Some History Concerning Ephraim Who is Named in Hosea
The Book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 B.C some eighty years after Hosea was written between the years of 786-746 B.C. during the reign of Jeroboam II. History is oftentimes important when we read the Word of God.
The prophet Isaiah writes in Isaiah 7:8, “For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 * years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people ),”
All the metaphors found in Hosea’s prophecy were intended to illustrate the serious condition of Israel (which is referenced as Ephraim in Hosea) and of which His words of warning were intended would lead to judgment.
Because the Northern Kingdom did not heed the message of God’s coming judgment they were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Most of these folks did not return.
In their distress we find these words, “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where * the LORD your God has banished you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey * Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where * the LORD your God has scattered you.” Deuteronomy 30:1-3 NASB.
Historically, Israel’s twelve tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Ephraim (and Manasseh), his grandchildren. Ephraim was born in Egypt to Joseph’s wife, Asenath. Joseph named his second-born son Ephraim, Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him. Joseph named * the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” He named * the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:50-52. Jacob blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh and he decided to bless Ephraim first even though he was not the oldest. Joseph, of course protested this, but Jacob said that Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh .
In the Old Testament we find that Ephraim oftentimes refers to the Northern Kingdom even though the name Israel is most commonly used. Israel/Ephraim was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The Southern Kingdom known as Judah was conquered by the Babylonians nearly 140 years later in 587 BC.
The name “Israel” was named “Ephraim” in Genesis 48 and this is tied to God’s blessings to Abraham which Followers of the Christ may inherit. “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” Galatians 3:8.
Sadly, most of us are ignorant of the biblical Truth concerning Israel and God’s promises to Abraham. God made them to Abraham which remained in place for a very long time before he separated from Jacob who was later called Israel and passed these blessings to his sons as he was dying. ” The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” Genesis 18:17-19 NASB.
In Hosea we find a picture of sinfulness of humankind in Ephraim and the anger and forgiveness of Almighty God. We can read that Ephraim disobeys God and commits horribly evil things before Him. In 2 Chronicles 23 we find powerful words from the prophet Obed for the tribe of Ephraim who was standing before ‘the burning anger of God” and they suddenly recognized their need of repentance and obedience by following the words of the prophet Oded.
What we learn by reading the history of Ephraim is that God loves us and does so in spite of our sin. He is patient and merciful beyond our best comprehension of Him. He knows of our sin, disciplines and guides us and hears our cry for repentance. But, most of all He desires for us find relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the history of Ephraim demonstrates flawed and sinful nature of every human just as Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” in Romans 3:23.
“O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; From Me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.” Hosea 14:8-9 NASB.
Does God absolutely hate the sinner and not the sin alone? Absolutely, for the Word of God is true in all that it says and tells us that fact. Must I understand this in order to believe what I read? No. Should I accept this as truth? Only if I understand the Word of God to be absolutely true in spite of what I think or feel about certain things that I do not understand or wish to believe.
Tomorrow I will move to Psalm 5:5-6, “The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.” NASB
Jesus is Lord.