Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.CHAPTER 13 Ephraim’s Ruin and judgment
1. Ruin and judgment (Hosea 13:1-8)
2. It is thy destruction, O Israel! (Hosea 13:9-11)
3. Mercy to follow wrath (Hosea 13:12-14)
4. The desolation of the nearing judgment (Hosea 13:15-16)
Hosea 13:1-8. In the beginning Ephraim was humble, and knowing his dependence, he spoke with trembling. Then he became puffed up, exalted himself in Israel, loving the preeminence, it led on to the schism from Judah and the house of David. The next step after this separation from Judah was idolatry, then the dying of the nation began. This sad history of Ephraim, revealing the steps of decline, beginning with self-exaltation and ending in ruin and death, has often been repeated in the individual history of countless multitudes among the professing people of God.
Then they went from sinning to sinning, from bad to worse, just as in our own days, the apostates in Christendom go from bad to worse in fulfillment of 2Timothy 3:13. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Idolatry flourished on all sides. They added idol images in Gilgal and Beer-sheba to the golden calves Amos 8:14. Then the judgment is announced. Just as the rising sun quickly disperses the morning clouds and the dew, so they should pass away (Hosea 6:4). They would be like the chaff driven with a whirlwind out of the threshing floor Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 41:15-29); they would be like the quickly evaporating smoke, which comes out of the windows of a house without a chimney.
Then the Lord reminds them of their former relationship and that He is the true God, “and there is no Saviour beside Me.” In the land of the wilderness He knew them and there He cared for them and provided all their needs. But instead of acknowledging Him, they became full; self-exaltation followed, and then they forgot Him. Throughout the Word of God self-exaltation, pride is always given as the starting point of departure from God and the consequent ruin.
Hosea 13:7-8 are interesting. They are to be rent by wild beasts, which, symbolically, represent the Gentiles. The ten tribes were carried away by the Assyrian, while later, when Judah met its judgment, the whole land was devastated by the lion-empire (Babylonia); by the bear (Medo-Persia); by the leopard (the Graeco-Macedonia); and finally by the dreadful beast, “the beast of the field shall tear them,” the Roman power.
Hosea 13:9-11. “It is thy destruction, O Israel, that thou art against Me, against thy help.” What they had done in lifting themselves up, in forsaking Jehovah was spiritual and national suicide. They were alone responsible for their destruction. Where was their king to save them out of such ruin and destruction? The house of David with which the covenant had been made they had forsaken. He reminds them again of an episode in their past history, when they, their fathers, were rebellious and asked for a king. Such kings like Saul had been their kings which reigned over the ten tribes.
Hosea 13:12-14. Ephraim deliberately held on to his sin. Their iniquity was bound up; it was laid by in store. The reference is to the oriental custom of tying up money and other valuables into a bundle and hiding it somewhere. It was done for security. So the Lord would see to it that their sins and iniquity would not be forgotten; all their sins were preserved for punishment (see Deuteronomy 32:34). Sorrow and great trouble should come upon them. It has been thus in the past, it will be so in the future, in the time of “Jacob’s trouble” Jeremiah 30:7. When that time comes, when all their hope and strength is gone Deuteronomy 32:36-52) then He will deliver. Then all the enemies will be put down. Redemption from death and the plagues will come; they will be ransomed from the power of Sheol (not hell). Israel will be raised from its national death-sleep. Long she has been buried among the nations, without spiritual and national life, like those who are in the power of Sheol. But Jehovah will deliver the faithful portion of Israel and Judah, and they will rise from the dust of the earth, the symbol of their national restoration. To use this passage, as it has been done, to teach the restitution of the wicked, is wrong. It has nothing to do with the wicked dead and their future, but all applies to the restoration of Israel. (See the annotations of chapters 16 and 37 of the Prophet Ezekiel.)