Reading Hosea 12, I was struck by the gloom and doom nature of this study. Ephraim feeds on & pursues the east wind, a desolate desert wind of no benefit: treaties with Assyria, trades with idolatrous nations, shows arrogance and pride against obedience to God, and engages in dishonest and fraudulent trades yielding nothing but boasting in wealth and following the idolatry of the surrounding nations—the worship of worthless gods. Provoked to anger, the Lord should leave Ephraim (Israel) the guilt of bloodshed and repay his contempt (v14).
But in all this, God shows His mercy and grace!
Israel found God at Bethel (v4) and talked with Him there. He has only to return to his God, maintain love and justice, and wait for God always (v6). For He is the LORD his God who brought him out of Egypt (v9), who spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions, and told parables through them (v10), and who used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet He cared for him (V13).
The LORD, who will have mercy and compassion on whom He will (Exodus 33:19b), is a jealous, zealous God; there is to be no other God before his chosen people, Israel, for, indeed, there is no other God. Yet we, like Ephraim, Israel in this chapter, despise His message and turn away from his messengers even as was done in the fall of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 15-16ff), even as we raised the “God is Dead” movement some 60 years ago and again in the 1980s.
God is not just the God of our fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Israel)—nor is He just my God or the God of each one of us as individuals. He is the Living God, who sees our hearts and nurtures us to love only Him, and, in loving Him, to love one another. In doing so, we can only be loving and just as He is loving and just to us where He finds us in our vile, worthless, wickedness.
R. Carlos Cavazos writes personally of loss and Easter hope: I lost my eldest sister to the COVID pandemic Easter Sunday, but that does not mean God abandoned me, my family, or our loved ones. Indeed, I can thank Him He took her home to the peace and joy we hope in Him, just as I hope He will let me cross over from death to life when my time comes. Stay faithful, and, God bless.
1. What phrases in this Hosea chapter show Ephraim, Judah, or Jacob/Israel have violated the Old Testament first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Deut. 5:7)?
2. How do these phrases show that Ephraim, Judah, or Jacob/Israel are in compliance or in opposition to the “two commandments [on which] hang all the law and the prophets” Jesus addresses in New Testament passages found in Mat 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, and Luke 10:26-28?
Lord, your goodness and love endures forever! Open our hearts to understand your way. Rid us of the stiff-necked rebellion that hardens our hearts to loving you with faithful, steadfast obedience. Help us always to seek your kingdom and righteousness, turning to you ever for your healing, loving-kindness, in Jesus’ blessed name. Amen.