When I would have healed Israel - As soon as one wound was healed, another was discovered. Scarcely was one sin blotted out till another was committed.
The thief cometh in - Their own princes spoil them.
The troop of robbers spoileth without - The Assyrians, under different leaders, waste and plunder the country.
When I would have healed Israel - God begins anew by appealing to Israel, that all which He had done to heal them, had but served to make their sin more evident, and “that,” from highest to lowest, as to all manners and ways of sin. When the flash of God‘s light on the sinner‘s conscience enlightens it not, it only discloses its darkness. The name “Israel” includes the whole people; the names, Ephraim and Samaria, probably are meant to designate the chief among them, Ephraim having been their royal tribe, and being the chief tribe among them; Samaria being their royal city. The sins, which Hoses denounces in this chapter, are chiefly the sins of the great, which, from them, had spread among the people. Whatever healing methods God had used, whether through the teaching of the prophets or through His own fatherly chastisements, they “would not hearken nor be amended, but ran on still more obstinately in their evil courses. The disease prevailed against the remedy, and was irritated by it, so that the remedy served only to “lay open” the extent of its malignity, and to shew that there was worse in it, than did at first appear”. Paul says of all human nature. “When the commandment came, sin revived” Romans 7:9.
Apart from grace, the knowledge of good only enhances evil.: “So, when God, made Man, present and visible, willed to “heal Israel,” then that iniquity of the Jews and wickedness of the Scribes and Pharisees was discovered, whereof this iniquity of Ephraim and wickedness of Samaria was a type. For an evil spirit goaded them to mock, persecute, blaspheme the Teacher of repentance who, together with the word of preaching, did works, such as none other man did. For Christ pleased them not, a Teacher of repentance, persuading to poverty, a Pattern of humility, a Guide to meekness, a Monitor to mourn for sins, a Proclaimer of righteousness, a Requirer of mercy, a Praiser of purity of heart, a Rewarder of peace, a Consoler of those who suffered persecution for righteousness‘ sake. Why did they reject, hate, persecute, Him who taught thus? Because they loved all contrary thereto, and wished for a Messiah, who should exalt them in this world, and disturb the peace of nations, until he should by war subdue to their empire all the rest of the world, build for them on earth a Jerusalem of gold and gems, and fulfill their covetousness in all things of this sort.
This their mind He once briefly expressed; “How can ye believe which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor which cometh from God only?” John 5:24. They persecuted Him then who willed to heal them, as madmen strike the physician offering them medicine, nor did they cease, until they required Him their King to be crucified. Thus was the “iniquity of Ephraim and wickedness of Samaria discovered,” yet filled up by them; and so they filled up the measure of their fathers, and discovered and testified, that they were of the same mind with their fathers. In all these things they “committed falsehood,” lying against, their King whom they denied, and accused as seditious.”
For they - (i. e. all of them) commit falsehood Falsehood was the whole habit and tissue of their lives.: “They dealt falsely in all their doings both with God and man, being hypocritical and false in all their words and doings, given to fraud and deceit, from the highest to the lowest.” Night and day; in silence and in open violence; “within,” where all seemed guarded and secure, and “without,” in open defiance of law and public justice; these deeds of wrong went on in an unceasing round. In the night, “the thief cometh in,” breaking into people‘s houses and pillaging secretly; “a troop of robbers spoileth without,” spreading their ravages far and wide, and desolating without resistance. It was all one state of anarchy, violence, and disorganization.
“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things?
Prudent, and he shall know them?
For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the just shall walk in them:
But the transgressors shall fall therein.” PK 284.1
Hosea 14:4-9. PK 284
The benefits of seeking God were strongly urged. “Seek ye Me,” the Lord invited, “and ye shall live: but seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.” PK 284.2Read in context »