By Rev. Jeremiah Cheung
From Hosea Chapter 7:1-9
7:1 whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; 2but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.
3“They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. 4They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. 5On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. 6Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. 7All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.
8“Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over. 9Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice.
In Hosea 7:2, the Lord rebuked the Israelites for not thinking—they had not realized what they’d done nor had they considered that God remembers all their evil deeds. We must be self-aware. It is sad and pathetic to be unaware of what one has done and to have no inkling of what lies ahead. This is how God rebuked the Israelites. Hosea 7:9 tells us that when a person is not self-aware, no matter how hard he works, his strength will be sapped by foreigners. He will only earn gray hairs for his effort, and he remains oblivious of it. Not only does his labor end in futility, he eventually loses himself.
Let us look at what the Israelites failed to realize. Verses 3-8 gives us two metaphors.
First, they are like an oven.
In verses 3-7, the word ‘oven’ appears three times and it is used each time to an increasing degree.
- The first time the word ‘oven’ appears is in verses 3-4, which says, “They are all adulterers, burning like an oven”. This line refers to the inner heart— adultery and sinfulness is in their hearts. They delight in doing evil and in lying because their hearts love sinning. Although the fire is not yet seen externally, it is burning within their hearts.
- The second time the word ‘oven’ appears is in verses 5-6, “Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.”
- The third time we see the word ‘oven’ is in V.7, “All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.”
These fires spread from the leaders to the people, and the people also were ablaze. As a result, the rulers and kings were devoured; and of course, the people also burned themselves up. When we have lust in our hearts, we are like an oven, and we go on till we harm others and harm ourselves. We must stop and consider. We must ponder and ask what road are we on now; is it a road to self-destruction? If yes, then we must stop and turn back!
Second, they are like an unturned loaf.
An unturned loaf of cake has one side cooked and another side uncooked. It symbolizes how man may attempt to please God on one hand but still continue in sin on the other hand. An unturned cake is a mixed cake and it is a cake that its owner scorns. It is also an inedible cake.
The Book of James says we must not be double-minded, for such a person is unstable and will not receive anything. We must make up our minds and pick a side. The prophet Elijah had once challenged the Israelites, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
Church, we must stop and ponder, “Do we really want to love and serve God?” If the answer is yes, then we must follow through and love Him and serve Him with our all.
停一停、想一想 | 何西亞書
7:1 我想醫治以色列的時候, 以法蓮的罪孽, 和撒瑪利亞的罪惡, 就顯露出來, 他們行事虛謊, 內有賊人入室偷竊, 外有強盜成群騷擾。2他們心裡並不思想我記念他們的一切惡, 他們所行的現在纏繞他們,都在我面前。
3他們行惡使君王歡喜, 說謊使首領喜樂。4他們都是行淫的, 像火爐被烤餅的燒熱, 從摶麵到發麵的時候, 暫不使火著旺。5在我們王宴樂的日子, 首領因酒的烈性成病, 王與褻慢人拉手。6首領埋伏的時候, 心中熱如火爐, 就如烤餅的整夜睡臥, 到了早晨火氣炎炎。7眾民也熱如火爐, 燒滅他們的官長, 他們的君王都仆倒而死, 他們中間無一人求告我。
8以法蓮與列邦人攙雜, 以法蓮是沒有翻過的餅。9外邦人吞喫他勞力得來的,他卻不知道,頭髮斑白, 他也不覺得。
在7:2神責備以色列人是不思想的人, 他們不思想他們所行的, 他們也不思想神記念他們一切的惡。人貴乎自知, 人如果對自己所行的, 對自己所面對的一無所知, 這是一個可悲可憐的人, 這正是神要責備以色列人的地方。7:9告訴我們一個不思想不自知的人, 他們無論怎樣的勞力去作工, 但結果卻是外邦人吞喫他們勞力得來的, 他們只作到頭髮斑白, 完全也不覺得; 不單沒有果效, 而且連自己都賠上去了。那什麼以色列人不自知, 不思想呢？V.3-8告訴我們二個比喻
從 V.3-7火爐這個字出現了三次, 而且每次都是更可怕的情況。
- 第一次是在 V.3-4這是指內心火爐, 內心的淫亂, 內心的罪性。行惡與說謊都是他們所喜愛的, 因為他們的心喜愛犯罪, 雖然火還沒有出現在外頭, 但他們的內心已經有火了。
- 第二次是在V.5-6他們的火在心中已經熱如火爐, 整個晚上都在燃燒, 結果早上火氣炎炎。
- 第三次是在V.7眾民也熱如火爐, 燒滅他們的官長, 他們的君王都仆倒而死。
這些火從領袖伸展到百姓, 百姓也發光了, 結果燒滅了官長與君王, 當然是百姓也自焚了。當我們心裡有淫心, 我們如同火爐一樣, 我們再往下去, 真是害人害己; 我們要停一停, 想一想, 我們現在所行的路是一條怎樣的路, 是自焚的路嗎? 如果是, 停下來, 回頭吧!
沒有翻過的餅是一邊生, 一邊熟的餅; 沒有翻過的餅是一面討神喜悅, 一面犯罪的餅; 沒有翻過的餅是混雜的餅, 沒有翻過的餅是被主人討厭的餅, 也是不能吃用的餅。
雅各書說不要心懷二意, 這樣的人沒有定見, 什麼都不能得著。我們要立定心志, 不要心懷二意, 先知以利亞也曾大聲對以色列人說, 你們心持二意到什麼時候, 耶和華是神, 事奉祂; 巴力是神, 事奉巴力。
教會我們要想一想, 我們真的要愛神嗎? 事奉神嗎? 如果答案是: 那就來真的, 盡心盡意盡性盡力愛祂事奉祂。