We continue our chronological Scripture reading in Hosea, and will soon transition to the prophecies of Isaiah, a contemporary of Hosea. While Hosea’s ministry has been primarily focused upon Israel (also identified as Ephraim, the largest of the ten tribes in the north), Isaiah’s ministry was to Judah (the southern kingdom). The majority of today’s text addresses the wickedness of Israel; however, Hosea also addressed the “controversy” the LORD had with Judah because of that nation’s sins (12:2-6).
Hosea 12 – The LORD Chastens His People
Facing the imminent threat of Assyria’s invasion, the leaders of Israel added to that nation’s sin by seeking a treaty with Assyria, and establishing an agreement with Egypt.
Israel was a Wayward, Dishonest People (12:1, 7-8)
Thus, we read, “Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: He daily increaseth lies and desolation; And they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt” (12:1). Ephraim feeding and following the wind is a reference to his idolatry. Among the sins of Israel was the use of false weights in commerce, and an exploitation of the poor (12:7). The people of Ephraim (i.e., Israel) boasted how they became rich, and in pride dared any to find fault in them (12:8).
The LORD Condemned the People (12:9-11)
Reminding the people how He had saved Israel, and taken them from bondage (12:9); the LORD declared He would drive the people out of their homes. Israel would live in tents as they did during the wilderness years (12:9b).
Yet, the Lord was merciful, and sent prophets to warn the nation (12:10). Hosea condemned the idolatry in Gilead. He warned the altars where sacrifices were offered, would be destroyed, and made “heaps in the furrows of the fields” (12:11).
A Story of God’s Providence (12:12-14)
Hosea retold how Jacob (the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel), had fled from his brother Esau (Genesis 29), and served as a shepherd seven years to earn the hand of his wife, Rachel (Genesis 29:18-30; Genesis 30-32). The LORD had also called Moses to bring “Israel out of Egypt” (12:13). For all He had done for Israel, the people rebelled, and committed a great wickedness against the LORD, and provoked His wrath (12:14).
“Ephraim” (Israel) continued in sin, and sacrificed to idols (13:1-2). The sins of the nation increased “more and more” (13:2), as they encouraged their brethren to kiss and worship calves (13:2).
Hosea warned, like the morning cloud and the dew of the morning is soon disappeared, Israel would soon pass. Like the chaff scattered by the wind, and the smoke of a chimney, Israel would be scattered abroad among the nations (13:3).
The LORD Loved Israel (13:4-6)
The LORD loved Israel, and was jealous to be their God (13:4a). Rather than turn to the LORD, Israel’s leaders turned to Egypt for help, and the LORD reminded them only He could be their Savior (13:4b). He loved and cared for them, but they rejected Him as their God (13:5-6).
God Determined to Judge Israel (13:7-8)
Like a lion and a leopard, the LORD promised Israel’s enemies (Assyria) would come suddenly and pounce upon them as a prey (13:7). Like an angry mother bear, the people would be ravaged for their sins, and devoured like a lion (13:8).
Israel’s Self-destructive Ways (13:9-13)
With the admonition, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,” the LORD reminded the people He was their only hope (13:9). He had desired to be Israel’s king, but the people rejected Him and had demanded to have a king like the other nations (13:10; 1 Samuel 8). God then gave the people what they demanded, and now in His wrath, their king was taken away (13:11)
Hosea warned, the sins of Ephraim were recorded, and those done in secret were known to the LORD (13:12). The people had been foolish, and rejected the opportunity to repent. Like a mother in labor, but whose son cannot be born, they would suffer extreme pain and sorrows (13:13).
God’s Promise to Deliver Israel (13:14-16)
Though God’s judgment would be borne by all Israel, the LORD promised a believing remnant would be ransomed and redeemed (13:14). Those who rejected Him, would see His judgment (13:15). The east wind (i.e., Assyria) would “come up from the wilderness” (13:15), and the land would dry up, and the wealth of the nation would be spoiled (13:15).
Samaria, the capital city of Israel, was to be destroyed, and none would be spared. The infants, and “women with child [would] be ripped up” (13:16).
The stage was now set for Hosea’s final appeal to Israel. Unless the people confessed their wickedness, and repented, all would be lost.
Closing thoughts – Let us learn from Israel’s history the grave consequences of sin, as individuals, families, churches, and a nation. I fear there are few who realize God’s hatred for sin, and His unfailing, unconditional love for sinners (Romans 5:8). If we did, we would be among those who cry out like the prodigal, “I have sinned, against heaven” (Luke 15:18, 21).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith