And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding…
The tribe of Ephraim was especially upbraided by the prophet on account of their addictedness to idol-worship. Separating themselves from the religious observances which were proper to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the members of this powerful and central tribe had distinguished themselves by their defection from Jehovah, and by their zeal in the service of Baal and other gods of the nations. One sin led to another; and they sinned "more and more." In these words a great principle is enunciated. There is a tendency on the part of sinners not only to continue, but even to exceed, in sin. To understand this, it must be observed that -
I. TEMPTATIONS BECOME GROWINGLY NUMEROUS AND POWERFUL.
1. Circumstances are often in an increasing measure favorable to sin. The sinner puts himself in the way of stronger temptations.
2. Wicked companions and instigators to sin gain in boldness and persuasiveness. They learn by experience that no resistance need be anticipated.
3. Restraints are culpably removed. The practice of sin breaks down the fences which virtue sets up around the law-abiding and obedient.
II. RESISTANCE BECOMES GROWINGLY MORE FEEBLE AND FAINT.
1. Desire is strengthened by indulgence. Unbridled passion, ungoverned pride, insatiable selfishness, have everything as they would.
2. Shame is lessened. The reproach of conscience is silenced. Fear is quieted and stifled. The blush no longer rises to the cheek; and the tongue is habituated to falsehood, or profanity, or impurity, without any check.
3. Moral power is weakened. At first there is a contest within between the better feelings and the worse; but after a while there is no conflict, and the vanquished protest dares no longer assert itself.
APPLICATION. The picture thus drawn of the sinner's progress is so fearful, that the contemplation of it may well lead him who is on the downward road to pause. Facilis descensus Averni. The only hope lies in immediate and sincere repentance, and (by Divine grace) an urgent application for forgiveness, and for a new and better mind. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
WEB: Now they sin more and more, and have made themselves molten images of their silver, even idols according to their own understanding, all of them the work of the craftsmen. They say of them, 'They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calves.'