What Caused The Death Of This Tribe And Nation?
Guilt eventually brings the death sentence even from a God of compassion and salvation.
When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling and terror. He exalted himself [above the other tribes] in Israel; but through [the worship of] Baal he became guilty and died [spiritually, and then came ruin, sealing Israel’s doom as a nation].
Hosea 13:1 (AMP)
Israel, represented here by the northern tribe of Ephraim, had been great, but by Hosea’s time the people had rebelled against God and had lost their authority among the nations. In those days Ephraim’s voice caused other tribes or other nations to tremble in terror. Hosea depicts a different Ephraim, a dead Ephraim.
What caused the death of this tribe and nation?
Greatness in the past is no guarantee of greatness in the future. It is good to remember what God has done for you and through you, but it is equally important to keep your relationship with him vital and up to date. Commit yourself to God moment by moment.
And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves molten images, idols skillfully made from their silver [as it pleased them], all of them the work of the craftsmen. They say of these [very works of their hands], “Let those who sacrifice kiss and show respect to the calves [as if they were living gods]!”
Hosea 13:2 (AMP)
But now Hosea begins rousing fear and wonder about what else could happen to Ephraim. One love affair did not suffice. The people went on sinning. They made their own metal images rather than destroying them as God commanded (Num. 33:52). Thus they disobeyed God’s law (Exod. 34:17), bringing down the curse of Deuteronomy 27:15 on themselves. Craftsmen, people whose skills and resources should be dedicated to the Lord, instead dedicate them to false gods and worship what they have created.
Some translations avoid mention of human sacrifice, but we must not back away from the horrendous statement of the text. Human sacrifice was a problem for Israel, especially in desperate days (Judges 11:30-40). The practices clearly violated God’s law (Lev. 20:2-5). Israel’s love affair turned deadly. They took over not only reverence for Baal as shown by kissing the calf representations of Baal. They also followed other pagan practices – the most horrible of which Hosea condemns here.
Therefore they will be [swiftly dissipated] like the morning cloud or like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which swirls with the whirlwind from the threshing floor, and like smoke from the chimney or through the window [worthless and without substance —they will vanish].
Hosea 13:3 (AMP)
The prophetic therefore introduces a prediction of disaster, a warning of judgment to come. Israel appeared on the historical scene as a short-lived entity, vanishing as quickly as morning mist or early dew. The nation came and went like chaff blowing in the wind or smoke escaping through a window. God would suspend His covenant with the nation and punish them by removing them from the land through the Assyrian exile.
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible
The Moody Bible Commentary