Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hosea 5: 13-15

13 When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria
And sent to King Jareb.
But he is unable to heal you,
Or to cure you of your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
15 I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

To fully appreciate the text of the conclusion to Hosea 5, we need to step back several books of the Bible into II Kings. It's always a blessing to see prophecy framed against history!

Verse 13 says that both Ephraim (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) will recognize their "sickness" or "wound." Some older translations use 'ulcer' instead, with the idea that this is not the kind of sickness that goes away by itself with time, nor is this a surface wound that you could walk around with, waiting for healing. This describes a sore that require a compress [Strong's]. This is a pus-filled sore that is leaking everywhere, contaminating all who come near with infection! The sickness of sin that has run rampant through Israel--as God has presented through the entirety of Hosea 5--requires serious intervention.

Even though verse 13 says Israel sees this wound, she runs not to God but to Assyria! The text here mentions a King Jareb. But, there is no documented King Jareb who ruled Assyria. My study Bible says 'Jareb' means "warrior," and, in fact, other translations use "the avenging king" or "the great king" rather than King Jareb. I like the details I read in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, so I'm sharing:

"Jareb cannot be regarded as the name of a person, owing to the absence of the article before melek ,'king,' which is always inserted in such a case. It is probably an epithet or nickname applied to the Assyrian king, as is suggested by RV margin ('a king that should contend') and AV margin ('the king that should plead'), being derived from the root reev, 'to strive.' The rendering would then be 'King Combat,' 'King Contentious,' indicating Assyria’s general hostility to Israel and the futility of applying for help to that quarter against the will of Jehovah."
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

I also love the parallel with what we have already read in Hosea. Remember Chapter 2? "Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband." (vs. 2) The nation seeks help not from the One who loves her, but from one who would strive to take her over! God even says that the king will not heal them. Of course, He's right! Here's the historical background:

II Kings 15: 17-22 gives us the story of Menahem, who was a 10-year king over Israel, ruling out of Samaria. Menahem was one of those kings who "did evil in the sight of the Lord" and bought his way out of a conflict with the Assyrians by paying the king to "strengthen the kingdom under his rule." (vs. 19) Fifty shekels per man in Israel went to Assyria to keep the country away. Not the way to handle a seeping wounded relationship with God--running to the enemy and paying him off to keep evil on the throne.

Judah was not much better, as we read in II Kings 16: 7-9. Ahaz, the first king to serve in the line of David since Solomon, disgraced the office and God. What's amazing is that God continued to leave Ahaz in his position, even allowing him protection from warring nations. [What God brought forth from the line of David...don't forget!] Surrounded and on the brink of battle, Ahaz seeks help from the king of Assyria. Not only does Ahaz follow Menahem in paying off the king, but Ahaz pays him off with gold and silver taken from the house of the Lord! (vs. 8) Ahaz's allegiance to the king of Assyria brought further changes to the temple and led the people further and further away from their reverence for God.

Is it any surprise that God would present Himself in these last verses of Hosea as a roaring lion? Verse 14, "I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver." It is a little scary to read this, knowing that I Peter 5:8 describes Satan as a "roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." People in the hands of an angry's not good!

"‘All your lovers have forgotten you,
They do not seek you;
For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy,
With the punishment of a cruel one,
Because your iniquity is great
And your sins are numerous.
Why do you cry out over your injury?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your iniquity is great
And your sins are numerous,
I have done these things to you.'"
--Jeremiah 30: 14 & 15

Verse 15 of Hosea says, "I will go away and return to My place." God is withdrawing His physical--through the Holy Spirit--presence from Israel. If God had to "return," then it meant He had been present! Israel was to lose this presence! To be torn apart by a roaring lion is one thing. To then be without a Deliverer is something else. Yet, even in this hopeless situation, God says there is a way: "Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face...." (emphasis mine) It would not be enough for Israel to proclaim, Guilty as charged! Again, looking at other translations, the phrase "bear their punishment" would be a more accurate statement of Israel's responsibility in seeking the only true help.

God added that "in their affliction" Israel will seek Him. 'Early' means not just in the morning, but earnestly and painstakingly, as from dawn until dusk [Strong's].

"Who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their back to Me,
And not their face;
But in the time of their trouble they will say,
‘Arise and save us.’"
--Jeremiah 2:27 (emphasis mine)

The people respond! What can they say? Chapter 6 begins.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Hosea 6: 1-5

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).


Carmen said...

When I read that the wound was like an ulcer, it reminded me that an ulcer is commonly associated with stress, which also speaks of a lack of faith. Complications from ulcers can also lead to death, just like sin does. What a sad situation! Oh that we would learn to lean on God, especially through these trying times.

Sue J. said...

This is all a really sad chapter. If it weren't for the 'until', I would think it would be all over. The rampant apostasy and God's response should really make a Christian wake up and look around, and seek Him in humility.

I always appreciate your comments and insight here, my friend....