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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 11

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-11

CHAPTER 9:10-11:11 Retrospect, Israel’s Failure and Ruin

1. Israel once beloved, now fugitive wanderers (Hosea 9:10-17 )

2. Their guilt and punishment (Hosea 10:1-11 )

3. Exhortation and rebuke (Hosea 10:12-15 )

4. The mercy of a merciful God (Hosea 11:1-11 )

Hosea 9:10-17 . Like a wayfaring man who finds grapes and figs in the desert and delights in them, so the Lord found Israel in the desert and they were His pleasure when He led them out of Egypt. But they requited His love by going after Baal-peor, one of the filthiest gods of heathendom. To this they consecrated themselves and practiced their vile abominations. Therefore the glory which He had given to His people will fly away like a bird and their licentious worship of unnatural vices would avenge itself so that there would be no pregnancy and no birth, the promised increase would stop. It seems Hosea 9:14-17 are an outburst of the prophet. How literally the sentence has been fulfilled. “They will be wanderers.”

Hosea 10:1-11 . Here is another retrospect, Israel once called to be a thriving vine (not empty), called to be fruitful; but Israel did not bring forth the expected fruit. As the nation abounded and prospered they increased their idol altars; as the land yielded its increase in the same measure they made their images. Their heart was smooth, or deceitful, for this they will now have to suffer. “Their heart is smooth; now will they make expiation.” They will have no more king. The smooth or deceitful heart is described in Hosea 10:4 , while in the verse which follows the judgment upon their calves they worshipped is announced. It, the calf, will be carried to Assyria to be made a present of to the king. The high places will be destroyed and thorns and thistles will overgrow its altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall upon us!” Well, it is to read In connection with this prophetic statement what our Lord said about the judgment of Jerusalem in Luke 23:30 and what is written in connection with the breaking of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:16 .

Gibeah is mentioned (Hosea 10:9 ). The corruption of Gibeah is also noted in Hosea 9:9 . The horrible abomination of Gibeah is recorded in Judges 19:1-30 in consequence of which the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. And the people had become as wicked and guilty as Benjamin at Gibeah. The nations are now to be used to punish Israel. “And the nations will gather themselves against them, when I bind them for their offenses” (Hosea 10:10 , literal translation) .

Hosea 10:12-15 . Here is a break in the judgment message. If they would return to the Lord and would sow righteousness, they would reap mercy. But such sowing is impossible unless the fallow ground is broken up, that is, true repentance and a heart return unto the Lord. “For it is time to seek the Lord, until He come and rain righteousness upon you.” In what infinite patience He waited for the repentance of His people! But while He would save them, they would not! Still God’s gifts and calling are without repentance and the day will come when a remnant of Israel will seek the Lord; then He will come and rain righteousness upon them.

How different was their condition! The Lord rebukes them, for they had ploughed wickedness, and reaped iniquity. The noise of war is now heard; Shalman (a contracted form of Shalmanezer, the King of Assyria) is advancing and shall destroy all their fortresses as he destroyed Beth-arbel. (There is no further record of Beth-arbel and its destruction.) And who was responsible for all this havoc and the impending calamity? “Thus has Bethel done to you, for the evil of your great evil. In the early morning the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off.” Bethel was the seat of Israel’s idolatry, it drew God’s wrath and finally ended the monarchy in Israel and their national existence.

Hosea 11:1-11 . This chapter starts with a beautiful allusion to Israel’s youth, when in sovereign love He called Israel, His firstborn son, out of Egypt, redeeming them by blood and power Exodus 4:22-31 . But this passage is quoted in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son” Matthew 2:15 . The blending together of Israel and Christ is very interesting. Christ is the true Israel and goes through the entire history of the nation, without failure and in divine perfection. He was carried as an infant into the land where Israel suffered in the fiery furnace; and finally He died for that nation and in some future day through Him, the true Israel (called such in Isaiah 49:1-26 ), Israel’s great future and glory will come to pass.

But while the Son of God, the true Israel, was perfect and holy in all His ways, Israel was unfaithful. This record of Jehovah’s faithfulness and mercy is here unfolded. He sent them prophets who called them, but they turned away from Him and gave themselves over to the Baalim and the idol-gods. How loving He had been to them! He led them, took them into His arms and healed them. He drew them with cords of love and was towards them “as those that would raise the yoke-strap over their jaws, and I reached out to them to eat” (Hosea 11:4 ). It is a beautiful picture of His great gentleness with them. Perhaps some of them were anxious to turn to Egypt and find a home there and thus escape the cruel Assyrian. But the Lord declares that they shall not return to Egypt, but Assyria is to be their king, because they refused to return. The sword of judgment would do its work completely (Hosea 11:6-7 ). Then follows a most wonderful outburst of deepest sorrow over the stubborn nation:

How should I give you up, Ephraim?

How shall I surrender thee, Israel?

How should I make thee like Admah?

Or set thee like Zeboim?

My heart is turned within me;

My repentings are kindled together.

It is the same Lord who speaks here, who centuries later stood before the city and broke out in loud weeping when He beheld the city: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” Luke 19:42 . “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” Matthew 23:37 . How He loves His people! And though He has punished them, He does not forsake them; He will not be angry forever; He is a covenant keeping God, “For I am God and not man” (Hosea 11:9 ). “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” Malachi 3:6 . And so here, this chapter of Jehovah’s mercy ends with the assurance of their future restoration and blessing. “They will follow the Lord.” That will be “when like a lion He roars.” That is the day when He appears again as “The lion of the tribe of Judah.” Then, in that day, like a bird from Egypt they will hasten back and like a dove from Assyria. “Then will I make them dwell in their houses, saith the Lord.” Here is another prophecy of their restoration to their own, God-given home land.

Verse 12

CHAPTERS 11:12-12:14 The Indictment

1. Ephraim’s indictment (Hosea 11:12 ; Hosea 12:1-2 )

2. Remembrance of the past (Hosea 12:3-6 )

3. What Israel had become (Hosea 12:7-14 )

Chapter 11:12-12:2. Lying and deceit had been Ephraim’s course towards Jehovah; instead of trusting Him and following Him faithfully they had attached themselves to idols, while Judah still outwardly cleaved to Jehovah, though it was in a rambling way. The word translated “ruleth” means rambling. The better rendering of the sentence is “and Judah is also rambling towards God (or unbridled against Him) and towards the faithful Holy One.” But while outwardly Judah seemed to be all right, Ephraim fed on wind, was occupied with the vain, the empty things, increased in lies and desolation and turned to Assyria and Egypt for help, sending as a present olive oil to the latter and making a covenant with the former (see 2 Kings 17:4 ). Then the mask is torn from Judah’s face. The Lord had a controversy with them also and would repay them according to their evil deeds.

Hosea 12:3-6 . Jacob’s sons are now reminded of Jacob’s experience. Though he was so weak and sinful yet the Lord in marvelous grace met him. The experience at Peniel is recalled. “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him.” There he learned the sufficiency of grace and his strength was made perfect in weakness. The angel who appeared unto him that night was none other than the Son of God. What a reminder it was to them. “He found him (Jacob) in Bethel!” In the very place where the Lord found Jacob and Jacob found the Lord, they had set up their awful, God-denying idol worship. Where God had shown such mercy there they practiced now their abominations. Jehovah, the God of hosts, was still the same. He is the Lord who changes not. He was waiting still for their return. To such a God, who keeps His covenant promises they were urged to return and prove their true return by keeping mercy and justice and by waiting on Jehovah continually. But the call of grace and mercy was unheeded.

Hosea 12:7-14 . The Lord calls apostate Israel a merchant, that is in Hebrew “Canaan.” (Canaan means traffic; see Ezekiel 17:4 .) They had become Canaanites with the balances of deceit, loving to oppress. They had become fraudulent merchants, by cheating and oppression. Their wrong attitude towards Jehovah, having forsaken Him, led to a wrong attitude towards their fellowmen. Instead of repenting they boasted, “I am become rich, I have found me out substance.” They were breaking the law continually Leviticus 19:36 and Deuteronomy 25:13-16 . Yet in all their lawbreaking they prided themselves of being a righteous nation. “In all my labors they shall find no iniquity in me that were sin.” How all this fits a good part of the Jews today is too well known to need further comment.

Some day it will be different through the grace and mercy of the never-changing Lord. He is the Jehovah who delivered them out of Egypt; all their blessing and prosperity they owed to Him; He had guided and preserved them, and all their sinning would not diminish His faithfulness to them. They are going to dwell again some day in tents, a reference to the feast of tabernacles, that great feast which typifies the coming millennial blessings for restored Israel. Such had been the continued testimony of the prophets He had sent, who announced the coming judgments and the final blessings in a future day. But now everything was ruin on account of their idolatry. Gilgal was the seat of a part of their idolatry (Hosea 4:15 , Hosea 9:15 ). Then once more they are reminded of their progenitor Jacob. He fled before Esau his brother, yet though he was weak he served faithfully for a wife and for a wife he kept guard and Jehovah guarded and blest him. So He would concern Himself with them again. The twenty-sixth chapter of Deuteronomy throws light on this passage. But what was Ephraim’s condition? Instead of acknowledging all Jehovah had done for Jacob and his offspring they provoked Him to bitter anger, therefore the Lord would punish them.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Hosea 11". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/hosea-11.html. 1913-1922.
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