Hosea 11:12
Ephraim surrounds me with lies, the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.
Beset Round with LiesJeremiah Burroughs.Hosea 11:12
Faithful with the SaintsJeremiah Burroughs.Hosea 11:12
Fraud and FalsehoodHosea 11:12
The Faithful TribeJoseph Irons.Hosea 11:12
The Lies of a PeopleD. Thomas Hosea 11:12
God Faithful, His People UnfaithfulJ. Orr Hosea 11:12-12:2
Jacob an Example to His DescendantsC. Jerdan Hosea 11:12-12:6
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit. The Almighty here represents himself as a man beset with lies on every hand, as if he could not move either one way or the other. Let us notice -

I. THE NATURE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. Lies are as abundant in England today as they were in Ephraim centuries ago. The social atmosphere is infested with falsehoods.

1. There are commercial lies. From the largest warehouse to the pedlar's paltry stall lies abound. They infest the commercial world more densely far than insects the summer air.

2. There are theological lies. Doctrines are propounded and enforced from the press and theological chairs utterly untrue to eternal realities.

3. There are religious lies. Sentiments and aspirations are expressed in the prayers, psalmodies, and liturgies of congregations, untrue to facts, untrue to the experience of those who give them utterance.

4. There are literary lies. The journals and volumes that stream from the modern press teem with falsehood. Surely, if the Almighty were to speak of England as he spoke of Ephraim in olden times, he would say it "compasseth me about with lies."

"How false are men, both in their heads and hearts!
And there is falsehood in all trades and arts.
Lawyers deceive their clients by false law;
Priests, by false gods, keep all the world in awe.
For their false tongues such flatt'ring knaves are raised,
For their false wit scribbles by fools are praised."

(John Crown.)

II. THE CAUSE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies spring from at least three sources.

1. Vanity. A desire to appear before our compeers in the world greater than we are, leads to the exaggeration of our virtues, if we have any, and to the denial of our infirmities and faults.

2. Greed. Greed is a prolific source of falsehood. Greed creates the lies that crowd our markets.

3. Fear. Fear creates lies as shields of defense. Religious lies spring in a great measure from fear. Nearly all the lies that fill the world are the children either of vanity, greed, or fear.

III. THE EVIL OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies are bad things.

1. They are bad in themselves. They are repugnant to the God of truth. They are a miasma in the moral atmosphere, essentially offensive as well as pernicious.

2. They are bad in their influence. Lies deceive and ruin. Every system built on lies, commercial, scientific, political, and religions, is like a house built on the sand that must tumble down before the rushing storms of reality.

"Let falsehood be a stranger to thy lips:
Shame on the policy that first began
To tamper with the heart to hide its thoughts!
And doubly shame on that inglorious tongue
That sold its honesty and told a lie!"

(William Havard) D.T.

Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies.
By lies understand false worship, for that is a lie with false pretences; they put fair glosses upon things, but all are but lies; they have beset Me with politic shifts of their own devising. They not only seek to blind men, but they would (if it were possible) deceive Me, saith God. And indeed, when men seek to blind their own consciences, what do they but seek to deceive God? In the very act of worship they are false.

1. Many, in their prayers, in the solemn act of worship, beset God with lies. Can God be deceived? No, but they did what lay in them to deceive Him; if it were possible for God to have been deceived they would have deceived Him.

2. Many also beset the business and affairs that they manage with lies. They plot with themselves how they may handsomely contrive to put together a goodly number of lies, that so they may beset men's understandings. There are such cunning attempts in the world to beset the understandings of men, that men shall not know what to say to things; and yet, whilst they cannot tell how to believe them, neither do they know what to say, things are so contrived. Deceitful men think with themselves, If such a thing shall be questioned, then I have such a shift to put it off; and if another thing shall be doubted of, then I have such a report, and such a fair pretence, to make it good.

3. When men are once engaged in shifts and lies, they grow pertinacious in them, and there is little hope of their recovery.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

The Lord complains "that He had been compassed with the falsehood and fraud of the people." By these words He means that He had in everything found the multiplied perfidy of the Israelites; for this is the import of the word "compassed." Not only in one way, or in one thing had they acted unfaithfully towards God; they were full of innumerable frauds, with which they surrounded God, like an army at a siege. This is what hypocrites are wont to do; not only in one thing do they endeavour to deceive God, but they transform themselves in various ways, and ever seek some new subterfuges. When they are caught in one sin they pass into another; so that there is no end to their deceit. He speaks of "frauds and falsehoods," for they thought that they escaped, provided they covered themselves with some disguise, whenever the prophets reproved them. But God here testifies that they gained nothing by their craftiness. The prophet reprobates those specious excuses, by which people think they are absolved before God, so as to elude all the threatenings of the prophet. This passage teaches that men in vain make excuses before God; for when they contrive pretences to deceive God, they are themselves greatly deceived; for He clearly perceives their guiles and falsehoods.

( John Calvin.)

But Judah... is faithful with the saints
That is —

1. With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Moses, with the prophets, with the forefathers.

2. Faithful with such as are sanctified, the true priests of God, that God has sanctified to Himself. Whereas Jeroboam took of the lowest of the people and made them priests to God, Judah would have no other priests but the sanctified ones of God.

3. Faithful with the people of God. For all of Israel that were holy, that were godly, that were saints, and were not detained by some special hand of God, went up from the Ten Tribes to Judah, to the true worship of God; now Judah entertained them, and used them well, and was faithful to them. But on the contrary, Israel, the Ten Tribes, were unfaithful, by using the saints of God evilly that would worship God according to God's own way; they were cruel and oppressing and unfaithful to them, but Judah was faithful towards such, embracing and encouraging them. For us to go on in faithfulness, though we have none to join with, is a commendation; and the ways of God are excellent, whether any or no do join with us in them. But it is a great encouragement to be faithful with the saints; that is, to go on in those ways in which we see the saints walk: and to join with the saints, with such as are the choice saints of God, greatly encourages and strengthens the people of God in their way.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

There is a striking analogy between the leading characteristics and facts of Church history under the Old Testament dispensation, and under the New. In both we see a chosen people, a redeemed people, a preserved people, and a perverse, rebellious, stiff-necked people. Nothing but immutable love and sovereign grace could have borne with their conduct. The great mass of nominal Israel of old were carnally minded. They degraded themselves with abominable idolatries. Just so do multitudes who pass for Christians in the nineteenth century, boasting of ancient pedigree, long succession, and exclusive right; wearing the name of Christian without possessing one spark of Christianity. The modern profession of Christianity has awfully apostatised from ancient orthodoxy, and set up idols throughout Christendom, worshipping the work of men's hands according to the free will system. The great calamity of the present day arises from carnal men interfering with religion in any way, for in so doing they are sure to do mischief: if they legislate for it, they clog and fetter it; if they endow it, they curse it; if they even speak of it, they misrepresent it, — and can it be otherwise while they are destitute of it? Turn attention to the faithful tribe who, in the face of all the revolting and apostasy of the present day, may be said to rule with God, and deal faithfully with the saints. There is still such a tribe in Christendom. If the God of all grace would bestow upon His elect remnant a revival of vital godliness, Christian union, and fervent prayer, there would be nothing to fear from pope or infidel. Brethren, be of one mind. Electing love, Divine substitution, and invincible grace are our rallying-points.

(Joseph Irons.).

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