When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.
I. Look at the fact of God's remembrance of sin. (1) God remembers all kinds and degrees of sin; secret and open, wilful and negligent. (2) God remembers the sins of all men; the sins of the young and of the aged, of the well-known citizen and of the stranger. (3) God remembers the sins of all men accurately and completely. (4) God remembers continually and for ever. (5) God remembers with a practical result; He remembers thai He may act upon His recollections. He remembers as a Ruler, and He either forgives or He punishes.
II. Look at this fact as forgotten by those who, ought to remember it. "They consider not in their hearts;" they do not think. Lack of thought often accounts for lack of religion.
III. Turn to God's complaint of this forgetfulness. God complains of the state of the heart. God complains of forgetfulness; and why? Because it sears the conscience, leads to false views of a man's position, is personally offensive to God, and is frequently the occasion of final ruin.
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 4th series, No. 18.
Hosea 7:8There is something in the character of some men which resembles a burnt loaf: a cake left too long with one side exposed to the fire till it has caught and been scorched, while the other side is still mere dough.
The character described is easily legible. It is that in which there is a too-much and a too-little. Every part of the mind and life—the principles, the affections, the temper, and the spirit; the motives and conduct, the feelings towards God and the feelings towards man—ought to be alike and equally influenced by the presence of the Holy Spirit within. The cake is imperfectly mixed, imperfectly leavened, or imperfectly baked if it be not so. It is the want of this unity, this coherence and consistency of parts, this combination and harmony of all elements in one whole, which makes the words true of any human character, "Ephraim is a cake not turned."
I. There is, first, the case which the context seems to point to; an inconsistency arising from too much of voluntary intermixture with the world.
II. Or again, there is the still sadder case, if it be possible, of one who is tied and bound by the chain of some evil habit.
III. How applicable is the description of the text to some characters to which we can scarcely deny the title of religious; some which, perhaps, most confidently arrogate that title to themselves. How often have we seen in such persons zeal without tenderness; energy without repose; eagerness for what they deem truths, without charity towards those whom they count in error.
IV. And if applicable thus far to Christian men, what shall we say of the bearing of the subject upon persons who have not yet taken a decisive step towards Christ's service. In many of them conscience is at variance with practice, conviction with conduct. You will never be really happy until your life is at one. Unity is happiness, and unity is strength. If you see that the Lord is God, follow Him; follow Him whithersoever He goeth.
C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 65.
References: Hosea 7:8.—Spurgeon, Morning, by Morning, p. 175; J. Baines, Sermons, p. 100.
Hosea 7:9Gray hairs are a sign of decay. They are here the marks of age, the premonitory symptoms of dissolution; and so the truth the text announces is that men, many men, live in ignorance, and act in disregard, of signs that should warn and alarm them.
In illustration of this I remark—
I. It appears in the history of states. The words were first spoken of the kingdom of Israel. In the oppression of the poor and the sighing of the needy, in the corruption of morals and the decline of true religion the prophet saw the signs of his country's decay,—these were the gray hairs that were here and there upon them, and they knew not. Kingdoms, as well as men and women in decline, stricken with a mortal malady, have descended into the grave, blind to their dangers and their doom. (2) My text applies to the false security of sinners. Be our profession what it may, if we have habits if sin—these are the gray hairs that, unless grace convert and mercy pardon, foretell our doom. So long as you see one star in the sky, the sun is not risen; so long as one leak admits the water, the ship is not safe; so long as one sin reigns in a man's heart, and is practised in his life, Jesus is neither his Saviour nor his King. The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. (3) This appears in men's insensibility to the lapse and lessons of time. The nearer we draw to our end, through a natural callousness or otherwise, the less sensible we grow to the evils and approach of age. And when a man has not left his peace with God to seek in old age, his greatest work to a time when he is least fit to do it: in such a case it is a most blessed thing that old age does not make our hearts old, or benumb our feelings—that gray hairs are on us, and yet we know not. But where, in such a case, is the hope of those who have trusted to turning religious when they grow old, and attending to the concerns of a better world when they have ceased to feel any interest in this?
T. Guthrie, Speaking to the Heart, p. 1.
How comes it that a man may slip away from earnestness in the Christian life, into a condition of spiritual decrepitude, without knowing it?
I. Because we are all inclined to look more favourably on ourselves than on others. The man who is himself declining in spiritual health may be, very often is, blind to his own defections, while yet he has a clear perception of the backsliding of others. How shall this evil be prevented? By trying ourselves fairly by the standard of God's Word, and by laying ourselves open in earnest supplication to the inspection of the Lord Himself.
II. This insensibility to spiritual deterioration may be largely owing to the gradual way in which backsliding steals upon a man. No one becomes very wicked all at once; and backsliding, as the term itself implies, is a thing not of sudden manifestation, but of gradual motion. We shall know where we are when we test ourselves by the Word of God, as that has been vindicated for us by the example and the spirit of the Lord Jesus. Let us not compare ourselves simply with that which we were yesterday, or last week, or last year; but let us rather take daily sights of the Sun of Righteousness, and shape our course accordingly.
III. This unconsciousness of backsliding may be largely accounted for in many cases by the fact that the individuals are absorbed in other matters to such an extent that the state of the heart is forgotten. Just in proportion as their business prosperity increases their spiritual health diminishes. Here, again, the question arises, How is this danger to be obviated? And the answer is, In one of two ways: either (1) by curtailing the business, or (2) by consecrating it as a whole to God.
W. M. Taylor, Limitations of Life, p. 327.
References: Hosea 7:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 830; H. M. Arthur, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 282; Parker, Pulpit Notes, p. 73.
Hosea 7:14I. The grand motive which should influence the sinner in turning to God is love to the kind and gracious Father, who has so long borne with his waywardness; and a sincere desire to promote His glory.
II. A reliance on a deathbed repentance implies a doubt of the declarations of the Bible, that God expects us to walk before Him during the days of our earthly pilgrimage in holiness and righteousness.
III. It is a prominent feature in the great plan of redemption, that we should openly acknowledge our allegiance to God, by becoming a member of His Church. If all should look to a deathbed repentance, the very groundwork of the system of faith would be overturned.
IV. Besides faith and repentance, habitual obedience is required of every one who truly turns to God. Is a deathbed the place we should choose to root out sinful passions and desires, subdue habits indulged in for years, and form plans for amendment of life? If we ever intend to save our souls, we should set about it now.
J. N. Norton, Old Paths, p. 172.
And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.
They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.
For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.
They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me.
Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.
Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me.
Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.