Talks for Growing Christians
God Rebukes His Wayward People Israel
Lesson Number 13
- God’s people should follow Jacob’s good points.
- God’s people should not follow Jacob’s bad points.
- Explain Hosea 12:1, “Ephraim feeds on the wind.”
- Explain Hosea 12:1, “Ephraim pursues the east wind.”
- Israel made peace treaties and traded with foreign powers in her pursuit of the wind. Which powers?
- How did Israel’s foreign policy backfire?
- Had Israel been warned about her coming demise?
- Israel is pictured as feeding on wind. Wind does not satisfy your hunger or nourish your body. There is no sustenance nor are there any nutrients in wind. The people of Israel were feeding their souls with all the things of the “good life” and feeding their spirits with the words of false prophets. There was plenty of material prosperity on the outside, but the heart of the nation was morally and spiritually bankrupt. Instead of turning back to the Lord to satisfy their spiritual hunger, Israel continued to feed on the wind. They stuffed themselves with the allurements and attractions of the surrounding pagan nations and filled themselves with the all-too-appealing words of the false prophets, but they ended up empty and starved.
- The east wind is the terrible and dreaded Sirocco which blows from the desert east of Palestine. It comes with scorching and devastating heat. Instead of trying to escape or seek protection, Israel is pictured as actually chasing this destructive wind. How? Israel was double-dealing with the great foreign powers of that day. Playing both ends against the middle for security was as foolish as chasing the Sirocco for tranquility.
- Israel made a peace treaty with Assyria, but at the same time exported oil to Egypt, a serious archrival.
- It wasn’t long before Assyria swept in like the east wind and thoroughly wiped out the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
- Yes, she had been warned by God through His prophets. In Hosea, for example, God used visions, symbols and parables (Hosea’s marriage to Gomer).
- Jacob was not the most godly person. He had stolen the birthright and blessing from Esau, and he had a lot of rough edges. Jacob, however, had an appreciation for spiritual things. Israel, by contrast, never learned some of the lessons, especially about worship. Jacob was brought to tears, but the nation Israel never came to tears. Jacob had a Bethel experience, where he walked and talked with the Lord. Israel never had a Bethel experience. Jacob worshiped God at Bethel. Israel set up an idolatrous golden calf shrine at Bethel. Like Jacob, we all have rough edges and need to learn lessons in the school of God. Remember Jacob’s good points, like returning to Bethel to worship the Lord. Where is your Bethel? How long have you worshiped at the golden calf shrine? Return to Bethel.
- God brought Israel out of Egypt and preserved them by His grace. But Israel did not respond with love, thanksgiving, and right living. Instead, they corrupted mercy and justice. They did not give God credit for their material wealth, but took credit for themselves. They were blind to their sins, and they set up idols. They provoked the Lord to anger. We have a choice. God’s people should not follow Jacob’s bad points, or we will reap sorrowful consequences. Go through the list in the preceding paragraph and ask about your response to God’s preserving grace in your life. Are you giving credit to God for all He has given to you, or are you taking credit for yourself? How are you using what God has given to you? Are you blind to your sins? What idols are taking the place of God in your life?
- Are you feeding on wind? See Hosea 12:1. There’s a lot of wind food around today. What are you munching on? Think of the considerable time and energy we can waste on our houses, hobbies, entertainment, and even our careers. How much of this is wind? Feeding on wind will keep you at a distance from Christ, whether you are an unbeliever or a believer. Eat from the solid food of the word of God.
- “Ephraim feeds on the wind, and pursues the east wind" Hosea 12:1
- “In his strength, Jacob struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us.” Hosea 12:3-4
- “By the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God.” Hosea 12:6
- “I have become rich…found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no sin.” Hosea 12:8
- “Idols are vanity…indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field.” Hosea 12:11