How shall I [God] give thee up, Ephraim? …mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. ~ Hosea 11:8
Such a beautiful verse! For all of Ephraim’s sin, for all of his contempt toward God, God will not destroy him.
I [God] will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man… ~ Hosea 11:8-9
Over the past year, I’ve studied Ephraim in the Bible, and it has been as much a study of God’s character as it has been of Ephraim’s character. God is very much a father. He gets angry when his children misbehave, and disregard his rules, and show contempt for him. But at the end of the day (at least in Ephraim’s case) God is wrapped around his child’s finger. What a vivid demonstration of God’s fatherhood. Think about it. How many times do human fathers assert that they are laying down the law, and that no transgression of the law will be tolerated, and that they are really serious this time, and that discipline will rule, no more playing around, no more chances– only to give in because their heart turns to jelly when their eye looks upon their child, especially their youngest child? Good fathers are indeed made in the image of God.
Make no mistake, God will reclaim Ephraim.
- I will ransom them [Ephraim] from the power of the grave; I will redeem them [Ephraim] from death. ~ Hosea 13:14
- I will answer him [Ephraim] and care for him. ~ Hosea 14:8
- In that day shall the LORD of hosts be… a crown of glory… unto the residue of his people [Ephraim]… ~ Isaiah 28:5
God will reclaim Ephraim. But! A refining process will come first. Look at the first three words in that last verse: “in that day.” In what day? The verse prior explains.
And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. ~ Isaiah 28:4.
The refining process will come in the day described in Isaiah 28:2-4. Are we in this day now? Let’s look at each half of this verse.
And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower… ~ Isaiah 28:4, 1st half
Is America’s glorious beauty fading? We see daily news stories announcing the decline of American power and influence. We see daily stories announcing that China will outpace America, and that more and more nations are rejecting the dollar as their currency source of reference. Iran toys with our “sanctions” like a cat playing with a doomed mouse. No one fears us anymore. America’s glorious beauty is indeed a fading flower. But again, just as I pointed out in Part III, America is fading, but not faded. We are still alive, and we will come back.
As the hasty fruit… while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. ~ Isaiah 28:4, 2nd half
Instant gratification! No saving for a rainy day. No storing away for times of trouble. Americans (and our government) can’t spend money fast enough. And when we run out of money, we simply borrow more. As soon we get money, we spend it: “…while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.”
Those two conditions describe America perfectly. Once feared and respected, and once having a population that worked hard and saved money, America is no longer feared, no longer respected, and now has a population that embraces instant gratification and entitlement as foundational principles. And although God has preserved for himself a strong remnant in America, the average American has fallen away from worshiping Jesus Christ. America was founded upon Christianity, but most Americans have fallen away from the faith. Today, rather than worshiping Jesus Christ, most Americans worship entertainment– social media, sports, TV, movies, and music. These are America’s idols.
In fact, there is a verse I could not quite put my finger on for a while. But it finally clicked. Here is it is:
Now they [Ephraim] sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. ~ Hosea 13:2
This verse was a problem for me because in these modern times, I don’t know anyone worshiping a silver idol. Furthermore, the verse says these silver idols are “cleverly” made. This implies sophistication of thought, complexity. So, does it all fit?
- Entertainment worship
- Silver idols
- Complex design
Do these three pieces fit together to solve the puzzle of modern-day idolatry? Absolutely.
“Almost all electronics are configured with silver. televisions… mobile phones… computers…” ~ The Silver Institute
We worship the images on our screens, the circuitry of which is intricately complex, and made with silver! Everywhere in America, people stare at the modern altars of idolatry– the smartphone, the TV, the tablet, the computer. These screens bring us the athletes, actors, singers, rappers, politicians, and social media pages that consume our lives. The average American Sunday is now spent in front of electronic screens worshiping idols, rather than in front of a pulpit worshiping Jesus Christ.
So, I suggest that we are indeed in the time of refining. 9/11 was a huge warning. The Great Recession of 2008 was another. But we are so stiff-necked, that neither of those catastrophic events really got our attention.
The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record… but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives [9/11, the Great Recession], he does not come to the opening of the womb [no repentance, refusal to be “born again”]. ~ Hosea 13:13 NIV
So, what’s next? If we consider 9/11 and the Great Recession each as a plague, and if we consider that God used ten plagues on Egypt, we may still have a long way to go! The verses I listed in the beginning of this post show that God will redeem Ephraim (the USA), but we are in for a bumpy ride in the process. By the way, we will not be raptured out before it gets worse! The pre-trib rapture is nowhere in the Bible. Just ask the Christians being slaughtered by ISIS.
There are two “plagues” that I suspect are coming to America, and one “plague” that I am certain is coming. I suspect another recession (or depression) is coming, and I suspect another grand-scale attack by Islamists, but I am certain of continued ferocious and deadly weather in America. The parade of “unprecedented” storms will continue, as it has over the past several years.
Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. ~ Isaiah 28:2-3
These words do not exist in a Scriptural vacuum. Using the Bible to interpret the Bible, one can verify and clarify what God is talking about here.
…the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. ~ Nahum 1:3
A tornado is a whirlwind. A hurricane is a whirlwind. A storm is any violent weather, including the tempest of hail mentioned in Isaiah 28:2. God uses violent weather to chastise a people, to correct them. The corrections are going to keep coming until we get it, until it sinks in. Not only are violent storms mentioned in both Isaiah 28:2-3 and Nahum 1:3, but the imagery of God stomping upon the unjust is mentioned in both passages. The drunkards of Ephraim “shall be trodden under foot,” and “clouds are the dust of his feet.”
This beautiful and terrible prose ties together violent storms and the bottom of God’s feet. In the Middle East to this day, being touched with the bottom of one’s shoe is a sign of their displeasure (to say the least) toward you. This is why people were taking their shoes off and hitting Saddam Hussein’s statue with them.
We must read the Bible as the Middle Eastern book that it is, not the Western book that it is not.
God’s remnant in America will survive, and thrive. But first, we must endure the refining process. This was going to be my last post in this series, but I keep finding more Biblical references to Ephraim that fascinate me, so I am going to continue.
The Bible is always proven true.