Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hosea 7: 1-7

Hosea 7
Ephraim’s Iniquity
1 When I would heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is uncovered,
And the evil deeds of Samaria,
For they deal falsely; The thief enters in,
Bandits raid outside, 2 And they do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness.
Now their deeds are all around them; They are before My face.
3 With their wickedness they make the king glad,
And the princes with their lies. 4 They are all adulterers,
Like an oven heated by the baker who ceases to stir up the fire
From the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
5 On the day of our king, the princes became sick with the heat of wine;
He stretched out his hand with scoffers,
6 For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting;
Their anger smolders all night,
In the morning it burns like a flaming fire.
7 All of them are hot like an oven, and they consume their rulers;
All their kings have fallen. None of them calls on Me.

Iniquity, evil deeds, bandits and thieves. If we weren't studying Hosea, you'd think I was talking about "Cowboys and Aliens" or some other summer blockbuster. Chapter 7 reviews the sinful circumstances of Israel (i.e., Ephraim, listed here with its capital, Samaria).

"...They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness...."
--vs. 2

God's frustration in His relationship with Israel is that the very basic premise of the relationship--the covenant He made with His people--is no longer respected, spoken of, obeyed. Remember, the book of Hosea is built around the concept of a marriage covenant in a broken state. Do folks reading this book these days appreciate that God and Hosea are both working to re-establish a covenant relationship, a promise that was made to be upheld? Our divorce-prone, quick-answer society may not see the depth of covenant in dealing with its marital woes. God, however, gets right to the point in verse 2: It's a heart issue.

And when your heart is in the right place? Well.... We can go to Proverbs for support of that wisdom. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (4:23) There is nothing resembling life flowing from the heart of Israel, and God, again, attacks the kings and princes, in Chapter 7, for their leading the people astray--committing adultery under a holy promise.

"...And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
--Romans 1:32

What stood out most in today's passage for me is yet another metaphor fashioned to make us see the severity of Israel's situation. It's a baking metaphor, no less! God compares Israel's heart to an oven. (see above) But, not just any oven. This is an oven that the baker has left unattended.

My husband bakes, and he's wonderful at it! Going gluten-free has certainly put a damper on his baking, as it's not as fun to bake (and eat) for yourself. But, he still makes mean pizzas for himself and the girls, and he loves a hot, hot oven! Crispy crust bottoms and perfect melting come when the pizza stone has been heated in the hottest oven you can have. But, other baking requires careful control of the heat. He also makes delicious sourdough loaves, and they are best left inside a turned-off oven to finish their baking.

The baker in Hosea 7 is not tending his fire in the oven all night, as he would do if preparing baked goods for selling in the next day's market. There is a time to knead, a time to leaven (add the rising agent), and a time to heat up the oven so the dough cooks at its proper temperature.

"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."
--Verses 6 & 7 in the King James Version

Flames are for Whoppers, not for baking! The heart of Israel was consumed with an out-of-control burning passion for fulfilling its own destiny. The problem was, that wasn't their calling. That wasn't the agreement. In their trying to go it alone, they are in the vicious cycle of "devouring" their leaders, and fanning into flame the fire of self-preservation and self-importance. And God's not stopping them this time! What Israel needed to understand is what the church of Ephesus was told in Revelation 2:4--"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

“She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; And she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’"
--Hosea 2:7

Better than now, when it's too darn hot, Israel!

Cakes, gray hairs and silly doves, oh my.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 7: 8-12

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).


Kelly Combs said...

I loved this. I can relate to all the cooking metaphor. Thanks for sharing!

Carmen said...

Such hard verses. Misery, indeed loves company. It's not bad enough that they go astray, but they love it when others follow them.
God seems so sad here, none care, none seek Him.