What have I to do any more with idols? - The conversion of Ephraim is now as complete as if was sincere. God hears and observes this.
I am like a green fir tree - Perhaps these words should be joined to the preceding, as Newcome has done, and be a part of God's speech to Ephraim. "I have heard him; and I have seen him as a flourishing fir tree." He is become strong and vigorous; and from his present appearance of healthiness, his future increase and prosperity may be safely anticipated.
From me is thy fruit found - All thy goodness springs from the principle of grace which I have planted in thy soul; for as the earth cannot bring forth fruit without the blessing of God, sending the dews and rains, with the genial rays of the sun, so neither can the soul of man, even of the most pious, bear fruit, without a continual influence from the Most High. Without the former, neither grass could grow for cattle, nor corn for the service of man; without the latter, no seeds of righteousness could take root, no stalk of promise could grow, no fruit of grace could be produced. And the unclean spirit, which was cast out, would soon return; and, finding his former house empty, swept, and garnished, would re-enter with seven demons of greater power and worse influence; and the latter end of that man would be worse than the first. Reader, ever consider that all thy good must be derived from God; and all that good must be preserved in thee by his continued influence of light, love, and power upon thy soul.
Ephraim shall say, what have I to do anymore with idols? - So Isaiah fortells, “The idols He shall utterly abolish” Isaiah 2:18. Aforetime Ephraim said obstinately, in the midst of God‘s chastisements; “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink” Hosea 2:5. Now she shall renounce them wholly and forever. This is entire conversion, to part wholly with everything which would dispute the allegiance with God, to cease to look to any created thing or being, for what is the gift of the Creator alone. So the Apostle says, “what concord hath Christ with Belial?” 2 Corinthians 6:15. This verse exhibits in few, vivid, words, converted Ephraim speaking with God, and God answering; Ephraim renouncing his sins, and God accepting him; Ephraim glorying in God‘s goodness, and God reminding him that he holds all from Himself.
I have heard and observed him - God answers the profession and accepts it. I, (emphatic) “I Myself have heard and have answered,” as He says, “Before they call I will answer” Isaiah 65:24. Whereas God, before, had hid His face from them, or had “observed” Hosea 13:7 them, only as the object of His displeasure, and as ripe for destruction, now He reverses this, and “observes” them, in order to forecome the wishes of their hearts before they are expressed, to watch over them and survey and provide for all their needs. To this, Ephraim exulting in God‘s goodness, answers, “I” am “like a green fir tree,” i. e., ever-green, ever-fresh. The “berosh,” (as Jerome, living in Palestine, thought) one of the large genus of the “pine” or “fir,” or (as others translated) the cypress, was a tall stately tree Isaiah 55:13; in whose branches the stork could make its nest Psalm 104:17; its wood precious enough to be employed in the temple (1 Kings 5:8, 1 Kings 5:10, English); 6:15,34); fine enough to be used in all sorts of musical instruments 2 Samuel 6:5; strong and pliant enough to be used for spears Nahum 2:3.
It was part of the glory of Lebanon Isaiah 37:24; Isaiah 60:13. A Greek historian says that Lebanon “was full of cedars and pines and cypresses, of wonderful beauty and size”. A modern traveler says, of “the cypress groves of Lebanon”; “Each tree is in itself a study for the landscape painter - some, on account of their enormous stems and branches. Would you see trees in all their splendor and beauty, then enter these wild groves, that have never been touched by the pruning knife of art.” This tree, in its majestic beauty, tenacity of life, and undying verdure, winter and summer, through the perpetual supply of sap, pictures the continual life of the soul through the unbroken supply of the grace of God. Created beauty must, at best, be but a faint image of the beauty of the soul in grace, for this is from the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.
From Me is thy fruit found - Neither the pine nor the cypress bear any fruit, useful for food. It is probable then that here too the prophet fills out one image by another and says that restored Israel, the Church of God, or the soul in grace, should not only have beauty and majesty, but what is not, in the way of nature, found united therewith, fruitfulness also. From Me is thy fruit found; as our Lord says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches” John 15:5. Human nature, by itself, can as little bear fruit well-pleasing to God, as the pine or cypress can bear fruit for human use. As it were a miracle in nature, were these trees to bring forth such fruit, so, for man to bring forth fruits of grace, is a miracle of grace. The presence of works of grace attests the immediate working of God the Holy Spirit, as much as any miracle in nature.
With what unwearied love did Christ minister to Israel during the period of added probation. Upon the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. After His ascension the gospel was preached first at Jerusalem. There the Holy Spirit was poured out. There the first gospel church revealed the power of the risen Saviour. There Stephen—“his face as it had been the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15)—bore his testimony and laid down his life. All that heaven itself could give was bestowed. “What could have been done more to My vineyard,” Christ said, “that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4. So His care and labor for you are not lessened, but increased. Still He says, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Isaiah 27:3. COL 218.1
“If it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that”— COL 218.2
The heart that does not respond to divine agencies becomes hardened until it is no longer susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Then it is that the word is spoken, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” COL 218.3Read in context »
The transgressors were given many opportunities to repent. In their hour of deepest apostasy and greatest need, God's message to them was one of forgiveness and hope. “O Israel,” He declared, “thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee?” Hosea 13:9, 10. PK 283.1
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord,” the prophet entreated; “for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3. PK 283.2
To those who had lost sight of the plan of the ages for the deliverance of sinners ensnared by the power of Satan, the Lord offered restoration and peace. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely,” He declared: “for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found. PK 283.3Read in context »
How shall I make thee as Admah?
How shall I set thee as Zeboiim?
My heart is turned within Me, 8T 277.1
My compassions are kindled together.
I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger,
I will not return to destroy Ephraim:
For I am God, and not man;
The Holy One in the midst of thee;
And I will not come in wrath.” 8T 277.2
Hosea 11:8, 9, A. R. V. 8T 277Read in context »