The Tragedy Of God’s People!

God Warns The People Of Israel!

 

The tragedy of Israel, God’s people, was that its sin was sin against all that God had done for them. Hosea puts before them God’s redemption and care in contrast to Israel’s forgetfulness.

 

The Tragedy Of God’s People

 

Yet I have been the Lord your God since [the time you became a nation in] the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.
 

Hosea 13:4 (AMP)

 

Israel’s sin represents theological amnesia. The Lord introduces himself again to his own people as their God who brought them out of Egypt. This introduction represents a shorthand version of the introduction to the Ten Commandments (Exod. 12). God’s goal was an intimate personal relationship with his people, Israel. They had such a relationship with no other god. Their life as a nation depended on God since he alone was their Savior (Isa. 45:21). Israel had no history without God. But they had turned away from him. Having abandoned him as their God, they should expect their history to end.

 

When abundant possessions made Israel feel self-sufficient, it turned its back on God and forgot him. Self-sufficiency is as destructive today as it was in Hosea’s time.

 

Do you see your constant need of God’s presence and help?

 

Learn to rely on God, both in good times and bad. If you are traveling along a smooth and easy path right now, beware of forgetting who gave you your good fortune. Don’t depend on your gifts; depend on the Giver. (See Deut. 6:10-12; 8:7-20 for God’s warning.)

 

I knew and regarded you and cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.
 

Hosea 13:5 (AMP)

 

In Israel’s most desperate situation – forty years of wandering in the desert or wilderness – God became intimately acquainted with his people as he cared for them, providing manna, meat, and water.

 

When they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud (self-centered); therefore they forgot Me.
 

Hosea 13:6 (AMP)

 

Israel took everything they could get from God. Once these cattle raisers found grazing ground for their animals, they had everything they wanted. They could dispense with the God who provided those needs. They became proud. The result was predictable. There proud ears forgot God. They had no desire for intimacy with the Lord. They became self-sufficient.

 

So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will watch and lie in wait [ready to attack] by the road [to Assyria]. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; there I will also devour them like a lioness, as a wild beast would tear them.
 

Hosea 13:7-8 (AMP)

 

Israel wanted to graze their animals. God would become an attacking animal. Take your pick – lion, leopard, or bear. Disaster lurked on every path Israel chose to take since they refused to follow God’s path.

 

It is your destruction, O Israel, because you are against Me, [and have rebelled] against your help.
 

Hosea 13:9 (AMP)

 

God had revealed himself as Israel’s helper since patriarchal times (Ps. 37:40). Now, facing the desperation of Assyrian attacks, Israel stood against the only one who could help. Therefore, Israel would be destroyed.

 

Where now is your king that he may save you [when you are attacked] in all your cities? And your judges of whom you asked, “Give me a king and princes”?
 

Hosea 13:10 (AMP)

 

God stumps Israel with a rhetorical question:

 

Where is your king?

 

The Northern Kingdom’s final years saw kings come and go through the land. These were Assyrian kings and their armies, besieging cities and demanding tribute from Israel’s helpless kings. The politics that Israel tried to play and the military strength that she tried to buy from Egypt and elsewhere proved fatal. Israel’s earliest occupation of the land occurred under the judges (rulers) in the years after Joshua’s conquest. That time period led to Israel doing what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25) and wanting a king.

 

God listened to their demand (1 Sam. 8), but Israel could not live under the political system God instituted. The system they chose to replace it proved even worse since kings led Israel to idols and Baal’s, not to God. Then, in time of trouble, Israel’s precious king proved to be no help at all.

 

I gave you a king in My anger, and I took him away in My wrath [as punishment].
 

Hosea 13:11 (AMP)

 

God had warned the people of Israel that kings would cause more problems than they would solve. In anger at the people for demanding a king, God gave them Saul (1 Sam.9). Then in wrath against Saul’s disobedience, God rejected him (1 Sam. 15). The same can be said about Jeroboam, who became king over the northern tribes when God was angry with Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). Now in wrath God would take away Israel’s king for good.

 

The wickedness of Ephraim [which is not yet completely punished] is bound up [as in a bag];
 
His sin is stored up [for judgment and destruction].

Hosea 13:12 (AMP)

 

Ephraim’s name represented the entire Northern Kingdom. Their guilt was wrapped up like a package: their sins, hidden away for safekeeping. Ephraim did not go to God for forgiveness. Ephraim did not forsake their guilty, sinful ways. In its time of greatest need, Ephraim stood guilty before God.

 

All our sins are known and will be revealed at the day of judgment (2 Cor 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15).
 

How will you live differently today knowing that everything you do will be revealed at the day of judgment?

 

 

The pains of childbirth come on him; but he is not a wise son, for it is not the time to delay [his chance at a new birth] as the womb opens [but he ignores the opportunity to change].
 
 

Hosea 13:13 (AMP)

 

Hosea returns to the family metaphors of chapters 1-3 but with a horrible twist. The pains of childbirth come to him. The male who suffers is not the father but the son being born. This son is totally devoid of wisdom because at the proper time to appear, the son refuses to stand in the opening of the cervix. From his birth, Ephraim has gone against the rules, never showing wisdom or obedience.

 

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Shall I redeem them from death? O death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from My eyes [because of their failure to repent].
 
 

Hosea 13:14 (AMP)

 

God surprises the reader. Amid the horrible pictures of suffering, judgment, and doom, the light of salvation shines forth. God makes a promise to ransom and redeem Israel. The divine voice then breaks into a taunt song:

 

“Where are your plagues (or stinging thorns), death?”

 

God mocks the powers represented by death and Sheol, the realm of the dead. They think they have control of a defeated, foolish Ephraim. But God has other plans – plans for redemption and ransom. When God decides to buy back his sinful people, no power can stand in his way. Our loving God proved this on the cross and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

But the promise for salvation and redemption was not for immediate action; it was God’s ultimate plan. For the present generation ominous words rang forth. The Lord is both a God of salvation and a God of discipline. For Israel, discipline would come before compassion and redemption appeared.

 

DECLARATION OF FAITH

 

I have been ransomed from the powers of hell. I am redeemed from the power of death! In the name of Jesus, I stop Satan’s attacks! I will no longer be overcome by plagues and destruction! I have been set free!
 
I declare this declaration of faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

 

Reference
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible
The Complete Personalized Promise Bible

 

 

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