When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
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. 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. In these verses we have three things worthy of note.
I. A HIGHLY FAVORED PEOPLE. What is said here concerning the people of Israel?
1. God loved them. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him." "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). The early period of the existence of the Hebrew people is frequently represented as their youth (Isaiah 54:15; Jeremiah 2:2). Why the Almighty should have manifested a special interest in the descendants of Abraham is a question which the Infinite only can answer. We know, however, that he loves all men. "God so loved the world, that he gave," etc.
2. God emancipated them. "And called my son out of Egypt." He broke the rod of their oppressor. He delivered them from Egyptian thraldom. This material emancipation of the Jews is a striking emblem of the great moral emancipation.
3. God educated them. "I taught Ephraim also to go." Some read this line, "I have given Ephraim a leader" - referring to Moses. Moses was only the instrument. "I taught Ephraim also to go" - as a child in leading-strings is taught. When they were in the wilderness God led them by a pillar of cloud.
4. God healed them. "I healed them." "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).
5. God guided them. "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." With human cords I drew them, with bands of love. He did not draw them by might; he attracted them by mercy.
6. God relieved them. "I was to them as they that take off the yoke, on their jaws." As the kind farmer raises from the neck and cheek of the ox the heavy yoke so as to leave him freedom to eat his food, so I raised from your neck the yoke of Egyptian bondage.
7. God fed them. "1 laid meat, unto them." He rained manna about their camp. He gave them bread from heaven, and water horn the rock. What a kind God he was to those people! And has he not been even more kind to us, the favored men of this laud and age?
II. A SIGNALLY UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE.
1. They disobeyed God's teaching. "As they called them, so they went from them." "They" - the lawgivers, judges, priests, prophets, whom he employed. "They went from them." That is, the people went from their Divine teachers - went from them in heart.
2. They gave themselves to idolatry. "They sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images." Idolatry was their besetting sin. It marked their history more or less from the beginning to the end. What is idolatry but giving that love to inferior objects that is due to God and God alone?
3. They ignored God's kindness. "They knew not that I healed them." They ascribed their restoration either to themselves or others, not to God.
4. They persistently backslided. "And my people are bent to backsliding from me." They forsake me and are bent on doing so. Such is the signally ungrateful conduct of this people.
III. A RIGHTEOUSLY PUNISHED PEOPLE. "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." Whilst they would not be driven back to Egypt again, judgment should overtake them even in the promised land, and the judgment would be:
1. Extensive. "On the cities," and on the "branches." The large town and the little hamlets.
2. Continuous. "Abide on his cities."
3. Destructive. "Consume his branches."
CONCLUSION. Is not the history of this people typical? Do not they represent especially the peoples of modern Christendom, highly favored of God, signally ungrateful to God, and exposed to punishment from God? - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.