Hosea 13:1-8

Hosea 13:1 (KJB)

When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.


The prophet Hosea now gives a contrast on the tribe of Ephraim.  Once they were the prominent tribe within the ten tribes of Israel and because of their position they were a dread to the other tribes.  Ephraim had the chief power.  Then while in an exalted state, they believed nothing could touch them so they made an alliance with Tyre and Sidon and with that alliance came their acceptance of the worship of Baal.  Once they began to start worshipping in the false religions it resulted in their demise and they became spiritually dead because they disobeyed the LORD.  The word “offended” carries with it the meaning of “trespassing or guilty.”


Hosea 13:2 (KJB)

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.


Here is the result of allowing a false religion into their tribe.  Idolatry did not decrease instead it had the opposite effect.  They began to increase their sin and they did this by having their craftsmen make molten images of the false gods.  They did this according to their own understanding which means that each person who desired an idol would make it after their own desire.  They were once again regressing back to the time of the Judges.  In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  (Judges 21:25)  They all did which was right in their own eyes.  This should be a grave warning to the modern churches that if they allow a false teaching in the church, no matter how insignificant it is, it will expand and affect the entire congregation.  There is a verse, Zechariah 4:10 which is very apropos here.  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.  (Zechariah 4:10)  Zechariah 4:10 teaches us that we are not to despise the day of small things, that is, when we do something for the LORD and it seems to be very small and insignificant in our eyes, we do not have the whole picture as to what we did would have an impact upon future generations.  Zechariah 4:10 is also a warning that we need to be cautious in the day of small things because a small false teaching can have a major impact on future generations which will foment major apostasy.  I am sure Satan is very happy that the Lord’s people use and defend the modern counterfeit Bible versions.  When Hort and Westcott created the Revised Version in 1881, it did not take root in the churches at that time but today, the fruit of their work is seen in almost every church, mission agency, ministry and personal ministry of most Christians. 


In Hosea 13:2 what we have is a basic third stage sin by Ephraim.  First under Jeroboam came the worship of the calves.  Secondly, under Ahab came the worship of Baal.  Keep in mind that Ahab was married to Jezebel who was the daughter of Ethbaal II who was the Phoenician king of Tyre.  Ahab is a good example why the Christian must never marry an unbeliever and that includes cult members and Roman Catholics or even agnostics.  Christians must marry their own.  Thirdly, there was the multiplying of other images.  And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.  (2 Kings 17:9)  Kissing the calves was a sign of submission to their idols.


Hosea 13:3 (KJB)

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.


Here are four descriptions as to what is about to happen to Ephraim.  The morning clouds appear for a while and then they disappear.  The same with the early morning dew, it sits on the grass and plants and as soon as the sun is risen it disappears.  Then when workers are winnowing wheat to separate the wheat from the chaff, the wheat is thrown up in the air and the good wheat comes down and the chaff is blown away by the wind.  Then when something is cooked in the house and it creates smoke, the smoke goes up to the roof and out the window.  In ancient times there were no chimneys as we know them today.  Their chimney was a hole in the roof and the same hole which let the sunlight in was the same hole that let the smoke out.  This would be known as the window and it is not like the windows we have today but they were openings in the roof that allowed the smoke out when it rose from the oven which was normally located in the middle of a home where the poor people lived.


Hosea 13:4 (KJB)

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.


Here God reaffirms his position of authority over Ephraim that he is still the same God who brought them out of the land of Egypt some 700 years before and he never rescinded the first commandment.  {3} Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  {4} Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  {5} Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  (Exodus 20:3-5)  They were not have any other gods before him and neither were they to fashion any images of false gods and this is what Ephraim had done as each created a god out of their own desire.  Before we condemn them, isn’t this the same thing which is done today?  Many people fashion gods out of their own desire which means what they want to do will be affirmed by the god they have created in their mind.  Ephraim had created false gods which were supposed to do them good but God is reminding them that there is no savior but him because in reality these images do not have anything behind them except the imagination of man.  This same theme was given by Isaiah.  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.  (Isaiah 43:11)


Hosea 13:5 (KJB)

I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.


Here God reminds them that he knew them and he reminds them of this fact in Amos. You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.  (Amos 3:2)  When Israel left Egypt and came into the wilderness they had become thirsty and God supplied water for them in the desert.  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.  (Exodus 17:6)


Hosea 13:6 (KJB)

According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.


When they had come into the land of Canaan they began to raise herds and their vines were filled and their harvests were blessed of the LORD.  {7} For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;  {8} A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;  {9} A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.  Deuteronomy 8:7-9  Then when they saw that they were prospering and that they had no cares because the flocks, vines and the money from them were rolling in, they made the great mistake of believing they were filled with all blessings, in other words, they took the blessings of God for granted and began to look at their wealth and started to forsake God.  Once they started down that path they began to forsake the LORD and that put them on the path of self-destruction.  {15} But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.  {16} They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.  {17} They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. (Deuteronomy 32:15-17) 


Hosea 13:7 (KJB)

Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:


Since Jeshurun had become fat, they were now being likened to prey.  Jeshurun means “upright” and is another name for the people of Israel.  When a lion sees a nice big fat animal they will pounce on that animal and kill them and then eat them.  God is likening  himself to the lion that since Ephraim had become fat because of their prosperity, then God is going to deal with them in judgment as a lion deals with his prey.  A leopard will watch and stalk its prey before he attacks and gives chase.  The fierceness of the lion and the speediness of the leopard describes how fast and fierce the judgment of the LORD will be.  God is saying that he will continue to watch them to see if they change their ways or if they will continue to go deeper into idolatry.  If it is the latter, then they will face his judgment.


Hosea 13:8 (KJB)

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.


A she bear becomes very fierce when she is robbed of her whelps.  The whelps are her cubs.  With the fierceness of an enraged bear God is going to rend or shred the caul of their heart which is the tearing of the chest cavity that would normally be fatal.  Once they are in a wounded state, then he will come as a lion to devour them.  Their heart will remain open and the world will know that they have sinned against the LORD and that he is now dealing out punishment for their idolatry.  The wild beast is how God will deal with them in judgment.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (Hebrews 10:31)  They are going to know fear for their sin against the LORD as those who will face him as their judge on the last day.