|HOSEA SPEAKS TO AMERICA|
America seems to be on "a roll" these days. The stock market is higher than ever before, and personal income is also peaking. Consumers are buying more goods and services, and unemployment is at an all time low. And all this is happening to a country that is declining in morality faster than the Roman Empire. One might wonder how America can continue in financial prosperity and simultaneously turn away from God, and even mock Him. Interestingly, a similar situation existed in Israel about 2,770 years ago, recorded for us in the Book of Hosea. Before we examine it however, let us consider what the quality of life in America is in reality today, regardless of our apparent wealth.
Egypt is Ruined
"Then Pharaoh's servants said to him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?’" Exodus 10:7 (NKJV)
What many do not realize is that judgment has already come to America – however it has not yet been manifest in the economy. When the plagues were brought upon Egypt, Pharaoh was so hardened to God that he was effectively blind to the destruction around him.
In much the same way, America is blind to her situation. Although we may have material peace and prosperity, immorality is decaying our inner life. Marriages are continually dissolving, and trust between husbands and wives is at its lowest ebb. The lies of politicians, government officials and business leaders are so common that they scarcely cause an eyebrow to be raised. Drug addiction is rampant, babies are murdered, children are routinely molested, and teenagers are shooting classmates with regularity. Moreover, honesty, trustworthiness and altruism are scarce, and yet we feel prosperous because the dollar still shines throughout the world. Nevertheless, unquestionably, Egypt is ruined.
Ephraim is a Type of America
In understanding God’s judgment, we may look at how He dealt with Israel in the past. Many believe that America, which at its beginning was a godly country, was raised up by God to be His ambassador to preach His truth to the world. This was the same position Israel was supposed to hold in pre-messianic times. However, as the great puritan Cotton Mather once wrote, "Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother."
Since the Scriptures tell us that God shows no personal favoritism (Galatians 2:6), we might conclude that He will eventually deal with backslidden America in the same manner He dealt with backslidden Israel. And if we study His dealings with Israel, we will find that because of His grace, God usually does not judge a "once godly" nation all at once. Rather, in a merciful attempt to bring them back to Him, He first shows them the ramifications of their ungodly acts by allowing an inner rotting of their society, hoping that this will bring them to repentance. If this fails, however, it is followed by what we might call outward punishment, which touches their material prosperity.
In other words, God allowed Israel to see the error of her ways, by watching morality disintegrate as she turned away from His truth. In the Book of Hosea, Israel is wealthy, and so God refers to them as Ephraim, because Ephraim was the tribe of Israel that was generally the richest. Ephraim then, is a type of any prosperous nation which turns away from God. At the point of God’s address to them, Ephraim has already seen the rotten fruit of his sin. However, instead of repenting, Ephraim responded in a contrary manner, by spurning God. Nevertheless, prosperity led Ephraim to believe that they were doing well, in spite of their social problems:
"The more they increased, The more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame." Hosea 4:7 (NKJV)
"When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me." Hosea 13:6 (NKJV)
Ephraim had great monetary prosperity, but the more they got, the worse they became. The moral foundations continued to collapse, but the money kept flowing, so the people presumed they could sin with impunity. They even convinced themselves, as Americans have with abortion, that the murder of innocent babies was not immoral. Any society with pandemic fornication will have the problem of what to do with unwanted children. For Ephraim, the pagan sacrifices were a convenient way to eliminate them:
"So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer." Hosea 9:13 (NKJV)
Ephraim / Israel Did Not Know Her Blessings Were From God
Moreover, instead of repenting from the unbridled debauchery and sin in the country, the people lost the understanding of where the blessings came from:
"For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold…" Hosea 2:8 (NKJV)
The words used here are symbolic of a variety of natural and spiritual blessings. Grain speaks to us of all food in the natural realm, and of spiritual food in the spiritual dimension. Jesus is the "bread of life". He was, in fact, born in Bethlehem which is the "house of bread". When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are asking most significantly for spiritual sustenance. The new wine speaks to us of joy. In the spiritual sense, "new" wine is differentiated from "old" in that when we are born-again, the joy Jesus gives us is not realized through imbibing alcohol, but from the purity of the unleavened, or unfermented fruit of the vine which represents Christ’s blood. In Biblical times the word "wine" referred not only to the alcoholic drink, but also to a non-alcoholic, nectar-sweet grape juice called must.
Oil was a symbol of prosperity. Not only was it the butter and cooking oil of the period, and a necessary ingredient in bread, it was also used in cosmetics, as a skin softener, and as fuel for lamps. In short it was a staple, but not a necessity. Spiritually oil speaks to us of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Even as the oil was necessary to make light in the darkness by burning it in an oil lamp, so we must have the Holy Spirit of God so that the light of Christ may shine through us to the world.
The gold and the silver, of course, speak to us of wealth. However, the gold is a symbol of kingliness, or more specifically, sovereignty. When the "gold" was taken away, it also meant that the freedom of the people was gone, and they would be taken under the control of another country. Silver is always a symbol of redemption. It was literally called "redemption money" in the Old Testament, and losing it represents a country losing the freedom to preach the Gospel.
Ephraim Stopped Trusting in God
Ephraim also turned from God’s council to what we would today call secular humanism. By making man the center of everything, they became proud and began trusting in their own military strength to protect them rather than in God:
"Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, Because he willingly walked by human precept." Hosea 5:11 (NKJV)
"You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men." Hosea 10:13 (NKJV)
The believers of that time were guilty, as well. They still "went to church and worshipped" but they did not honor God with clean lives, and exalt Him with fear and reverence. Instead, their hearts were turned away from Him in disobedience.
"My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him." Hosea 11:7 (NKJV)
The Bible was also ignored. At that time it included only part of the Old Testament; nevertheless, the law was clearly given. However, the people lacked spiritual discernment, consequently they could not understand it. We read:
"I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing." Hosea 8:12 (NKJV)
As a people shifted further and further from the truth of God, His wise laws and rules become unusual to their ears – they became a strange thing. When Christ taught, "love your enemies", the Romans, who had conquered the world through military force, thought this was one of the strangest and most ridiculous things they had ever heard. Today, when God’s laws for life are told to this generation, they consider them "strange", also. On college campuses, and even in high schools, the idea of virginity is now considered strange. Children have been corrupted by adults, and have not been taught the truth of God. Our children today in America are now mostly pagan:
"They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, For they have begotten pagan children." Hosea 5:7a (NKJV)
Ephraim Was Self-Righteous
When people forget or ignore God’s law, they become self-righteous. God’s law tells us that we sin if we lie, or are selfish, or desire something greatly (covet), or exalt anything above our relationship with God. Jesus strengthened the law when He said that being angry with your brother without cause was like murder, and that lusting after a person in your heart was the same as adultery. The book of James tells us how important it is not to sin with our tongue, and how if anyone can tame the tongue he is a perfect man. Again and again we find our faults blatantly delineated in the Bible. Reading God’s word cleanses us, but when it becomes "a strange thing" we have reached a point of serious delusion.
Ephraim was deluded in this manner, and in the midst of all the perverseness and sin, the people still would not admit their disobedience. Mankind has a great inclination and uncanny ability to rationalize sin, and in doing so, to exalt some worldly attribute to make an excuse for it. The people of Ephraim, like the people of America, considered themselves pure because of their wealth. In their minds, their riches vindicated them, and proved they were righteous.
"And Ephraim said, `Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.'" Hosea 12:8 (NKJV)
In recent years, America has assumed the role of the world’s policeman to a greater degree than ever before. We have gone into countries to self-righteously stop the "killing", while we are murdering millions of innocent babies. We have also chastened countries and penalized them economically for certain sins, such as bigotry in South Africa. At the same time, we have rewarded China with favored trade status, even though it is one of the worst human rights violators in the world. Bigotry is wrong, but a country responsible for untold murders and imprisonments of innocent people is far worse. Our country practices the worst hypocrisy. The countries that we punish economically are those that we can afford to cut off, but those with whom we have financial interests or who have lobbied our politicians well, get different treatment.
Ephraim Stopped Seeking God
When we become self-righteous, we stop seeking God. We do not want to compare ourselves with the Perfect One, because if we do, we will see our flaws. Just as God’s word reminds us of our sin, God’s presence does, also. Ephraim had also reached this point. Many were not saved, and they would not seek God.
"…None among them calls upon Me." Hosea 7:7 (NKJV)
"They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord. Hosea 5:4 (NKJV)
"And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this." Hosea 7:10 (NKJV)
America Knows Judgment is Imminent
Deep down, America is aware of its sin. Many are deceived, but Eve was deceived, yet still responsible. However, many also know the truth, even as Adam, when he disobeyed, did so knowingly. In the same way God revealed truth to Ephraim, He has revealed it to America – so we have no excuse. God refers to this latent knowledge in the following Scripture:
"The days of punishment have come;
The days of recompense have come.
The prophet is a fool,
The spiritual man is insane,
Because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity." Hosea 9:7
Interestingly there is a double meaning to this Scripture. As we read "the prophet is a fool" it refers to two situations. First, it means that the false prophets, the ones who claim there will be more peace and riches and prosperity in spite of our moral decline, are fools. They are prophesying lies from their own vain imaginations. The second meaning is that the true prophets are considered fools by Israel. Israel knows the truth, but refuses to accept it. Instead of acknowledging that those who cry out against the sins of America are correct, and repenting and avoiding judgment, they continue in sin and say these people are fools. A similar interpretation can be made for the spiritual man.
In the last verse we find that the spiritual blindness regarding who is truly of God and who is false, has come on Israel because of her great iniquity and enmity. The word "iniquity" here means "to be perverse, to be crooked" in Hebrew. Enmity means "hatred or animosity". Can we not see the hatred of God in America, where organizations file lawsuits to keep the Ten Commandments out of schools and to keep nativity scenes from being displayed in public? Is the hatred of God not apparent where human life, created in the image of God, is considered worthless? Can anyone in America truly say to God, on that great day of judgment, that a partial birth abortion is not murder?
Prior to the partial birth abortion, the god of science was utilized as an excuse, and arguments were made over when the fetus actually became a child. However, those arguments have gone by the wayside, and can no longer be used as a smokescreen. A child born prematurely is still a whole child, consequently there can be no mistaking that this procedure is murder. And yet those who seek to stop it are ostracized. Nevertheless no one, not even the leaders of the organizations that promote abortion, can deny this truth because it is an indisputable fact! The cold-blooded murder of innocent babies is absolutely legal in the most powerful country on earth. And America knows this, because it has been preached:
"Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them;
I will bring them down like birds of the air;
I will chastise them
According to what their congregation has heard." Hosea 7:12 (NKJV)
The last verse is the key, "according to what their congregation has heard". This country has heard of the judgment of God from the church. At least it has from those who are bold enough to proclaim it. Hosea was bold enough, for he said:
"Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: ‘There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.’" Hosea 4:1 (NKJV)
And in Numbers we read:
"So you shall not pollute the land where you are for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it." Numbers 35:33 (NKJV)
God Does Not Want to Judge
As we read through the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, we find many instances of judgment falling on the nations of the world and on Israel. Nevertheless, this is emphasized for our benefit – so that we will not share in the sins of those we read about. By reading what happened to them, we should become prudent and disciplined to avoid the same behavior, so that we may avoid the same fate. This is explained in 1st Corinthians 10:11: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
Moreover, we find that the work of judgment from God is not normal for Him, rather it is an unusual or "strange" work, as we read in Isaiah:
"For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." Isaiah 28:21 (KJS)
God’s desire is clearly not to punish, but to protect. He is longsuffering towards us, and does not desire even one soul to end up in hell. This is clear from what we read in Ezekiel:
"Say to them: `As I live,' says the Lord God, `I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'" Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJV)
God Beseeches Israel and America to Repent
Just as in Hosea’s time, repentance is the only way out of judgment for our country, even as it is the only way of peace for the individual who is not forgiven. The mightiest army, the most technologically advanced fighter jets, or even the most powerful atomic bombs will not help America now. We are in a solemn position before God. Nevertheless, He is still seeking to draw us to Him. In His mercy judgment has not yet fallen in every aspect of American life, because a window of time is still open for repentance. God is saying to America, what He said to Israel:
"O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘take away all iniquity; receive us graciously...’" Hosea 14:1 (NKJV)
"So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually." Hosea 12:6 (NKJV)
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense…" Hosea 5:14 (NKJV)
Nevertheless, regardless of what Americans choose, those of us who are trying to serve God, although we will have our trials, have promises from God that we will ultimately be blessed, for we are told in Isaiah:
"Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Isaiah 3:10-11 (NKJV)
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