Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hosea 7: 8-12

8 Ephraim mixes himself with the nations;
Ephraim has become a cake not turned.
9 Strangers devour his strength,
Yet he does not know it;
Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him,
Yet he does not know it.
10 Though the pride of Israel testifies against him,
Yet they have not returned to the LORD their God,
Nor have they sought Him, for all this.
11 So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense;
They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
12 When they go, I will spread My net over them;
I will bring them down like the birds of the sky.
I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly.

Last week, the oven was too hot because the baker wasn't attending it. This week, the hot oven that is Israel (Ephraim) is now a "cake not turned." Who's running this kitchen? [Who said Gordon Ramsey? Be nice!]

Hosea 7:8 begins with a reference to Israel's poor leadership, "mixing" with other nations. This goes beyond trading and other economic relationships. Israel was indulging itself in other nations' culture and religion, as well as administrative practices. Is it any wonder Israel's devotion to God and His meeting of their needs fell by the wayside? So many other influences when One would have more than sufficed. Perhaps their "batter" contained a few too many foreign "ingredients"?

Given how ovens back in the day would have heated, a cake not turned would have baked thoroughly on only one side. Half burned, half raw. Paula Deen couldn't have saved this cake with butter if she tried!

Verse 9 paints an unsettling picture. If Israel thought itself a stronghold, it was in denial. "Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, yet he does not know it." How much time do people spend in front of the mirror evaluating how much gray hair they have, among other things? One report says that, globally, we spend $38 billion a year on hair care products. Not enough to cancel out the U.S. deficit, but a good chunk. Somebody's noticing. Israel didn't, and gray hair was highly honored by the Jews. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia "...A crown of glory...found in the way of righteousness," Proverbs 16:31). Israel wasn't looking at itself in the mirror. What wisdom it had was not noticed. Why not?

"...the pride of Israel testifies against him...."
--vs. 10

Pride said, "No! We don't need to look in the mirror. We know we're successful. We've adapted all these wonderful things from all our neighboring new friends. We're getting to be like them in so many ways. Isn't this great? We don't need anybody else, now. We know what we're doing."

"The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who watches his way preserves his life.
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud."
--Proverbs 16: 17-19

Pride had taken up residence in Israel's heart, and as spoken of last week, there was no true lifeblood flowing from there. Israel was so deep into itself that it could not see how truly desperate a nation it was. Remember those verses we read about the corruption, the unholy religious practices, the bloodshed. Yet, no one could see what was going on around them. And, most importantly, "they have not returned to the Lord their God, nor have they sought Him, for all this." (vs. 10)

Verse 11, Israel moves from being a cake to a "silly dove." Captivity would provide Israel the opportunity to finally look at itself and to realize its foolishness. Instead of "without sense," older translations suggest "without heart." Exactly! Israel would call for help from Egypt and Assyria. Egypt, of course, was the original place of captivity for the Israelites--the place from which God called them that they might be in a new covenant relationship and not slavery. Assyria is the next place for Israel's captivity, with God Himself, spreading "My net over them," that they might be chastised for their waywardness.

There are penalties for disobedience. (Feel free to read one of the cross-references for verse 12--Leviticus 26: 14-39. OH MY!) Even though it isn't stated as boldly as in other places in the Bible, God's grace was clearly covering Israel through His amazing patience with their sin and prideful heart. But, God has limits, and early withdrawal from the covenant comes with substantial penalties.

God's rejected offerings lace the conclusion of Chapter 7.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 7: 13-16

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).