Hosea 13 - Outline of Hosea (Book Notes menu page)
C. The LORD's case against Israel concluded (11:12-14:9)
1. A concluding indictment (11:12-13:16)
  1. Israel's self-confidence is self-deception:
    In Jacob's weakness, the LORD was strong (11:12-12:14).
  2. Israel's self-exaltation will bring her down:
    In Israel's humble beginnings, the LORD exalted them (13:1-8).
1. When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel;
but when he offended in Baal, he died.
2 And now they sin more and more,
and have made them molten images of their silver,
[and] idols according to their own understanding,
all of it the work of the craftsmen:
they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud,
and as the early dew that passeth away,
{Hos 6:4}
as the chaff [that] is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor,
and as the smoke out of the chimney.
When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel...-
That is, during their early years, when the nation trembled in humility because they feared the LORD, they were exalted to the position of a prince with God (as indicated by the name 'Israel').
but when he offended in Baal, he died...-
Spiritual death is in view here. On the day that Adam chose to disobey the LORD, he died spiritually, though his physical life continued for several hundred years (Gen 2:17).
     Spiritual death separates the sinner from the One, who is the source of Life, because that One is holy and true. His Word warns us that "The wages of sin is death..." (Eze 18:4; Prov 14:12; Rom 6:23). The Law of God convicts the sinner of his condition (Rom 7:9). When a person or nation rejects God's Word, the downward death spiral tightens and grows steeper.
...now they sin more and more... and have made... idols according to their own understanding...-
They considered themselves wise and sophisticated. Their religious activity was good for the economy, employing many craftsmen. Their religious devotion was apparently sincere, involving sacrifice and adoration ("kiss the calves"). But there is no wisdom in worshipping objects fabricated with your own hands (Rom 1:21-23).
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud...-
The empty deities in which they trusted had no substance. Those gods, and those who trusted in them, would soon be swept away by the wrath of God (Rom 1:18).
     Verses 1-3 trace the downward progression of the people of God, when they turn from Him:
  • Exaltation (v.1a) - The Glory of God overshadows and protects those who are in right relationship with Him.
  • Separation (v.1b,2) - Sin separates from God. The spiritually dead love darkness and the lusts of the flesh. Isa 59:1,2; Joh 3:19
  • Retribution (v.3) - The righteousness of God requires judgment of sin. Psa 1:4-6; 68:2
This tragic pattern is also present, in v.4-8.
4 Yet I [am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt,
and thou shalt know no god but me: for [there is] no saviour beside me.
5. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
6 According to their pasture, so were they filled;
they were filled, and their heart was exalted;
therefore have they forgotten me.
7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion:
as a leopard by the way will I observe [them]:
8 I will meet them as a bear [that is] bereaved [of her whelps],
and will rend the caul of their heart,
and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
Yet I am the LORD thy God...
In spite of their sin and waywardness, Israel's great glory is that Jehovah, the ever-living, self-existent, all-powerful One, is her God and Shepherd.
...no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.-
This reality remains true, even while the nation gave themselves to multitudes of false gods, and sought the aid of political and military saviors. They had forgotten how He had delivered them from Egypt and brought them through the desert to the land flowing with milk and honey. It was He who had planted and prospered them. But in their prosperity...
...they were filled, and their heart was exalted, therefore have they forgotten me.-
The more He prospered them, the more they had turned from Him (v.2). Their great sin was that they forgot Him. Rather than humbling themselves and allowing Him to lift them up, they had become lifted up with pride and no longer saw their need of Him (Mat 23:12; 1Pet 5:6; Isa 2:12).
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion...-
Therefore, judgment was coming.
     Israel's protector would punish them actively and passively.
I will be unto them as...
  • a lion - ready to devour Hos 5:14; Isa 42:13
  • a leopard - lying in wait
  • a bear - ferocious
  • the wild beast shall tear them -
    About 200 years later, Daniel would be given a prophetic foreview of Gentile dominion, in which the characteristics of these animals (lion, bear and leopard) are applied to the Babylonian, Greek and Medo-Persian empires. The fourth and final beast is so terrible as to have no parallel in the animal kingdom. Here, Hosea's message hints at Daniel's more detailed vision (in Dan ch. 7).
       The LORD, moved by love, would chasten Israel, in order to 'open the covering' of their hearts. The Gentile empires, moved by hatred, would tear {rip up} His people. Isa 5:29,30; 10:5-7; 47:6; Zech 1:15
C. The LORD's case against Israel concluded (11:12-14:9)
1. A concluding indictment (11:12-13:16)
  1. Israel's self-confidence is self-deception:
    In Jacob's weakness, the LORD was strong (11:12-12:14).
  2. Israel's self-exaltation will bring her down:
    In Israel's humble beginnings, the LORD exalted them (13:1-8).
  3. Israel's self-destruction is not final:
    In Israel's desolation, the LORD will redeem them from death (13:9-16).
9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me [is] thine help.
10 I will be thy king:
where [is any other] that may save thee in all thy cities?
and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?
11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took [him] away in my wrath.
O Israel, thou has destroyed thyself...-
Having turned against the One who is their help, they had put themselves into a hopeless condition.
Yet, His heart still yearned for them.
I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee...? - v.4
ie., where is the king that you desired, instead of me? (1Sam 8:7,8)
I gave thee a king in mine anger...-
When they had insisted, the LORD had given them what they wanted...
  • the first king of the combined kingdom: Saul.
    At that time, the people were forewarned that a king would be burdensome (1Sam 8:9-22).
  • the first king of the northern kingdom: Jeroboam I.
    When the northern ten tribes rebelled against the house of David, they made Jeroboam king.
    Again, the LORD allowed the people to have what they wanted, though He knew that their king would lead them into idolatry. 1Kin 12:20-33
and took him away in my wrath...- (cp. Hos 10:3)
In judgment for sin, the LORD removed king Saul (1Sam 15:26) and gave the kingdom to David.
In judgment for sin, wicked kings of both the northern and southern kingdoms were removed, sometimes violently.
  • the last king of Israel, Hoshea, was removed and taken captive to Assyria (c. 721 BC). 2Kin 18:9-12
  • the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, was removed and taken captive to Babylon (c. 586 BC). 2Chr 36:11-21
Hosea ch. 13 was written about 4 years prior to the captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel. The removal of Israel's kings (both north and south) was so certain as to be pronounced in the past tense (v.11).
12 The iniquity of Ephraim [is] bound up; his sin [is] hid.
13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him:
he [is] an unwise son; for he should not stay long in [the place of] the breaking forth of children.
...iniquity... is bound up... hid {ie., reserved, kept in store}- Deu 32:32-34; Rom 2:5
There is no escaping the record of our sinful condition (Rev 20:12), except by the means that God has provided (Col 2:13,14; Rev 20:15).
The sorrows of a travailing woman...- are unavoidable. They will come when due.
But Israel could have made the pains of judgment less severe, if at its first pangs, he (ie., the nation) had quickly repented and passed through the place of travail, as though born into into a new life of obedience to the LORD, as a wise son. But because they were unwise in their response to the LORD's chastenings, their travail would be extended.
     The travail of childbirth looks beyond the captivites of Israel and Judah, to the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Isa 13:6-9; 1The 5:3; Jer 30:5-7).
     Israel will be saved out of that time of great trouble... but not by their own wisdom, or power. Like all mankind, the nation and people of Israel are in bondage to sin (v.12). They are not able to birth themselves. The means by which they will enter into sonship, is through the travail of the eternal Son, the true Israel (Isa 53:10,11; Heb 2:10; Isa 26:17-19). The promise, in the preceding reference, is precisely what is foreseen in the next verse.
14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death:
O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction:
repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
I will ransom them... I will redeem them... from death...-
Salvation from spiritual death is the work of the LORD, Himself. The word 'redeem' {HB=ga'al} describes the work of the 'kinsman redeemer' (Lev 25:25,47-49), as illustrated by Boaz in the book of Ruth, and as fulfilled by Christ (Heb 2:14-17).
O death... O grave, I will be thy destruction...-
This verse, as explained by 1Cor 15:55-57, speaks of the victory of Christ over sin and death.
This victory belongs to those who trust in Him (Eph 2:1-9, to be 'quickened' is to be 'made alive').
...repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.-
In other words, it is God's purpose to ransom Israel and to bring them out of bondage to sin and death. He will not change His mind. (Rom 11:29, also see the surrounding verses.)
     This verse, with its promise of salvation, is a bright ray of hope against the very dark background of unrelenting sin and unavoidable destruction. But the promise is for a future day. The next verses return to the gloom of storm clouds, heavy with imminent judgment.
15 Though he be fruitful among [his] brethren, an east wind shall come,
the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness,
and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up:
he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God:
they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces,
and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Though he be fruitful {the name 'Ephraim' means 'fruitful'}...-
Ephraim would be overtaken by a hot east wind, out of the desert, parching everything in its path. The allusion is to the armies of Assyria.
he shall spoil...-
The king of Assyria, Shalmaneser, would capture the people and rob them of their treasured possessions, as well as emptying the treasuries and storehouses of the nation. 2Kin 18:9-12
...for she hath rebelled against her God...-
Israel's desolations, including the cruelties described here, were her own doing.
She had rebelled against the One who was and is her God and Savior (v.4), her help and her King (v.9,10).

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