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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe see then the third picture in verses 11 through the first part of verse 14. We see here Israel likened to A Senseless Dove. Our text continues, “Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense— they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. 12 Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them; I will bring them down like birds of the air; I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard. 13 “Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. 14 They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.”

To make sense of this we need to understand that in these times dove and other birds were hunted with a net. It was the best way to catch the most birds without ruining them as they were being caught to be eaten. Often the nets would be hung in the trees around watering holes and when the flocks of birds came in for water they would be tangled up and they would be taken alive to then be prepared for eating.

God says the people are like senseless birds that are going to be easily caught in His nets of judgment. They are calling out for help, for relief from the judgment of God for their sin, by asking Egypt and Assyria to come help them. God then likens them to a senseless, an oblivious, bird about to be caught even as they fly to the nations for the help only God can give them.

It is significant historically that during this time period, as Israel was seeking help from Egypt and Assyria, guess what Egypt and Assyria were doing? They were preparing to go to war against each other. And here is Israel in the middle, right between the two, asking both of them for help. This puts Israel right in the cross hairs. Both sides now believe that Israel is seeking aid from their enemy…which they were! And so after Assyria defeated Egypt they turned back toward home and took Israel away on their return trip.

By the way, did you catch there in the paragraph of text the standard of judgment? It is there in verse 12, “I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard.” We are accountable for what we have heard! Do you realize then the danger there is in sitting under the right preaching of the Word of God? When we hear God’s Word we are accountable for what we have heard! In this regard, Luke 12:48 tells us, “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

As Israel has heard the Word of God proclaimed by the prophets they will be chastised in accordance to what they heard and did not obey. If they heard but did not do that meant judgment.

Hosea 7:13 goes on, “Woe to them, for they have fled from Me!” It is not merely that they will not return to Him, or are ignoring what He has said to them by the prophets – the situation is much more serious. They are deliberately running from God, running away from Him, His Word, His precepts, His judgments. But there is no escape. They run and God says, “Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.” There are tears. There is mourning. There is grief. But it is grief because of the consequences of sin and not because of the sin itself. They want a world where they can sin without consequence.

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