Hosea 13:1–16 (NKJV)

13:1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel;
But when he offended through Baal worship, he died.
2 Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen.  They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”
3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud And like the early dew that passes away, Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor And like smoke from a chimney.

4 “Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me.
5 I knew you in the wilderness, In the land of great drought.
6 When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me.

7 “So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk;
8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion.  The wild beast shall tear them.

The Lord appears to waffle between a praise of Israel in its infancy, and a rebuke and judgment in its later existence.  Ephraim, a young follower of God, spoke with timidity and trembling, fearful in the sight of God, but was exalted for this humility and submission.  The older Israel, brazen and full of rebellion, worshipped Baal, and faces death.  God does not speak of completely forgetting or cutting off Israel here (v. 4), but declares that He is still their God, providing for them in the past, and willing to in the future.  However, in their rebellion, they will suffer destruction.

9 “O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me.
10 I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities?  And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?
11 I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath.

12 “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; His sin is stored up.
13 The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, For he should not stay long where children are born.

14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.  O Death, I will be your plagues!  O Grave, I will be your destruction!  Pity is hidden from My eyes.

The Lord then reminds them that He will be their help.  Who else can save the people of God but God?  Although pains like labor will come upon them, He will ransom them from the grave.  He will defeat death for them.  This could be a Messianic allusion to the work of Jesus Christ.

15 Though he is fruitful among his brethren, An east wind shall come; The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness.  Then his spring shall become dry, And his fountain shall be dried up.  He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize.
16 Samaria is held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God.  They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open.

Finally, the ferocity and depth of Israel’s punishment is here discussed.  The fountain will be dried up.  Their treasures will be plundered.  The sword will take them out.  Their babies will be thrown down and broken, their pregnant women will be cut open.  If there has ever been a time when this is happening, it is now.  Israel was the object of this punishment in the days of Hosea.  However, we today see infants, born and unborn, being killed, and woman submitting to invasive procedures to end their pregnancies.  God, help us to repent and turn to you, and stop the carnage!

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