By Rev. Jeremiah Cheung
From Hosea Chapter 12:7-14
12:7 The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud. 8Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” 9“I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals. 10I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them.” 11Is Gilead wicked? Its people are worthless! Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal? Their altars will be like piles of stones on a plowed field. 12Jacob fled to the country of Aram; Israel served to get a wife, and to pay for her he tended sheep. 13The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him. 14But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger; his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed and will repay him for his contempt.
12:7 “The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud.” This is what the Lord knows of Ephraim. No one in the world knows each of us better than the Lord, because He is our creator, He sees through all our hearts. In fact, we can say that God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Our Conscience or Our God?
In this passage, we see two different standards – the human conscience and God’s Truth. We have to choose one of them as the standard for our actions.
12:8 “Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” Ephraim reached this conclusion based on human conscience. This is also the standard of the world today, “All that I have are the product of my hard work, therefore no one can say there is any unrighteousness in me.” We often hear people say, “I am a man with a conscience.” Those who say this think of themselves as sinless; after all, they are guided by their conscience. But is a man’s conscience really reliable? Ephraim was also guided by his conscience but God declared judgment against him. Hosea 12:14 “But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger; his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed and will repay him for his contempt.” The human conscience has no merit before our holy God because man has long been corrupted by sin.
We must use God’s truth as our standard
What then should we use as a standard? God’s Truth. In this passage, the prophet reminds us of two things: First, he reminds us to return to the outset of our salvation. Second, we must live out the life of redemption.
Hosea 12:9 “I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals.” The Lord calls for a return to the time when salvation began; a reference to the beginning of a new life. By leaving Egypt (leaving the world), the people of Israel began life anew. Without this grace of salvation, all other labor is simply in vain because they’re merely acts of human effort. We must live out our salvation by living in truth. Hosea 12:10 says, “I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions, and told parables through them.” God appointed prophets and they are His spokespersons. Through His prophet, the Lord teaches and instructs his people to live in truth.
The Lord rebuked his people for not living in the truth, they lived in falsehood, they lived in sin. Hosea 12:11 “Is Gilead wicked? Its people are worthless! Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal? Their altars will be like piles of stones on a plowed field.” The prophets recalled the story of their ancestor, Jacob. The Lord did not only blessed Jacob with wives and children in Aram; more importantly, He brought Israel (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel) back. Through the prophet, the Lord cared for him. Hosea 12:13 “The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him.” He was no longer Jacob (whose name meant “to grasp, to steal”), he had become Israel (which means the prince of God).
Church, do you want to live according to your conscience or the Truth? Do you decide right or wrong by yourself or do you base your decisions on the Truth?
活在真理裡或是活在良心中 | 何西亞書
12:7 以法蓮是商人, 手裡有詭詐的天平, 愛行欺騙。8以法蓮說: 我果然成了富足, 得了財寶; 我所勞碌得來的, 人必不見有甚麼不義, 可算為罪的。9自從你出埃及地以來, 我就是耶和華你的神, 我必使你再住帳棚, 如在大會的日子一樣。10我已曉諭眾先知, 並且加增默示, 藉先知設立比喻。11基列人沒有罪孽麼? 他們全然是虛假的, 人在吉甲獻牛犢為祭, 他們的祭壇, 好像田間犁溝中的亂堆。12從前雅各逃到亞蘭地, 以色列為得妻服事人, 為得妻與人放羊。13耶和華藉先知領以色列從埃及上來, 以色列也藉先知而得保存。14以法蓮大大惹動主怒, 所以他流血的罪, 必歸在他身上, 主必將那因以法蓮所受的羞辱歸還他。
12:7 以法蓮是商人, 手裡有詭詐的天平, 愛行欺騙。這是神對以法蓮的認識, 世界沒有人比神更認識我們每一個人, 因為祂是我們的創造者, 祂更看透我們的內心, 我們甚至可以這樣說, 神比我們自己更了解我們。
在這段經文中, 我們看見了二個不同標準, 人的良心與神的真理,我們要選擇其中一個作我們行事為人的標準。
12:8 以法蓮說: 我果然成了富足, 得了財寶; 我所勞碌得來的, 人必不見有甚麼不義, 可算為罪的。這是以人的良心為標準, 這也是現今世界的標準, 我所勞碌得來的, 人必不見有甚麼不義。我們常常聽見人說: 我是憑良心作人的, 說這些話的人還以爲自己是沒有罪的, 因為他們是憑良心作人, 但人的良心真的可靠嗎？以法蓮也是憑良心作事, 神卻對她發出審判的聲音, 12:14 以法蓮大大惹動主怒, 所以他流血的罪, 必歸在他身上, 主必將那因以法蓮所受的羞辱歸還他。人的良心在神面前是沒有價值的, 因為早已被罪所污染了。
那我們又當用什麼作標準呢? 神的真理。這段經文裡, 先知提醒我們二方面：第一.回到救贖的起初。第二.活出救贖的生命。
12:9 自從你出埃及地以來, 我就是耶和華你的神, 我必使你再住帳棚, 如在大會的日子一樣。這是論到回到救贖的起初。這是新生命的開始, 出埃及(離開世界)永遠是我們新的開始, 沒有這個救贖的恩典, 其他一切勞力都是徒然的, 因為都是靠人的勞力。但這夠了嗎? 不夠的, 我們要活在救贖裡, 活在真理裡; 12:10 我已曉諭眾先知, 並且加增默示, 藉先知設立比喻。神設立先知, 先知就是神的代言人, 神要藉著先知向屬祂的百姓發生教導的聲音, 使祂的百姓活在真理裡。
神斥責他們沒有活在真理裡, 他們是活在虛假中, 他們是活在罪孽裡, 12:11 基列人沒有罪孽麼? 他們全然是虛假的, 人在吉甲獻牛犢為祭, 他們的祭壇, 好像田間犁溝中的亂堆。先知再領他們回想他們始祖雅各的故事, 神不單使雅各在亞蘭地得妻子, 得兒女, 更重要的是領以色列(神改雅各名字為以色列)回來, 藉著先知(神的真理)使他得以保存。12:13 耶和華藉先知領以色列從埃及上來, 以色列也藉先知而得保存。他不再是雅各, (意思是抓, 是賊)他成為了以色列, （意思是神的王子）。
教會, 你要活在你的良心裡或是真理裡呢? 你要以你自己決定對錯或是以真理定對錯呢？