“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Hosea.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, [and] the troop of robbers spoileth without.
Fascinating. I originally read this as “I was going to heal them, but then all their sin came out.” But, on second thought, maybe exposing Ephraim’s iniquity and wickedness was part of God’s plan for healing! After all, it is not like God was surprised:
And they consider not in their hearts [that] I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.
And in case anyone needs reminding what God considers wicked:
* They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
* They [are] all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, [who] ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
* In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.
I count deceptive leaders, thoroughgoing adultery, manipulative drunkenness, and social scorning. He then expands upon the culinary metaphor:
For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: [there is] none among them that calleth unto me. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
To be honest, I’m not sure what all this means. I think it is just an expanded riff on the variety of their sins. Whether they are patient, passionate, rebellious, sullen, or simply inconsistent — all of it is opposed to God’s order. Israel is slowly destroying himself, and he doesn’t even realize it:
Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it] not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
Not even when someone — perhaps even his own pride! — tells him:
And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
Worse, when he does realize he needs help, he looks for it in all the wrong places:
Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
So if Israel is going to act like a bird-brain, God will treat him (them) like one:
When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.
Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
This sort of language tends to bother people who like to think of God as “only love”, as if one could have fire that was “only light.” The hard truth — which I’ve had to learn the hard way! — is that true love is necessarily angry at anything that hurts the beloved. For not only did they sin against God (and themselves), they refuse to cry out to Him:
And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, [and] they rebel against me.
Despite everything He has done to build them up, they see Him as the enemy of their welfare:
Though I have bound [and] strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
to their own destruction:
They return, [but] not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this [shall be] their derision in the land of Egypt.
I must admit, this chapter is pretty much a complete downer. 😦 But, not quite. Thinking back, it does seem that God must rub Israel’s nose in their own sin in order to break the downward spiral of destruction they are already on.
I can’t help but wonder what sins I ought to be facing the consequences of…
God, I thank you that you long to heal me; even at the price of exposing my wickedness. Father, cleanse me and purify me during this season of Lent. Capture me with your love, and refine me in the fires of your holiness. Teach me to walk in Truth, and live by your Spirit. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
About the Title:
Today’s title, a metaphor for deep trouble, reflects the avian and culinary metaphors from this passage.