Words for Christian Living 053113

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  Romans 12:1-3 (KJV)

Though the Lord no longer requires blood sacrifices; the slaying of lambs, bulls, goats, etc.; we are still “Beseeched”  that is strongly encouraged; to make our own “Bodies” a living sacrifice unto the Lord.  It is to be a sacrifice “Holy, acceptable unto God”.  That truly means that once we are a child of God, born again through faith in Christ Jesus; that our bodies are not our own.  We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 053013

“I say then, hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, ‘Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.’ But what saith the answer of God unto him? ‘I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”  Romans 11:1-6 (KJV)

I find great comfort and encouragement in knowing that the Lord always has a remnant of people who believe His Word, and live by His faith.  It is a comfort to know that He is always working in us by His grace, and is not dependent upon our works.  Even when we fail; God never fails.

The Christian can never enjoy sin and rebellion against God or His word; but when confronted and convicted by the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will turn from their sin, and experience a renewed walk with the Father.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 052913

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”  Romans 10:1-4 (KJV)

Ignorance is not a pleasant word to hear for anyone.  Nevertheless, ignorance is no excuse for the sin of God’s people called Christian.  There is far too much ignorance concerning the Righteousness of God, and what is required of God’s people.

As Christians we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ; and that righteousness comes out for all the world to see.  It is not righteousness to overlook sin.  Righteousness deals with sin; starting with our own, then confronting unrighteousness where we see it.

Do not be ignorant of the righteousness of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of GOD – Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

The Redeeming Love of God

The Healing Love of GOD

Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

In the study of Hosea we have seen that the doom of Israel/Ephraim was certain.  They had rejected God’s ways for their lives, and their nation’s continued prosperity.  Instead, they began to trust their prosperity and abilities, and began  to build their own gods.  God sent prophets to warn them.  Certainly, there were individuals who turned [repented], but as a whole the nation was corrupt.

We will find in this message that the indulgence of sin has eternal consequences.  Sin has the power to destroy forever, a nation, or an individual.  God in His grace, however, provides a way to defeat the power of sin.  Sin’s power could destroy Israel forever; however, God was not through with them.  He would raise them up to fulfill His glorious purpose.

“When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 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.’ Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”  Hosea 13:1-3 (KJV)

Ephraim has been used throughout Hosea to represent the total land of Israel.  Now it appears to be speaking of the tribe.  They have gone from glory to shame.

Ephraim was a respected tribe, and spoke with authority.  Joshua the son of Nun was of the tribe or Ephraim (Numbers 13:8, 16).  He, as you may remember, was Moses’ successor who would lead the people into Canaan, the land of promise.  He would lead them in battle, and the settling of the land.  By this tribe’s faithfulness to God they were exalted among all the people.

When Israel split as a nation, Jereboam also of the tribe of Ephraim, led the people into the worship of false deities, and rejected the true Go.  Because of this they would die.

Molten images, the work of their own hands, became the object of their worship.  Because of this they would soon disappear, as the chaff of whet, smoke from the chimney, the early dew, and the morning cloud.

“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. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: 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.”  Hosea 13:4-8 (KJV)

God would go from being their Saviour; to being their Destroyer.

From the time that Moses came back to the land of Egypt to the time of Canaan God brought them through.  He worked powerfully  in their deliverance from Egypt.  He fed them, gave them water to drink, even when there was no water He was their source of supply.

God blessed them abundantly in the “Promised land”, and they soon forgot Him.  They began to neglect the reminders of His deliverance for other things.  Afterwards, they began to reject God’s will and way for them.  Finally, they would forget God and be destroyed.

God would become to them as ravenous beasts seeking its prey.  The lion is strong and brave.  The leopard is an animal of stealth and speed, sometimes lying in wait to surprise its helpless prey.  The mother bear is extremely dangerous, especially, if she thinks her cubs are in danger (Proverbs 17:12).  They would be torn and ripped to pieces because of their sin.

There is hope for them. Because there would be a remnant left from which to accomplish  God’s purposes.

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. 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?’  I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.”  Hosea 13:9-11 (KJV)

They went away from God as King to destructive leaders.

Israel, was destroying themselves.  It began when they determined to be life “Other nations” and wanted a king (1 Samuel 8:1-7).  God was their King.  In their unbelief they rejected God as King, and chose to have a foolish, and obstinate man rule over them.

Sure, God anointed Saul as king, but Go also knew that Saul would be representative fo the majority of the kings in Israel.  In his rebellion and pride he rejected God’s way.

“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. 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. 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. 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. 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.”  Hosea 13:12-16 (KJV)

The judgment of God is not fro revenge, nor only punitive.  In judgment He seeks to redeem.

“The iniquity… is bound up” is communicating to us that God has a record of Israel’s/Ephraim’s sin.  They cannot hide it (v. 12).

God likens their judgment to that of a woman giving birth to a child.  He is a stubborn child.  Unwilling to be born into what God desires, causing greater pain for his mother.  The child represents the individual – the mother Israel.  Before the nation can be healed, the individual must repent and accept the ways of God (v. 13).

“Death ultimately involves eternal punishment in hell (‘The second death’) for those who refuse God’s redemption (Revelation 20:13-15).  Taken together in the larger biblical context, Sheol and death picture sin’s power to demand the penalty of eternal death.  In the case of the people of Hosea’s day, Sheol and death would be the power of their sin to destroy them forever as God’s  people.”  John Traylor page 120.

God was determined to redeem Israel.  He would ultimately do that through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross.  Placing all the sins of mankind upon Him, God put the power of sin to death.  Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”  (NKJV)

The law of God demands eternal death because of sin.  God says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave.”  See 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.  God would raise Israel up once again.  God would have compassion  on them (v. 14).

Death, through judgment would have to come before resurrection.  This shows the power of God to redeem.  When there is no hope that appears, there is hope and possibility in God.  He is the God of resurrection – of New Life.

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ‘Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.'”  Hosea 14:1-3 (KJV)

God calls for Israel to truly repent.

Forget the rituals, the gifts of offering, and sacrifices.  Offer to God “Words”.  Not empty and vain words, but “Words” of a heart that is truly broken and repentant.  Life that is changed, turned around, by God is true repentance.

Israel had to turn around to realize there was no hope in anyone or anything, but God.  In God is mercy, grace, and hope.

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found.”  Hosea 14:4-8 (KJV)

After true repentance great things begin to occur.

Remember, God has brought them to repentance.  God heals their backsliding hearts. Now, they cling only to Him.

Israel would experience the fullness of God’s love.  There will be no need for His anger any longer.  God is their source of refreshment, and blessing.  The bringing forth of this fruit is the result of their trusting in God.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”  Hosea 14:9 (KJV)

The word of, and the way of the Wise.

The Wise receive the redemption of God, and stop depending on false gods.

Hosea points the one who is wise to the love and joy of our Saviour.  There is life in God’s way.  Death awaits the foolish who reject God’s way of life.  Jesus said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [no one] cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”  (John 14:6)  Someone once said, “Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there  is no living.”  The way is hard it is not easy.  The truth is all you can trust.  The life is eternal through faith in this One who died for our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 052813

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”  Romans 9:1-5 (KJV)     

Do we ever think much about sacrifice?  I must admit I do not.  Sacrifice hurts.  Paul, however, did think of sacrifice, but probably not as a sacrifice, but as love for his Saviour and for his people.  Jesus also gave Himself, a sacrifice, for the glory of His Father, and His love for us.

Who is willing to suffer being accursed from Christ – suffering the torments of eternal hell – for our “Brethren”, our kinsmen according to the flesh?

That kind of love is in Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 052713

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  Romans 8:1-7 (KJV)

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 11:1 – 12:14

GOD’S Compassion for His People

Hosea 11:1 – 12:14

Concern and Compassion took a cruise on an ocean liner.  While they were out looking over the outer railing someone fell overboard.  Concern cried out, “Man overboard”.  Compassion cried out, “Man overboard”, and dived in to rescue the imperiled man.

The above story shows the difference in concern and compassion.  One cries out, but does nothing.  The other cries out gets involved, and commits themselves to the task.  God’s greatest compassion was shown to us by Jesus Christ His Son dying on the cross.  He [Jesus] was committed to t he task of dying for your sins and mine; redeeming us forever unto GOD.

“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.”  Hosea 11:1-4 (KJV)

God’s love and compassion is demonstrated in His care for Israel despite their deceit and departure from Him (Romans 5:8).

Verse one of this text is mentioned in Matthew 2:15 as a prophetic verse pointing to Jesus Christ coming out of Egypt. The life of Jesus is a kind of parallel of the journeys of the descendants of Abraham – except of course for their doubts, fears, and unbelief, their sin.  Jesus’s life showed them; and us that life can be lived for GOD.

As Israel came out of Egypt, though, they determined to turn away from God and to worship Baal.  It was God who led them by their arms (as a father teaching his child to walk).  It was He who healed them, and delivered them out of the bondage, and slavery of Egypt.

GOD worked in the life of the nation drawing them to Himself through human bondage.  “Cords of a man” while loving them to bring them out to be His own purchased possession.  He would remove the yoke of bondage, and feed them in His grace and mercy (v. 4).

“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.” vv. 5-7

Despite Israel’s rebellion deceit and fraud toward God He still promises not to completely destroy them; but to restore them.

In these verses we see the results of Israel’s rejection of God’s love.  First, they would go into Assyrian captivity (v. 5).  Those who would flee to Egypt would die there (See 9:6).  The second result was the continued desolation of Israel, and their land (v. 6).  They had rejected God and chosen to seek the foreign gods.  The third and most tragic was their rejection of God’s love led them to a persistent and fixed state of rebellion (v. 7).

Every time a person hardens their heart against God, by rebelling against His authority, His Word the heart only gets harder.  Remember Pharoah of Egypt!  He hardened his heart for the last time, until God hardened it.  Woe to the one whose heart is hardened by 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. They shall walk after the LORD: He shall roar like a lion: when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.”  vv. 8-11

God’s love is persistent and consistent toward His people.

God’s thoughts had somehow been toward destruction.  His heart was/is broken with compassion.   These questions are powerful.  We do not understand the mind of God, so let us not get in a titther over these thoughts.  He could have destroyed Israel, but the thought of it brought compassion, and would cause Israel to stop and think.  They, like the rest of humanity, deserved destruction.  They did not deserve God’s compassion.

God says that His is not like man.  Man’s ways are to destroy all that is against him and his way.  God’s way is to change the heart of man.  In His compassion, grace and mercy He would bring them to Himself, and  put them back in their own land (v. 11).

“Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”  Hosea 11:12 – 12:6

GOD calls for a change.  There is nothing new with God.

There is still a spark of faithfulness in Judah.  Israel has gone too far.  They have gone beyond “the point of no return”, but for God’s grace.  When sin is finished, and life is ruined God’s grace continues (Romans 5:20).

The wind (12:1) offers no nourishment, just as surely as there is no spiritual life in worshipping idols.  There is no hope for Israel/Ephraim in Assyria.

Israel practiced deceit and treachery against God.  There is a horrible portrait of Israel in Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus to be crucified.  They would rather live without God than to obey Him.  They would find out the tragedy of life without God.

God remained faithful as He always does.  He never changes (Hebrews 13:8).

Jacob was born rebellious and deceitful.  His name means “Supplanter” or “Deceiver”.  He used deceit and trickery to take that which he wanted from his brother Esau (Genesis 25:24-34).  “Jacob prevailed with God and men only when he yielded himself to God.”  TRAYLOR

God changed Jacob from deceiver; seeking God his own way to Israel meaning “Prince of God”.  The nation of Israel was spoken to by God through the man Israel, formerly Jacob.  As God changed Jacob’s heart to trust the Lord He also would change the heart of the nation.

There are three truths stressed in verse six about being changed:

  1. Turn from sin to God;
  2. God’s expectation is that those who turn to Him live with kindness [mercy] and justice [judgment]. Practicing the qualities of God;
  3. Have a personal relationship and experience with God.

“A merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. Is there iniquity in Gilead? Surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall He leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.”  vv. 7-14 (KJV)

The nation had reached a point where being a “Kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) counted as nothing to them.

What happened?  They had gotten so engulfed in being an economically blessed nation they became more concerned with business, rather than a personal relationship with the God of heaven.  A merchant rather then priestly they even practiced deceit with one another in order to grab all they could [“balances of deceit”]. They then added denial to their sins (v. 8).  Their goals of life were corrupt.  They had changed from the incorruptible to that which corrupts.

God says that He will still make them “…To dwell in tabernacles”.  This is a promise of return.  He has spoken so through His prophets.  Their Feasts would be restored, and there would be joy in the land, and they would walk in God’s ways.  The prophets of God always warned of impending judgment, and with the words of judgment they also included words of promise and hope.

Because of his iniquity Jacob fled to Paddan-Aram to escape the wrath of his brother Esau.

Just as surely as Jacob suffered for his sin the nation of Israel would be chastised, and rebuked, and learn of the emptiness of self-seeking, serving ways.

Jacob became a “Slave” of his uncle for a wife, and  he was deceived.  You do reap what you sow.  He served his uncle Laban, then as a shepherd to get the wife he had chosen.

The nation of Israel would go into Assyrian bondage in order to become the people God desired them to be.

Moses was the prophet who delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage.  By this same prophet Israel was fed, protected, and refreshed.  The is a greater Prophet who will deliver all from the bondage of sin when He is believed and followed.  This greater Prophet is Jesus (See Deuteronomy 18:15;  Acts 3:20-23).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 9:1 – 10:15

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Hosea 9:1 – 10:15

Herschel Ford has told a story of a man who committed suicide.  He was rising higher and higher in a hot-air balloon.  He took a knife and began to cut the three ropes holding the gondola to the fabric of the air-ship.  A crowd below was watching.  They shouted warning after warning. “Don’t cut it”, until he came to the third, and still they were shouting, “Don’t cut it”.  He did not listen, and fell to his death.

When people persist in cutting off the strands that keep them in the way of God we commit spiritual suicide.  Cutting the cords of God’s love ends in destruction.  God continues to warn His people, giving us ample opportunity to turn from our sin and walk in His paths.  This period of grace does not last forever.  He does and will cut it off, and bring evil to an end.

“Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.  The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD. What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins.”  Hosea 9:1-9 (KJV)

How blind the children of the LORD tend to be when the LORD’S judgment and justice has come upon us.  When the Bible speaks of judgment it often puts it in the present tense – as being here.  Now!

There was no reason for joy in Israel due to the fact they had left God to walk in the harlotries of other nations.  The “other people” were rejoicing in their idol worship – the licentious sexual behavior of Ashtoreth.  God’s people were never called on to worship anything but God.  To do so was “Whoredom” and wickedness in God’s sight.

The very idea of them actually worshipping Baal was proof of their unfaithfulness to God.

There are seven features of God’s judgment upon Israel listed in verses two through six:

  1. God would attack the heart of fertility worship by taking away the bountiful harvest (v. 2);
  2. He would remove them from His land (v. 3);
  3. He would place them in Assyria in Egyptian-like captivity (v. 3);
  4. God would bring an end to their wicked worship (v. 4);
  5. God would cut them off from their appointed feast days (vv. 5-6a);
  6. They would die in captivity (v. 6);
  7. God would desolate Israel’s fertility idols and shrines (v. 6).

In verse six “Memphis” is a place in Egypt where the dead are buried.  They would die.

“What will ye do?” Hosea asked.  How one responds to God’s warning determines one’s eternal destiny.

There is a story told of two brothers who lived in a sheep herding area of Europe.  These two brothers were caught stealing sheep. The sentence the community gave them in judgment was that they be branded on their foreheads with the letters S T and understood to mean “Sheep Thieves”.  These young men in later years met Jesus as their Saviour and their lives were radically changed.  They became a credit to their community; giving help to people in need; aiding struggling city coffers when they possibly could.  All the time bearing the marks on their foreheads “ST”.  As the years went by one day a young boy with his mother saw these two godly men with “ST”  branded on their foreheads; “What does that “ST” mean?”  The mother answered her son and said, “I don’t know; but I suppose it means Saint.”  There is hope and change for all who will believe God, trust His Saviour and His Word.

The people of Israel were guilty of rejecting God’s prophet, and accepting the foolish jibberish of the paid off cult and court prophets.  Calling God’s man a fool.  Hosea remained faithful to God, because he was certain of God’s calling and confident of God’s message.  The sin and iniquity of the people  causes  them to hate the message of God and His messenger.

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, O LORD: what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of Mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.” Hosea 9:10-17

From the preceding verses we find Israel in persistent rebellion, and judgment will sweep them away.

In verse 10 Israel is likened to a fruitful vine found in the wilderness- and what a magnificent find that would be to a weary and thirsty traveler.  They are also likened to a first ripened fig – the best.  Made this way by God in His bountiful grace they have chosen to leave this condition in God to serve idols, and destroy their land, their homes, their kingdom, and their relationship with God,  who placed them in His glorious position.

They bring shame and their glory flies away as a bird.  Their children shall die.  The wombs of the women will be fruitless, those who do conceive will never hold a live child in their arms (v. 14).  The greatest tragedy of sin is found in verse 12 “…Woe also to them when I depart from them!”  For God to depart, to hold back His mercy and grace is catastrophic to His people.  They get what they deserve.  The blessings they had before was God’s mercy on display.

Verse 15 makes a bold statement of God’s hatred for sin and evil.  Israel had given themselves to evil, were bound to evil, and could not get free.  The “Wickedness of Gilgal” is a reference to Saul’s rebellion in 1 Samuel 13.  King Saul determined to not wait for Samuel, and to offer sacrifice himself.  In this he showed much pride, impatience, and rebellion toward the laws of God.  He also tried to sacrifice to justify his disobedience (1 Samuel 15), which is also seen of Israel in Hosea’s day.

God would cast them out to be strangers and foreigners in other countries.  God loves His people so much He will not allow us to live in unrepented sin.

“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. For now they shall say, ‘We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?’ They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us;’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us.’
O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in My desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.”  Hosea 10:1-11

Now, God says, that, they are an “Empty vine”.  This is a drastic contrast to what we found in verse 10 of chapter 9.

Israel had a heart condition.  No electrocardiogram would be able to detect the problem.  Nevertheless, they had a bad heart.  Their heart was divided.  God cannot use divided hearts.  This compares with the “Double-minded man” of James 1:8 – unstable and unfit for service to God.

The people of Israel had two institutions which were highly esteemed by them; their kings (politics, military, and  democracy for us), and their religion.  Their kings were unjust and greedy, and their religion was empty and separated them from God, because they were more concerned with ritual sacrifice and offerings rather than a personal relationship with God.

Kings make promises, but do not fulfill them (v. 4).  The graven images which they have worshipped will lose  their glory – no one will be able to protect them.  Who needs a god that needs protection anyway?  God is having their idols carried away shows the futility of trusting in them (Isaiah 46:1-5).

“Aven”, mentioned in 10:8 means deception.  It has been a place of deception because the people were deceived by their own desires and they strayed from God’s paths.  God says, that, He will destroy their sin.  The power of sin has been ultimately destroyed by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and overcoming sins power by His resurrection from the dead.  All who refuse God’s way suffers eternal judgment.

Instead of crying out to God for mercy they cry out for the rocks and mountains, “Fall on us” (v. 8; Revelation 6:16).

Because of their stubborn and rebellious hearts they would be as a heifer yoked to hard labor whereas, before their labor had been light and blessed.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children. So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.”  Hosea 10:12-15 (KJV)

The “Fallow ground” of verse twelve is land that had previously been plowed, but now left unused.  God’s Word and His Spirit is the plow that is needed to break up the soil of a hard heart (See Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23).  Hard hearts cannot yield crops of righteousness and mercy.

It is a prominent theme in Hosea that the children of Israel will reap exactly what they have sown.  It is a law of God’s created order to reap what we have sown – and that, no matter the timeline, culture or society which we may live.

Hosea gives us three steps to heal the land:

  1. Break up your fallow ground (v. 12);
  2. Put God’s Word in your heart – “sow with a view of righteousness” (NAS v. 12);
  3. “Reap in accordance with kindness (NAS) referring to the breaking of their hard hearts through repentance and sowing the seed of God’s Word in their lives.

God gives Israel every opportunity to repent.  It is God’s desire then to cleanse them, and make them a vessel of His grace.  Judgment would come.

“Hosea 9 – 10 reinforces the basic lesson that persistent sin eventually leads to destruction.”  Traylor.  This is also true for people of the 21st century as well.  God’s people (Christians) need to open their eyes and know that the Lord, though He has provided a way into His presence, still calls for His people to repent.

We need to keep this thought in mind; “God loves us the way we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.”  He will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

There is only hope for all through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross of calvary – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship