They Called Them to The Most High

“And My people are bent to backsliding from Me: though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt Him.” Hosea 11:7 (KJB)

The prophet is speaking of the people of Israel. Their hearts were set on turning from the Lord GOD. Yet, God in His great mercy and grace was set on redeeming them.

He called prophets who would teach them, deliver them, and warn them of the path of rejection and rebellion they were walking, living in.

I must be honest with you, that for me, and I believe every Christian; one of the easiest things for us to do is to go our own way. To worship God, and Him alone takes a devoted, undivided heart for God, and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

That is why it is a necessity to be a faithful student of the word of God – the Bible.  We must be people who see it as our necessary diet for daily strength.  When we get in His Word, and it through the Holy Spirit gets into us God makes us a different and powerful person for the glory of the Lord.

Father, turn Your backsliden people back to You.  May we all turn our eyes upon Jesus Christ, His death on the cross for our sins, His burial carrying away all our sin, our shame, and condemnation, and His resurrection; and knowing that He lives is evidence that we too shall live with Him forever.

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah (3)

God Will Bring Them…

I Will Bring Them… from the Coasts of the Earth

“At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.  Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.  Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.  Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.  For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.  For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel.  Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. 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.” Jeremiah 31:1-9 (KJV)

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah

Sweet Sleep

“I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the LORD my God.  Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.  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.  Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.  How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.  And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.  For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.  Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.” Jeremiah 31:18-26 (KJV)

Becoming One Again

We have been looking at the prophecy of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon when he was given this prophecy. He spoke much of the nation’s return to their homeland, but it would not take place until after a period of 70 years. In the Scripture and prophecy for today’s study we see a promise, and prophecy that they would return as not two nations divided; but as one.

“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” Ezekiel 37:15-19 (KJV)

The prophet does not use the name “Israel” in reference to the Northern Kingdom; but rather uses Joseph or Ephraim. The prophet Hosea refers to Ephraim rather than “Israel”.

This prophecy was only partially fulfilled with the return of the nation from captivity to their homeland. They have not had a king. When King Jesus came, they rejected Him, and crucified Him; and they paid the price for that in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and being scattered once again unto the four quarters of the earth.

As the Lord has renewed the nation of Israel (May 14, 1948) there are still numerous Hebrew people scattered around the world, but one day they will all be in their homeland; they will have a new temple, and they will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and King.

There is much that is going to happen between now and the time Israel will see Jesus as the Son of God; God the Son; and as their Messiah and King. Yet, because God has said it; it shall be done; it shall be done.

The point today is that you believe and receive Him as your Lord, your Saviour and your King.

The Land is GOD’S to Give as He Pleases

“God hath spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the strength of Mine head; Judah is My lawgiver; Moab is My washpot; over Edom will I cast out My shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of Me.” Psalm 60:6-8 (KJV)

One of the things people and nations need to understand is that God is the owner of all lands, and distributes those lands as He sees fit.

The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, and His children through Isaac the promised son. He gave the land of Canaan plus land on the east side of Jordan to the people of promise.

Down through the ages there is still contention over that land. It is simply because the people will not submit to God’s ownership and division of that land. If the people would submit to God’s ownership, division of that land, and realize we are all only stewards of where we dwell; then there could be peace.

The Psalmist speaking the words of God notes this division. Shechem and Succoth are land on the east side of Jordan, and were given to two and one half tribes of Israel, because of their request for it (Numbers 32:1-5). Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah are God’s people. God says, “Gilead is Mine.” He also says, “Manasseh is Mine”; and “Ephraim is the helmet for My head” (NKJV), and “Judah is My lawgiver”.

To think about “Moab is My washpot” we are the surrounding enemy nations; along with Edom, and Philistia. We might consider Moab as the “washpot” in that when Israel strayed God uses them to discipline, chastise Israel for their waywardness.

Do we as Christians today understand that all God has given in our hand, under our feet, even on our back are His; and we are uniquely His stewards to care, and work it for His glory? The land is His and everything on it.

When we know God through His Son Jesus Christ we will understand this and will direct our lives accordingly. We will love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will love the Word of God, we will hear it and do what He says. When we fail, or fall we will trust Him to pick us back up; and we will continue on the path of holiness.

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

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 7:1-16

The People Deceived and Deceitful
Hosea 7:1-16

Can you imagine the actions of Gomer when Hosea came to redeem her from the slavery she was in?  “I have no need of deliverance” (Proverbs 30:20).  Hosea had her best interest at heart.  She was relishing her “Freedom”.  His interest was Gomer and her healing.  Eaten up and ensnared by pagan practices, and worship, which destroyed her relationship with God.

Remember Gomer is representative of the nation Israel, and Hosea is representative of God.

“When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.”  Hosea 7:1 (KJV)

The message is God’s to Israel.  “I would have healed you.”  His mercy was waiting to work.  Even though redeemed they refuse to turn from their evil ways.

The death of Jesus on the cross was the price paid to redeem and heal all mankind, yet people persist in sin refusing to let God do a work of grace and redemption in their hearts and lives.
Because grace is rejected evil continues to work like leaven [yeast].

“And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My face.” verse 2

Israel was continuing in sin and rebellion against God believing He would not see, He would not punish or chastise.  They were dealing falsely with God.  If one can be deceitful, and operate falsely with God they can, and will with their fellow man as well.

To think that we can hide our sin and disobedience from God, or to think He does not take notice is completely ludicrous.  The psalmist wrote, “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8).  Only the wicked can believe that God does not, or cannot see our sin, and does not punish it.  Ezekiel heard God speak saying, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols?  For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land’” (Ezekiel 8:12 NKJV Also see Psalm 10:2-11).

God does “Remember” sin.  He does not turn away, but it is judged.  All sin was for all time judged in God’s Son Jesus Christ.  He who rejects God’s Son rejects God’s love, and can expect judgment for his/her own sin – the price is eternal.

“They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.  They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.  In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.  For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.  They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto Me.”  verses 3-7

There was a familial delight in evil deceit, debauchery and anarchy.  Instead of a family or house of God delighting in holiness, and seeking Him; there was a family of deceit.  Seeking to seduce and lead others away from, rather than toward the Lord God.

It even seems tha the rulers, both the religious and civil were “Glad” with the wickedness.  It is quite likely that there was great financial gain through wickedness.  Why else would they be “Glad”?  Except for their  evil indulgence.

Their passions burned within them; keeping them “Banked” until the time was right – until sin reached its height.  Then, like the baker, the fires were stirred and the fires burned hot.  Their lust is pictured as an hot oven.  Lust is pictured as a burning fire; also in the New Testament.  Paul writing to the Corinthians said, “But I say to the unmarried adn to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am [unmarried]; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NKJV).

When the time for the putrid party begins the baker [initiator] stirrs the fires, and it becomes a “Flaming fire”.  Its leaping, dancing, gyrating flames alluring, inviting the masses to join in.

The ruler are bought and paid for by the wicked.  They cannot rule justly.  They cannot judge rightly or mercifully.  The judges, the kings have fallen.  Fallen to their own lusts and greed.  Fallen from the way of mercy and justice.  They all seek their own way.  God says, “None… calleth unto Me.”

“In terms of human relationships, adultery is the ultimate act of deceit, betrayal, and treachery.”  (John Traylor).

Evil became such a way of life that anarchy began to prevail.  Kings died by assassination, and judges perished by same.  If God pulls back his hand, his “Hedge” of protection, and lets man have his own way anarchy rules.

“Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.  And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.” verse 8-10

Israel turned from the Law of God, and accepted heathen practices.  It is hard for many of us to see the picture portrayed in verse eight, “A cake not turned”.  The picture is like a pancake, similar to like mothers or cooks prepare everyday for children or visitors to restaurants.  A pancake left unturned by its cook.  It burns on one side, and is left as dough on the other.  It is unfit for consumption, and the best thing to do is toss it out.

They have given themselves to evil.  They lose their strength of youth without even realizing it.  He has lost his power, because of turning from God to serve self, and does not even notice, that, God is no longer upon him.  Sin so blinds that the direction headed, and the direction turned from cannot be seen.  It is a great tragedy for the child of God to go on in sin and not realize that God’s Spirit, power and strength has departed.

Even though God continues to reach out to Israel, in pride they reject Him.  Their pride is a testimony against them (5:5).  We can handle it ourselves while we head to destruction.  The LORD hates “A proud look” (Proverbs 6:17).

“Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.”  verses 11-12

Have you ever had a bird in your house, or caught in any building?  It flies into the windows, the walls, ceiling, and frantically searches for a way of escape.  The door can be open, but it wants its own way out.  Most times you have to catch the bird, carry it to the door, and then release it.  The “Silly dove” is a picture of Israel seeking her own way.  Mankind seeking his own way.  You seeking your own way.  In order to be delivered God must capture her, and show her the way out in His hands of chastisement.

“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against Me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me.  And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against Me.  Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against Me. They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.”  verses 13-16

Again God’s heart cry for His people is shown.  They flee from God to seek evil, and to their own destruction.  They lie about God, and to Him.  They “Lie against” God in two ways;

  1. By denying that Hosea’s message is from God;
  2. By attributing the blessings of their past to their worship of idols, and a possible third;
  3. By making God equal with all others.

Even though God has redeemed them they still persist in denial of God’s deliverance and power.

They are returning to ritual.  Ritual has no holiness requirements.  It has no power to change lives.  It makes many other requirements but provides no personal relationship.

Like an archer’s bow that is not true, and curved rightly it will not hit its target, even with the best of archers.  The bullseye is missed.  The bullseye of God’s glory; “For all have sinned, and come short [missed the mark] of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

There are seven reasons given for the destruction of Israel [Ephraim];

  1. They were set in their rebellion (v. 13);
  2. They were set in false witness against  the LORD (v. 13);
  3. Their insincerity in calling upon the LORD (v. 14);
  4. The committed apostasy in the way they sought for yields or better yields of their crops (v. 14);
  5. The people “devised evil” against the LORD (v. 15);
  6. The Israelites did not seek God (v. 16);
  7. The scornful speaking of the rulers of Israel (v. 16).

“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me”  Beware children of God when you are getting so close to culture, and society you begin to identify more with them than with God.  When we begin to call good evil, we are in disagreement with God and in agreement with the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 5:1 – 6:11)

Rebellion and False Repentance
Hosea 5:1 – 6:11

To love God is to hate evil (Psalm 97:10).  “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).  So declares the inspired Scriptures.

The problem with Israel as much as with people today, in general, even professing Christians, is that, we claim  to love God, and hang onto evil as well.  That cannot be, if we love God.  God says so, and it is so often ignored.

God’s desire for His people is that we learn.  Learn His ways, walk His paths of beauteous splendor.  But, there is such (what seems like) an unwillingness to learn, such desire for ignorance, rather than for a knowledge of God.

Many times in Scriptures the words “hear”, “give heed”, and/or “listen” are verbalized with great vehemence, that God cries out for their attention, but they do not give it.  Maybe I  ought to say “We do not give it” just to be fair.

The Word of God has been rejected and despised by the priests and rulers of Israel.  They have captured the people for their own gain.  The priests, the common people, and the king are guilty before God.  They all must repent and seek God.

“Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.  And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.”  Hosea 5:1-2 (KJV)

Many times God cries out through His messengers, the prophets, for His people to “Hear”.  Sometimes they listen and hear and turn form their path of destruction; many times they do not.

The judgment is toward all who are in the land.  As a response to hearing the Word some will turn, but will still suffer in judgment along with the nation.  Like we are told in Scripture “It rains on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), and that includes blessing and judgment.

The leaders; the priests, the king, tribal leaders had ensnared and exploited the people.  The nobles and leaders were not only indulging in the practiced sin of the nation, but were also profiting from the immorality.  They did not want to cease from their sin.  There was too much profit, and an extravagant amount of pleasure to lose in doing so.  As long as there is enjoyment in sin there is no chance for repentance, and no blessing from God.

There was much bloodshed “slaughter”.  Slaughter of innocence.  The baby to the fire, the elderly “No longer useful to society”, those who cry out against audacious and vile decadence.  This will be judged.  There are many people today who worship at the fiery idol of “Choice”.

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.  They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.  And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them.  They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.” Hosea 5:3-7

Rebellion and impenitence is the theme of these verses.

When a lost soul turns to God for salvation, that same soul has turned away from sin and the path of Hell.  There has been a change of heart and of life, and of lifestyle.

This is what God was wanting for Israel.  Israel’s problem is that, they wee caught in a trap.  They were enslaved to their won devices of sin, and could find no way out.  In fact they did not want out.  That is the blindness of sins darkness.  Jesus spoke of the bondage of sin and its darkness in John 3:19-20.  He said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (NKJV).

In verses three through seven God cites five reasons He would chastise Israel, and ultimately Judah.  There were probably some in Hosea’s audience who would not believe Israel could or would be destroyed, thus, the five reasons.

  1. Ephraim had prostituted herself, and Israel stood defiled (v. 3);
  2. The Israelites deeds would not allow them to return to the Lord their God (v. 4);
  3. They in their pride had rejected God’s appeal for them to turn to Him for help (v. 5);
  4. They, instead, turned to the fertility gods for help (vv. 5b-6);  “The real tragedy is that their sin had so blinded them that they thought they were seeking God by the sacrifices, and other rites at the fertility shrines.”  Traylor page 56.
  5. Their treachery against the Lord God (v. 7).

On the part of Israel was betrayal, rebellion, and an intensity to sin.  On God’s part, He remained faithful.  The result of Israel’s continued rebellion against God was destruction.  Who are we to think that it cannot happen to us when we want to hang on to our sins?

“Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.  Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.  The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out My wrath upon them like water.  Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.  Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.  When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.  For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.  I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.”  Hosea 5:8-15 (KJV)

Judgment would come from within and without.  For those today who say, “Well, God wouldn’t do that” you better get a new thought.  God does not allow His children to sin successfully.

This blowing of the “Ram’s horn” is a warning to invaders.  There is a need for sounding a warning of invaders when people forsake God, and refuse to return to His way.  The warnings, as with Israel, often go unheeded, and the people continue to live a life of indulgent sin.  Wanting the blessings, of God, and yet clinging to godless living.

Judgment is inevitable when people hear the Word of warning, and refuse to turn.  The judgment comes due to  the lack of care.  Complacent, and apathetic toward the warnings; the enemy then comes in tearing and ripping and killing fulfilling the rebuke of God to turn His people from their sins.  Who can rescue one who is under the judgment?  God says, “No one can.”

God leaves His children to face their own sin, and its fruit. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galations 6:7).  He will not come to their aid until they confess their evil and repent of it.  God’s judgment upon His people is always redemptive.  Do not deceive yourselves; there are consequences to your sin.  You will reap the harvest of those sins.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.  After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.  Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”  Hosea 6:1-3

By all appearances  these verses seem to be a sign of true repentance.  At least what the Lord requires of His people for His promise to be fulfilled.  Let us keep them in context with the verses which follow.

How long does it take us to learn that we cannot fool God?  He knows our heart.  He knows our thoughts.  He knows when we are truly penitent, and when it is false.

Sorry they had been discovered, their sin found out, they want to avoid the judgment that was about to fall upon them.  Notice, there is no mention of forsaking their evil ways, only seeking to return in order to get blessing again.  They want healing, revival, and the rains, but God knows the heart.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.  Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.  But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against Me.  Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.  And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.  I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.  Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.”  Hosea 6:4-11

God will, and does judge His people to produce godly knowledge, and loyalty to Him.

The two questions of verse four are very penetrating.  They imply with force, “Why do you deceive Me?”  The repentance of “Ephraim” is only fleeting.  Clinging to their sin, loving their sin, they cry for forgiveness.  The “Morning cloud” appears until the light and heat of the sun hits it, then, it is gone.  The “Early dew” lingers on the leaves, grass, flowers, and the fields until the light of day causes it to evaporate into nothingness, and it is gone.  The describes the repentance of Israel.  Sadly, it also describes the feeble cries of repentance; if there are any; in the Church of the 21st century.  While wanting the blessings of God we also want to cling to our sin that separates us from God.  Wreaking havoc upon ourselves, our Church, our nation, and the world, sin continues while God calls us to repent.  God’s people are to be a stabilizing force in society, and culture by being unmoved by passions of lust and greed.

The Word of God in written form, and from the mouths of His prophets inflicts wounds to cut out sin.  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).  The Word of God is the Law which shows the way of freedom.  Sin is an evil, and cruel master destroying life, and godly relationships.

The LORD God desires permanence in our loyalties.  His frustration is with words that have no commitment, no devotion, no perseverance.  When judgment comes it is as a light revealing pitfalls, stumbling blocks, and dead-ends.  Judgment shows that departure from God to sin has taken place.

False repentance is eager to sacrifice money, maybe time, and even attendance at worship, programs and feasts, but not personal commitment to change, to show mercy and kindness, to love as God loves – loving “God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as we love ourselves”- to know God, and not just ritual.

The vileness of man’s heart continually transgresses God’s Law.  Acts of treason are committed against Him daily.  Treachery, the act to deceive, and  that which destroys trust, is committed by refusing to obey what has been agreed to by all parties.  God has no other choice but to judge.  Remember our God is holy.

Bloodshed, robbery, harlotry seem to be permanent encroachments upon the land.  God says, that it is “A horrible thing in the house of Israel.”  The house of Judah will not be exempt.  None who turn from God to serve self are exempt from God’s wrath.  Is there hope in that?  Those who experience God’s judgment, and confess their sins, and turn from their sins [repentance] to Jesus Christ, God’s holy Son will experience His mercy and grace.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:11-19)

God’s Controversy With His People 3

This will be the final study for chapter 4.

“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.”  Hosea 4:11-12 (KJV)

The Amplified Bible says of verse eleven, “Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding.”  The Living Bible paraphrases, “Wine, women and song have robbed My people of her brains.”

Does anything ever really change?  It does not seem so.  The problem of Israel is a problem within the United States of America today.  Alcohol and the use of alcohol; maybe I should say abuse of alcohol; drug consumption.  The over active, perverse and uncontrolled sex drives of humanity; along with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs robbing the mind of control, influencing the decision making process, having people doing things they would not normally do.  With a clear mind – clear of drugs at least – one can be expected to make rational decisions.  Under the influence of beverage alcohol no one wants to take responsibility; and no one wants to point out the blame, or take blame for their actions.

This is how verse twelve reads in The Living Bible,  “For they are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do.  ‘Divine Truth’ comes to them through tea leaves!  Longing after idols has made them foolish.  For they have played the harlot, serving other gods, deserting Me.”

Instead of taking their heart ache to God they seek a bottle.  Instead of a lasting, fulfilling, and meaningful relationship through marriage (One man, one woman), God’s way they follow their own lust, and go to destruction.  It is not only destruction of the person, it destroys the family, the State, the Nation and the World.

“They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.  I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.” Hosea 4:13-14

Men need to learn that their wives and children soon follow their example.  In this way wives and daughters of Israel became polluted.  The fathers had not taken their God-given leadership roles in leading their families to righteousness; instead they led them to perversion, and their immorality would be their judgment.

“Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, ‘The LORD liveth.’  For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.  Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.  Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, ‘Give ye.’  The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.” Hosea 4:15-19

“Listen up Judah.”  Hosea probably sees some of the Judeans in the crowd at the gates, and warns them of the plight of Israel.  For clarity “Ephraim” is another name for the Northern kingdom of Israel.

Bethel is now called “Bethaven”.  The place had gone from “The house of God”,  to the decadence of “The house of deception”.  Gilgal and Bethaven were places of calf worship.  To go to these places of idolatry, and declare, “The LORD liveth” was an evil act of hypocrisy, and was despised by God.

They loved their shame rather than the glory of God.  Their glory is God.  They refuse the way of God, thus, they incur the wrath of God upon themselves.

Paul the apostle writes to Timothy; a young pastor, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  Let those today who claim “I am a disciple of Christ” or “I am a Christian” depart from this iniquitous society.  How can we do that?  By not participating in the wicked, mind killing, mind stealing acts of the world and society.

If you have been in this way of life there is hope for all who will trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross – His death, His burial and His resurrection.  He has promised also to come again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Two Sticks, David, and The Sanctuary

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, ‘Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, ‘For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions:’ then take another stick, and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:’ and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.  And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, ‘Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?’  Say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in Mine hand.  And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.  And say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God.  And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.  Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.  My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.'”  Ezekiel 37:15-28 (KJV)

The LORD of hosts will accomplish His purposes for His people.  No matter how difficult it may seem; or how far out the way His people may get; He will bring them to Himself again.

-T.A.

Expectantly Looking for God

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 12:1-6 (KJV)

Here are the words of the prophet who is telling the nation of Israel/Ephraim to trust, to expectantly wait for the Lord.  They were to do that by keeping mercy and right judgment.  “Wait on thy God continually” is to expect the coming of the Lord; to trust that He was coming.

For the Christian who is following Jesus today; that message is one we must heed as well.  Jesus told the disciples and us; “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though He says this in a parable, it is still a powerful command to His people.  The command means to be busy living for Christ, as we carry on our daily duties, our labors, and our recreations.  Do so, however, with expectancy of the soon return of the King of kings.  He is coming.

-T.A.

Sow to Yourselves in Righteousness, Reap in Mercy

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.  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.”  Hosea 10:11-13 (KJV)

This verse reminds me of Galations 6:7,

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

A free society without this in mind is a condemned society.  Sow in righteousness, and your fruit and harvest will be mercy.

-T.A.

Day 50 – Israel, Egypt and Assyria

My apologies for my inability to count in yesterdays title.  It was day 49 not 48; and if you noticed it was not until the end of the day that I noticed the error.

My reading today was Isaiah 7 – 20.  That reading is interesting, full of Messianic prophecies, and hope for the rest of the world.  The language toward Judah and Israel is quite strong and warns them of their need to return to right worship of YHWH [the LORD].

In chapter 7 we have the prophet telling the king Ahaz to ask the LORD for a sign, he refuses, and the LORD gives him the sign of a virgin conceiving and bearing a son (7:14), of course, ultimately prophetic of the coming Christ hundreds of years later.  There are also more prophetic pictures of Jesus’s coming in chapter nine.  In verses 1-2 we have Him coming as a Light; and in verses 6 and 7 a ruling Prince of Peace; whose rule will be forever.

A personal word is given to the prophet Isaiah, by the LORD in 8:11-18 and I want you to note especially verse 13;

“Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:13 (KJV)

The prophet of God was not to walk in the way of “this people”.  They were fearful, and afraid of enemies conspiring against them.  The LORD tells Isaiah to fear only the LORD.  Set Him apart in your heart alone and when you do that you will fear nothing else.  When a person fears nothing but God; there is nothing that will be impossible to that individual.

Though God has warned Judah and Israel of their future captivity, He also gives them hope of a future back in the land of Promise, and the envy between the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah will be over;

“And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.   The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.  But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.” 11:12-14

What is taking place in the Middle East today with the nations of the world trying to bring peace to Israel is a part of prophecy; and God still forever reigns, and is accomplishing His purposes in this world.  There is also coming a day when Israel, Egypt and Assyria will be united in Christ the Messiah of Israel.  Hear the word of the LORD:

“And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.  And the LORD shall smite Egypt: He shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and He shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.  In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.  In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.” 19:21-25

Let those of us who know the LORD through the Son of God trust and believe that one day every knee will bow to God and every tongue will confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Beauty is a Fading Flower

Chapter 28 of Isaiah the prophet begins a series of “Woe” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem; and within these woes are also promises, encouragements to lead them back to YaHWeH the Eternal, Self-Sufficient One who called them to Himself.

The Northern kingdom called Ephraim in our text was prideful and fell.  The “Woe” is warning Judah of her fall should she fail to repent and turn again to the LORD.  The problem with Judah was they were putting more faith in the power of politics, and the politicians of their day than in the LORD, thus were failing to heed God’s leadership.  Just as Israel’s pride brought them down so too would the pride of Judah bring them down; like the beauty of the fading flower.

“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!  Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.  The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.  In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” Isaiah 28:1-6 (KJV)

Ephraim had a problem with parties, drinking inebriating drinks, and their leaders all conspiring to do the same.  Their judges, priests and others; along with their prophets in drunkenness (v. 7); making rule and law in their soberless state of mind.  Is it much different in today’s USA?  Not at all.  Warren Wiersbe quotes a U.S. government official in his book on Isaiah “Be Comforted”  as having said,

“We have three  parties in this city [Washington D. C.]: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the cocktail party.”

I don’t doubt that to be true.  I wonder how many of our leaders go into their Congressional sessions, Senate sessions, and even investigations under the influence of alcohol?  Is it any wonder that our nation is in the bankrupt condition it is in.  The beauty of the United States and her glory is quickly fading and will continue until the Lord Jesus returns or their is revival in the land.

In verse sixteen we read,

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”

When God’s people are resting upon the LORD, trusting in Him there will be no need to fear or flee from what is coming into the world, or a nation.  Our hope, our only hope is in the LORD.  It is not in returning to new tax structures, political ideologies, or even only to making right laws.  We need to return to the fear of the LORD, and set our hearts on Him alone.

The LORD has said, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…” and that is not just an Old Testament thought, but one of Paul the apostle’s writings as well (Romans 9:33).  That Stone was rejected, tried, beaten, mocked, and finally hung on a brutal cross where He bled and died for the sins of the world.

In verse 21 God says He will do a “strange work”.

“For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.”

Just what is this “Strange work”, “Strange act”?  It appears to be that God will allow His people’s own sin to be their judgment.  Even the prophet Jeremiah says,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…” Jeremiah 2:19a

Maybe like your mother letting you gorge yourself on that jar full of cookies, after telling you two or three times, “Only one!”, and then you end up feeling deathly ill, throwing up, and in bed the rest of the day.  Moses said, “Be sure  your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

One thing we can be assured of, and that is that God does His work; His strange work, His strange act in the order it should be in.  That is the prophet’s message in verses 23 – 29;

“Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?  When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?  For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.  For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.  Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.  This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”

Isaiah uses the illustration of the farmer plowing and sowing seeds.  It is done in an orderly manner.  The ground is plowed and prepared then each type of seed is sown according to its own fashion.  The fitches and cummin [seeds for condiment purposes] are scattered or broadcasted around on the ground.  Wheat and barley are sown in  rows.  They are all threshed in different fashion as well.  Some of the harvest grains are threshed by beating, some are rolled with a crushing wheel.  I hope you see the picture.

God’s judgment will not always be the same for everyone.  It will, however, come due, and there will be judgment according to God’s own grace and mercy.  Remember that the judgment we are talking about is not on the world, but upon God’s own people.  Peter the apostle wrote,

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV)

Isaiah’s warning Israel and Judah is also a warning to those who are Christians.  Get right with God, and be right with God always.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Comfort; God With Us

The Lord had spoken to Isaiah and sent him to Ahaz the king of Judah with the message “Do not fear”. Yes I know it was a little longer and a bit more than that, but that is the basic message God sent to Ahaz.

The plotting of Ephraim would not stand, especially since they had made league with an enemy of God and His people. “Do not fear” is used; someone has said; 365 times throughout all of Scripture. That is one for each day of the year. One thing about Ahaz is that he is a proud king and we are about to see some of that pride in its worse form.

“Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 7:10-17 (KJV)

King Ahaz seems to have been trying to be pious in responding to the prophet’s message. Remember it is Isaiah who brought the message of the LORD to the king. The LORD said to the king, “Ask a sign of the LORD…”. It was the Lord who asked Ahaz to ask for a sign, yet the king wanted to have the self-righteous attitude, and a false faith, and refused the offer of the LORD. O, how often we have God’s Word before us and we hear it, then, turn around and neglect to perform the will of the Lord. The king could have asked for any sign, and due to his seeming arrogance, the sign goes a different way.

The LORD was asking to be tested. The king refused, therefore, it seems that the thing he feared was going to come to pass.

There is a two-fold message in Isaiah’s prophecy. It is to have a near fulfillment and a far off fulfillment. It is thought that the virgin would be the wife that Isaiah would marry, evidently the mother of Shearjashub has died. This young wife would have a son fulfilling the prophecy showing the king the power of God’s Word. Before this child would be old enough to know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land of those the king dreaded would be empty/deserted.

In the end, the king of Assyria would overtake the land. It is not meant that Ahaz would see this event, but it did happen, and Jerusalem fell, and captives were carried away.

Verse 14 is also a prophecy of the Lord Jesus and His coming as the God-Man through the birth of the virgin mother Mary (Matthew 1:23). He is called Immanuel or “God with us”. It is the greatest thing in all the world to know Immanuel, that God is with us. Jesus is Immanuel; the fulfillment of the law and prophets.

It should be of great comfort to the Christian to know that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this promise, and that He is “God with us”, He will forever be with us, and we will one day forever be in His presence with Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rebellion’s Consequences

The prophet hears and knows that judgment is coming. His heart is for his people, for God’s people. One of the sad things about God’s judgment that many find unjust is that the “innocent” suffer the consequences along with the “guilty”. Think of the flood of Noah’s day; there were babies who had never sinned, though they were born sinners, like all of us; yet these died in the flood. Another point is the faith of Caleb and Joshua when they had viewed the Promised Land their faith said, “God is able. Let’s take the land”. The unbelieving said, “There are giants in the land” and the majority ruled. Then Caleb and Joshua suffered the punishment along with the unbelieving. They too wandered in the wilderness for forty years.

One of the things you and I can learn from that is; our sins do not just hurt us, they affect others too.

Jeremiah writes:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: ‘Make mention to the nations, Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around. Because she has been rebellious against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches your heart.’ Jeremiah 4:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and it was obvious to the prophet Jeremiah, that the heart of the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah was in the same condition as that of the Northern kingdom when the armies of king Nebuchadnezzar came swooping down with the speed of the leopard upon them, carrying them away captive. This is what the prophet saw happening to Judah as well.

We must know that a divided heart is a sinful, rebellious, self-absorbed, godless heart. The lips which proclaim a faith in God while giving allegiance to things; material gain, family, government dependence, self dependence, etc.; is a full hypocrite, pretentious, and gives no allegiance to God, who alone deserves our undivided faith, and allegiance. There will be occasions when the genuine believer will doubt, fear, and not believe; however they do not dwell there for long. The heart of the genuine believer will come back to the place of faith, return to the Lord and glorify His name, glory and grace.

The voice coming from Dan and from Ephraim are the events which has happened to them concerning their judgment. They have been conquered because their evil hearts. Jerusalem and all of Judah cannot continue to live in sin and rebellion against God, thinking we have the temple, it is God’s temple, He won’t allow anything happen to His temple. Such arrogance and pride is doomed to fall. Thinking; “I am a child of God, therefore God will not cause the judgment that falls on the immoral unbeliever, to fall on me” is a dreadfully deceptive notion.

Hear the voices that come from others. The Christians who are imprisoned because of their crimes against another, they are paying for their sins. Christians who have disease because of a sinful lifestyle they once lived; which could have been prior to or following salvation. There are consequences to sin; for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Because of rebellion and a continued refusal to repent these judgments are coming on the children of God. The wickedness of the heart is known by the All-Knowing God. He will not hold guiltless those who are guilty. The sin of the guilty will also fall on the guiltless and the innocent.

Why is it that there are some people who think, “Well, it is my sin, my action, I will take responsibility for it,” by going ahead and doing it, and say, “It won’t hurt anyone but me”. My how deceived we can become when we get into sinful living. Our sins affect everyone around us. Even the “innocent” pay for our sins.

The sin of the heart is a bitter thing. The heart is where we gain the capacity of love, mercy and grace. It is the place we hold those things and people who are dear to us. The heart given to God holds Him dearest, closest, and trust solely in Him for life, living and eternity. The heart given to God loves all that is godly and good. Loves all there is to know about God, His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not know His Son and love Him; you do not know God and/or love Him (John 5:22-23; 8:42).

How is your heart today? Is there any pretension or hypocrisy which is directing your heart away from God? Is there desire in your heart turning you away from God, redirecting the main focus to something, someone other than God and His Son? Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). When your heart is full of evil thoughts, and imaginations it will be speaking and doing and thinking those evil deeds. When your heart is full of God will you not be speaking the things of God? Most certainly.

Fill your heart with God, and God will come out in your speech and your life. Even when you end up in the judgment of God due to the sins of others, you will still grow in faith, love and knowledge and wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship