The northern kingdom of Israel, referred to in this chapter as “Ephraim,” was a significant regional force in the life of Judah and the other people groups in the Ancient Near East. “When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling.” Yet Israel worshiped Baal and set up “metal images.” Their idolatry led to their own weakness and destruction. “Like the morning mist,” they were soon gone.
In contrast to the fleeting existence of Jehovah’s wandering family, God would be the “I Am.” He was the one who led His people out of Egypt so many centuries before Hosea, yet they forgot Him and committed themselves to spiritual treachery that would lead to their sure demise. God would come against them “like a lion,” and He would “fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs.”
Israel was “an unwise son.” Though the Almighty was determined to send very severe discipline against Ephraim, He still affirmed through Hosea His own family relationship with His rebellious children. His sanction against them could not be eternal. We see that most clearly now because of Paul’s citation of Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:55. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” These questions were answered by Isaiah 25:8. “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” In Paul’s precise words from 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Returning to the concluding verses of Hosea 14, though the northern kingdom’s life would “dry up,” and though the capital city of Samaria would “bear her guilt,” there would remain a future hope for Israel. The good news of resurrection would one day shine forth, helping the entire world to see the blessing that has come from the Redeemer’s obvious triumph over sin and the grave. Because of Jesus the church has a reason to work with confidence (1 Corinthians 15:58), for our King lives forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, we have a new hope in Your Son Jesus Christ. Idols cannot help us and we will not trust in them. You are the Savior who brought us through the wilderness. Your Son is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He will not devour Your elect but will protect us. We confess that we have been unwise sons and daughters, yet through the resurrection of our great Atoning Sacrifice, the sting of death has been removed far from us. We have a Redeemer in Jesus Christ and He will never forsake us.