A Promise

Hosea 13:14. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.”

Hosea 13:14 ESV

When God says, “I WILL,” He is making an iron-clad promise. There is no “I might,” or “maybe” with God.

If this verse seems familiar to you, it’s because Paul referred to it directly in I Cor. 15:55. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Israel has been guilty of great sin, but God’s power to forgive, heal, show mercy, and restore cannot be defeated. I think we forget that sometimes, when we turn our faces away or show disdain for those we consider to have sinned. Never forget that if no one besides you had ever lived, Jesus would still have had to die.

However, where there is no repentance, no recognition of sin against God, He will not have compassion. In the long term, Israel will be redeemed; before that, however, she will be sorely chastised for her sin of turning away from God.

Travail in Birth

Hosea 13:13. “The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”

Travail is a strong word. It connotes great effort, accompanied by lots of pain. Any woman who has borne a baby understands, especially if her labor was long and hard. While a woman is enduring childbirth, she can concentrate on only one thing: Bearing down to push the baby out of her body. Even in a normal, uncomplicated birth, it can feel as if one’s own body is going to break. It’s hard, painful, sometimes excruciating.

Is it true that when the baby is born, the mother immediately forgets the pain? Well, I don’t know about the “immediately” part, but speaking for myself, I went on to have three more after the first, so yes, I think we do forget to a degree. Or at least we accept the birth process because the results are so incredibly satisfying.

Israel would experience travail, trouble, suffering and pain that God compares to what a woman experiences when she gives birth.

The rest of the verse intrigued me, so I did some research. “He is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”

Him, in the first part of the verse, of course, refers to Israel (Ephraim). Judgment will fall with the urgency of labor pains. But most of the commentators I read agree that the He in the second clause refers to the unborn child. As the mother endures the pain and pressure, the baby moves down the birth canal. The natural result would be that the child would emerge into the world and take his first breath, finding life.

If, however, the child could decide he’s not quite ready to be born yet, and hesitates to leave the “safety” of his mother’s body, the result would be death for both the baby and the mother.

In the same way that labor pains announce the coming of the end of the pregnancy, so God’s judgment signals the end of Israel’s disobedience. But if Israel pays no attention to the rigors of judgment, and decides to stay in the place of disobedience, then death is the unavoidable result of his choice.

God created in us a will and desire for life. Of course babies cannot choose to remain unborn, but the inevitable end of a lack of the proper result of the birth process can lead to death. It doesn’t always end so, because the midwife or doctor intervenes and provides assistance to the mother and child. In the same way, God can intervene with His people, providing a clear way of escape from the pain.

The choice, however, remains with the people, who need only to repent and turn to Him in order to gain life and freedom.

We Want a King!

Hosea 13: 11-12.

I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.

Kings/Northern Kingdom of Israel | THE MARION COUNTY MANNA PROJECT | Marion  County, Florida

It would be interesting, I think, to do a study of all the kings of Israel and Judah. However, it would take a lot of time and a great deal of research, so it’s going on the back burner for now.

To give you a little background to God’s statements in this passage: God had given Israel many prophets and judges, most of which they dismissed in their ignorance and determination to be just like all the surrounding nations. It wasn’t enough for them to have God in their very midst. They wanted a power figure that they could hold up as being, at the very least, equal to the kings of the surrounding nations. God warned them what would happen. The king would tax them to support his armies. He would take their sons and daughters as slaves. He would take their livestock to feed those in his great banqueting halls, and the kings would build extravagant palaces in which to house themselves and their courts. The daughters of the people would be examined for their beauty, and taken off to the king’s harem, never to be seen again by their families. You can read about it in I Samuel 8: 4-22.

Of course, God was right. It wasn’t long before the first king, Saul, began to hold himself as an authority higher than God. He came to a dreadful end, and God replaced him with David. David did have a heart to serve God, but he was weak in matters of the flesh and committed grave errors against the God he truly did love. He wasn’t a good father. His children suffered for his weakness. After he died, Jereboam and Rehoboam split the kingdom, northern and southern, and the deterioration continued. All of the things about which they had been warned came to pass.

Verse 13 describes Israel’s sin as being hidden, or, in the best usage I found, it was set aside and covered, waiting for the judgment of God to fall. The coming judgment would be severe, but when God chastises His children, whether then or now, it is always done for the purpose of bringing them back into the place of blessing. Sometimes it takes a while, and a lot of suffering, for us to see the love behind the chastisement. God wants to bless His people. Sadly, His people want to have that blessing not because of their obedience, but in spite of their disobedience.

In Me is thine Help

Hosea 13:9-10.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help.

I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?

You can almost hear the tears in God’s voice when He say, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help.”

Even when His people turned from him to worship idols made by the hand and imagination of man, thereby bringing divine wrath on themselves, God reassures them that He is still their source of help, if only they would return to Him.

In verse 10, God reminds them of how they demanded a king so they could be just like the other nations around them. God had given them judges and prophets, but they wanted the pomp and circumstance that came with a king, a royal dynasty, palaces and treasures. His promise that HE would be their king was ignored in their demand for all the trappings of earthly kingship. So the heart of mankind has always desired to elevate itself and become as a god, gaining the worship and adoration of all those who desire such things.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Hot, Cold, Just Right

Our weather in my corner of PA has been rather fickle this week. Deep cold, snow and sleety rain, clouds, clear skies, sun, grey skies. The only thing we didn’t get was unseasonable heat. l fell asleep a couple of nights listening to heavy winds or rain hitting the house. I kind of enjoy that. I like weather. I like changes in the weather. My old bones don’t always enjoy the day or two before the weather changes. I could do better weather forecasting than a lot of the professionals do 🙂

Pretty much sums up Indiana weather - Imgur
That bottom strip could be “Weather in Pennsylvania,” too!

Several years ago, Terry installed central air conditioning into our little rancher. It makes the summers bearable. We get lots of humidity here, and that really wreaks havoc on my joints. Humidity is a booger on other levels, as well, but since we have central air I’m not fighting the mildew at all. So thankful for that!

We have an oil-burning stove in our living room that heats our main living areas quite well. It’s inexpensive—well, it WAS inexpensive before someone closed down our domestic oil production. But it’s still less expensive than electricity, which is our other option. We like sleeping in a colder room, but Terry got me an electric mattress pad the heats my bed up until it’s just right.

Thinking about all this has made me realize how much we take for granted here in the States. We don’t tolerate extreme heat or cold, because we have the technology to have the inside temperature just about the same all year ’round. We sleep well in our comfortable beds, and we don’t have to spend a lot of time outdoors when it’s drippy and miserable. Well, most of us don’t. It’s during this time of year that I most appreciate the folks who take care of our roads, our electricity lines, our water. They’re often out there in the most miserable weather, which of course is when things are more likely to break down.

Not everyone has it as good as we do, though, and I think about the homeless during this time of year. Yes, there are shelters, but shelters aren’t always very sheltering.

I don’t really have a specific point for this post, I guess. Maybe it should be just to appreciate what we have, to be thankful we live in a country where water is abundant, where we can usually meet the basic needs of life.

I know one thing I can look forward to: The weather in heaven will be perfect, all the time! That’s something to hold onto when it gets bad down here 🙂

Lion, Leopard and Bear

Hosea 13:6-8.

According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me.

Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

The “Big 7 - Issuu

Often, when we are comfortable financially, we lose some of our zeal to live for God. We have no unmet needs. Our pastures are abundant, and we grow full of ourselves, forgetting to seek God’s blessing. Just as Israel did in Hosea’s time, we forget God when things are good.

The three beasts mentioned in this passage–the lion, leopard, and bear–were well-known in Israel. They were merciless in hunting down their prey, and killed quickly. The lion and the leopard used stealth to take their victims unaware, disguising themselves in the grass or a tree. The bear who is enraged at the loss of her young is capable of great speed, and has immense strength. God uses these animals to describe the judgment that will fall on Israel because of their faithlessness to Him.

The caul mentioned here is a membranous sac that protects the heart, which of course is vital to life. It would seem that a bear would claw off this caul in order to eat the heart of the kill.This small detail made me stop to consider the importance of guarding our hearts against the depredation of Satan, who wants to destroy all that God loves.

Great Drought

Hodea 13:4-5.

Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but Me: for there is no Saviour beside Me.

I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.

Illustration of Hosea 13:5 — "I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land  of great drought." | Song of solomon, O my soul, Be exalted

God reminded His children that He had brought them out of Egypt. Not only is He the only true God; He is the only way of salvation. He was with them in their trek through the desert wilderness, where water was rare.

The photo above grabbed my attention because of the dark sky and clouds above the cracked, barren land. I wonder if the rain ever came, or if the clouds drifted away.

How discouraging it must have been for people who had trudged miles through a “dry and thirsty land” to see clouds, but still to find no relief in a refreshing rain.

Jesus is the Living Water, the Savior. The Israelites had only to call out to God in sincere repentance, and they would have been healed.

Without Substance

Hosea 13:3. “Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”

Hosea 13 Commentary | Old Testament | Matthew Henry | St-Takla.org

Things that are temporary: Clouds, dew, chaff, smoke.

We lived in Portland, Oregon when I was between the ages of 10 and 15. The summers were so beautiful! There would be morning clouds, even sometimes a little rain, but as the sun climbed, the clouds and the morning dew were burned away. Temporary.

Chaff is the useless dust from the grain that is threshed at harvest time. It is tossed into the air, and is blown away. It is light, without substance. Temporary.

Smoke from a chimney is the residue of the fire in the hearth or the oven, and is without substance. It blows away. Temporary.

So will be the safety and prosperity of God’s people, who have turned to idols, and have left God. All the good they hope for will disappear in the heat and the wind, because their idols are without substance.

The only permanent and dependable safety and rest lies in obedience to God. There, one can find substance, permanence, and peace.

Kiss the Calves

Hosea 13:2. “And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.”

Kiss the Calves - pastormatthew.net

And now they sin more and more:How sad this statement is! Once we begin to willfully sin, we tend to go deeper and deeper into our sin. More and more. Kind of like eating too much because it tastes good. Eventually it makes us sick.

Molten images. . . of silver: People were willing to send their silver to the idol-makers, where it was melted down and turned into:

“. . . idols according to their own understanding: Out of their own imaginations, they created the idol and then worshipped what they had created.

All of it the work of the craftsmen: Those who created the idols were making lots and lots of money. It was to their benefit that people continued to demand more idols.

Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves: One of Israel’s oldest and recurring idols to worship was the golden calf. It also shows up in silver, and is often adorned with rare gems. I read one commentator who translates this verse as “those who make human sacrifices kiss the calves.”

Human sacrifice involved throwing babies into the fires of Molech and other gods, in the belief that feeding the human flesh to the fire would bring the blessing of whatever god was involved. And while this practice seems horrendous to us, we need to get over our self-righteousness and realize that we are doing the same thing in America with every unborn child who is sacrificed to the god of “women’s rights.”

And then, not only are babies murdered, but the same ones who performed such rites go on to “kiss the calves,” worshipping what their own minds and hands have created.

Such is the ultimate betrayal of the God Who created all things.

We are without excuse.

Humility and Pride

Hosea 13:1. “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.”

Hosea 13 - Holy Bible English - BibleWordings.com

This simple verse clearly shows us the dangers of moving from humility under the hand of God to downfall and death when we move away from the place of blessing in order to gain the approval of man.

It’s a simple principle, really. Stay close to God, and He blesses and protects. Move out from under His sheltering wings, and suffer.

What tempts us out of that shelter? Usually, popularity with mankind; often, money and power. We can never get enough, it seems, of those three things. Instead of being steadfast in the face of such temptations, we make lame excuses and participate in things of which we felt no need until we set our eyes on the temptations the world offers us.

We all have different areas of temptation, don’t we? Something that holds no appeal to me might be a mighty temptation for someone else, and vice versa. Satan finds our vulnerabilities and gets a toe in the door. If we are not vigilant, he will dangle his bait until we reach for it, and then he moves it just a tiny bit, and we are lost by our efforts to serve two masters.

I have said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again. America, you are on the brink of judgment such as we have never experienced before. Take care.