.
ISRAEL’S INIQUITY Ch. 7
In the opening three verses, God declares that Ephraim forfeited favor because of their wretched falsehood, and their depravity, danger and disgrace are exposed. The Lord would have changed their unhappy lot, cleansed away their stain, and cared for their interests but they were wholly insensible to His intentions, and ignored His desire and design. Their flatteries and follies secured to them acceptance with the king, who delighted in seeing his subjects submit to his wicked laws, yet, at the same time, they refused to acknowledge the rites and claims of God, and expressed their antipathy deliberately, positively, and willfully.
The national attitude is made clear by the use of eight negatives in the chapter: “They consider not,” v. 2; “none calleth unto Me,” v. 7; “he knoweth it not,” v. 9; “they do not return,” v. 10; “nor seek Him for all this,” v. 10; “without heart,” v. 11; “they have not cried unto Me,” v. 14; “they return, but not to the most High," v. 16. Their falsity and flattery were aggravated by their friendship with scorners, v. 5. The fires of lust were well supplied with fuel, v. 6, and the New Testament description, “They burned in their lust, one toward another,” is very applicable. Fraternity with strangers had depleted their strength so that they became flaccid as dough on one side, and hard as a cinder on the other, vs. 8, 9. Failing vigor and decay of devotion signified by gray hairs, together with the folly demonstrated in being as a silly dove, and seeking help from Egypt and Assyria, illustrated their unhappy plight, vs. 9‑11.
Faithlessness was most pronounced in their turning away from God and transgressing against Him, v. 13. The sixfold use of the pronoun “Me” at the close of the chapter should be noted — “Fled from Me,” “transgressed against Me,” “spoken lies against Me,” “they have not cried unto Me,” “they rebel against Me,” “they imagine mischief against Me,” “they return, but not unto the most High,” vs. 13‑16. In the light of such an attitude the stupendous nature of His love is overwhelming. The most startling accusation of the whole book is found in v. 4, “They are all adulterers.” The charge comprised a terrible accusation, severe in its scathing and scorching condemnation. The spiritual significance denotes unfaithfulness in relationship. The nation was implicated in fraternizing false systems and following idolatrous ways, which led to mendacity and robbery. During our Lord's ministry He charged the Pharisees with these two indictments, "All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers," John 10:8. “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” Matt. 12:39. The rulers had requested a sensational and spectacular sign as a proof of His claims; He immediately directed them for confirmation to evidence in their own history which they refused to investigate, ignoring His instruction and insinuating evasion. In the light of the charge against the nation, the chosen people of God, as being adulterous, what are we to say of church leaders in many quarters today who resort to all manner of associations because of the social prestige they think is gained by so doing?
We should take particular notice of the five figures that are used in the chapter to illustrate the nation's character and indicate its conduct. These comprise “the flaming fire,” v. 4; “the cake not turned,” v. 8; “the gray hairs undiscerned,” v. 9; “the silly dove,” v. 11; and “the deceitful bow,” v. 16.
Uncontrollable — “The flaming fire.” The course pursued was one of unrestrained, unbridled indulgence. This is one of the most awful figures of sin's passion and lust to be found in the Scripture. The Devil is depicted as the baker, the sinner's heart the oven, the leavening substance in the dough is the impelling desire of covetous ambition, revengeful envy, and jealous malignity that devises its diabolical plots. The L.X.X. version renders the passage, "They are committing adultery like an oven burning." The devilish devices furnish the fuel that works the destructive havoc among innumerable lives. Israel had become a snare to the surrounding nations instead of a symbol of salvation, a menace to moral standards instead of a medium to establish righteousness.
Undesirable — “The cake not turned.” The unattractive, uninviting, invidious position of the nation indicates that, as a people, they were useless to both God and man. This insipid state is descriptive of a disposition that disregards obligations to a faithful Friend, and at the same time is repulsive to the false and fickle friends. The nation was displeasing to God because of duplicity, and distasteful to man because of their disgusting behavior. They were as flaccid as dough in their vacillation, and as gritty as a cinder in violating the susceptibilities of others. On the one hand their outward appearance was like that of a whitewashed humbug, and like that of a hateful hypocrite on the other. Neither in motive nor method had they any attractive charm, and were a veritable contradiction.
Unreasonable — “Grey hairs and knoweth it not.” The unobservant, unbecoming condition of having manifest evidences of decline and decay without any intelligent discernment as to their true state, expresses a deplorable degeneracy. On account of their lack of love, mixed motives had caused their loyalty to languish. They had become too plausible to be effective, and their incompetence grew out of their indiscretion and indifference. They were unconsciously drifting because they had ignored self-judgment, and were wholly unaware that their usefulness as a witness had vanished.
Unstable — “As a silly dove.” In their unsatisfactory, undecided demeanor they were totally undeserving of the Lord's confidence and equally untrustworthy. Entering into unholy alliances and undesirable company had belittled the dignity conferred on them, and the honor that God Himself had bestowed. All this was the outcome of a divided heart. Their real security consisted in staying themselves upon God, which they failed to do, whereas their senseless action of seeking Assyrian help left them exposed and unprotected.
Unreliable — “A deceitful bow,” is a symbol of an unadaptable and unsuitable instrument, incapable of fulfilling the function to which they were called. The confidence reposed in them was misplaced. They betrayed their Benefactor in the critical hour when He relied on them as a weapon of war against evil, and were harmful as a hindering factor instead of being helpful. How alike this is to the action of a faulty ally who feigns allegiance, but acts treacherously. Instead of proving a defensive weapon in spiritual conflict, they were deceitful, and devoid of all reality, utility and ability.
Can we comprehend the grievous injury such behavior caused the perfect sensitiveness of infinite love? Why this listless apathy toward the royal and loyal affection of their true Friend? His society is forever extremely affable, His sympathy is enduringly affectionate, and His sincerity is eternally amiable.
The prophet Ezekiel discloses how this Prince of celestial renown takes as the object of His love an insignificant people who are likened to an abandoned infant. Foreknowing the taint and tendency of this immature child, and how that in maturer years she would treacherously repel every overture of tender care and true kindness, He nevertheless chose her with the intent of lifting her to queenly status. (Read Ezek. 16:6‑13.)
THE LORD'S INQUIRY
We may appropriately use here the words of Francis Thompson, when, on the occasion of his conversion he considered the desperate state of his own unworthiness.
“And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
“And human love needs human meriting.
How hast thou merited —
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!”
Ezekiel described Jerusalem's undignified birth, Eze. 16:1-5, her unmerited covenant, vs. 6‑14, and her unseemly behavior, vs. 15‑34.Yet withal the divine beneficence bestowed upon her the supreme treasure in the gift of life, v. 6, the sublime trousseau in the gift of love, vs. 7‑12, and the stately throne in the gift of liability, longevity and liberty. “Thou didst prosper as a kingdom,” v. 13.
For a people to forsake the fathomless felicities of divine faithfulness for the frivolous fancies of idolatry is an inscrutable moral mystery.
Remember that the city is a symbol of the maximum of society, therefore ultimately the Holy City, New Jerusalem, is destined to descend from God out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, Rev. 21:10. Isaiah also depicts the perfected society, the new name, and queenly dignity, all of which are divinely bestowed, Isa. 62:1‑9. Surely the appeal of this amazing aim should win and woo the soul to abide in steadfast constancy, in relation to a Bridegroom of such dignity, majesty and glory.
At this juncture we arrive at the turning point in the prophecy. The attention of Israel is at last arrested, and as a last resource the nation is constrained by a yet more wonderful demonstration of divine patience to consider her desperate state. The attention is first called to a further list of follies that were proving fatal to all that was desirable in chastity, comradeship and co-operation. Moral corruption had already crippled every phase of devotion while commercial prostitution had paralyzed all semblance of dominion. Because of disbelief, the nation had become more valueless and dangerous than a drifting derelict in a whirlpool. Sins of perversity have always been linked with sin's penalty by a strongly-forged chain which makes their punishment inevitable and irrevocable, yet there stands out from the somber gray background of national guilt, in glistening neon letters, the prophetic notice‑board announcing God's sovereign sympathy together with His readiness to receive all who turn from their wickedness and seek Him. What could be more winsome than the resolute patience of God pledging deliverance and pardon to all who return? What is more wonderful in reassurance than making repentance possible even to the worst offenders? What news is more welcome to the rebellious than hearing that retributive penalty is conditional and will only be administered in the case of those who obdurately resist mercy? Where shall we find a more wooing proclamation than that the redemptive power of God is able to snap the awful chain that binds the sinner to his judicial sentence of punishment? When we discover in the Word of God that the righteousness provided for our acceptance is from above and not from human sources, is it possible for anyone to disregard the Lord's loving invitation to return? These are but some of the many beauties in the beneficent mercy of God associated with the renewed entreaty made to encourage Israel to come back to the former attitude of fidelity.
ISRAEL’S INSOLENCE Ch. 8
Not only did Israel forget the faithfulness of God, but insolently flung away His gifts and repudiated His goodness. The nation sought tranquility by ignoring reality. The causes of their faithlessness and fickleness are clearly indicated, and include the transgressing of the covenant, her thrusting aside of all good, the toleration of idolatry, while trading in illegal things and utilizing the gold and silver in sacrilege, also in trafficking with Assyria and coquetting with hired helpers, temporizing with the sacred law and traducing the holy things of sacrifice. Most tragic of all was the turning away from the truth and the forgetfulness of their Maker.
Every aspect contributes fresh evidence against the sinning nation as being the offending party. The charges made declared in plainest terms the stark inconsistency of the national attitude. When, in earlier history, the nation was faced with the facts of the covenant, they wholeheartedly resolved to render allegiance, but were now flagrantly rebelling against it. The trouble did not involve some trifling detail, but the whole mediatorial contract was violated.
Israel disregarded the divine authority, dishonored God's name, defied the law, disgraced the privileges of sacred relationship, and determined to select kings without referring the matter to the Lord. Is there any experience more to be deplored than to be deserted by those who hold nearest relationship?
James II, who came to the throne of England in 1685, soon evinced his vassalage to foreign powers, and because of this descended to depths of shameful abasement. With a haughty self‑assertive spirit he persisted in religious celebrations that were under the ban of severe penal statutes. In his Declaration of Indulgence, in l688, which commenced as follows — “We have thought fit by virtue of our royal prerogative,” he falsely assumed the exercise of divine authority, while in his declaration to Scotland, he said, “We, by our sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, do hereby give and grant our royal toleration ... God has given me the dispensing power, and I will maintain it.” This claim is as preposterous as that which was formerly made by the Emperor of Japan, whom General McArthur compelled to disavow such prerogatives.
The English king could face the most abject plea for mercy unmoved. Even at an hour of disaffection throughout the whole realm, when deserted by his armies and despised by former supporters, he pursued his course unflinchingly. However, when it came to members of his household departing from him, hard as he was, he wept in bitter emotion and cried, “God help me, my children have forsaken me.”
In broad contrast, the Lord had been infinite in His kindness toward Israel, tender in His compassion, and constant in His wondrous care through long centuries. Can we then comprehend the measure of His agonizing grief when His own children dishonored and deserted Him? What incongruous ingratitude!
To forsake good and foster evil is the surest way of frustrating the grace of God. The Northern Kingdom rebelled against the House of David, resorted to conspiracy, removed reigning princes, re-established selfish policies, respected pernicious idolatry, and relapsed from obeying the law. The issue of all this led to Menahan appealing for foreign support, which he obtained at a ruinous cost to the country.
Uzziah, in the Southern Kingdom, built fortified cities to ensure safety from the threatening Assyrian invasion, but all was without avail for they had deserted their God. No other prophet penetrated so deeply into the heart of things and saw the ugly nastiness of appalling sin, nor understood more clearly the urgent necessity for astounding judgment, nor did any other so fully comprehend the unique nature of amazing love.
ISRAEL’S INTEMPERANCE Ch. 9
The word joy in v. 1 means “exultation” and implies “leaping for very joy.” This is the only occurrence of the word in the prophecy, although the cognate verb occurs in ch. 10:5. The noun form is traceable but ten times over the whole range of Scripture from Job 3:22 to Dan. 1:10. This exultant bridal joy had been hindered by a history that was blighted with unfaithfulness and intemperance. On this account, fellowship, felicity, and fruitful growth had ceased entirely.
The joyless experience of superficiality was marked by backsliding, bankruptcy, and bondage, vs. 1-3. The prospects of hopeful desire and healthful delight had become benighted, and were to be followed by sore bondage, vs. 2-6. The people were destined to be driven back to their former state where in bankruptcy they would again eat the bread of mourners, namely, “the unclean things pertaining to the house of the dead;” all permission of access to the presence of God was forbidden.
Thus the beauty and bounty of the bridal banquet was entirely reversed, and the mirthful delight that should have been their lasting portion was turned to a mournful dirge. The Northern Kingdom had imbibed the idolatry of Egypt, and adopted the calf worship; therefore they were consigned to be taken again to taste Egyptian bondage, vs. 3,6,17.
The senseless escapade of selfishness led to bitterness, barrenness, and baseness, vs. 7‑10. This course may all be traced to a disregard for the Word of God, v. 17. However, there can be no ignoring of the avalanche of approaching judgment, “The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come, Israel shall know it,” v. 7.
Seven references to the word “prophet” occur in the entire message, and in v. 7 the office is connected with the “spiritual man” or “man of the spirit,” which, in this case is the title which the false prophets had taken to themselves.
Ephraim had once been a watchman with God, an expression indicating the function to which they were formerly called, but probably the use made here is blended with a dash of satire. How awful is this figure, to be accounted “hatred” itself in the house of worship. Dr. Pusey points out that there is a similar use made of the word “prayer” as being personified in Psa. 109:4, “But I prayer.”
The use made of the word in Genesis in relation to Jacob and Joseph speaks of flesh hatred against the spirit, Gen. 27:41; 40:23; 50:15. Having consecrated themselves to the shameful thing which is called the whoredom of idolatry, they had become Nazarites of corruption. In the Old Testament, the cognate noun of “separate” is used 25 times: 14 of these refer to the Nazarites; so they became separated to shame, and were fashioned in similar likeness to the thing they loved. The fruitless energy of selfishness resulted in bereavement, banishment and blasting.
The mention of Ephraim's fruitlessness is increased forcefully when we remember that his name means “double fruitfulness.” The wickedness that wrought this havoc extended to Gilgal, which had formerly been the center of solemn blessing. The place was now a sphere of idolatrous rites.
Every one of us exercises some influence for good or evil on our posterity. Ephraim's behavior was to be detrimental to future generations. When we consider Abraham's act of unbelief that resulted in the birth of Ishmael, from whom came the Arabs, and from whence arose Mohammed, we comprehend how many millions have been affected. On the other hand, by Abraham's act of faith in believing God's promise of an heir, Isaac was born; through Isaac the Jewish race, and by this line Christ was manifested, and influenced the world for its very best.
The joyless, senseless course brought in its train drudgery, adversity and insecurity. Some years ago the only daughter of a renowned evangelist of this Commonwealth was married to a Christian builder and contractor. He provided her with a magnificent home and every facility that heart could desire. After the birth of their first-born, the wife said that she was no longer strong enough to attend to the cooking, washing, cleaning and other household matters, and asked for more servants to attend to these things. She also maintained that she lacked the necessary strength to have any more children. Four years later she became fascinated with another man and deserted the husband who had provided her with every comfort and luxury. The paramour was a worker in much poorer circumstances and the unfaithful woman soon found herself in the university of hard knocks. Within the five years that followed she had three additional children, a full quota of housework without help, a meaner dwelling, and yet submitted to the drudgery. Israel, as a nation was in similar plight.
ISRAEL’S IRREVERENCE Ch. 10
The iniquities and idolatries of the people weighed heavily on the prophet’s heart. He realized how needful it was for the disease to be thoroughly diagnosed ere it could be effectively dealt with. The inspired eloquence with which Hosea emphasized the essential need for God's judgment to be meted out is arresting. Obelisks and pillars had been erected to false gods all over the land, but one decisive blow and all were to be broken amid a holocaust of confusion and devastation.
The Valueless Character — Israel had become very conspicuous and is represented as a luxurious vine, but the greater the crop the graver her corruption, and the better the harvest the bigger the idolatrous pillars erected. Sad indeed that toward God this vine was valueless.
The Virtueless Covenant — The covenant pledges that had been made, accompanied by solemn vows were considered null and void, because the heart of the people lacked virtue.
The Vulgar Ceremonies — The calves of Bethaven, a name meaning “house of vanity,” led to degrading worship, associated with disgusting rites that were corrupt and vulgar, v. 5.
The Vague Counsels — The counsel given lacked kingly authority, and therefore the administration became incompetent and vague, vs. 6‑7.
The Vanished Citadel — The cries for cover to shield them from the rumblings of retributive justice were wholly unavailing, v. 8. The obvious reason is given. The conditions of corruption had continued to characterize the nation through the centuries since the days of Gibeah. On that memorable occasion a few hundred had escaped the judgment; this time they were to be totally vanquished.
The Verdict Conveyed — The considerateness of God toward Ephraim is now to be reversed and replaced by a tyrant who will make the nation his victim, vs. 10‑11. The conduct of Israel is next graphically described under the figures of sowing and reaping. The picture shows that the very thing produced becomes the penalty, and this is to be accompanied by the announcement of the ultimate verdict, vs. 12‑13.
The Vengeance Cited — The cruelty of Assyria is to be experienced in the place of the compassion of the Almighty, and the invasion of the land by Shalmanezer will be the occasion of vengeance.
God is love, and God is one. The unity and immutability of His character are stated at the commencement of Israel's national history, Deut. 6:4. Their life in reality is directed by law, in simplicity, “Thou shalt love,” “Thou shalt love.” True love observes and obeys. Life is made virtuous by a single aim and becomes vocal by reason of a supreme affection. Vigorous activity is the sure result, because the mind, motives, and the movements are constrained by love. A glad submission makes a joyous disposition, and leads to a fragrant expression of God's virtue in witness.
The cause of inconstancy and corruption may be traced to a double mind, a divided heart, and a deceitful soul, vs. 2, 4. Such features are symptomatic of a malignant moral disease.
The violation of Divine love constitutes the heinousness of sin in every age. The only way to compensate God for His goodness is by rendering to Him the obedience of love. The grave warning given to this nation at the beginning is clear and explicit, “Beware lest thou forget the Lord,” Deut. 6:12. In this prophecy Israel is charged with the guilt of this very sin, Hos. 8:14.
ISRAEL’S INDIFFERENCE Ch. 11
The whole argument of the book may well be epitomized in the early verses of this chapter. The poor, unlovely child had nothing to attract. Israel was born in slavery, forlorn and oppressed, and was compelled to labor in the brick kilns of Egypt. Yet, withal, God’s gracious compassion cared for and called them out, conferred an inheritance upon them, conducted a campaign of conquest in their interest, consolidated their kingdom, commissioned prophets and kings to steer the ship of state, and centered their national life in a magnificent temple. The calendar given for their guidance and good contained seven nationwide holidays a year, one of which lasted 14 days. These were combined with ceremonial feasts and sabbaths which were designed to furnish society with every spiritual privilege and benefit.
Yet in the face of all this, God's wounded love was compelled to witness against them in the sad statement, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.” By virtue of the centuries of guardianship during which time prolific bounty, patient care, and providing love had been lavished without stint, the Lord in reviewing it all, exclaimed, “O Ephraim, how shall I give thee up?” The clear, bright, steady flame of eternal love bursts through the dark background of Israel's ingratitude and inconstancy and is all the brighter because of the dismal surroundings. Notice the seven‑fold sovereignty and sympathy which is expressed in vs. 1‑4.
God's Electing Grace — “When Israel was a child I loved him.” The occasion refers to a condition of immaturity and incompetence at a time when the nation was untutored and undeveloped. The picture figures the people as being without strength, without sustenance, and without security, needing constant attention, considerate affection, and custody through adoption into the family of God. In their child-condition they required to be cherished, nourished and caressed.
God's Emancipating Grace — “And called my son out of Egypt.” This implies that God broke the yoke of bondage, opened a way out from the jaws of oppression, directed the departure for Canaan, by freeing them from all fear of the foe. Yea, more, they were called to share the divine company, and the Lord became as a faithful Father to a newly‑formed family of sons and daughters. By virtue of His infinite resource He was able to endow, enrich and ennoble them as a community.
God's Edifying Grace — “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.” The Lord not only trained and tended the nation, but nurtured them even as a nurse, and matured them even as a mother. He made a way where there was no way, and took them step by step until they were strong and sturdy, and in times of emergency threw His protecting arms around them to shield from attack. (Deut. 2:11-12)
God's Endearing Grace — “But they knew not that I healed them.” God ministered to the moral maladies of the soul, the mental immaturities of the spirit, as well as the many forms of physical frailty. In His patience He perfected that which concerned them, although they were unmindful of His mercy and ungrateful for His unfailing faithfulness.
God's Entrancing Grace — “I drew them with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love.” Gently, lovingly, appealingly, He drew them with the charming attractiveness of silken cords and bridal love. Also the bands of marriage, which were intended to culminate in an unending union in bliss, were published.
God's Ensuing Grace — “I was to them as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws.” This may mean that as a merciful master He placed His yoke upon them, a yoke which is easy, in the place of the galling yoke of slavery. Strange to say they regarded the respite He gave them as being an irksome restraint. The freedom obtained from the fetters of Egypt seemed to beget in them a longing for license to do as they pleased instead of seeking to please Him.
God's Enriching Grace — “I laid meat before them.” The manifold manna in its plenitude, and the systematic supply provided by a faithful Father's hand were not appreciated. Wells of water in a wilderness! Abundance of bread in surroundings of barrenness! Seeing that He furnished their food in such fruitless territory, could He not feed them on the fittest of wheat in a fertile land?
How personal the divine pleading becomes at this point:
“How shall I give thee up?”
“How shall I deliver thee?”
“How shall I make thee?”
“How shall I set thee?” v. 8.
God is strangely moved to the deepest degree of His infinite heart of compassion, and does not wait for a reply, but promptly answers His own questions in four negatives.
“I will not,” “I will not,” “I’m God, and not man,” “I will not,” v. 9.
The chapter ends in a four-fold use of the word “with,” which should be particularly noted. The passage impresses us most deeply that in the direst age and darkest day, God will not, and does not, leave Himself without direct witness and devout worship. He ever draws but does not drive, yea, and He is still drawing to Himself. He drew Moses, Exo., 2:10; He drew David, Psa. 18:16; He drew His bride, Song of Sol., 1:4; He drew Israel, Jer. 31:3. He still adopts the same method in drawing men, John 6:46; 12:32.
What wonderful cords and hands are these. — The cord of sympathy in sorrow as in v. 4, or as demonstrated in the case of Naomi and Ruth.
The cord of gratitude for goodness, which is expressed by the willing slave, "I love my master.” Exo. 21:5.
The cord of bridal belovedness, as in the case of Isaac and Rebekah, Gen. 24:58, or Christ and His church, Eph. 5:25.
The cord of faithful friendship, like that which knit the soul of David and Jonathan, I Sam. 1:1, cf. Prov. 17:17.
The cord of the Babe of Bethlehem, “Unto us a child is born,” Isa. 9:6; Matt. 2:6.
The cord of a merciful ministry, Mark 9:23; John 13:45.
The cord of a confirmed covenant, “This is the blood of the new covenant,” Luke 22:20; Heb. 13:20.
The cord of a crucial cross, Matt. 27:42; II Cor. 5:22.
The cord of an all‑glorious ascension, Mark 16:19; Acts 1:11.
The cord of an interminable intercession, Acts 7:56; Heb. 1:11.
In the light of all this, can we not enter in to the confident joy of the apostle Paul when he exclaims, “I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor authorities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall he able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Such love is a revelation whether it be in redemption, reconciliation, regeneration, or re-creation. More and more we become convinced that the subject of this prophecy is the infinite, incomprehensible and ineffable love of God.
“Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so!
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all Divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His and He is mine.”
THE LORD'S INTREATY
Where, in all literature, is there any instance of an integrity so steadfast toward the inconsistent? Think once again of the insistent pleading and impassioned intreaty that are co-mingled here with the overtures of an infinite love. Although their vision was so blurred that the beauty of the Lord's kingliness was unobserved, and the bounty of His kindliness unrecognized, He continued to befriend them.
He was generous to the remotest bound, and gracious to the uttermost degree possible. How matchless was His mercy, how priceless His patience, and how boundless His blessing! As the Shepherd of Israel He was charmingly constant in faithfulness and sympathetically sensitive in His considerateness of national need.
In spite of the unlovable willfulness and undesirable waywardness of the people, the Lord remained the same in His attitude, invariable in His care, and unchangeable in His compassion.
The entreaties of grace do more than merely invite — they instruct, illumine and intreat. Did the Lord not lay His finger on the delicate spot when He said earlier in the message, “My people perish through lack of knowledge.”? (ch. 4:6) Again, “She did not know that I gave her corn.” (ch. 2:8) “Grey hairs are here and there upon him, and he knoweth it not.” (ch. 7:9) “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not.” (ch. 7:9) “They knew not that I healed them.” (ch. 11:3)
Of the fourteen occurrences of the word “know” in the prophecy, we should take particular notice of the three usages in this closing section. The first is, “Thou shalt know no God but me, for there is no Saviour beside me;” (ch. 13:5) “Who is wise and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right.” (ch. 14:9)
ISRAEL’S RESISTANCE Ch. 12
We might place as a superscription upon this portion — “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us.” Renewal of the invitation at this stage marks the grandeur of God's goodness and the generosity of His grace to a greater degree than any other occasion in the history of Israel. The vacillation she had shown by her variable temper, and the vaunting self-sufficiency of her pride, were quite enough to merit her being abandoned.
The national heart was so wayward, so wanton, and so willful that God likened the people to those that were steeped in whorish vices, abusing rights, prostituting resources, and ignoring responsibilities. Yet withal, the Lord's goodness deigns, and His grace designs, to make each renegade soul a pleasant and prolific garden. Let us note carefully how the Lord achieved this end if, perchance, we might discover the nature of His unwearying patience when dealing with the crookedness of Jacob. (ch. 2:2,12)
The great legal indictment, with its series of serious charges, begins with the closing verses of ch. 11.
The Lord's Controversy
1st Charge:Untruthfulness — “Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the House of Israel with deceit.” Dishonesty and deceit lead to false worship, express themselves in unreal repentance and show evidence in a divided heart. God said He desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings, but they, like Adam, transgressed His covenant which led to their treacherous dealings. (ch. 6:6‑7) What a contemptible attitude to show toward a God Who cannot lie! (Tit. 1:2) How essential is a full knowledge of the truth to enable us to live our earthly life, yet they rejected this very requisite. (ch. 4:6) We can only rightly avail of the earthly as we are adjusted to the Heavenly. Trials in this life are clearly understood when we possess a comprehensive knowledge of the end and purpose. When the beauty of truth operates in practical life, and God-consciousness governs the mind, we are in possession of the greatest security against sin, and discover the grandest stimulus to holiness.
2nd Charge:Unfaithfulness — Israel lapsed when she lost the consciousness of the immediateness of her Defender and Deliverer. Inconstancy is usually enacted at a distance from right relationship, and in darkness which is the occasion of evil. When a soul is environed with a real sense of God, there is a reverence for His rights and regard for His righteousness which makes it easy to do right and hard to do wrong.
3rd Charge:Unsteadfastness — A marginal rendering of the last portion of v. 12 reads as follows: “Judah is yet unsteadfast with God and with the Holy One who is faithful.” The verb employed here is used of cattle when they have broken loose, or as yet have not been fastened or tethered. They are still in a condition and position to ramble about. This is a very apt picture of roaming, roving Christians. Far too many are living lives that are unbridled, unruly, uncurbed, yea, unsubmitted to the yoke, like animals that have not been broken in. How many are living God-ignoring lives, ranging wherever they like, to gratify self-will. During the reigns of Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, and Josiah, the people of Israel seemed willing to submit to “the yoke that is easy” and to the One Whose “burden is light,” but how soon they broke loose again. The unsteadfastness is aptly described in the following chapter where they are spoken of as a cloud, as dew, as chaff, and as smoke. (ch. 13:3) These figures suggest all that is unstable, unreliable, undesirable and unsociable. We need these Heavenly estimates of our purposeless living to curb and counteract instability. Veneer cannot hide vanity, nor can cosmetics cover up contrariety. Surface repentance is usually a device, or a decoy to deceive.
4th Charge:Ungodliness — “Ephraim feedeth on wind.” This figure suggests a self‑deluded, self‑deceived condition of life. Oh, “the deceitfulness of sin,” which results in the soul striving after glamour, tinsel, vagaries, and vanities that are nothing but an empty show. The cast wind that is mentioned is scorching and withering, and creates a craving thirst, but never refreshes, never satiates, and never suffices. When God is displaced no substitute can secure contentment.
5th Charge:Unbelief — Covenant‑making with Assyria and Egypt, instead of confiding in God, is a very costly business, and gallons of rich oil, one of the real requisites and foods of the people, were carried to Egypt as the price of ratification for unholy alliances. They were trusting in the arm of flesh instead of resting on the everlasting arms. Unbelief and compromise lie at the root of so much Christian failure, and that is why the exhortation of James is given in such clear and explicit language. Jas. 4:4. We reap what we sow, and Jacob is promised recompense for his renegade activities.
The Lord's Compassion, vs. 3‑6 — The prominence given to Jacob in this passage and the play made upon the meaning of his name, are strikingly suggestive, yet what mercy was shown him, this man of supplanting disposition who prevailed by tearful pleading. Penitence and faith lay behind his prayer as an encouragement to all Jacobs who are moved to tears when their trickery or treachery has been discovered. Tears frequently turn the tables in the favor of those who shed them. The tears of the child in the bulrushes touched a tender spot in the heart of Pharaoh's daughter; the tears of Ishmael, the outcast, when as a boy perishing in the wilderness, his very weeping led to a springing well being disclosed to him; when David was reflecting upon such occasions of grief in his own experience, he addressed the Almighty, petitioning Him in the words, “Put my tears into Thy bottle,” Psa. 56:8; but the crisis in Jacob's history was not merely attended with mercy, but marked the time when a lasting memorial was erected, for it was on that occasion he saw God's host encamped about his own company for protection against Esau's approaching host; the same angelic host which undoubtedly had delivered him from Laban's band of retainers that had been turned back to its base. Jacob's experience at that time led to the coining of the new name, “The Lord of Hosts,” a memorial throughout all generations and one which marked the moment of the great change that came to Jacob's character and made him Israel, “God is Prince.” Note particularly that his power with God, and prevailing over the angel, were not wrought by wrestling, but by weeping. The eventual message of these events is stated in v. 6, “Therefore turn thou to thy God.” He is still thine and through this representative man He spake with us, v. 4. What a relationship! What a responsibility, what a resource, and all that is required is true repentance. Turn thou, although a very Jacob in nature and practice there is nothing to hinder us having the same wonderful experience, even to the extent of being transformed into an Israel.
The Lord's Constancy, vs. 7-11 — As the picture unfolds, conditions become sad in the extreme. In the face of infinite generosity, Ephraim turns to defraud and deceive, and devote heart‑interests to the gaining of wealth. In other words, he makes pleasure, treasure, and leisure life's objective. The word rendered “substance” in v. 8, is the same as “strength” in v. 3. Combined with this spirit of presumption and prostitution, mark the use he makes of the pronoun “I” in v. 8. To counteract Ephraim's perverseness, God uses the same pronoun emphatically three times over in vs. 9‑10, but how gracious the emphasis, recalling the bondage of Egypt, recounting the redemption wrought for their deliverance, and reminding of the innumerable benefits and blessings brought to the nation by the prophetic ministry. Did not that very ministry present God in the reality of His loving-kindness, ready to receive and forgive, ready again to reestablish the Feast of Tabernacles with its matchless joy accompanying the bounty of harvest? They had lost the enjoyment of these festivities because of their unfaithfulness, ch. 1:1-2. (See also ch. 2:9‑11) Nevertheless His love is willing to do this work all over again. His constancy is the more effectively demonstrated by virtue of His maintaining communication with them in their unfaithfulness. Through the medium of the prophets He had kept up correspondence although they had long since ceased to reply. Had it not been His habit all through the years to send His messengers to make advances and to seek for any trace of a desire that might be awakened in their heart to return to their true Lover?
The Lord's Care, vs. 12,14 — The defending of Judah in his dilemma, the direction of Israel in his difficulty, the deliverance from the dinners of Egypt, were all providential dealings which witnessed to His watchful care. These activities were not undertaken by an array of armies controlled by great generals, but were effected by the prophets, a method that God has continued to adopt through the centuries. In the bitter days of Charles I He called Oliver Cromwell from a little farm in Huntington. He summoned John Knox for the deliverance of Scotland, and Whitfield and Wesley to save England from revolution. He is still mindful of His unfaithful bride. For till this day the church of God demonstrates her infidelity in her resorting to scientific deductions and modernistic tendencies while ignoring His ineffable love.
ISRAEL’S EXPERIENCE Ch. 13
What sullen reticence on the part of Israel is displayed in the light of these communications, but what insistence and persistence from God's side, as He urges the re-consideration and acceptance of His invitation.
Frowardness of Pride, vs. 1‑2 —The opening verse implies there was a time when Ephraim walked with God, and his authority caused people to tremble. His power had been paramount, but pride and presumption paralyzed his ability to rule, and his dignity was degraded to such a depth that all spiritual aspiration perished. “He died,” reminding of our Lord's statement, “This my son was dead.” (Luke 15:24) The description given recalls that the great warrior-leader Joshua was born of this tribe and subdued the heathen nations of the Promised Land. When the tribe in its haughtiness of pride resorted to incipient idolatry, homage was given to calves, which were relics of Egyptian worship, with the inevitable outcome that Ephraim was humiliated.
The next downward step came when Baal worship was added by Ahab, and following this, their perverted affections venerated the calves by kissing them. How very strange that wherever idolatry prevails, kissing of the figures, or fingers, or feet of the creatures worshipped persist to this very day. Church history tells us that the Roman Princess Honoria sent the barbaric Hun, Attila, who was the greatest foe of her family and country, her ring and proffered him her love.
The Fickleness of Petulance, vs. 3‑6 — The Shepherd of Israel knew His sheep, “I knew thee in the wilderness,” v. 5. This truth was emphasized by Christ, the good Shepherd, who said, “I know my sheep and am known of mine.” (John 10:14)
How grandly the Lord had made for them a way in the wilderness where there was no way! Patiently, He endured their provocations; prolifically, He showered His provision upon them in the manna, and with protective care He shielded them. The gods of Egypt had never succored them, nor had those of Syria saved them. They could give no example of the heathen deities having sustained them, then why intrude such gods. Very truthfully the Lord was able to say, “There is no Saviour beside me” v. 4. He had been a friend in trial, a guide in trouble, and the Saviour that triumphed over the enemy, therefore what folly it was to forsake Him. How transient had been their apparent prosperity! They were devoid of sincerity, divested of safety, and denuded of security. The figures used of their character and conduct are suggestive of vacillation and independability.
The Fierceness of Punishment, vs. 7‑14 — The seven‑fold use of "I will" in this section, indicates the Divine determination to dispense justice to a degree that their defiance and decadence warranted. The four beasts that are figurative of the true nature of Gentile dominion are suggestive of characteristics of administration in the kingdoms represented. The lion suggested supreme power without pity; the leopard expressed snarling ferocity without feeling; the bear symbolized superior might without mercy; and the wild beast portrays severe cruelty without conscience. These combined, forecast the ambitious forces that were being prepared as a scourge of correction to cleanse the people of their corruption. The prophecy of Joel describes these powers as comprising a great army, and likens them to the palmerworm, locust, cankerworm, and caterpillar. The book of Daniel reveals these same powers with a more detailed description, in order to set out in broad contrast the great difference between the beastly powers of human administration, and the beneficent rule of the Divine authority. The grim picture of threatening distress and disaster grows denser and darker as we proceed, yet withal, there is a rift in the dark cloud, and a gleam of light and hope flashes from the distant horizon, “I will ransom thee from the hand of the grave, I will redeem them from death,” v. 4. But in the meantime sounds forth the pathetic wail, “O death where be thy plagues, O grave where be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from thine eyes,” v. 14. So, in the midst of these rapids of retribution there is a rock of hope. A mount of mercy towers above the landscape, its gleaming summit rising from the midst of an avalanche of misery. The nation had withdrawn all allegiance from serving the Lord, so the Lord had withdrawn all assurance of safeguarding Israel, Hos. 5:6. The sowing and reaping is the inevitable working of God’s righteous and irrevocable law. This caused the Lord to say, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself but in me is thine help.” Where is thy king? v. 9. The last of the kings of the ten tribes was already a prisoner to the Assyrians, II Kings 17:3- 4. The first twenty-three verses of the chapter should be read with care in the light of Hosea ch. 13. Had the Prophet not warned the nation that the time would come when they would no longer obtain mercy from God, and would not be owned as His people? (ch. 1:6-9)
The Fatalness of Peversity, vs. 15,16 — The word “shall” is used nine times in these two verses to describe the utter desolation that would destroy Samaria. There is no longer any reprieve. The hour of doom has struck. Nevertheless, the words of Moses ring out over the centuries, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God thou shalt find Him.” When we allow Him to have the mastery He deals with the deepest malady of the soul, and proves Himself a comforter for heart troubles, and a physician for spiritual agonies. “Where is there any other that may save thee?” (v. 10)
ISRAEL’S REPENTANCE Ch. 14: 1- 4
The essence of a true return to God, and the essentials of real repentance, are set forth in this prayer which Israel is exhorted to offer. The word “return” is used in the first two verses for the 22nd and 23rd times in the book.
The Lord accepted the acknowledgment of their iniquity because He discerned the genuine grief, sincere sorrow and real repentance that were combined with a heart‑hunger to be reinstated in the divine favor. How discriminative His discernment and how comprehending is His compassion! We should remember that He is the Father of mercies, the Fountain of loving‑kindness, as well as the Forgiver of all iniquity. No imprecatory charge of violating love is rehearsed in their hearing, no indictment of having infringed the laws of devotion is placarded before their eyes, nor do their past deflections from duty meet with a single expression of severe denunciation.
The impressive word‑picture Christ presented of the Father receiving the prodigal has its national setting in this chapter. God does not unveil to the returning penitent any sense of a wounded spirit or offended love, but displays a readiness to receive and willingness to welcome him home. The Nation had pledged to offer to God what David did in his day of repentance, namely, the sacrifice of praise, which is the rendering in the Septuagint Version of the expression, “calves of our lips.” (See also Heb. 13:15.)
ISRAEL’S ACCEPTANCE Ch. 14:4-9
This amazing climax, when considered in the light of the early conduct of the case, reveals the complete conquest of love. The final movements are dramatic, the apt metaphors used are most specific, while the ultimate issues are in every sense romantic. The nation has become convinced of the folly of its faithless behavior which finally leads to abandoning the heartless course of base ingratitude.
The Fatherless — “With thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” The nation had long‑since forsaken the God of Israel for idolatry, and now at this stage they jettison the idols of heathenism and are therefore pictured as being in a fatherless state. God had commanded the nation to show sympathy to the fatherless, Deut. 24:17‑22, and they knew that He would not do less for them than He commanded that they should do for others. In their confession they repeat the expression, “We will, we will, we will,” vs. 2 & 3, and receive the ready response from God, “I will, I will, I will,” vs. 4 & 5, which was all so reminiscent in character of the promises made to the Fathers.
The Forgiveness — “I will heal their backsliding,” v. 4. This is one of the singularly wonderful features of the divine dealing with Israel, and one of the most momentous displays of the divine disposition in activity. National forgiveness is assured in the high hour of failure when the absolute futility of unfaithfulness has been impressed upon the heart. Their attitude of approach and acknowledgment of wrong indicates a confidence in the fidelity of God to Whom they were now repairing. Besides all this, they received a clearer conception of the falsity of the system they were about to relinquish. Where is the arbiter who is in a position to determine the degree of guilt which caused such injury to be inflicted on the infinitely tender heart of their age-long Benefactor Whose love they had outraged, Whose name they had dishonored, Whose law they had disregarded, Whose worship they had discarded, and Whose goodness they had despised?
Yet, right here, immediately following their confession, we behold in material and physical expressions, the evidence of their spiritual experience in forgiveness. The dew distils for their refreshment and fertility, while the development of roots, as Lebanon, assured sustentation. The delicate features of beauty figured in the fresh verdure and vigorous growth, their delightful dwelling place beneath shady bowers, the diffusing of redolent perfume in the clear crisp air, the display of abundance of fruit, and together with all these evidences of renewed life, combined with the desertion of idol-worship and the discernment that caused them to recognize the heart of God that had purposed their restoration, and the hand of God that had wrought the recovery.
The Fullness — “I will love them freely.” This is without limitation. Heavenly affection is immune from human limitation and, measured in the immeasurable favor shown is one of the hallmarks of the divine God's unchanging faithfulness. They were immediately made conscious of the Lord's gracious nearness and Fatherly tenderness, a wealth of perfect love cast out all fear, the charm and calm of contentment immediately became their heritage because of the divine complacency finding perfect rest in love's sure character.
What does it mean to be assured of the love of the altogether lovely One? Does it not speak of stability, for He is steadfast; does it not impart fidelity, for He is faithful; does it not convey constancy, for He is changeless; does it not assure strength, for He is the strong Son of God? The whole range of grace emanates from Him, for this is He Who is the loftiest and lowliest; the highest and humblest, the greatest and gentlest, the truest and tenderest, the mightiest and meekest, the noblest and nearest, yea, the kingliest and kindliest. It is well for us to remember that “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him.”
The Freshness — “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” The high ranges of northern Palestine, including Mount Hermon with its perpetual snow, the humidity in the low lying Jordan Valley with its bountiful evaporation at the Dead Sea, and the proximity of the Mediterranean, are physical features that assure the distillation of dew to the otherwise dry Land of Promise. In poetic and picturesque array Hosea assembles a wealth of aptly chosen features from the scenic environs of the land to express his prophetic forecast for the encouragement of the repentant nation. The figures are drawn from the fields, the flowers, the fruits, the foliage, and the forests, all of which are familiar to the country folk. These are used also as a medium for expressing the spiritual substance of virtue and fidelity characteristic of the new life, which results from repentance and renewal. When the earthly fountain of human resource fails, the freshness of the dew-drenched life prevails. We do well to consider the manner of its congealing, for dew distils silently, gently, suddenly, and invisibly from the surrounding atmosphere above. The wise man of Israel, whose counsel was said to be as the oracle of God, gave expression to the words, “We will light upon him as the dew falleth upon the ground.” (II Sam. 17:12) What a figure of considerateness when God descended in manifestation in Christ. It is written of Him, “A bruised reed shall He not break,” (Isa. 42:3) How delicately and softly the dew descends without doing the slightest damage to the tenderest petal of a sensitive plant! What sparkling beauty bedecks the dew-bespangled shrubs, what a still calmness prevails and presides o'er the landscape as it settles, what jewel-like flashes of scintillating light reflect from the flowers as the early rays of light cause the dew-drops to sparkle!
The Fairness — “He shall grow as the lily.” The purity, symmetry, and modesty of the lilies have become proverbial universally, and when in the morning light its bedewed loveliness is reflected, we have a glimpse of perfect beauty. Such characteristics in the restored life are sustained by communion with God. Dew is the purest of water and leaves no spot nor stain behind it, no, not even on the translucent petal of the most delicate flower. This fact reminds us of what our Saviour has purposed doing for His redeemed people when He “presents them faultless before the presence of His glory,” without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Purity assures strength, secures sweetness and procures steadfastness, so that the glamorous snare and glistening subtleties of sensuous delights lose their power of attractiveness, and appeal to the pure soul in vain. What have we to do any more with idols? The vantage ground of virtue gained enhances vision, for the pure in heart shall see God. The fairness which is suggested here is combined with fragrance, v. 6. The cleansed character becomes so chaste and comely and it is forever suited to the company and communion of the Holy One of Israel. Refinement of this nature rectifies the entire life, soothes the soul, stimulates service, renews the mind, and revives the heart. All discordant notes are changed to harmonious praise, deflections from the path of righteousness are changed to integrity of purpose, while defiling moods are replaced by pure motives.
The Faithfulness — “He cast forth his roots as Lebanon, His branches shall spread.” The fairness of purity by itself is inadequate. Instability and infidelity had long held a prominent place among the ugly traits of national iniquity to which Israel at this stage confessed, v. 2. The time had arrived when constancy and loyalty were to replace all forms of duplicity.
The association of roots and branches with Lebanon is suggestive of the cedar forests that once spread over those majestic ranges. On one occasion, when a devout soul was meditating on the worthiness of God, and considered the inadequacy of any sacrifice that he could offer, he exclaimed, “Lebanon is not sufficient to burn.” (Isa. 40:10) The strong roots of those sturdy monarchs of the mountains supply a most fitting figure of steadfast reliability. We may recount that the Hebrew word for “cedar” is linked with strength, and is their emblem of endurance. The massive root enables the mighty tree to stand steadfast in the storm, strong alike to resist the chilly blast in winter, and the scorching heat in summer, so here we find beauty and purity merged with dignity and stability, the very characteristics of God's own character. Therefore, let us “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
The Fearlessness — “They that dwell under His shadow shall return,” v. 7. From a state of timidity and from by‑ways of obscurity the people return to the Lord and enter unafraid into His very presence to dwell there as in a permanent abode. The polluted things that paralyze are purged away; the habits and haunts that defile are discarded, while the forces and follies that prevented progress are frustrated forever.
The glorious Lord can transfigure the meanest soul, transform the basest heart, and garnish the regenerated life with spiritual virtues fitted to share His own society. On one occasion at the Canadian Keswick Conference, soon after the tragic slump of l929‑32, Mr. Boggs, of Philadelphia, who was at that time Chaplain of the Gideons, told me he was passing through the most painful crisis of his life. His carpet‑manufacturing business had already been taken over by the bailiffs, and it looked as though his home and furniture would also be absorbed and sold to help meet the grave financial loss. In rehearsing the story he said he did not falter when the business went, but would find it more heartrending to suffer the loss of his home and furniture, for, said he, “I can picture in one corner of the sitting-room that great missionary statesman of China, Hudson Taylor, in the armchair I can visualize the form of Dr. Grattin Guinness, Dr. Samuel Zwemer, and a long list of other worthies we have entertained. It is not so much the material home but the fact that it has been the memorable meeting place with so many of the mighty messengers of God that will make the loss so regrettable.” Then he added, “I have been meditating of late on Hosea ch. 14, where it is written, ‘They that dwell under His shadow shall return;’ I stand in need of His overshadowing right now. Ere I leave the Conference in a day or two to go back and face the issues in Philadelphia, I would like you to do one thing for me, frame an outline on this one precious feature, ‘His shadow.’” After assenting to his request I retired to my room, and handed to him the next morning a sheet of paper bearing the following outline —
1. THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS — “Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.” (Psa. 63:7) This shadow is for daily troubles.
2. THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY — “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide (or pass the night) under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psa. 91:1; c.f. Isa. 26:3) This shadow is for daily trust.
3. THE SHADOW OF A GREAT ROCK — “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment, and a man shall be a hiding place from the wind, and a covet from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isa. 32:1, 2) This shadow is for daily thirst.
4. THE SHADOW OF HIS HAND — “He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me; and said unto me, Thou art my servant.” (Isa. 49:2) This shadow is for daily tasks.
5. THE SHADOW OF HIS PRESENCE — “I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.” (Song of Sol. 2:3) This shadow is for daily teaching.
6. THE SHADOW OF HIS TABERNACLE — “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” (Isa. 4:6) This shadow is for daily trials.
7. THE SHADOW OF HIS BOUNTY — “They that dwell under His shadow shall return, they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine.” (Hos. 14:7) This shadow is for daily triumph.
The seven combined cover the wide field of comfort, communion, confidence, competence, companionship, contentment and constraint.
The Fruitfulness — “His beauty shall be as the olive tree ... they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine.” How amiable life becomes when we abide in Him, yea, and how abundantly prolific. When wickedness and lawlessness prevailed, the nation was likened to chaff which as a symbol, indicates everything that is dry, rootless, lifeless and fruitless, ch. 13:3. The corn, wine and oil are representative, metaphors that convey the ideal of all-round sustenance, assuring the soul of nourishment, enjoyment and contentment. The picture of prosperity painted in fair colors, figures vigorous energy in the corn, virtuous enthusiasm in the wine, and victorious endeavor in the oil, and these three are entirely in harmony with God's will and pleasure. The vitality of such a life makes it free from superficial trifling and all sentimental trash.
The Friendliness — “From me is thy fruit found.” The One Who seeks to set restrictions to hedge up our way, ch.2:6, does so in order to hinder the soul from setting out on a profitless venture and worthless course. He Himself has a definite intent in so doing, for He is waiting to give to His loved ones who answer His call fresh unveilings that are aflame with glory, vaster visions, more radiant with beauty and greater glimpses of the infinite reality of that coming Kingdom. His own perfect loveliness is sufficient to ravish the heart and satisfy the longing soul with goodness. Ephraim, which means “double fruitfulness,” a name designated by Joseph in Egypt, will then say most feelingly and emphatically, “What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard and observed Him.” Let us remember that the Son of God said to His disciples, “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, no more can ye except ye abide in me,” and again, “If a man love me he will keep my sayings, and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” “Who is wise and he will understand these things, prudent and he shall know them, for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk therein?"
THE LORD’S INTIMACY
Notice particularly that the just are those who have been justified. All taint of the old transgressions is obliterated, all impression of former iniquities erased, all scars of former sins removed, yea, the very inclinations of the mind transformed, and the image of the whole being transfigured. No scar remains where His holy glance falls, no remembrance of former failure embarrasses, no accusing voice of conscience for past perversities assails, no fault, no frown, no fear disfigures the perfected soul. Heaven, home and holiness are sure for evermore. Heaven is the radiance of effulgent light, there is no need of the sun to shine, for the Lamb is the light thereof; home is the residence of essential likeness, “When we see Him we shall be like Him.” “His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” (Rev. 22:4) Holiness is the resplendence of eternal love, “Love never faileth,” or as another translator rendered it, “Love's flower petals never fall.” So in the message of this book, there lies embedded a replica of the most rare and remarkable romance of all revelation.
“Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him,
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Joyful, choose the better part.
What has stripped the seeming beauty,
From the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth.
'Twas the look that melted Peter,
'Twas the face that Stephen saw,
'Twas the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw.
Draw, and win, and fill, completely,
Till my cup o'erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him.”
THE PROPHECY OF HOSEA
The Sole Source of Salvation
The Charges Laid. Chs. 1 - 7
The Changeless Love Chs. 8 – 14
chs. 1 - 3
Chs. 4 - 7
Chs. 8 - 11
The Saving ILLUMINATION
Chs. 12 – 14