Friday, June 9th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Hosea 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ hosea-11.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Hosea 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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In Hosea 11:1-4 Jehovah enumerates the benefits conferred on Israel all along from the time of their departure out of Egypt. But parallel with this enumeration runs the history of Israel's ingratitude.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. Driver uses this verse to exemplify the principle that when the reference is to what is past or certain, rather than to what is future or indefinite, we find the predicate or the apodosis introduced by וַּ, though not with nearly the same frequency as לperfect and vav causes
(1) with subject or object pre-fixed;
(2) after time-determinations.
The life of a nation has its stages of rise, progress, and development, like the life of an individual man. The prophet goes back to that early period when the national life of Israel was in its infancy; it was then that a few patriarchs who had gone down to sojourn in Egypt were becoming a people; the predicate precedes, to emphasize, that early day when Israel became God's peculiar people. The vav marks the apodosis recording God's love in choosing that people, calling them into the relation of sonship, and delivering them out of Egypt. Thus Kimchi says, "When Israel was vet a child, i.e. in Egypt, then I loved him, therefore I am more angry with them than with the rest of the nations; for from their youth onward I have loved them, and delivered them out of the bands of their enemies. But when they transgress my commandments it is incumbent on me to chastise them as a man chastises his son."
(1) The people of Israel is called God's son in consequence of God choosing them and bringing them into close relationship to himself, such as that of a son to a father. The commencement was the message to Pharaoh by Moses in the words, "Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me." This sonship was solemnly ratified by the giving of the Law at Sinai; and the condition clearly stated that, in the event of their preserving the knowledge of God, fulfilling his Law, and doing his will, they would at all times enjoy Divine protection, defense, and blessing, while from generation to generation they were addressed by that honorable title.
(2) As the deliverance hem Egypt is always described as a "leading" or "bringing out," and never elsewhere as a "calling out," some expositors maintain that the words, "out of Egypt," signify from the time Israel was in Egypt, and are parallel to "when Israel was a child," both referring to time, the time of national infancy. From that period God began to manifest his love, and in its manifestation he called him by the endearing name of "son"—my son. The words of this verse are applied by St. Matthew to the sojourn of Jesus in Egypt. The older interpreters refer
(a) the first part of the verse to Israel and the second part typically to the history of Messiah's childhood, in whom that of Israel reached its completeness. Rather
(b) the verse was applied typically to Israel, and to Jesus as the antitype; to the former primarily, and to the latter secondarily. Thus the head and the members are comprehended in one common prediction.
As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
(1) Adverting to his own call mentioned in the first verse, God here refers to the many subsequent calls which he addressed to them through his servants the prophets and other messengers.
(2) The subject of the verb is erroneously understood by some, as, for example, Aben Ezra and Eichhorn, to be the idols, or their false priests or prophets; while
(3) Jerome is also mistaken in referring the words to the time of Israel's rebelling when Moses and Aaron wished to lead them out of Egypt. The correct reference is that first stated, and the sense is that, instead of appreciating the invitations and monitions of the prophets of God, they showed their utter insensibility and thanklessness, turning away from them in contempt and scorn. Nay, the more the messengers of God called them, the more they turned a deaf ear to those who were their truest friends and best advisers. Pursuing their idolatrous practices, they sacrificed to Baal, that is to say, the various representations of that idol, and burned incense to their images, whether of wood or stone or precious metal. Thus Kimchi correctly comments as follows: "The prophets which I sent to them called to them morning and evening to turn to Jehovah, so (much the more) did they go away from them, not hearkening to their words nor desisting from their evil works." The word כֵן, even so, denoting the measure or relation, corresponds to ואשר to be supplied in the first clause. The imperfects imply continuance of action or a general truth.
(4) The Septuagint rendering, followed by the Syriac, is ἐκ προσώπου μου αὐτοὶ, "from my presence: they;" as if they had read on מִפָנַי הֵם instead of the present text.
I taught Ephraim also to fro, taking them by their alms; but they knew not that I healed them. This picture of God's guiding and guarding care of Ephraim is very touching and tender. It is that of an affectionate parent or tender nurse teaching a child to walk by leading-strings; taking it up in the arms when stumbling or making a false step; and in case it fell curing the wound. Thus, nurse-like, God taught Ephraim, his wayward perverse child, to use his feet (so the original word imports), all the while lending considerate help and seasonable aid. He took them by the hand to guide them, that they might not stray; he took them in his arms to hold them up, that they might not stumble and to help them over any obstacle that might lie in the way; and when, left to themselves during a short season, and in order to test their strength, they did stumble and fall, he healed their hurt. And yet they did not apprehend nor appreciate God's gracious design and dealings with them in thus guiding and guarding them, and in healing their diseases both temporal and spiritual. There is, perhaps, an allusion to Exodus 15:26, "I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee." This promise, it will be remembered, was vouchsafed immediately after the bitter waters of Marah had been sweetened by the tree which, according to Divine direction, had been cast therein. Thus Kimchi: "And they have not acknowledged that I healed them of every sickness and every affliction, as he said, 'I will put none of these diseases upon thee.'" The reference is rather to all those evidences of his love which God manifested to them during their forty years' wandering in the wilderness; or perhaps to his guidance of them by 'his Law throughout their entire history. Rashi remarks that "they knew it very well, but dissembled [literally, 'trod it down with the heel,' equivalent to 'despised'] and acted, as if they did not know." The word תדגלחי is properly taken both by Kimchi and Gesenius
(1) for הרגלחי; the former says; "The tav stands in place of he: this is the opinion of the grammarians;" the latter regards it as a solitary example of Tiphel; others again consider it a corrupt reading instead of the ordinary form of Hiph.
(2) Some take it for a noun, as J. Kimchi, who says it is "a noun after the form of חפארחי, and although the word is Milel (while in תפארחי it is Milra), yet it is the same form;" thus the translation is, "As for me, my guidance was to Ephraim;" so Jerome, "I have been as a nurse to Ephraim;" likewise also Cyril. The former explanation is simpler and also otherwise preferable.
(3) The Septuagint has the incorrect rendering συνεπόδισα, "I bound the feet of Ephraim," which Jerome explains, "I bound the feet of Ephraim that they might not fly further from me," though his own rendering is that given above.
The word קהם has also occasioned some difficulty and consequent diversity of explanation.
(1) Some explain it to be an infinitive construct equivalent to the Latin gerund in -do, as elsewhere. Thus in the Authorized Version it is "taking them by their arms;' but the common form of the infinitive of this verb is קחַת; besides, the suffixes ־ָם and יָ־ו are contradictory.
(2) Olshausen and Ewald read אֶקָּהֵם in the first person, the received text having, according to the latter, maintained its place only through ורועחיו; but this is conjectural and wants manuscript authority.
(3) Still worse is Abarbanel's interpretation, who understands the subject of the verb and the suffix of the noun as referring to Ephraim; thus: "He (Ephraim) took them (i.e. the idols) on his arms."
(4) The correct explanation, as we think, is that of Kimchi and Gesenius, who take the verb for לְקָחָם by a not unusual aphaeris of the lamed: "He took them in his arms," the transition from the first to the third person being justified by the pictorially descriptive style of the passage. The following comment of Kimchi is worthy of attention: "The prophet only mentions Ephraim (instead of all Israel), because it was he that made the calves. He says, 'And how does Ephraim reward me for this that I bestowed on them so many benefits, and accustomed them to go on their feet, and did not burthen them with my commandments and my service?' And because he has compared Ephraim to a boy, he uses the word, 'I led them by strings.' Just as one leads a boy that he may accustom himself to go little by little without trouble, so I led them from station to station, when I brought them out of Egypt; I led them gradually without overexertion, the cloud going before them by day, and the pillar of fire by night."
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. This verse contains a further representation of Jehovah's fatherly guidance of Israel. The cords of a man are such as parents use in leading weak or young children. Bands of lore qualify more closely the preceding expression, "cords of a man," and are the opposite of those which men employ in taming or breaking wild and unmanageable animals. The explanation of Rashi is similar: "I have always led them with tender cords such as these with which a man leads his child, as if he said with loving guidance." Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in their explanations, carry out more fully the same idea. The former says, "The bands of love are not like the bands which are fastened on the neck of a plowing heifer;" the latter, "Because he compared Ephraim to a heifer, and people lead a heifer with cords, he says, 'I have led Israel by the cords of a man, and not the cords of a heifer which one drags along with resistance, but as a man draws his fellow-man without compelling him to go with resistance: even so I have led them after a gentle method;' and therefore he afterward calls them (cords of a man) bands of love." The LXX; taking חֶבֶל from חָבַל, in the sense of" injure," "destroy," have the mistaken rendering ἐν διαφθορᾶ ἀνθρώτων ... ἐξέτεινα αὐτοὺς, "When men were destroyed I drew them." The other Greek versions have the correct rendering. And I was to them as they that take off the yoke. The word herim does not mean "to lift up on" and so "impose a yoke," as some think, nor "to take away the yoke," but "to lift it up." The figure is that of a humane and compassionate husbandman raising upwards or pushing backwards the yoke over the cheeks or dewlaps of the ox, that it may not press too heavily upon him or hinder him while eating. The reference is, according to Kimchi, to "taking the yoke off the neck, and letting it hang on the jaw, that it may not pull but rest from labor one or more hours of the day." The fact thus figuratively expressed is, not the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, but the loving-kindness of Jehovah in lightening the fulfillment of the Law to Israel.
(2) The LXX. omit the word עֹל, yoke, and strangely translates the clause, "I will be to them as a man smiting (another) on the cheeks." And I laid meat unto them.
The older and many modern interpreters,
(1) taking וְאַט as the first person future apoc; Hiph; from נטח, translate, "And I reached them food to eat," namely, the manna in the wilderness. This would require וָאַט, which some substitute for the present reading.
(2) Ewald, Keil, and others take אט as an adverb in the sense of" gradually," "gently," translating, "And gently towards him did I give him feral," or "I gently fed him." Some, again, as Kimchi, take
(a) אוכיל as a noun, after the form of אופיר; and others
(b) take it to be an anomalous form for אַאַכִיל, the first person future Hiph; like אוֹבִיר for אַאֲבִיד (Jeremiah 46:8).
(3) In this clause also the Septuagint, probably reading as follows: וֵאַט אֵלָיו אוּכַל לוֹ, translates, Ἐπιβλέψομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν δυνήσομαι αὐτῷ, "I will have respect to him; I will prevail with him." Continuing the several clauses of this verse, we may express the meaning of the whole as follows: "Cords of a man" denote humane methods which Jehovah employed in dealing with and drawing his people—not such cords as oxen or other animals are drawn by; while "bands of love" is a kindred expression, explaining and emphasizing the former, and signifying such leading-strings as those with which a parent lovingly guides his child. The means employed by God for the help, encouragement, and support of his people were kind as they were bountiful. His benevolent and beneficent modes of procedure are further exhibited by another figure of like origin; for just as a considerate and compassionate man, a humane husbandman, gives respite and relief to the oxen at work by loosening the yoke and lifting it up off the neck upon the cheeks; and thus affords not only temporary rest and ease, but also allows an occasional mouthful or more of food, or even abundant provender, to the animal which toils in the yoke while plowing or at other work; so Jehovah extended to Israel, notwithstanding their frequent acts of unfaithfulness, his sparing mercy and tender compassions, supplying them in abundant measure with all that they needed for the sustenance and even comforts of life. Thus their sin in turning aside to other gods, which were no gods, in quest of larger benefits and more liberal support and succor, was all the more inexcusable.
The next three verses (5-7) describe the severe chastisement Israel incurred by ingratitude for, and contempt of, the Divine love.
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. These words sound like an announcement that the season of Divine grace, so long extended to that sin-laden people, had at length expired; and that on account of their stubborn and on-grateful rebellion against Jehovah they would be forced, to go into exile and become subject to the monarch of Assyria.
(1) They had been threatened with a return to Egypt and its bondage in Hosea 8:13, "They shall return to Egypt;" and Hosea 9:3, "Ephraim shall return to Egypt;" vet now God, without any change of purpose, changes his mode of procedure, not allowing them to return to Egypt, but dooming them to a worse bondage under the Assyrians.
(2) Having been tributary to Assyria from the time of Menahem, they had revolted and applied to Egypt for help; now, however, no help would be permitted to come from Egypt nor even an opportunity of applying for it allowed. The power of Assyria would be paramount; instead, therefore, of native kings and Egyptian auxiliaries, Israel would have to submit to that iron yoke. However desirous of returning to Egypt, they would have neither the power nor the privilege of doing so. And this poor privilege of a choice of masters they were refused as a just retribution, because they had not repented of their sin and returned to God. Various methods have been resorted to, to harmonize the apparent contradiction alluded to, that is, between the affirmative and negative statements about Israel's return into Egypt.
(1) Dathe, Eichhorn, and De Wette agree with the LXX. in reading לוֹ instead of לא, and connecting it with the preceding verse; but the other versions, as well as the manuscripts, support the received text.
(2) Jerome and Rosenmüller explain it of the people's desire to conclude an alliance with Egypt in order to throw off the yoke of Assyria, being frustrated by the superior power of the latter; thus the sense is that they shall not return any more to Egypt, as they had lately done by their ambassadors, to seek help from that land or its people. Then he assigns the reason why they would not again send ambassadors to Egypt for the purpose indicated, because the Assyrian alone would be their king. The objection to this is that lo yashubu must refer to the whole people rather than to their ambassador going to and fro between the countries.
(3) Ewald, Maurer, and others cut the knot by taking lo interrogatively, as if it were halo, and thus equivalent to an affirmative, i.e. "Shall they not return to Egypt and the Assyrian be their king?" The expected answer would be in the affirmative. Neither grammar nor context sanctions this interrogative sense.
(4) According to Hitzig, Keil, Simson, and others, we are to understand Egypt in the previous places, viz. Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3, as received of the land of bondage, where in the present passage the typical sense is inadmissible, owing to the contrast with Assyria. Into Egypt Israel should not return, lest the object of the Exodus might seem frustrated, but a worse lot lay before them—another and harder bondage awaited them; the King of Assyria would be their king and reign over them, and all because of their impenitence and refusal to return to Jehovah. The following is the explanation of Kimchi: "They should not have returned to the land of Egypt to seek help; I had already said to them, 'Ye shall henceforth return no more that way;' for if they had returned to me, they would not have needed help from Egypt. And against their will Assyria rules over them, and they serve him and send him a present year by year. And why is all this? Because they refused, etc.; as if he said (they refused) to return to me; for if they had returned to me, foreign kings (literally, 'kings of the nations') would not have ruled ever them, but they would have ruled over the nations as they had done in the days of David and Solomon, when they did my will; and so have I assured them, 'Thou shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.'" The root of מאן is cognate with מנע, to hold back, refuse; the le strengthens the connection of the objectival infinitive with the governing verb; the ellipsis of אֵלֶי is obvious.
And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them. A more accurate rendering would be, and the sword shall sweep round in its cities, and destroy its bolts and devour. Nay, they could not free themselves from invasion and attack. The sword of war would whirl down upon their cities and consume the branches, that is, the villages, or the city bars, or the strong warriors set for defense. Some understand the word so variously interpreted in the sense of "liars," and refer it to the prophets, priests, and politicians who spake falsehood and. acted deceitfully. The word הלח is rendered
(1) "the sword," as the principal weapon in ancient warfare anti the symbol of war's destructive power shall sweep round in, circulate, or make the round of the cities of Israel; but
(2) others," whirl down," "light on ;" thus both Rashi and Kimchi. Again, בַדּים is, as already intimated, variously rendered. The most appropriate translation
(a) is (literally, "poles for carrying the ark," Exodus 25:13) "bolts or bars" for securing gates, the root being בדד, to separate.
(b) Some explain it as a figure for "mighty men;" so Jerome and the Targum, as also Rashi: "It destroys his heroes and consumes them." this is the meaning of the word preferred by Gesenius.
(c) Ewald understands it in the sense of "fortresses," especially on the frontier, by which a land is shut against or opened to the enemy.
(d) Aben Ezra and Kimchi take it to mean "branches," i.e. villages, and are followed by the Authorized Version. "The explanation of בי," says Kimchi, "is ' branches,' and it is a figure for villages, for he had already mentioned his cities; and villages are related to cities as branches to a tree; in like manner they are called ' daughters,' being related to a city as daughters to a mother."
(e) The LXX. render it by ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ, having read בְיָדָיו, as also the Syriac. Because of their own counsels. The cause of all their calamitous invasions, which city gates barred and bolted could not shut out, was their evil counsels in departing from the Lord, as Kimchi correctly explains: "All this comes upon them in consequence of their evil counsel, because they have forsaken my service to serve other gods." Rashi draws attention to the peculiarity of the accentuation—tasha and sellug—to separate it from the preceding word. The Septuagint here again blunders, obviously reading וְאָכְלוּ, and translating, "And shall eat (the fruit) of their evil counsel."
And my people are bent to backsliding from me. This first clause of the verse is very expressive, every word almost having an emphasis of its own. With all their sinfulness and shortcomings, Israel was still the people of God—my people; they were guilty of the sin of backsliding, and of backsliding from God, the best of benefactors and their chief good. Nor was it occasionally and after long intervals of time that they backslided; it was their habit, their tendency. They were suspended on, or rather fastened on, backsliding. Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him; margin, together they exalted him not. This second clause signifies either
(1) that the prophets called Israel from their idols to the Host High, yet none exalted him (literally, "together they did not or would not exalt him") by abandoning their idols and abstaining from backsliding; or,
(2) "though they call him (Israel) upwards, yet not one of them all will lift himself up," that is, they together—one and all—refused or neglected to lift themselves upward towards God or goodness.
The word תלוּאיס is equivalent to תְלֻאִים, the same as תלוים, from תלא, equivalent to תָלָה, so that it signifies, according to Keil,
(1) "suspended," "hung up, hanging fast upon," "impaled on; ' Hengstenberg,
(2) "swaying about from inconstancy," and "in danger of falling away;" but Pusey seems to combine both in the original sense of the word, and explains it as follows: "Literally, hung to it! as we say, 'a man's whole being hangs on a thing.' A thing hung to or on another sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung remains immovable, Its power of motion is restrained within these limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in Iris adherence to his sin itself." Though Rashi and the Targum of Jonathan make משובה as synonymous with תשובתּ, thus: "When the prophets teach them to return to me, they are in suspense whether to return or not to return; with difficulty do they return to me,"—they are, however, distinguished as turning away from and turning to God—aversion from and conversion to him; while the suffix ־ִי is objective, that is, "My people are hung to apostatizing from me."
The phrase אֶל־עַל is variously interpreted, by some as
(1) "upwards," the prophets being the subject; thus Rashi: "To the matter that is above him (Israel) the prophets call him unitedly; but my people do not lift themselves up nor desire to do it." Corruption was so deeply seated in Israel, that the idle mass gave no response to the voice of the prophets urging them upwards.
(2) Aben Ezra and Kimchi both take על as an adjective, and synonymous with אֶלְון, the Most High. Kimchi explains as follows: "He says, My people oscillate between distress and freedom; sometimes distress comes upon them, and again they are in the condition of freedom, and this takes place for their backsliding from me, as if he said, because of the backsliding and rebellion which they practice against me … The prophets call them constantly to return to God most high." So Aben Ezra: "The interpretation is, the callers call him to the Most High, and they are the prophets of God; but they all in one way raise not the head."
(3) Jerome takes it for עֹל, a yoke, and renders accordingly: "But a yoke shall be imposed on them together, that is not taken away."
The verb ירְוֹמְם signifies,
(1) according to Gesenius and many others, "to celebrate with praises," or "extol." It is rather
(2) "to lift one's self up," "rise upwards;" nor is it necessary with this sense to supply ירְאֹשׁוֹ, his head, with Grotius, nor yet to understand it written for or in the sense of ירְוֹמַם, with Joseph Kimchi. Similarly the Syriac: "They call him to God, but they think together, conspire, and do not raise themselves." The word יתד is "all together," and therefore יַחַדלא is "no one." The LXX. translate
(3) the second clause as follows: "But God shall be angry with his precious things, and shall not at all exalt him," having probably read וְאֶל־עַל יְקָרָיו יִהַר
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? This verse paves the way for transition to promise. Although the Israelites on account of such conduct had merited complete annihilation, yet Jehovah, for his love and mercy's sake, substitutes grace for justice, and will not destroy them from off the face of the earth. One rendering
(1) gives the clause the turn of an exclamation rather than of an interrogation; thus: "How readily and justly could I [or should I, or how thoroughly could I if I punished thy rebellion as I deserved] give thee up to destruction!" We prefer
(2) the ordinary rendering, by which it is treated as a question: "How shall I give thee up to the power of the enemy, and not only that, but destroy thee?" Calvin's exposition seems indeed to favor the former: "Here," he says, "God consults what he is to do with the people; and first, indeed, he shows that it was his purpose to execute vengeance such as the Israelites deserved, even wholly to destroy them; but yet he assumes the character of one deliberating, that none might think that he hastily fell into anger, or that, being soon excited by excessive fury, he devoted to ruin those who had lightly sinned, or were guilty of no great crimes By these expressions of the text God shows what the Israelites deserved, and that he was now inclined to inflict the punishment of which they were worthy, and yet not without repentance, or at least not without hesitation. He afterwards adds in the next clause, This I will not do; my heart is within me changed." Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. The עַל, literally, "upon," "with," then, "in," or "within:" "My heart is turned or changed from anger to pity in me." The expression, יַהַד נִכְמְרוּ, signifies, according to Rashi, "one warmed," as in Genesis 43:30, where this same word is rendered in the Authorized Version," yearned:" "His bowels did yearn upon his brother," or "warmed towards." But
(2) many modern interpreters understand the word in the sense of" gathering themselves together:" "The feelings of compassion gathered themselves together;" nichumim, from Piel נִחֵם, a noun of the form הבוד, less definite than rachamim, bowels, as the seat of the emotions, "gathered themselves together," or "were excited all at once." The cities of the plain included Admah and Zeboim, Sodom and Gomorrah, all of which, in consequence of their sins, were overthrown and perished in one common calamity. In Deuteronomy 29:23 these cities are all named, though Admah and Zeboim are not mentioned by name in the narrative of the catastrophe contained in Genesis. Though Israel had been as guilty and deserving of wrath as these, God expresses strong reluctance to deliver them over into the hands and power of their enemies, or to give them up to destruction. His heart revolted at the thought, and turned aside from the fierceness of his anger, though so fully deserved, into the direction of mercy; a new turn was given to his feelings in the direction of compassion. All his relentings or repentings together—one and all—yearned or were at once aroused. Repenting on the part of God is an expression suited to human comprehension, implying no change of purpose on the side of God, but only a change of procedure consistent with his purpose of everlasting love. "The Law speaks in the language of the sons of men."
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim. The promise of this verse is in harmony with the spirit of compassion expressed in the preceding. It is at once the effect and evidence of that feeling of Divine compassion. God would neither execute the burning heat of his wrath, for so the words literally mean, nor destroy Ephraim utterly, or again any more as formerly. The historic event referred to may be the destruction effected by Tiglath-pileser, ally of Ahaz King of Judah against Pekah King of Israel and Rezin King of Syria, when he carried away captive the inhabitants of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, as we read in 2 Kings 15:29, "In the days of Pekah King of Israel came Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazer, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." But while this is probably the primary allusion, there is an ulterior reference to the future restoration of Israel. For I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city (or, come into bumming wrath, Keil). A reason is here assigned for the exercise of the Divine commiseration just expressed; this reason is God's covenant of everlasting love. He is God, and must be measured by a Divine standard—not man, implacable and revengeful; though his people's provocation had been grievous, God was in the midst of them as their God, long-suffering and steadfast to his covenant of love and purposes of mercy. He would not enter
(a) into the city as an enemy, and for the purpose of utter destruction, as he had entered into the cities of the plain for their entire and final ruin; or,
(b) if the alternative rendering be preferred, he would not come into burning wrath. The fiery heat or fierceness of God's wrath tends to destruction, not the amendment of the impenitent. The expression, "I will not return," may also be understood as equivalent to
(1) "I will not turn from my pity and promises;" or, "I will not turn away from Israel;" but
(2) it suits the context better to translate on the principle of two verbs expressing one idea in a modified sense, i.e. "I will not return to destroy," that is, "I will not again destroy Ephraim." Jerome's explanation favors the first, and is, "I will not act according to the fury of my anger, nor change from my clemency to destroy Ephraim; for I do not strike to destroy for ever, but to amend... for I am God and not man. Man punishes for this purpose of destroying; God chastises for the purpose of amending." As God, his purpose of mercy was changeless; as the Holy One in Israel, he was infinitely pure and absolutely perfect, "the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." The meaning
(1) already given of coming into the city is supported by ancient versions, Hebrew expositors, and some of the ablest Christian commentators; yet
(2) we prefer that which understands עיּד in the sense of "the heat of wrath," deriving it from עוּד effervescence, which is that given in Keil's translation. There is
(3) an explanation strongly advocated by Bishop Lowth and adopted by Rosenmüller. It is as follows in the words of the bishop: "Jerome is almost singular in his explanation: 'I am not one of those who inhabit cities; who live according to human laws; who think cruelty justice.' Castalio follows Jerome. There is, in fact, in the latter member of the sentence, לאאי בי, a parallelism and synonym to לי אי in the former. The future אי has a frequentative power (see Psalms 22:3 and Psalms 22:8), 'I am not accustomed to enter a city: I am not an inhabitant of a city.' For there is a beautiful opposition of the different parts: 'I am God, and not man.' This is amplified in the next line, and the antithesis a little varied: ' I am thy God, inhabiting with thee, but in a peculiar and extraordinary manner, not in the manner of men.' Nothing, I think, can be plainer or more elegant than this." The bishop's rendering of the whole verse is—
"I will not do according to the fervent of my wrath,
I will not return£ to destroy Ephraim:
For I am God, and not man;
Holy in the midst of thee, though I inhabit not thy cities."
They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lien: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. Others translate, "After the Lord shall they go as after a lion that roareth." But this necessitates a double ellipsis of "after which." They would go after the Lord in obedience to his summons. That summons is represented as far-reaching and terrible. Calling his people to return, the Lord roars as a lion, to denote at once the loudness of the call, and the awful majesty of the Lord when thus calling his people to return. "As a lion," says Kimchi, "which roars that the animals whose king he is may assemble to him, so the Israelites shall assemble on hearing the voice of the Lord when he roars." The roaring of the lion may signify his terrible judgments on Israel's enemies, when he calls his people home from the lands of their dispersion. The result would be a speedy return of his children from the lands of the West—the countries round or beyond the Mediterranean.
They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt. The trembling here is eager haste, or precipitate agitation, in which they would hurry home, and that from west and east and south—from west as we infer from Hosea 11:10, from Assyria in the east and Egypt in the south. They would thus hurry as a bird home to its nest in the greenwood; as a dove no longer a silly dove, but flying home to its window. This chapter is regarded by some as ending here. Others include Hosea 11:12.
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: hut Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. The first clause sets forth the faithlessness and insincerity of Israel, and that in contrast with Judah. Thus understood, the verse properly belongs to the present chapter. But others understand the last clause differently, and deny the contrast, viz. "Judah is yet defiant towards God and towards the All-Holy One, who is faithful."
A rich display of God's mercy, love, and long-suffering.
One chief design of Scripture is to recommend to sinners the goodness and grace of God "The whole Scripture," says Luther, "aims especially at this, that we doubt not, but certainly hope, trust, and believe that God is gracious, merciful, and long-suffering."
I. GOD'S LOVE IS UNMERITED. This is evident from the condition of Israel when he became the object of this love. That condition was one of childhood, and so of childish ignorance, of childish impotence, of childish folly; for folly is bound up in the heart of a child. Nay, if we compare Ezekiel 16:4-8, we find the natural state of the nation to have been still worse; that wretched state is there vividly exhibited under the similitude of a poor perishing infant in the most pitiable condition. So with persons individually as well as nationally. When, to use the figure of the prophet, we were polluted, literally trodden down, and perishing in our own blood, he passed by us end looked upon us, and his tone was a tone of love.
II. GOD'S LOVE IS A LOVE OF BENEVOLENCE. He calls Israel his son. The relation of a son to a father is a very near and dear one. The privilege of sonship is very great. David esteemed it no light thing to be a king's son-in-law. How unspeakably greater it is to be a son of God by adoption as well as by creation, and thus to be an heir of glory I "Is Ephraim my dear son?" God inquires; and again he says, "I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." But though the privilege of being a son of God is great and the dignity high, it does not necessarily exempt us from sore trials and severe sufferings; it rather secures for us such paternal chastening as for the present is not joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward productive of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Though Israel was God's son, yet Israel was for years in Egypt.
III. GOD'S LOVE IS A LOVE OF BENEFICENCE. God not only wishes well but does well to every son whom he receiveth into his family. Though Israel had been long in Egypt, he was not allowed to remain there. God in due time called his son out of Egypt. It was a night much to be remembered when that call reached them. God speaks the word and it is done; his call is effectual for the purpose intended. However great our distress, it only requires a word from God to relieve us; and that word is as easily spoken as the call which one man addresses to another when he would invite him from some distance to his side. Strange indeed it may appear to us that God's people Israel had been so long left in Egypt, and equally strange it is that the dearly beloved of his soul are often delivered into the hand of their enemies. "It is a strange sight indeed to see a child of God, an heir of heaven, a co-heir with Jesus Christ, one dearer to God than heaven and earth, subject to the power, the caprice, and lusts of wicked, base, ungodly men; yea, it may be, for a time slaves to Satan."
IV. GOD'S LOVE IS FREQUENTLY UNREQUITED LOVE. As God by his messengers called Israel, Israel turned his back upon those messengers and a deaf ear to their call. Nay, like disobedient children or stubborn servants, they actually turned in the opposite direction. As God's mercy was manifested in delivering them out of the furnace of affliction and then calling to obedience; so their stubbornness appeared in, and their sin was aggravated by, their refusal to hearken to that call, and still more by their running in a direction the right opposed. Thus we read in Jeremiah, "They turned unto me the back, and not the face."
V. GOD'S LOVE IS TENDER LOVE.
1. It combines the tenderness of a parent with the carefulness of a nurse. When the way was dark and obscure, he guided them as by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Thus he pointed out the way and showed them the direction in which they were to walk. Thus he taught them to go. When obstacles lay in the way and difficulties blocked it, he lifted them up by the arms and carried them over all hindrances. Similarly we read in Deuteronomy, "In the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went." Now he took them by the hand and led them again; he lifted them up and carried them in the arms, ever conducting them in the right way.
2. So with us all more or less the path in life is untrod upon; frequently we are at a standstill; often we are sorely perplexed to know which way we should go; often and often we go astray and wander from the way. Again, there are stumbling-blocks in the way, and we stumble and fall over them. What need we have to depend on Divine love all the way, ever praying, "Lord, take us by the hand and lead us; Lord, hold up our goings in thy paths that our footsteps slip not; Lord, keep our feet from falling, our eyes from tears, and our soul from death"!
3. The way may be strait, as when Israel was hemmed in between mountains, the sea before them and Pharaoh's host behind; or it may be difficult, and so steep as well as steep, it; or it may be dangerous, for in the way through the wilderness there is the place of lions' dens and the mountains of the leopards; but, notwithstanding all such drawbacks, we have reason to bless God for leading us forth by the right way. And when we are in greatest straits and the way is hardest, we have only to cry to God in our trouble; and as he led Israel of old, so will he lead us also forth by the right way. "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn." Thus God not only bears his people, but bears with his people; and commissions his ministering servants to do likewise, as he commanded Moses, "Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child."
VI. GOD'S LOVE IS RESTORATIVE. In spite of all God's love and care, we run into the way of danger through our own frowardness or folly. We stumble and fall, getting many a sore bruise and severe knock. Yet God in his love restores us; he heals us. As the child, when hurt, runs to the parent for sympathy—to the mother kiss the wound and make it well; so, when unhappily we have strayed from the way, and got bruised and hurt and painfully wounded through our own willfulness, we are encouraged to return to God, and he will heal us. God might, indeed, if he dealt with us in strict justice, leave us to ourselves and to the sad consequences of our own sinful waywardness, and refuse to lead us any more. Not so, however. As he says by the Prophet Isaiah, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners."
VII. GOD'S LOVE IS PERSUASIVE MORALLY, NOT MECHANICALLY. He deals with us as a rational being, treating us neither as machines nor yet as "dumb driven cattle." The lower animal must sometimes be drawn, or forced with a degree of violence; but God does not draw men in this way. In drawing them he uses neither hard cords nor iron bands. He draws us by rational means, addressing himself to our intelligence and appealing to our affections. Thus Paul says, "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say." He draws us by persuasion and argument. He draws us with gentleness, and not by force. He employs the mildest means and the tenderest motives. He draws us in a manner suitable to the dignity of our nature. Made in the image of God, originally created in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and still possessed of great susceptibilities, strong affections, warm emotions, and tender sensibilities, we are treated by God with a considerate regard to the high qualities with which he has endowed us. Accordingly he draws us with human cords and Divine love. The instrumentality employed is human, and the love that employs it is Divine.
VIII. GOD'S LOVE IS ALLEVIATING LOVE. As the humane husbandman lightens the labor of the weary beasts, and lifts up the yoke on its jaws in order to ease it and give it some respite, so God lifts up the weight that presses on the back of poor humanity. He sustains us under our burdens, or even shares with us the load. Sometimes he removes the yoke entirely; oftener he gives respite and refreshment; always he sanctifies the load of labor, or care, or trouble, or suffering, or sorrow of whatever kind which his own hand has laid on the back of his people, and never does he lay more on them than he enables them by his grace and strength to bear.
IX. GOD'S LOVE IS SATISFYING LOVE. The figure is continued in the words, "And laid meat unto them." The same kind hand that lifts up the yoke, by way of respite and relief, supplies provender for the purpose of refreshment. God laid meat before his people in the desert, when he rained down manna and sent them quails. The same bountiful Benefactor spreads a table before us daily, and makes our cup run over. Better still, and surer token of his love, is the abundant spiritual provision he has made for the souls of his people, in giving them the bread that cometh down from heaven. "We are satisfied with the goodness of his house, even of his holy temple."
The ingratitude of Israel and its punishment.
Both are remarkably manifested in these verses. After all God's loving-kindness they refuse to turn to God.
I. THEIR PERVERSENESS. History repeats itself. This is true ecclesiastically as well as civilly, under the Jewish economy as in the Christian dispensation. Once before, at an early period in Hebrew history and on a remarkable occasion, the Israelites, discouraged by the teachings of the spies, debased by previous servitude, deficient in moral courage, and, worst of all, distrustful of Divine providence, refused to march into Canaan. They murmured against God and against Moses. "Back to Egypt," was their cry. And back they went, not to Egypt, but to wander in the wilderness for eight and thirty years longer, as a justly merited punishment for their unthankfulness and rebellion against God. Similarly on the occasion to which the prophet here refers. They bad grievously sinned against God, yet they fancied they would find refuge in Egypt; they had rebelled and resisted all the means employed to bring them back to God, but they would not return to him. And now they cry, like their forefathers, "To Egypt," as if shelter and safety could be obtained there. But God frustrates their silly, sinful purpose. A worse than the bondage of Egypt awaits them; they were destined to go into captivity to Assyria.
2. So with stubborn and stout-hearted sinners still. They will go anywhere, or resort to any expedient, even returning to Egypt, rather than return to God. For a time the prodigal would rather be a swineherd, and share the husks on which the swine fed, than return to the abundance of his father's house. "Some stubborn children care not what miseries they suffer rather than return and humble themselves to their parents;" so some stubborn spirits seem disposed, in their folly and desperation, to return to their former state of bondage and misery rather than repent and submit themselves to God. Let such beware lest, owing to their impatience and impenitence, a worse thing befall them.
II. THEIR PUNISHMENT. The three chief scourges by which God chastises a disobedient people are famine, pestilence, and the sword.
1. Of the three, the sword is, perhaps, the worst. At all events David thought it so. When he was called to make choice between seven years of famine, three days' pestilence, and three months' flight before the pursuing sword of the enemy, he preferred falling into the hand of God rather than into the hand of man, choosing the pestilence rather than the sword.
2. And yet the sword also has its commission from God, as we learn from the exclamation of the prophet, "O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still." But it is added, in answer to this inquiry, "How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore? there hath he appointed it."
3. The Prophet Hosea pictures the severity of the stroke either by the wide area which the sword swept over, or the length of time it continued to distress them; also by the fact that the cities which were looked upon as the strong fortresses, at all events the strength of the land, were the main objects of attack. Elsewhere in the fields or open country the ravages of war are not quite so dreadful as in the city with its crowded population, where human beings, densely massed together, are literally mowed down. Nor yet were the villages spared, nor did their bars shut out the enemy.
4. The duty of prayer is incumbent in time of war. This lesson is inculcated by the example of the psalmist. After speaking in the fifty-fifth psalm of having seen violence and strife in the city, while men hurried to and fro upon the walls, with other sad accompaniments of troublous times—mischief, sorrow, wickedness, deceit, and guile—he announces the course he pursued: "As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and call aloud: and he shall hear my voice;" while peace and deliverance were the happy outcome of his prayers: "He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me."
III. THEIR PRONENESS TO BACKSLIDE. Proneness to backsliding was not peculiar to the people or the period of Hosea's prophesyings. The unregenerate heart is invariably the source of backsliding. When a religious profession is influenced only by external motive and not by internal power, men may be expected to backslide. In the days of our Lord it was sorrowfully said of some that they went back and walked no more with Jesus. In seasons of religious revival, of many who make a profession of religion, that profession, in the case of some, proceeds from an outward impulse, certain convictions, or even the power of sympathy, and soon as the time of excitement is over they backslide; their convictions did not ripen into conversion; the root of the matter was never in them. The same is occasionally found in the case of some young communicants. At the first communion, the boy in the freshness of his youth, the girl in the purity of her childhood, feel much ardor of affection and manifest much fervor of devotion; but what from unfavorable surroundings, or evil communications, or little sins unchecked, the love of their espousals grows cold, and backsliding ensues. Even in the case of persons truly converted, a degree of coldness creeps over them; they seem to grow weary of the ways of God; they become apathetic, and backslide for a time. Beware of grieving the Holy Spirit; beware of resisting the strivings and stirrings of conscience; beware of putting the hand to the plough and then turning back or turning aside to folly; in a word, beware of backsliding. Be warned by that solemn Scripture, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
IV. THE PERPLEXITY CAUSED TO THE ALMIGHTY. With reverence be it spoken, the conduct of Israel seems to have puzzled the all-merciful One himself. Judgment was due, but love holds it in check; the vials of wrath were ready to be poured out, but the voice of mercy intercedes; punishment was well deserved, but the hand of pity pushes it aside. They had been called to the Most High, to acquaint themselves with him, to acknowledge him, and to accept him as their God and King; but they stopped their ears against those calls. They refused to lift themselves up from their low groveling course of conduct, and they refused to exalt the Most High, or to bless that glorious Name which is above all blessing and praise. We cannot exalt God, or make him more glorious than he is, "yet then God accounts himself to be exalted when he is known and acknowledged as the high, supreme, first Being; when we fear him as God; when we humble ourselves before him as before a God; when we are sensible of the infinite distance there is between him and us; when we are willing to consecrate what we are, or have, or can do, to the furtherance of his praise; when his will is made the rule of all our ways, and especially of his worship; when we make him the last end of all; when it is the great care of our souls and work of our lives to do what possibly we can, that he may be magnified and lifted up in the world; and when we account the least sin a greater evil than can be recompensed by all the good which heaven and earth can afford us;—when we do thus, God accounts himself exalted by us." But Israel had acted in opposition to all this; hence the controversy, the perplexity, the puzzling questions which follow. Four questions are followed by four answers.
(1) "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" to which the answer is, "Mine heart is turned within me."
(2) "How shall I deliver thee, Israel?" to which the reply is, "My repentings are kindled together."
(3) "How shall I make thee as Admah?" to which the response is, "I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger."
(4) "How shall I set thee as Zeboim?" to which the rejoinder is, "I will not return to destroy Ephraim."
V. THE PURPOSE DENOUNCED. He will not execute the fierceness of his wrath, nor return to destroy Ephraim, nor enter into the city. Here we note a remarkable contrast in God's dealings with us. He compares himself to a man in the exercise of mercy. It is different in regard to the execution of his wrath; then he is God and not man. In expressing his mercy he speaks after the manner of men; in the yearnings of his bowels, in the extent of his mercifulness, he expresses himself as man, though more, infinitely more, than man. But when he speaks of wrath, he assures us he is God and not man. A man of war may, with the soldiers under him, come upon a town or city, capture it, and plunder it; months or years elapse, and he returns to the same place again, lays siege to it, and sacks it, leaving it in a much worse state than at first. But God will not so return to destroy. He is God, not man. Free from all the weakness of human passion, from all vindictiveness of feeling, from all fickleness of purpose, from all the littlenesses of the human spirit, he dens not revoke his purposes nor recall his promises of mercy, neither does he retain his anger for ever, nor renew the outpouring of the vials of his wrath.
1. He is, besides, the Holy One: even in his vindicatory justice he is holy; no unholy element of any kind mingles with his wrath. Holiness is at once an attribute of his nature and a characteristic of all his administrations. Oh, to be holy as God is holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect! His presence is with his people, according to his promise, "I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people;" nay, more, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them."
2. When, in the close of verse 9, God says, "I will not enter into the city," it is "to be taken in reference to the manner of God's proceedings in the destruction of Sodom; after he had done conferring with Abraham, he entered into the city, and destroyed it by fire and brimstone. God many times stands at the gates of a city, ready to enter in and destroy it, but humiliation in prayer and reformation keep him out Oh! let not our sins cause a merciful God to go out, and a provoked God to enter in."
VI. THE PREDICTION UTTERED.
1. The walking after the Lord here predicted is to follow the Lord whithersoever he leadeth. The Savior is given fur a Leader to his people; he is represented as the Captain of salvation, and just as a good soldier follows his superior officer at the head of the storming party or in the perilous breach, in the onward march and in the unwelcome but necessary retreat; so the Christian soldier, loyal to his Lord, follows him fully, faithfully, fearlessly, through evil report as well as good report, closely, carefully, and constantly. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." The path may appear perilous, the way may he difficult; we may have to turn our backs on our dearest delights, on our sweetest comforts; we may be ignorant of the immediate goal to which the Lord leads us, or the use he intends to make of us, or what he means to do with us; yet none of these things shall doter us. If we only make sure that the Lord is leading us, we run no risk in following him; and though he lead us by a way that we know not, we are sure it is the right way, the safe way, and in every respect the best way in the end. The opposite course is that pursued by those who walk, not after the Lord, but after the lusts of their own hearts, or their own inclinations, or their own inventions, or their own counsels, or the example of wicked men.
2. The prediction includes a hasty return in obedience to the Divine summons. God's calling people to return to him is not inaptly compared to the roaring of a lion. By judgments on the adversary, or by a solemn awe on the spirits of his people, or by terrible things in righteousness, God summons men to submission and obedience.
3. When God speaks the word in whatever way, his children hurry home out of many lands from the far West, the distant East, and the remote South. Thus it is in seasons of revival, thus it shall be more literally in the millennial period, and in the time of the restitution of all things When the Spirit shall be poured out from on high in Pentecostal power and in Pentecostal plenty, men shall, as at the first Pentecost, when they were assembled from many lands, join themselves to God's people. They shall not only come hastily, but swiftly. Their hasty arrival is compared to a flight resembling that of the dove, which flies swiftly, as implied in the psalmist's words, "Oh that I had wings like a dove!" They shall, moreover, arrive in great numbers, as doves fly in flocks, as implied in the words of the prophet, "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows?"
4. A place of rest is promised them. When men walk after the Lord and unite themselves lovingly with his people, they are assured both of rest and refreshment. Whether this may have had a literal fulfillment, in the return of members of the ten tribes from Assyria with their brethren of Judah from Babylon, and others of the same people from Egypt, we do not know for certain; but this much is sure, that such a return of God's people to him shall actually take place in the day of the restitution of all things; while its figurative application repeats itself in every real revival of religion, when sinners, truly penitent like the prodigal, shall return from many a far country of sin and shame and sorrow to their Father's house and home, renouncing the swineherd's husks for that rich spiritual abundance of bread enough and to spare.
VII. THE PRETENCES OF ISRAEL. The people of Israel, or the ten tribes with Ephraim at their head, that is, rulers and ruled, are here charged with lies and deceit. Their professions of worship were nothing better than lying pretences; their political schemes were little less than deceitful maneuvers. Their piety and their policy were alike hollow and futile. With such false worship and carefully devised strokes of policy, which were but deceitful tricks, they compassed God as though they could deceive the omniscient One himself. The following illustration from an old divine seems apt, though homely: "I am, in respect of their sins, as a man beset round, who would have egress, but when he goes one way there he is stopped, and another way he is stopped there too. God compares himself to such a man, as if, in going on in the ways of mercy, he is there stopped by some course of sin, and entering on another part he is there stopped again." How many there are whose acts of worship are so many solemn lies! Their professions of piety are mere pretences; their prayers may be eloquent and comprehensive, but they do not proceed from the heart; their presence in the sanctuary is only bodily, their thoughts being away about their worldly business, or reaming over mountains of vanity. Many there are who are ready to acknowledge God, his greatness and glory, his glorious majesty, his almighty power, his infinite wisdom, and his sovereign disposal of all human affairs; but they do not realize the august nature of the Divine attributes, nor the wondrous workings of his providence. Many, too, confess their great sinfulness, and profess deep humiliation on account of it; but their confession is not accompanied by contrition, nor is their professed humiliation either provable by facts or practical in its effects.
3. Strange, passing strange, it is that men thus impose on themselves, or attempt to deceive God! "They did flatter him with their mouth," says the psalmist, "and they lied unto him with their tongues." And if this is the conduct men venture on in relation to God, how much more likely they are to compass their fellow-men with lies, or overreach them by deceit! If they carry their deceit into the sacred exercises of religion and the solemn services of the sanctuary, how much more may we expect to find fraudulent transactions and deceitful dealings in their intercourse with fellow-men!
VIII. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF JUDAH. While Israel or the ten tribes were besetting God with their lies and provoking him by deceit, their worship being idolatrous and their service false, Judah for so far continued in the true worship. With not a few drawbacks and many defects, they had hitherto adhered to the ordinances he had prescribed, the place he had chosen, and the mode and ministers of religion he had appointed. Such is the drift of the verse according to the Authorized Version. Assuming this to be the right rendering, we find Israel left without excuse. They could not plead the example of Judah. If an evil example had been set them by Judah, it might have in some sort extenuated, but could not have excused, sin in Israel. The absence of such example was no small aggravation of their guilt.
3. It redounded to the honor of Judah that in the day of Israel's defection they persevered in the way of truth, and maintained the true worship of Jehovah. It is recorded to the credit of those Sardians who remained faithful in a corrupt place and a degenerate age, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy."
4. When we serve God we reign with him. It is righteousness that exalts a nation and elevates an individual. To serve God is our highest glory, and to enjoy him our greatest happiness. To serve God is the most honorable service; hence our blessed Lord has made us kings as well as priests unto God. Luther, commenting on this verse, speaks of certain errorists "not venturing to embrace the true doctrine for fear their rule should be lost. So is it with many people; they are afraid of the loss of their rule if they should entertain the true ways of God's worship; they think that the true ways of God's worship cannot consist with their rule and power, and therefore they had rather retain them and let the true worship of God go."
HOMILIES BY C. JERDAN
Called out of Egypt.
These words refer primarily, of course, to the historical event of the Exodus. But they are also prophetic words, and as such they have been already verified, and still await further verification. When a stone is thrown into a pond, a series of ever-enlarging concentric rings is formed, which extend perhaps to the banks of the water; so in like manner, although the first fulfillment of a prophecy may be near at hand, the prediction may also receive various further and wider fulfillments, until at last it is completely verified, on the largest scale, at the end of the world. The words before us have several applications. They apply—
I. TO THE JEWISH NATION. God elected Israel as his "firstborn son" among the nations (Exodus 4:22), thus constituting the Hebrews the aristocracy of the human race. He set his love upon them when they were a community of slaves. He heard their groaning by reason of their bondage. When the people were lying like toads under the harrows of their taskmasters, he interposed to save them. He raised up Moses to be their emancipator. Jehovah wrought on their behalf the tea plagues of Egypt. He led them, by a mighty miracle, through the bed of the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and his army perished in the waters. Jehovah protected and supported and guided Israel in the wilderness. He rained bread from heaven upon them, and brought them streams also out of the rock. He kept their clothes and shoes from wearing out. He led them by the cloudy pillar. He delivered them from their enemies. He entered into covenant with them, taught them his Word and will, and brought them at last into a goodly inheritance in Canaan. No other nation ever received such marks of honor. To Israel alone "pertained the adoption" (Romans 9:4).
II. TO JESUS CHRIST. Matthew says that this word of Hosea was fulfilled when the Child Jesus was brought up out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15). If Israel was "God's son, even his firstborn," Jesus is "the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father." The history of Israel typified and foreshadowed his career. He is the true seed of Abraham, the true Representative of the ancient Hebrew nation. "All the magnificence of prophecy, limited to Israel, would be bombast; Christ alone fulfils the idea which Israel stood for" (F.W. Robertson). The paternal love of God was exhibited more richly in the protection and deliverance of his holy Child Jesus than even in the great blessing of the Exodus. It was to avoid the danger of destruction that the infant Savior and his mother were taken down into Egypt. The Lord of heaven and earth, just now a wailing infant, must hide for a little season under the shadow of the Pyramids. By-and-by he shall be "called out of Egypt" to return to the Holy Land, and to become at length what Israel ought to have been—the great Witness for God, and Teacher of his wilt to all the nations of the world.
III. TO THE CHRISTIAN. Believers are all the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And the redemption from Egypt was a type of deliverance through him from sin and death. Just as to the Hebrews in the time of Hosea "Egypt" stood for Assyria, or Babylon, or any land which they were to associate with a state of bondage (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3, Hosea 9:6), so now to us Gentiles "Egypt" is the symbol of our unregenerate state, and the Egyptian bondage is a type of the bondage of sin. All men are by nature the slaves of sin, and Satan is a much harder taskmaster than the Egyptian overseers. The natural man labors helplessly under the burden of evil. But God calls his people "out of Egypt" with an effectual and a holy calling. He redeems the believer from the bondage of guilt (Galatians 3:13), from subjection to the Law (Galatians 4:5), and from the slavery of sin (Titus 2:14). The very word "Redeemer," which is so dear to the renewed heart, was first consecrated as a sacred name at the time when God "called his Son out of Egypt." To the Christian the song of Moses is also the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3); and the preface to the ten commandments (Exodus 20:2) expresses the most forcible and yet tender of all inducements to lead a holy life.
IV. TO THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. The Church of Christ is the true Israel, God's adopted firstborn son. And this world, in which the Church presently sojourns, may be compared to the land of bondage. It is "this present evil world;" and God's people look to be delivered from it, just as ancient Israel expected deliverance from Egypt. The time is fast coming when the Lord Jesus shall finally redeem his people from all evil. Often in the New Testament the word "redemption" is used to denote the consummation of the Church's hope. Jesus told his disciples that the occurrence of the signs of his second advent would announce to them that their "redemption was drawing nigh" (Luke 21:28). The whole Church is waiting for "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). Here, though believers "serve the Law of God with their mind," they yet groan constantly under the burden of indwelling sin. But the hope of Israel—"that blessed hope"—is that Jehovah shall "call him out of Egypt." The Lord Jesus shall one day translate his Church to heaven—the land of perfect spiritual freedom and eternal joy. There bondage shall in every sense be gone forever. So long as Israel is in this world, he is "a child;" but in glory he shall become a man, and "put away childish things." God loves him now as a child; and his adopting grace is the pledge that the ransomed Church shall one day stand by the glassy sea, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.—C.J.
Crowned with tender mercies.
This is an extremely beautiful passage. It recalls, in a few most touching expressions, Jehovah's love and condescension and tenderness towards his ancient people. But, alas! the very record of God's kindness becomes the means of throwing into deeper relief the blackness of Israel's sin.
I. GOD'S KINDLY DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL. These had been manifested continually—in the infancy of the nation, during its childhood, and throughout its youth and manhood. Jehovah had been to the Hebrew people:
1. A loving Father. (Hosea 11:1) He loved them, and chose them to be his own inheritance, He spoke of Israel as his "son," even during the bondage in Egypt (Exodus 4:22). He showed his fatherly love by accomplishing for his people the grand deliverance of the Exodus. And the Lord is the same still to the spiritual Israel. Those blessings which were shadowed forth in the theocratic adoption belong now to Christians. We are "predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself" (Ephesians 1:5) The believer receives the nature of God. He bears his Name. He enjoys free access to him. He obtains needed protection and provision. He is subjected to suitable training and discipline. And he has an eternal inheritance in reversion (1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2).
2. A careful Nurse. (Hosea 11:3) Jehovah had himself tended his son Israel during the forty years of childhood in the Arabian desert. He "bare him" (Deuteronomy 1:31), "took hint by the hand" (Jeremiah 31:32), and tenderly supported him. As a nursing father, he had used soft and kindly leading-strings, tie knew his people's needs. He was "touched with the feeling of their infirmities." He took upon himself the entire charge of the nation. For their schooling he gave them object-lessons—setting up the tabernacle and its ritual as a spiritual "kindergarten." When they wandered from him he brought them back, and patiently "healed them" from those distresses which their apostasy had entailed. And God is the same careful Nurse to his spiritual children. He bears the believer, and bears with him. The Holy Spirit teaches the child of God "to go," and "leads him in the way everlasting." He raises him when he falls, heals his bruises, and is "a very present Help in trouble." The path of duty may lead the believer into slippery places, but "underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27).
3. A kindly Monitor. (Hosea 11:4, first part) If Hosea 11:1 refers to the Exodus, and Hosea 11:3 to the forty years in the wilderness, Hosea 11:4 : may be applied to Jehovah's dealings with Israel throughout his entire history as a nation. All along the Lord treated his people, not as prisoners or slaves, but as sons. He "drew them with cords of a man;" i.e. his methods of government were humane, and had their seat in reason. He drew them" with bands of love;" i.e. his arguments or influences were tender and persuasive. The mercies showered upon Israel were countless. The Divine forbearance with the people was wonderful. One special mark of God's favor was his raising up the prophets, one after another, to "call them" (Hosea 11:2) from their idols, and to "draw them" back to himself. And does not the Lord deal just thus with men still? His methods of touching the heart are humane and affectionate. We see the "gentleness" of God in his kindly providence, in his wonderful redemption, and in the means and motives towards holiness which he employs. He calls to the sinner, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). He tells the believer that a consecrated life is "your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
4. A considerate Master. (Hosea 11:4, second part) The Lord did not act towards Israel as brute beasts are often treated by ungentle drivers. A kind farmer treats his ox humanely, both when it is treading out the corn and when it is feeding in the stall; he withdraws the muzzle, or loosens the yoke-strap, that the animal may cat with comfort. Now, God had always acted so towards the Hebrews. In the innumerable blessings which he sent them, in the means of grace which he maintained amongst them, and in the immunities which they enjoyed as his chosen people, God said to them, "My yoke is easy." So, in like manner, does the Lord still deal with his redeemed people. He "removes their shoulder from the burden," taking off the yoke of guilt, the yoke of sin, the yoke of the Law, the yoke of unrest, the yoke of fear. And he "lays meat unto them"—"the hidden manna" of his grace, and "the fatness of his house."
II. ISRAEL'S VILE TREATMENT OF GOD. (Hosea 11:2, Hosea 11:3) The nation had proved altogether unworthy of its sunny and glorious past. The people had been:
1. Ungrateful. They persistently forgot both the fact of their redemption and the continued presence of their Redeemer. The prophets "called them," but in vain. God "healed them," but they ascribed their deliverances to others.
2. Unfaithful. Israel requited the tender love of Jehovah with base apostasy. They opposed and rejected him. "They turned their back unto him, and not their face" (Jeremiah 2:27). They shamefully denied him by their sacrifices to Baal.
3. Obstinate in their wickedness. The career of the northern kingdom especially had been one of universal and continuous desertion. People and priests, princes and kings, had alike conspired to return hatred for Jehovah's love. And now, at length, Ephraim's hour of gracious opportunity seemed past. Only by a miracle could the avalanche of judgment be arrested. What a lesson to ourselves is unfolded in this representation of the outrageous guilt of Israel! We must beware of trusting in our national advantages or our spiritual privileges. How often have we, too, acted ungratefully and unfaithfully I God's wonderful tender mercies are a sore aggravation of our sin.
"Lord, with what care hast thou begirt us round!
Parents first season us. Then schoolmasters
Deliver us to laws. They send us bound
To rules of reason. Holy messengers;
Pulpits and Sundays; sorrow dogging sin;
Afflictions sorted; anguish of all sizes;
Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in!
Bibles laid open: millions of surprises;
Blessings beforehand; ties of gratefulness;
The sounds of glory ringing in our ears;
Without, our shame; within, our consciences;
Angels and grace; eternal hopes and fears I
Yet all these fences, and their whole array,
One cunning bosom sin blows quite away."
The magnet of love.
"I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." These words refer, in the first instance, to ancient Israel, and remind us how kindly and tender had been the Lord's dealings with them. In applying the text to ourselves, we shall consider it under two aspects. We have here—
I. A REPRESENTATION OF GOD'S WAY OF DEALING WITH MEN. The supreme power over the world of mankind is not the relentless power of natural law. The forces of nature dominate the physical universe; but man is a moral being, and is conscious of moral freedom. The force which draws his mind is reason—"cords of a man ;" and the power which influences his heart is tenderness—"bands of love." God uses these forces:
1. In his common providence. His love for his creatures is analogous to parental affection: it is as human, and more tender than that of a mother for her child. His mercy is long-suffering and indestructible. It leads him "daily to load us with benefits." And even the cords of affliction with which he sometimes binds us are "bands of love ' cast around us to draw us to himself.
2. In the plan of redemption. "The Word was made flesh" in order to draw men by cords of human sympathy. What blessing the Incarnation has brought to the reason of man! In looking upon the Lord Jesus Christ we see truth in the concrete. He is himself "the Truth," "the Word of Life."
"Though truths in manhood darkly join
Deep-seated in our mystic frame,
We yield all blessing to the Name
Of him that made them current coin;
"For Wisdom dealt with mortal powers,
Where truth in closest words shall fail,
When truth embodied in a tale
Shall enter in at lowly doors.
"And so the Word had breath, and wrought
With human hands the creed of creeds
In loveliness of perfect deeds,
More strong than all poetic thought."
What blessing, also, the Incarnation has brought to the heart of man! The Lord Jesus is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He was the "Son of Mary," and he "shed the human tear." So he is qualified, as our merciful and sympathizing High Priest, to enter into all our feelings, and thereby to bind us to himself and to God.
3. In the invitations of the gospel. The Lord, in these, appeals to us as rational and moral beings. The invitation, e.g; "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18), suggests that the most rational of all the actions of the human mind is to accept of Christ as the Savior; and that a life of faith in him is the only reasonable and manly and truly successful life. The gospel voices, moreover, are "bands of love." The prodigal son, so soon as he returned to reason, was led by the remembrance of his father's love to return home
The Word of God. The Bible is a Divine Book, but it is also intensely human. The sacred writers display everywhere a profound knowledge of human nature. The spirit of the Book is humane and tender; it draws" with bands of love." In the universities of Scotland, the Professor of Latin is usually called "Professor of Humanity," from the supposed beneficial effects of the study of Roman literature; but surely the supreme humanizing influence in letters is the Word of God.
(2) The sacraments. As "signs," baptism and the Lord's Supper are "cords of a man." They appeal to the physical senses as well as to mind and heart. They are like pictures or illustrative diagrams of the great truths of redemption. The sacraments are also "seals;" and, as such, "bands of love." Each of them is, as it were, a keepsake, or love-token, given by the Redeemer to his Church. Once more, take
(3) Prayer. Prayer is the converse with God of his human children. It has for its key-note the child's cry, "Our Father." It is the voice of childlike trust in the humanity, the tenderness, the father-pity of our Maker and Redeemer.
5. As the motive-powers to holiness of life. Our text expresses the master consideration which impels the believer to a career of Christian consecration. The Apostle Paul urges the same in Romans 12:1 : "Your reasonable service," i.e. "cords of a man;" "by the mercies of God," i.e. "bands of love." The meaning is that in a life of devotion to God all the rational faculties find their chief end, and that to such a life "the love of Christ constraineth us."
II. A LESSON OF CONDUCT FOR OURSELVES. The words before us reveal the secret of influence. They point out the magnet with which we are to attract our fellow-men in all the relations of life. God Almighty draws with the loadstone of love; and in this we are to be "imitators of God, as dear children" (Ephesians 5:1). Here is a lesson to:
1. Parents. The family bond is love. We must throw "cords of a man" around our children, if we would train them to live to the Redeemer. Our training must be humane, and in harmony with the moral nature of its subjects. A father ought, as soon as possible, to enlist his child's reason on the side of obedience. When our children do well, let us praise them without stint. When they do wrong, and we must show displeasure, let us welcome the earliest tokens of penitence, and be very ready to forgive. Next to Divine grace itself, the bands of paternal love are the strongest that can attract the child-heart.
2. Teachers. Humaneness of spirit is the mainspring of an educator's influence. The most effectual stimulus to learn is not that which is supplied by the rod, but that which is given by the "cords of a man." The secret of Dr. Arnold's influence at Rugby was his intense human sympathy, added to the regal supremacy of his spiritual character. In sabbath school work, especially, we must use these "cords" and "bands;" we must come to our classes "in love, and in the spirit of meekness."
3. Pastors. The preacher is to be himself a man, every inch of him. His influence in the community ought to be a masculine influence, tie is to be "a preacher of righteousness." And he must take care to use "bands of love." His lifework is to "win" souls; and there is no way of winning without love (1 Corinthians 13:1). Like the high priest, the pastor ought to be one "who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring" (Hebrews 5:2). No Christian teacher has ever been more successful than the Apostle Paul; and Paul drew "with cords of a man" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), and "with bands of love" (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:8).
4. Employers. This relationship, alike in business and domestic life, should be characterized by kindness. Masters ought to "forbear threatening" (Ephesians 6:9), and extend sympathy and confidence to their workmen. The responsibilities of an employer do not end with the punctual payment of wages. He is not to think of his workmen merely as "hands," i.e. as machines by using which he hopes to make money; but rather as his own flesh and blood, in whose welfare he ought to take a warm interest. And so, also, in the sphere of domestic service. Mistresses ought to treat their servants as part of the family, and see to their comfort as they see to their own. Happiness will enter our households through the door which has written over it these words: "I drew them with bands of love."
5. Neighbors, in their mutual intercourse. We who profess to be Christ's people ought to show the grace that dwells in us by striving to be eminent in courtesy and gentleness. We ought to be so even to the ungodly and profane, and to those who treat us as enemies "A soft answer turneth away wrath." And if love is the fire that will melt an enemy, is it not also the tie which binds believers together into a goodly fellowship? A strong and healthy Church is one the members of which "increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men' (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
CONCLUSION. To draw with these "cords" and "bands" is always, at least, self-rewarding. It is true that love will sometimes fail with its object. Jehovah himself failed with Ephraim during long centuries. Similarly, some whom we attempt to draw may say persistently, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." In such circumstances we ought to remember that duty is ours, and that results are with God. "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my Strength" (Isaiah 49:5).—C.J.
The Divine goodness despised.
Ephraim had acted as if the mercy of God were unconditional; and he persistently contravened the one condition, via repentance, upon which alone that favor could be continued. He was thus guilty of despising the Divine loving-kindness; and hence these words of grievous denunciation. We learn from them—
I. THE FOLLY OF CARNAL CONFIDENCES. (Hosea 11:6) The ten tribes had followed "their own counsels," but these were the result of wicked infatuation. The calves which the men of Israel kissed led to the national ruin. Egypt would afford the tribes no asylum; there was no hope of relief from her as an auxiliary against Assyria. It was indeed strange that the people should think of returning to Egypt, the land of their ancient bondage. Now, however, they are to endure a more dreadful tyranny than their fathers had suffered there. The devouring sword of the Assyrian is to make the round of the cities of Israel. The northern kingdom, with its rich territory and its sacred places—Shiloh, Shechem, Ebal and Gerizim, Sharon, Carmel, and the valley of Jezreel—is to pass into the possession of the heathen. Such was only the natural result of Israel's wickedness, and it stands in history as an affecting warning against ungodly counsels. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:5-8). "My brethren, it is a great mercy of God to be so wholly taken from all carnal props, from all vain shifts and hopes, as to be thoroughly convinced that there is no help in any thing, or in any creature, in heaven and earth, but only in turning to God, and casting the soul down before mercy; if that saves me not, I am undone forever" (Jeremiah Burroughs, in loc).
II. THE POWER OF SIN TO HOLD FAST THE SOUL. (Hosea 11:7) Israel was "bent on backsliding" from Jehovah. They were "fastened to defection" (Calvin); or, "impaled upon apostasy as upon a stake" (Keil). The prophets "called" and exhorted the people, but in vain. They refused to raise themselves, in order to return to the Most High. Such is the effect of sin when long persisted in. All of us have by nature this fixed aversion to God and Divine things, unless he interpose in his grace to wean us from our idols. Even while the Word is calling us to rise, the flesh persistently drags us downwards, and with a dead weight which only the might of the Spirit of God can overcome. Many professors of religion suddenly fall away, because, the "good work" never having been begun in them, they cannot restrain themselves from at last following visibly the "bent" of nature. And how hard it is, even for the Lord's true people, to escape from the entanglement of old habits of sin! During the process the soul may be often convulsed, if not almost torn asunder. A good man will sometimes continue throughout life to follow a trade or profession about the moral lawfulness of which his conscience is continually uneasy. Only by steadfastly looking to Christ, and allowing his love to flow into the heart, can we be set free from the dangers of backsliding. Clothed with his strength, the believer, instead of being "impaled upon apostasy," shall daily "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts." Once more, this passage reminds us that—
III. TO "REFUSE TO RETURN" TO JEHOVAH IS THE SIN OF SINS. (Hosea 11:5) Ephraim had done more and worse than to reject the Lord as the chief good. He had, besides, scorned the Divine grace and mercy which had so long and lovingly "called" him to "return," and promised to "heal his backsliding." For such foul and shocking ingratitude the ruin of the northern kingdom was a. righteous retribution. And so now, in these gospel times, the denial of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior is the crowning sin of man. To reject him is to "refuse to return" to Jehovah. It is to oppose the clearest light, and to despise the dearest love. It is to elect to serve Satan rather than God. This sin of sins does not render it necessary that sentence be pronounced against those who are guilty of it: the sinner's unbelief is of itself his sentence. "He that believeth not hath been judged already" (John 3:18). If we neglect the great salvation, there can be no escape for us from eternal shame and ruin. Sins against law do not exclude the possibility of the exercise of mercy, but the persistent rejection of mercy must close the door of hope against the soul forever (Proverbs 1:24-33).—C.J.
Mercy seasons justice.
Jehovah's love for Israel had been conspicuous during the infancy of the nation (Hosea 11:1-4); but it seems even more wonderful now, in the time el Ephraim's moral decrepitude and premature decay. There is no more exquisitely pathetic passage in Holy Scripture than the one before us. It is of a piece with Jeremiah's prophecy respecting the restoration of the ten tribes (Jeremiah 31:20). The denunciation of punishment contained in verses 5-7 suddenly dissolves into an ecstasy of tenderness, which is followed by a promise of blessing.
I. THE LORD'S MERCY TO EPHRAIM. (Verses 8, 9) Moses had predicted (Deuteronomy 29:23) that the lapse of the nation into confirmed idolatry would be punished with a curse upon "the whole land," like that which overtook the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:1-38). But just when' we might expect the lawgiver's words to be at once fulfilled, there is an outburst of Divine compassion. Here the Lord is:
1. Apparently changeful. It often seems as if, instead of there being one center of thought in this book, there were rather two foci. In Hosea's message threats and promises alternate, and sometimes commingle. In verse 8 the Lord, speaking after the manner of men, appears as if in doubt as to his course of action. Is justice to have its way to the end, or is any place to be found for mercy? Jehovah's attitude is like that of the tender-hearted monarch who trembles when the death-warrant is placed before him, and hesitates whether he will sign it. But he declares at length that he cannot sacrifice his brooding yearning love for Ephraim even to the most righteous anger. He is resolved to exercise his mercy; he will display his grace more conspicuously than his justice. In all this, however, the Lord is:
2. Really unchangeable. He is "God, and not man." The apparent conflict within his heart is only apparent. All the time that he has been threatening vengeance, his bowels have been melting with love. He cannot forget that Ephraim is his "son." Yet the Lord's mercy does not blind the eyes of his justice. He says here, in effect, that Ephraim fully deserved the irreparable doom of the Cities of the Plain. And he must inflict judgment upon the present generation of Israelites. But the three years' siege of Samaria, and the long Assyrian captivity, with the total oblivion of the northern kingdom as such, are not "the fierceness of his anger." On the other side of these judgments there will be rich mercy for Israel. In the New Testament gospel, in like manner, we "behold the goodness and severity of God." Jehovah says now, more distinctly than ever, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Ezekiel 33:11). Calvary shows that God is "just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
II. THE GROUND OF THIS MERCY. (Verse 9) It has a twofold basis.
1. The nature of God. Jehovah speaks after the manner of men; but he is "God, and not man." Were he not God, he would not tolerate the wicked world for a single day. Because he is "God," and "the Holy One," he "in wrath remembers mercy." The Divine compassion is self-originated; it wells up out of the infinite fountain of the Divine nature. God has the heart of a father; but he is without the infirmities of a human parent. His mind is not discomposed by frail human passions; and he never in his thoughts—as finite men do—straitens the abundance of his grace.
2. The Divine covenant with Israel. "In the midst of thee" (verse 9). "I wilt dwell among them" had been Jehovah's promise to the Hebrew nation. Of this promised presence there had been many symbols; as, e.g; the burning bush, the tabernacle, Jerusalem, and the temple. "And what was the purport of the covenant which God made with Israel? Even that God would punish his people; yet so as ever to leave some seed remaining" (Calvin). In the New Testament gospel we see God's mercy similarly grounded. Its basis is the Divine nature. That nature is love. "God so loved the world." And its basis is also the Divine covenant; for we live under a new and better dispensation of the covenant of grace (Hebrews 8:6-13).
III. ITS FAULT IN EPHRAIM'S RESTORATION, (Verses 10, 11) These verses shall be fulfilled in Messianic times. In the last days, the "Lion" of the tribe of Judah "shall roar," earnestly calling the Hebrews to repentance.
1. The restoration will consist in heart-renewal. "They shall walk after the Lord," i.e. spiritually. The time is coming when the house of Israel shall accept of Jesus as the Messiah, and clothe themselves with his righteousness, "The children" of the exiles "shall tremble" with convictions of guilt, with conscious unworthiness, and yet with eagerness to accept the gospel call They shall return to a relation of intimate friendship and fellowship with God.
2. It will be national and universal. The Jews shall at last return from all the various lands to which they have been banished. The Lord shall "gather together the outcasts of Israel." Students of prophecy, indeed, are not agreed whether there is to be a literal restoration to Palestine; but all expect an infinitely more blessed consummation—the admission of Israel as a people into the kingdom of Christ, as the result of their repentance and faith in him. This oracle applies also to all the spiritual seed of Abraham. Jew and Gentile, in these gospel times, are adopted into God's household upon precisely the same footing. The west (verse 10) stands mainly for Gentile Europe; Egypt represents (verse 11) the whole continent of Africa beyond itself; and "Assyria" in like manner the continent of Asia. "They shall come from the east and from the west," etc. (Luke 13:29). The doom denounced in Hosea has been inflicted; and in that fact have we not a pledge that the promises which this prophet makes shall also be fulfilled? "Two rabbis approaching Jerusalem saw a fox running upon the hill of Zion; and Rabbi Joshua wept, but Rabbi Eliezer laughed. ' Wherefore dost thou laugh?' said he who wept. 'Nay, wherefore dost thou weep?' demanded Eliezer. 'I weep,' replied the Rabbi Joshua, 'because I see what is written in the Lamentations fulfilled because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.' 'And, therefore,' said Rabbi Eliezer, 'do I laugh; for when I see with mine own eyes that God has fulfilled his threatenings to the very letter, I have thereby a pledge that not one of his promises shall fail, for he is ever more ready to show mercy than judgment.'"
1. In the gospel "mercy and truth are met together." God "spared not his own Son," that he might not have to "give up" such as Ephraim.
2. The hindrance to salvation is not in God, but in the sinner's wicked will. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37).
3. If God deals so tenderly with the sinner, how complete must be the security of the believer! "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be renewed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee" (Isaiah 54:10).—C.J.
(See next chapter)—C.J.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
Hosea 11:3 (first clause)
The tenderness of Divine discipline.
Amidst Hosea's strong denunciations of sin, such a description as this of Divine tenderness to wayward men is sweet as a song amidst a storm. Both sternness and sweetness must of necessity appear before us in order to give a true apprehension of the method of God's dealing with human souls. That method is as varied as are the works of the same God in nature, where every flower and leaf, every wind and stream, has its own place and its own use. We cannot expect to find a uniform religious experience amongst men. We have no right to demand of others the agony of shame or the rapture of pardon we ourselves know, or to declare that their experience is unreal because it is different from our own. The metaphors of the Bible might teach us this. One series represents the Word as the hammer, that breaks the rock with resistless power; as the sword, which pierces the inmost soul and kills the old life; as the fire, that burns out the dross of character and fuses the whole nature in a glow of love to God. But there arc metaphors which represent the same Word as being like the sun, gradually diffusing light, slowly developing the flowers and fruits; as the attractive force, so subtle that it can only be known by its result; as the key which fits, and silently turns the lock, so that the door is opened and the heavenly guests come in to abide there in holy fellowship. It is in harmony with all we know of the variety of God's dealings with men, that the same prophet who speaks of the unwilling heifer dragged onward by ropes, should also speak of the little child who is lovingly upheld by his father when he takes his first tottering steps.
I. THE FIGURE THAT SETS FORTH THE TRUTH.
1. Its boldness. None but an inspired man, who was conscious of inspiration, would have dared thus to describe the God he humbly reverenced. Sometimes a painting represents the glories of sunset, or the swell of the sea after a storm, the colors of which are so vivid that the onlooker at first says, "That is unnatural." A second-rate artist might have shrunk from such a bold representation, but the great artist revels in the splendor of the scene; he feels that he must represent to others what was revealed to him; and so hands down to the future what had appeared at first a startling revelation of glory, even to himself. A people accustomed, like the Jews, to the signs of awful reverence with which Jehovah was approached would have been more surprised than we, who know God in Christ, to hear the prophet speak of him as a Father, or Mother, or Nurse, holding the child by the arms as he totters and trembles over his first footsteps.
2. Its beauty. Any natural figure drawn from a human home is beautiful. It is well that family life has so often been made the basis of religious teaching. There are few scenes more universally familiar than this. When we exercise care and forethought for our children, and our hearts go out in tenderness to them in their helplessness, we know what God is to us. When we remember the sense of rest and sympathy and help which was ours in childhood's home, we become more conscious of what we may find, yet so often fail to find, in our heavenly Father's love.
3. Its truthfulness. Israel had become a great nation because of the Divine care which overshadowed them in their feeble infancy. In Egypt they had no national life, but were degraded serfs for whom revolt was useless. Brought out by Divine power, they became conscious of new powers and possibilities. In the wilderness they were fed, not only with manna, but with the rudiments of piety, which were well adapted to their infancy. By penalties which immediately and visibly followed disobedience to Law, they learnt that God was King, that he was near, that he was wise; and imperfect though the revelation was, it was the most they could receive. God spake as they were able to bear it. He dealt with them as we deal with children. Nor is he less wise or less tender in our culture, but bears with us while we are feeble in thought and resolve, and blesses us in the first trembling steps we essay in the way of righteousness.
II. THE TRUTH SET FORTH BY THE FIGURE—namely, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
1. In his condescension he does not despise us. Ezekiel describes a newly born child, taken up in its poverty and misery by tender hands, as a representation of what Israel had been to God. We have known such examples of human kindness: the foundling left to the stranger, whose motherly heart went out in pity, as she resolved that, in spite of all her own cares, the little one should not perish for want because of its parent's sin. Much more unworthy are we of the Divine regard, for each may say, "I am no more worthy to be called thy son." Even in earthly advantages we never won nor deserved, how many of us have been blessed! The home where no evil words are heard, where those who love us are daily witnesses for God, the heritage of a good name and wholesome habits, the tears and entreaties and prayers which win us to the love of righteousness,—all these are signs that God can say of many now in wisdom's way, "I taught you to walk, taking you by the arms."
2. In his wisdom he does not force us. We are not automatons. They may do wonderful things without noise, or disobedience, or wrangling; but God has not made us thus. We are, as the text suggests, children, who can make their own effort, but to it they must be prompted, in it they must be supported and helped. When the stirrings of a new life are felt in the soul, the question comes, "Who then is willing to consecrate himself to the Lord?" and it is only the self-consecrated servants God will have. It is a poor thing to employ the forced labor of those whose bodies are their owner's, but whose souls loathe him; but a blessed thing to have the loyal and loving service of the child, to whom a glance or a whisper means a command which it is his joy to obey.
3. In his graciousness he does not curse us. Children are weak and wayward; they forget what they are told, and do what is amiss; but their father says to himself, "They are but children," and he cannot be bitter or unjust. When Peter denied his Lord, falling through moral weakness, an angry curse might have driven him to despair; but "the Lord turned and looked on him," and as he went out, weeping bitterly, he yet could say, "The Lord loves me still." Christ drew him back with cords of love.
4. In his patience he does not demand of us instant perfection. Picture the scene suggested here. A child is about to take his first step. The mother is beside him, encouraging every step, or half-step, with a smile. Her eye does not wander from him for a moment; her hands are out to encourage, to support, to save, as she says, "Try, dear, try." When at last the effort is made, she catches him up in her arms and kisses him; and if you wondered at so much gladness and love being shown over such a feeble attempt, she would be annoyed at your dullness, because she sees in this the promise of the future. By such a homely illustration does Hoses set forth the Divine tenderness. God's "gentleness makes us great." Christ Jesus expected nothing wonderful from his disciples; but patiently lived with them and taught them, forgiving, encouraging, and upholding, till they became brave and stalwart heroes of the cross. Only let us keep near him, and as we recognize the difficulties of our way and the weakness of our nature, let the prayer of the psalmist be ours, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe."—A.R.
Hosea 11:4 (first clause)
The attractiveness of God.
These words are true for all ages and peoples. Human laws are limited, but Divine laws are universal. Gravitation, for example, draws material things to each other, whether they be the ice-floes that float in the polar seas, or the creepers which hang in heavy festoons in tropical forests; whether in the land where liberty loves the light, or in the kingdom where tyrants brood and conspirators glower in the darkness. The bold use of the second verse in this chapter by Matthew (Matthew 2:15) shows how in the special historical fact may be discerned the general and universal principle. The Divine care of Israel was but a manifestation of the Divine care of the Babe of Bethlehem, and of every one led out of bondage and darkness into light and liberty. The soul's exodus and pilgrimage is as real now as then, and of those rejoicing in nearness to God he can say, "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." Let us consider the evidence and the influence of the Divine attractiveness.
I. ITS EVIDENCE.
1. As exhibited in the mission of Christ. Instead of coming in the clouds of heaven to compel the homage of the world, he came in the likeness of men, and won the love of those round him in Bethlehem and Nazareth as a human child. "He grew … in favor with God and man." During his ministry the same method was pursued; he drew disciples around him "with the cords of a man, even with bands of love." His chosen disciples were not those whose enthusiasm was aroused by works of superhuman character; on the contrary, such as these had to be repressed, as they were when they would take Jesus by force to make him a King. John and Peter and others who were specially his own were won by his love, were drawn with the cords of a man. It was those who were thus drawn who were ready for the higher blessing. While a wicked and adulterous generation in vain sought after a sign, despised sinners and humble children were enriched beyond all expectation. Still Christ seeks to win such confidence, and to win it by the same means. He speaks not from the throne of glory, but from the cross of Calvary. Divine love is pleading with us through the weakness of mortality. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
2. As exhibited in the experience of Christians. If we would know the laws of mental life we do not seek them in the phenomena of physical life, and it would be equally absurd to expect the physiologist from his study of brain-movements, or the metaphysician from his acquaintance with the laws of intellect, to unveil to us the secrets of spiritual experience. The subtle movements of religious life can only be known by religious men. They, without one discordant voice, declare that they have been and are sensible of Divine drawings. Listen to such utterances as these: "By the grace of God I am what I am;" "We love him, because he first loved us;" "We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." What are these but confirmations of the text, and of our Lord's declaration, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him"? Here is a quotation from Augustine, which shows how he had been drawn to the Savior he had so long ignored: "How sweet did it at once become to me to want the sweetnesses of those toys! and what I feared to be parted from was now a joy to part with. For thou didst cast them forth, and for them enteredst in thyself sweeter than all pleasures, though not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more hidden than all depths; higher than all honor, but not to the high in their own conceits." Every saint on earth and in heaven can say—
"He drew me, and I followed on.
Glad to confess the voice Divine"
II. ITS PURPOSE. Why does God thus lovingly affect the souls of men?
1. He would draw us to his feet for pardon. The prodigal was not forced home. In his abject misery thoughts came to him of his father's love, and with them the idea of returning stole in. So the thought of God's great goodness should incite the worst sinner to return to the Lord, who will abundantly pardon. "Knowest thou not that the goodness of the Lord leadeth thee to repentance?"
2. He would draw us to his arms for protection. To feel that God is about us is at once our strength and defense, our comfort and joy. Refer to Joseph in Potiphar's house, to Jacob at Bethel, and to Moses before the burning bush, etc; for illustrations of this. Still in this world, which is sobbing with sorrow, dark with foreboding, saddened by sin, the ark of safety may be found, and the door is open.
3. He would draw us to his home for rest, If life were to be lived out here, it would not be worth living. But as strangers and pilgrims we are passing through the world, sometimes driven onward by grief, sometimes allured onward by joy, but ever journeying towards "the rest that remains for the people of God." Beside us, in life, in death, in eternity, is One who, with love greater than that of any father to his child, still declares," I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love."—A.R.
God's yearning over rebels.
Our text tells the old story of man's rebellion and God's love. The subject has its human and its Divine aspect, which we will consider in turn.
I. MAN'S REBELLION is implied in the text and described graphically in other parts of the prophecy.
1. Its signs, as they are illustrated in the moral condition of Israel.
(1) The dethronement of God. He was no longer the object of worship or the source of authority. Baal was worshipped in the high places, and Astarte in the groves. In other words, confidence in one's own power, or contentment with sensuous pleasures, now displaced devotion to God. This is not brought about with startling rapidity. There is no sensible shock felt when a man breaks with God. There is a progressiveness in evil almost imperceptible. Israel first professed to worship God in the calf, but at last worshipped the devil in Astarte. Sin is generally progressive in the hold it gets upon its victims. Judas Iscariot is an example of this.
(2) The confidence in man. Many shrewd men in Israel held aloof from idolatrous worship as degrading superstition, yet were equally with the worshippers in rebellion against God. For national deliverance they would not trust to Baal, but they would trust in Egypt, which was equally distrust of Jehovah. Many now are free from the folly and the degradation of heathendom, yet are in God's sight rebels against his authority. In their judgment they are righteous enough to do without his pardon, strong enough to do without his aid, wise enough to do without his revelation.
2. Its consequences.
(1) Disappointment. (Read Hosea 11:5) Hoshea was subject to Assyria, but joined Egypt to win independence. The result was that the Assyrian king destroyed Israel, carrying the people away into an exile from which there was no return. Similarly, one who from a spirit of self-reliance says of Christ, "We will not have this man to rule over us," becomes the slave of human opinion, of popular customs, of evil passions, etc. Others who live in forbidden pleasure find in old age, not only the pleasure gone, but the retribution come, physically as well as morally. "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?" Happy is it if the prodigal grows sick of the husks the swine eat, before it is too late to return to the Father's house, where there is bread enough and to spare.
(2) Punishment. In the wilderness days the people, in plagues and defeats, had signs of this. Here it was foretold that the sword should abide on their cities (Hosea 11:6). And in our text reference is made to a standing example of Divine retribution—the destruction of the cities of the plain. Admah and Zeboim are selected, as the smallest or least known, to indicate that the most insignificant would not escape the judgment of God. In reference to the coming punishment of the impenitent, even our loving Savior speaks awful and ominous words. It is in the New Testament, the special revelation of God's love, that we read of "the fire that cannot be quenched;" of "the second death;" of the" outer darkness, where shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
II. GOD'S COMPASSION.
1. It is described by the prophet. He represents God as saying, "How shall I make thee as Admah?" etc. "Thy sin merits a punishment fearful as was that, yet my heart is heavy within me at the thought of its coming to thee, my child; yea, my strong compassions are kindled by my love." Such language is in harmony with the whole teaching of Scripture. "God is not willing that any should perish," etc. Note: It would be well if all the children of God in this were like him. Some, however, are indifferent to the sins of their fellows, as if sins were of little consequence, or as if they themselves had no more sense of responsibility than Cain acknowledged when he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Others are indignant and angry with the fallen, as were the Pharisees in the house of Simon. But in the eye of him who abhors evil, the sinner, going away from hope and light and heaven is too pitiful for resentment, though too willful for excuse. Therefore he says, "How shall I give thee up?" etc.
2. It is proclaimed in the gospel. The coming of the beloved Son is well described by the Lord himself, in his parables of the wicked husbandmen, of the good shepherd seeking the one sheep that was lost, etc. See in these the unmerited love, the infinite tenderness, of him who so loved us as to give his only Son for our redemption. In the ministry of him who was the express Image of God's Person we see proofs of the truth in the text; not only in his miracles, but in his invitations, notably in the words, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" In the commission given to the apostles the text reappears. What pathetic meaning in the words, "beginning at Jerusalem"! In the experience of the redeemed this assurance is re-echoed. Saul of Tarsus, the chief of sinners, obtained mercy as a pattern for those who should hereafter believe.
CONCLUSION. Beware of presuming on Divine long-suffering. What more mad and perilous than to leap into the angry sea because the lifeboat is there! What more ungenerous and unmanly than the conduct of him who says in his heart, "I will be hard, because God is so tender; I wilt withdraw further from him, because I know he loves me"! "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"—A.R.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
When Israel was a child.
There is something wonderfully touching in this representation of God's affection and compassion towards the nation of his choice. The father, distressed in heart because of his son's waywardness and disaffection, recalls the period of that son's childhood, when parental care and love watched over and upheld. and guided him. Now that Israel has done wickedly in departing from God, in the midst of deserved upbraiding and rebuke, the Lord appeals to the memory of early and better days. Israel symbolizes humanity, and Jehovah's watchful care and tender love to Israel is representative of his feelings towards and his treatment of the children of men. Three stages are here noticeable.
I. LOVE to Abraham, God had revealed himself as an attached and affectionate Friend; he was designated "the friend of God." Towards the second father of the nation, Moses, Jehovah had manifested himself in a manner remarkable for intimacy. The love which marked the call of Abraham was displayed in the treatment of his descendants. But "God is love," and mankind is the object of his fatherly regard. Love revealed in Christ appeals to our hearts. "We love him, because he first loved us."
II. ADOPTION. Jehovah is represented as regarding and treating Israel as his son, as thinking with a fatherly fondness and tenderness of Israel's early days: "When Israel was a child." It is the glory of revelation that it has taught us to look up and to say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." The effect of our Savior's work is that his disciples may have the adoption of sons; the Spirit of God within them is the Spirit of adoption.
III. DELIVERANCE. Jehovah "called his son out of Egypt." A reminder of merciful interposition and mighty deliverance was a fit summons to submission and reconciliation. It is, indeed, a Divine appeal. By the memory of the great Redemption, the God of righteousness calls for our obedience and devotion. He has redeemed us that we may be a holy, filial, and devoted people, recognizing his fatherly favor, and evincing our gratitude for his delivering hand which has interposed on our behalf.—T.
Healing grace unrecognized.
The gentle, considerate, and tender manner in which Jehovah had treated Ephraim is very strikingly portrayed in the figurative language of the first part of this verse. Ephraim is depicted as a little child who is just learning to walk. The Lord condescends to represent himself as taking Ephraim by the arms, upholding the feeble, tottering form, and guiding the uncertain, unsteady steps. Such treatment augments the sin of insensibility and ingratitude on the part of those who have been dealt with so compassionately, and yet have forgotten their Helper.
I. THE CHARACTER IN WHICH GOD REVEALED HIMSELF IN ISRAEL. He was their "Healer," which implies that they had been wounded, sick, and helpless. When Israel had been in such a case, their covenant God had again and again interposed upon their behalf to succor, to heal, to save them.
II. THE INSENSIBILITY WHICH ISRAEL HAD DISPLAYED TO SUCH GRACIOUS TREATMENT.
1. This insensibility was a proof that the spiritual benefit intended had not been realized. Men often resemble Israel in receiving temporal advantages and bounties from the hand of God, without learning the lesson of devout acknowledgment and filial affection.
2. This insensibility was an occasion of sorrow to the Divine Benefactor. God is not indifferent to such a response rendered to his kindness and love; it distresses his fatherly heart.
3. This insensibility called for repentance and a better mind; or must needs involve, if persevered in, debasement and punishment.—T.
Cords of a man.
Language is lavished to impress upon Israel the gracious, the undeserved, but generous and forbearing treatment received from the Most High. As though an exhibition of the justice of obedience and piety were insufficient, there is added many a representation of the mercy which has marked the Lord's treatment of his ungrateful and rebellious people.
I. GRACIOUS ATTRACTION Instead of driving men with authority, God draws them with a truly humane and tender persuasion. We see this in the whole Christian scheme, in the gift of Jesus Christ, in his spiritual dispensation, in which he is" drawing all men unto himself." No violence, but a sweet and hallowed constraint is, in the gospel, brought to bear upon the heart. We feel that the motives addressed to us are very different from what we might have expected, and from what human authority would probably have employed.
II. MERCIFUL RELIEF. God's treatment of Israel is represented as resembling that of the husbandman wire suffers the laboring ox to pause in his toil, and who lifts the oppressive and galling yoke to afford the beast a little welcome relief. Similarly, God has not dealt with us after our sins. In the midst of wrath he has remembered mercy. It is his delight to unloose the heavy burden, and to let the oppressed go free. Christ's prized invitation is an instance in point: "Come unto me, all ye that labor.... My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
III. BOUNTIFUL PROVISION. The Hebrew was forbidden to muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. The conduct here recorded goes beyond a mere permission to lend; for the generous owner is depicted as setting food before the hungry animal. A homely but just and impressive image of the Divine treatment of those who look to him. "He openeth his hands, and satisfieth," etc. He gives them" bread from heaven to eat." The provisions of the gospel are spread before the hungering, needy seal, and the invitation is addressed to all who are in want: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters!"—T.
How shall I give thee up?
It was an idolatrous and rebellious generation to which Hosea prophesied. Sundered from Jerusalem, Israel had lapsed from the worship and service of Jehovah. The prophet was not satisfied merely to discover in forcible language the sin of the people, merely to threaten with deserved punishment. He was touched with the spectacle of apostasy. He expressed the mind of the Lord in mingling expostulations and promises with denunciations and threats. The most pathetic language of the text implies—
I. EFFORTS ALREADY MADE FOR THE SALVATION OF THE SINFUL. Evidently this was not a first appeal; many and urgent counsels and entreaties had been already addressed to Israel. Looking over a wider field, we may recognize that God has in mercy visited men, in the messages of revelation, in the Law Which declares his will, by the prophets who have presented motives and appeals, and especially by his own Son, his own Spirit, his own gospel. His aim in all has been to lead men to repentance and faith, to bring them to eternal life.
II. THE THWARTING OF SUCH EFFORTS BY HUMAN NEGLECT AND WILLFULNESS. The free nature with which God the Creator has endowed man is capable of rebellion; and he can only save us upon our repentance and renewal. But what resistance do his gracious designs meet from sinful men! In some cases, obstinate love of sin, determined opposition to truth, prolonged insensibility; in other cases, transient gleams of good, followed by relapse; in yet other cases, shameful apostasy;—account for this alienation of the heart from a God of mercy. Yet observe—
III. GOD'S GRACIOUS RELUCTANCE TO ABANDON EVEN REBELS.
1. This arises from his, own compassionate nature. Exhibited e.g. in the long-suffering during the days of Noah; by the Lord Jesus in his grief over Jerusalem.
2. And from his desire that the gift of his Son may not be in vain. He is the Savior, in order that he may save. The Father delights in the satisfaction of the Son, when he sees of the travail of his soul.
3. And from his regard for men's interests and happiness. As the mechanic wishes the engine he has made to work well, as the husbandman wishes to reap a harvest from the land upon which he has labored, as the statesman hopes for the success of the measure he has devised, as the parent longs for the realization of the plans he has formed for his child, so the Lord and Father of us all desires our salvation. He knows that there is no happiness for men except in their subjection and devotion to him. He can have no motive in seeking our welfare except Divine, unwearying, and unmerited love; and he asks, "How can I give thee up?"
1. If God so bears with us, we Christians, and especially Christian ministers, must not be ready to "give up" even obstinate sinners.
2. God pleads again with the unbelieving and the wavering, saying, "Why will ye die?"—T.
God and not man.
Well is it for us that them are respects in which God is as man; that he is sympathizing and (as we say) humane. But better is it for us that in other respects God is not as man; for, had he been subject to like passions with ourselves, he would not have borne with us, and we should have been utterly consumed.
I. A REVELATION OF DIVINE SUPERIORITY. God, in his treatment of mankind, has shown himself to be altogether superior:
1. To human ignorance. He knows us as we cannot know one another, and all his counsels have been counsels of consummate wisdom.
2. To human vacillation. We are prone to be swayed, now by this motive and again by that; there is no such thing as perfect consistency and steadfastness in man. But God is above all such human weakness. "I am the Lord that changeth not, therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed." "God is faithful," and we may trust him with an implicit confidence.
3. To human impatience. The hasty impatience of man with his fellow-man is in striking contrast with the forbearance of the supreme Ruler. Long-suffering is ever represented in the Scriptures as his especial attribute, and there is none for which we have more reason to be grateful. Had he not been a patient God he would not have borne with any one of us, for all have taxed and tried his patience.
II. AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO HUMAN CONFIDENCE. It is well always to begin with the consideration of God's character and attributes. But we cannot end there. We naturally and properly turn our regard towards ourselves, and see what is the bearing of the Divine attributes upon our necessities. This we may learn from the assurance that we are in the hands of One who is God and not man—we may learn to cast ourselves with unhesitating confidence upon the Divine faithfulness and grace. No human pettiness shall we meet with from him, but large-hearted forbearance, sympathy, bounty, and love.—T.
HOMILIES BY D. THOMAS
A typical portrait of a people.
"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And my people are bent to backsliding from me; though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him." In these verses we have three things worthy of note.
I. A HIGHLY FAVORED PEOPLE. What is said here concerning the people of Israel?
1. God loved them. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him." "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). The early period of the existence of the Hebrew people is frequently represented as their youth (Isaiah 54:15; Jeremiah 2:2). Why the Almighty should have manifested a special interest in the descendants of Abraham is a question which the Infinite only can answer. We know, however, that he loves all men. "God so loved the world, that he gave," etc.
2. God emancipated them. "And called my son out of Egypt." He broke the rod of their oppressor. He delivered them from Egyptian thraldom. This material emancipation of the Jews is a striking emblem of the great moral emancipation.
3. God educated them. "I taught Ephraim also to go." Some read this line, "I have given Ephraim a leader"—referring to Moses. Moses was only the instrument. "I taught Ephraim also to go"—as a child in leading-strings is taught. When they were in the wilderness God led them by a pillar of cloud.
4. God healed them. "I healed them." "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).
5. God guided them. "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." With human cords I drew them, with bands of love. He did not draw them by might; he attracted them by mercy.
6. God relieved them. "I was to them as they that take off the yoke, on their jaws." As the kind farmer raises from the neck and cheek of the ox the heavy yoke so as to leave him freedom to eat his food, so I raised from your neck the yoke of Egyptian bondage.
7. God fed them. "1 laid meat, unto them." He rained manna about their camp. He gave them bread from heaven, and water horn the rock. What a kind God he was to those people! And has he not been even more kind to us, the favored men of this laud and age?
II. A SIGNALLY UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE.
1. They disobeyed God's teaching. "As they called them, so they went from them." "They"—the lawgivers, judges, priests, prophets, whom he employed. "They went from them." That is, the people went from their Divine teachers—went from them in heart.
2. They gave themselves to idolatry. "They sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images." Idolatry was their besetting sin. It marked their history more or less from the beginning to the end. What is idolatry but giving that love to inferior objects that is due to God and God alone?
3. They ignored God's kindness. "They knew not that I healed them." They ascribed their restoration either to themselves or others, not to God.
4. They persistently backslided. "And my people are bent to backsliding from me." They forsake me and are bent on doing so. Such is the signally ungrateful conduct of this people.
III. A RIGHTEOUSLY PUNISHED PEOPLE. "He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels." Whilst they would not be driven back to Egypt again, judgment should overtake them even in the promised land, and the judgment would be:
1. Extensive. "On the cities," and on the "branches." The large town and the little hamlets.
2. Continuous. "Abide on his cities."
3. Destructive. "Consume his branches."
CONCLUSION. Is not the history of this people typical? Do not they represent especially the peoples of modern Christendom, highly favored of God, signally ungrateful to God, and exposed to punishment from God?—D.T.
Hosea 11:8, Hosea 11:9
Justice and mercy in the heart of God.
"How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy' Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city." The Bible is pre-eminently an anthropomorphitic book, that is, a book revealing God, not directly in his absolute glory, nor through the affections, thoughts, and conduct of angels, but through man—through man's emotions, modes of thought, and actions. It sometimes brings God before us in the character of a Husband, that we may appreciate his fidelity and tenderness; sometimes in the character of a Warrior, that we may appreciate his invincibility and the victories that attend his procedure; sometimes as a Monarch, that we may appreciate his wealth, splendor, and authority; sometimes as a Father, that we may appreciate the reality, depth, and solicitude of his love. It is in this last character, the character of a father, that these verses present him to our notice. No human character, of course, can give a full or perfect revelation of him—all fall infinitely short. The brightest human representation of him is to his glory less than the dimmest glow-worm to the central fires of the universe. And yet it is only through man that we can get any clear or impressive idea of him. It is only through human love, human faithfulness, human justice, that we can gain any conception of the love, faithfulness, and justice of the Eternal The verses lead us to consider several things.
I. Mercy and justice as CO-EXISTING in the heart of the great Father. "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim?" To give up to ruin, to deliver to destruction, burn up, as Admah and Zeboim—cities of the plain—were burnt up, is the demand of justice. "Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." This is the voice of men. Here, then, in the heart of this great Father is justice and mercy. What is justice? It is that sentiment that demands that every one should have his due, that virtue should be rewarded, that vice should be punished. What is mercy? A disposition to overlook injuries and to treat beings better than they deserve. These two must never be regarded as elements essentially distinct; they are branches from the same root, streams from the same fountain. Both are but modifications of love. Justice is but love standing up sternly against the wrong; mercy is but love bending in tenderness over the helpless and the suffering. Now, in the heart of God this love assumes these two phases or manifestations.
1. Material nature shows that there is the stern and the mild in God. Winter reveals his sternness, summer Ms amiability and kindness.
2. Providence shows that there is the stern and the mild in God. The heavy afflictions that befall nations, families, and individuals reveal his sternness; the health and the joy that gladden life reveal his mercy.
3. The spiritual constitution of man shows that there is the stern and the mild in God. In the human soul there is an instinct to revenge the wrong, often stern, inexorable, and heartless. There is also an instinct of tenderness and compassion. Whence came these? From the great Father. In God, then, there is justice and mercy.
II. Mercy and justice as EXCITED BY MAN in the heart of the Father.
1. The moral wickedness of Ephraim evoked his justice. Ephraim, unfaithful, sensual, false, idolatrous, justly deserved punishment. Justice awoke, demands destruction; it says, "Let Ephraim be given up, make no more efforts for its restoration and happiness; let it be delivered into the hand of the enemy, let it be torn to pieces. Rain fire from heaven upon it, and let it burn to ashes, as did Admah and Zeboim." Human wickedness is always stirring, so to say, the justice of the infinite heart.
2. The filial suffering of Ephraim evoked his mercy. Elsewhere (Jeremiah 31:20), we have these remarkable words: "Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord." God calls Ephraim his son, and Ephraim was in suffering, and hence his compassion was turned. Why does the eternal Father show mercy unto mankind? They deserve destruction on account of their sins; but men are his children, and his children in suffering.
III. Mercy STRUGGLING AGAINST justice in the heart of the great Father. There is a father who has a son, not only disobedient, but unloving and malignantly hostile; he spurns his father's authority, and pursues a course of conduct antagonistic to his father's will and interests. Often has the father reproved him with love and entreated him to reform, but he has grown worse and worse, and has become incorrigible. The wickedness of the son rouses the sentiment of justice in the heart of the father, and the father says, "I will give you up, I will shut my door against you, I will disown you, and send you as a vagabond on the world; never more shall you cross the threshold of my home, never more will I speak to you." This is justice; but then the thought that he is his son rouses the other sentiment, love, and here is the struggle: "How shall I give thee up?" Such experience as this is, alas! too common in human life. Such a struggle between mercy and justice is going on now in the heart of many a father in London. The passage gives us to understand there is something like this in the heart of the infinite Father. Justice crying out, "Damn!" mercy crying out, "Save!" This is wonderful. I cannot understand it; it transcends my conception; and yet this passage suggests the fact.
IV. Mercy TRIUMPHING OVER justice in the heart of the great Father. "Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim."
1. Mercy has triumphed over justice in the perpetuation of the race. Justice said, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Adam did eat of the fruit, but lived and became the father of a countless and ever-multiplying race. Why? Mercy triumphed.
2. Mercy has triumphed over justice in the experience of every living man. Every man is a sinner, and his sins cry out for destruction; and he lives on because mercy has triumphed.
3. Mercy has triumphed over justice in the redemptive mission of Christ. In relation to the whole family tree, justice said, "Cut it down, for it cumbereth the ground;" but mercy interposed, and said, "Spare it a little longer." How comes it to pass that mercy thus triumphs? Here is the answer. "For I am God, and not man." Had I been a man it would have been otherwise. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."—D.T.
The lies of a people.
"Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit." The Almighty here represents himself as a man beset with lies on every hand, as if he could not move either one way or the other. Let us notice—
I. THE NATURE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. Lies are as abundant in England today as they were in Ephraim centuries ago. The social atmosphere is infested with falsehoods.
1. There are commercial lies. From the largest warehouse to the pedlar's paltry stall lies abound. They infest the commercial world more densely far than insects the summer air.
2. There are theological lies. Doctrines are propounded and enforced from the press and theological chairs utterly untrue to eternal realities.
3. There are religious lies. Sentiments and aspirations are expressed in the prayers, psalmodies, and liturgies of congregations, untrue to facts, untrue to the experience of those who give them utterance.
4. There are literary lies. The journals and volumes that stream from the modern press teem with falsehood. Surely, if the Almighty were to speak of England as he spoke of Ephraim in olden times, he would say it "compasseth me about with lies."
"How false are men, both in their heads and hearts!
And there is falsehood in all trades and arts.
Lawyers deceive their clients by false law;
Priests, by false gods, keep all the world in awe.
For their false tongues such flatt'ring knaves are raised,
For their false wit scribbles by fools are praised."
II. THE CAUSE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies spring from at least three sources.
1. Vanity. A desire to appear before our compeers in the world greater than we are, leads to the exaggeration of our virtues, if we have any, and to the denial of our infirmities and faults.
2. Greed. Greed is a prolific source of falsehood. Greed creates the lies that crowd our markets.
3. Fear. Fear creates lies as shields of defense. Religious lies spring in a great measure from fear. Nearly all the lies that fill the world are the children either of vanity, greed, or fear.
III. THE EVIL OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies are bad things.
1. They are bad in themselves. They are repugnant to the God of truth. They are a miasma in the moral atmosphere, essentially offensive as well as pernicious.
2. They are bad in their influence. Lies deceive and ruin. Every system built on lies, commercial, scientific, political, and religions, is like a house built on the sand that must tumble down before the rushing storms of reality.
"Let falsehood be a stranger to thy lips:
Shame on the policy that first began
To tamper with the heart to hide its thoughts!
And doubly shame on that inglorious tongue
That sold its honesty and told a lie!"
HOMILIES BY J. ORR
God's early love for Israel.
The mind, pained by ingratitude, naturally reverts to the kindnesses formerly showered on the unworthy recipient. God hero reminds Israel of his early love to the nation—how he had adopted it as his son, called it out of Egypt, taught it to go alone, drawn it with love, and bountifully provided for it. No sin is so odious as filial ingratitude (Isaiah 1:3). None is so grievous to the heart of a parent. It is this sin which God here charges on Israel.
I. THE CHILDHOOD OF ISRAEL. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him" (Hosea 11:1).
1. Israel had a childhood. Every nation has. There is a time when, in the natural development of society, the patriarchal stage passes over into the political. This time came to Israel in Egypt. The patriarchal family had grown into a horde. It had lost its domestic character, yet it had no polity. It might never have had one had the people remained in bondage. God gave them freedom, and with it nationality. Thus the nation was created.
2. The individual has a childhood. He is cast on God's care from the womb (Psalms 22:9, Psalms 22:10). One can sometimes almost trace a special providence in the care of children. Those who can look back on special mercies in childhood and early life are in the position of Israel here.
3. The spiritual life has a childhood. It has its feeble beginnings. There are those who are but "babes in Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:1). They are as "new-born babes," needing "the sincere milk of the Word," that they may "grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). God is tenderly careful of such, considerate of their weakness and. watchful in their nurture.
II. GOD'S LOVE TO ISRAEL IN HIS CHILDHOOD. "I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt," etc. (Hosea 11:1, Hosea 11:3, Hosea 11:4 :). God's love to Israel was shown:
1. In his adoption. He chose the nation, and called it "My son, my firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). "Israel was a type of Christ, and for the sake of him who was to be born of the seed of Israel did God call Israel 'My Son.'" In Christ the honor is extended to each individual believer (1 John 3:1). The relation expressed is one of peculiar endearment and of pre-eminent privilege. It is connected, in the case of believers, with the impartation of a new principle of life in regeneration (1 John 3:9). The children of believers are "holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14). God claims them in baptism as his children. The name "sons of God" shall be restored to Israel on their conversion (Hosea 1:10).
2. In calling him out of Egypt. Freedom is an attribute of God's children (Romans 8:21). When God made Israel his son he bound himself to deliver him. He gives freedom to all his spiritual children. The call to leave Egypt was, moreover, a proof of God's faithfulness and love, in view of the promises made to the fathers. It bore also a prophetic character (Matthew 1:15). Egypt having, by express Divine selection, been chosen a second time as a place of refuge for God's Son—for him of whom Israel, God's firstborn, was but a type—the former call became prophetically a pledge that in this case also the Father's summons would in due time arrive. Arrive, accordingly, it did. The word, "Out of Egypt have I called my son," found a new and higher fulfillment. On the Divine side, the fulfillment was neither unforeseen nor undesigned.
3. In training him to go alone. "I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by the arms." God gave the nation freedom. He further taught it to use its freedom. Freedom, without power to use it, is a sorry gift. In the training of Israel we observe:
(1) Wisdom. The people, as they came from Egypt, were unfit for independent national existence. They could not go alone. The bondage they had experienced had broken their manliness. They were servile, cowardly, fickle, petulant, disunited. They had to be guided at every step—treated like children who cannot walk alone. But the point is, that God sought to train them to walk. It is not his wish that his children should go in leading-strings. He would train them to self-reliance. He therefore put the people in situations fitted to develop their own powers. His training was wise.
(2) Care. God was kind and tender with Israel while yet they were weak. He did not try them above what they were able. In difficult situations he brought help to them in time. He was like a nurse who stands near while the child is walking, ready to catch it if it totters, and to support it when it can walk no further. Thus God deals with all his children (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:7). Wisdom, goodness, and care are manifest in his leading of them, especially in the beginning of their way.
4. In drawing the people with love. "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." The people needed to be drawn. They were often recalcitrant and ill to manage. God emphasizes here:
(1) The humanness of his drawing of them. "Cords of a man." There was a humanness in the manner of his approach to them—speaking to them in human words, through human servants, and with the persuasions of human affection. The heart of God was found to be like the heart of man. The Almighty tempered his glory, and spake to Israel as Father to Son. His cords were those of a man in another sense. He drew them by rational considerations, He treated them as rational beings, and appealed to them throughout on rational grounds. God draws men in this way still. The Bible is the most human book in the world. Christ is God become man. The Spirit acts through rational motives on the will.
(2) The gentleness of his drawing of them. "Bands of love." God employed, not stern, but gentle methods to overcome the people's refractoriness. He sought to draw them to himself by kindness. Especially in the earlier stages of the wilderness discipline do we find him making large and merciful allowances for them. The people are constantly rebelling, but seldom do we read of God so much as chiding them; he bore with them, like a father bearing with his children. He knew how ignorant they were; how much infirmity there was about them; how novel and trying were the situations in which he was placing them; and he mercifully gave them time to improve. This was the drawing of love, of which every one who knows God has also had ample experience.
5. In bountifully providing for them. "I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them." God provided for Israel all that was necessary for their sustenance, and not only thus supplied their creature wants, but was kind in his manner of doing, it. He was also the Healer of their diseases (Exodus 15:26)
III. ISRAEL'S REQUITAL OF THIS LOVE. (Hosea 11:2, Hosea 11:3) Israel had made God a shameful return for all his goodness to them. They:
1. Refused obedience. "As they [the prophets] called them, so they went from them." They flatly turned their back on duty. They went further in sin the more they were warned.
2. Dishonored God in the very article of his Godhead. "They sacrificed to Baalim, and burned incense to graven images," thus breaking the first and second commandments.
3. Renounced God as a Healer. "They knew not that I healed them" (cf. Hosea 5:13).—J.O.
So the wise man teaches, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 16:25). We have here—
I. ISRAEL'S BANE. They insisted on thinking their own way better than God's. This is brought out in the different expressions: "They refused to return" (Hosea 11:5); "Because of their own counsels" (Hosea 11:6); "My people are bent on backsliding from me" (Hosea 11:7); "None at all would exalt him" (or exalt themselves, raise themselves up to God). They were in error, but they would not be persuaded of it. They were hugging a delusion, but they clung to it as wisdom. They thought their own way right, and the way which the prophets pointed out to them silly, stupid, contemptible. This is the folly of the sinner. He sets himself up as wiser than God. He snaps his fingers at those who call him to the Most High (Hosea 11:7). The folly of his way might seem self-evident, but, unwarned by the lessons of the past, he sounds its praises as if reason and experience were entirely on his side.
II. ISRAEL'S PUNISHMENT. The roads of sin, unhappily, lead to destruction, whether those who walk in them are persuaded of the fact or not. So Israel found it. Their own counsels, which they preferred to God's, cost them:
1. Relegation to bondage. (Hosea 11:5) The freedom God had bestowed upon them (Hosea 11:1) he would again deprive them of. Their destination, however, would not be the literal Egypt, but Assyria. The principles of God's moral administration abide, but they seldom embody themselves in precisely the same outward forms.
2. A whirling sword. (Hosea 11:6) The sword would whirl and devour till it had devastated the whole kingdom. A type of the more terrible wrath that will consume the sinner.—J.O.
God's wrath, had it burned against Ephraim according to his deserts, would have utterly consumed him. It would have made him like Admah and Zeboim, cities of the plain, "which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath" (Deuteronomy 29:23). But Divine compassion sets limits to Divine wrath God would punish, but, in remembrance of the covenant made with the fathers, would yet spare a part, and in the end would recover and restore. For "city" (Hosea 11:9), read "heat (of wrath)."
I. COMPASSIONATE, YET PUNISHING. (Hosea 11:8)
1. God's wrath is limited by his com. passion. "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?" In the threatening, God speaks as if he would destroy Israel altogether. He states what their sins deserve, and what, having regard to his wrath only, he would be bound to inflict. Their sins kindled an indignation which, had it burned unchecked, would have consumed them from the face of the earth. He now shows how compassion works to limit this God, having set his love on Ephraim, cannot give him up. Wrath is not the only principle in the Divine breast, and wrath having uttered itself in threatenings, pity is called forth by the thought of the woe with which the threatenings are charged. So God says, "Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled" (cf. Psa 58:1-11 :38, 39). Were it not for God's compassions, sinners would not be so long borne with, nor would their punishments so often stop short of destruction (Lamentations 3:22).
2. God's compassion does not alter the determination to punish. Though God's repentings were kindled, this did not mean that Ephraim was to escape the punishment of his sins. Right must be maintained. If God—the "Holy One"—is not sanctified in men, he must be sanctified upon them. God declares only that he will turn from the "fierceness" of his anger—that he will not utterly destroy Israel (Hosea 11:9). The sinner, therefore, need not build hopes on the Divine mercy, as though he could sin and yet evade penalty. His sins may even reach a point at which mercy can do no more for him.
II. REPENTING, YET IMMUTABLE. God s repentings are kindled, yet the guarantee given that he will not destroy Ephraim is that he is "God, and not man"—"the Holy One," an attribute of whose character is faithfulness (Hosea 11:9). The apparent contradiction is to be resolved, not by turning what is said of the Divine relentings into a mere anthropomorphism, but by remembering—what immutability involves—that the same principles which operate in the Divine breast in the execution of his purposes operated also in the forming of them. God, that is, in the forming of his purposes bad in view both what justice would dictate and what love would desire. His purpose was framed in the interest of both. The evolution of the purpose in history brings God into living relations with men, and calls the forces of the Divine nature into active and intensely real exercise.
1. God is not man in his long-suffering. Man would not bear with man as God bears with sinners. He would not forgive as God forgives. He would not show the same patience in working for his fellow-man's recovery. He would not be so easily entreated. He would not stoop, as God stoops, to love the worthless. He would not make the sacrifice which God has made for the salvation of enemies (Romans 5:6-8).
2. God is not man in his unchangeability. He "is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent" (Numbers 23:19). He is not swayed by passing feelings to change his intentions. "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6). God had in view the promise to the fathers, and would not be false to it. God's faithfulness is the saint's consolation and the repentant sinner's hope. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). "He abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).
III. REJECTING, YET PROMISING TO RESTORE. (Hosea 11:10, Hosea 11:11) Israel was to become a "people" to Jehovah (Hosea 1:9), but not absolutely. They would ultimately be restored. A day of grace was set for them. The return would be:
1. In response to a Divine call. "He shall roar as a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west." God's call would be loud, far-reaching, effectual. God's call precedes the sinner's return. Believers are designated "the called." This call came m a preliminary way to Israel at the time of the return from captivity under Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-3). It was then but very partially answered, it comes spiritually in the preaching of the gospel. The complete fulfillment is yet in the future.
2. Joyful and prompt. They "shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria." The trembling would be in holy joy and fear. The return would be in haste, as a bird flies to its nest, and a dove to its dovecote. It would be from west and east, i.e. from all quarters whither God had scattered them.
3. Permanent. "And I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord." The prediction will have its main fulfillment in the reception of Israel back into the kingdom of God. It may have a lower temporal fulfillment in the restoration of the nation to their own land.—J.O.
(See next chapter)—J.O.