hos 13Take your Bibles and open with me this week to Hosea 13. Coming to this chapter as we are almost finished with the Book of Hosea, this week we will study a lesson titled, “No Savior Besides Me.” And in this message we will have presented to us a reminder that Romans 6:23 is in the Bible for a reason. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The wages, the thing you earn by sin, is death. Because of the results of sin entering Creation through Adam and Eve there in the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 3, all of the descendants of Adam will one day die, unless the Lord Jesus returns. But even beyond that, for those who die who are not in Christ, who have not repented of their sin and trusted Jesus to save them and forgive them, for those who are lost and dying in sin, this is also a reference to the second death, to death in the lake of fire forever.

Here in Hosea 13 we will see that these wages will always, always, always be paid. The question is, who will pay what is due? Will you, or has Christ paid on your account with His own life?

With the backdrop of the living parable played out before us in the marriage of Hosea and Gomer, her unfaithfulness, his obedience, God’s love in action, and also justice and judgment in the indictment handed down upon God’s people in Israel for their unfaithfulness, with adultery and idolatry, now we come to closing statements. Only chapters 13 and 14 remain for us to come to the conclusion of this Word from the Lord through the prophet to His people.

We see here again a drop of mercy even in judgment as God will not go as far as He might when it comes to judging Israel, but even then, the judgment that is coming will be devastating to the nation. He says it will be relentless, severe, and with no escape.

He begins in verses 1-3 with a Before and After picture of Israel. 1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended through Baal worship, he died. 2 Now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves molded images, idols of their silver, according to their skill; all of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!” 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney.
This is actually a word picture. It is the graphic depiction of the death of a nation. We see Israel as a young nation in verse 1. This is a reference to growing up and the reference to trembling speech points to a young man’s voice changing. To demonstrate, when I sang in the school choir in the sixth grade, I sang tenor, and even at times, with the sopranos. By eighth grade I was singing baritone and bass. The trouble with a young man’s voice changing is that time between when it starts and when it finishes! The squeaky weeks, or months, when the voice is high then low then slides to high again!

As the nation came through the wilderness and was entering the Promised Land, they were starting to grow up as a nation. As they grew, they were exalted, that is lifted up, aided, and supported in their conquest as a growing nation by the help of the Lord. God made a nation of these wandering people. He gave them a land, a home, an inheritance. As we study the Scripture and see all that Israel did, the land their took, the people they displaced, the battles they fought and won, or fought and lost, we see them grow into God’s promises.

But a nation, just like a person, will not always continue to grow and gain strength. There will come a time that the body begins to age, deteriorate, systems fail, it takes longer to recover from exertion or sickness, until one day we will see this physical body die. We who know the Lord will be absent from the body and present with Him.

Looking throughout history we see nations do the same. Nations that grow and dominate and lead and rule who then decay and deteriorate and die. This is the fate of every nation except one, and that nation is a holy nation. It is the church of Jesus Christ – the Kingdom of God will never end. Every other nation, every nation of this earth, grows, attains some level of affluence, becomes corrupted from the inside, decays, and either from internal conflict or an external force, it dies. Every nation.

Our text tells us then that Israel as a nation has died. “When he offended through Baal worship, he died.” Past tense. Idolatry opened the door for corruption and death. And these next verses really do serve as an autopsy. The body is examined, so to speak, as the Lord through Hosea discovers and explains what killed Israel.

Now wait a minute? Assyria has not invaded yet. The threatened and promised judgment has not come to pass. How can the prophet use the past tense here? How can he pronounce the nation dead? Think back to Genesis 3 and Adam and Eve again in the garden, from Sunday school last Sunday, when they sinned they did not die that instant, physically, but they did begin to die, and eventually did physically die as a result of their sin. Death was a certainty.

And let’s not forget that because of Adam’s sin we are born dead in our sins! Ephesians 2:1 tells us why the new birth is necessary, because “you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Adam did see something die – his relationship with God and his ability to commune with God. He was cut off from God and was in need of reconciliation and restoration. What better way to define death than being separated from God, who is the Giver of life and life itself (John 14:6).

We also see in a sense the decay of their souls, as they would now be ruled by desires that are contrary to the Word and will of God. They, as are all fallen human beings, were ruled by their lust, their will trapped and bound by their fallen nature.

Adam’s death, while not immediate, was certain. He did not die that day but he did eventually die because of that day. So the penalty for sin is death. Death to every part of us.

A nation is just like this – a young, strong nation we see in Israel, that had communion with God through the priesthood and sacrifices, exerted itself, fulfilled the prophecies, received the Promises and the Covenant and conquered the Promised Land. However, their obedience was not complete. They left idols and idol worshippers in the land and were lured away from God by them, just as they had been warned would happen. They broke the Covenant and interrupted their communion with God. As a nation they began to die and their death though eventual would be certain.

Do you see the internal decay? By the time we get to Hosea’s time they have erected golden calves to represent Yahweh God and are worshipping Him right alongside Baal, Asherah, and even offering their children as sacrifices to Molech. This moral and religious decay lead to their destruction. It lead to certain death. Past tense. The nation died because death was sure. It could not be avoided or delayed. The nation was doomed.

In the autopsy report, in verse 2, we learn that they sinned more and more. Now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves molded images, idols of their silver, according to their skill; all of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!” They are overrun by idols and idolatry and as a part of their worship when they offered sacrifices and incense before the golden calf they would bow down before it and kiss it. They were devoted to these false images and false gods. And they sinned more and more.

Think about the spread of sin. We covered it in Sunday school this morning. After the fall, what do we see in the very next generation of human beings? We see envious jealousy, anger, and hatred that leads to murder. They sinned more and more. And think about the time of Noah then, ten generations from Adam that spanned 1056 years and when Noah was 500, so in just over 1500 years from creation what do we find, sin so rampant, so deep, do depraved that God determined that the only solution was to destroy everyone on the earth but Noah and his family.

And here we are again, just like the days of Noah. The nations of the world sin more and more and more. We kiss the calves. We love and serve those things that we believe will benefit us. Hosea says then in verse 3, “Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney.” They will be here one minute and will be gone the next. A vapor. A wisp of smoke. Their time is short. Judgment will come to pass, the promises of God will be fulfilled, and Israel as a nation will have died.

The people simply did not believe this to be true. They believed they were in no danger. Their bases were covered as they worshiped God and all these other gods. Surely they were safe and secure. Besides that, they were God’s chosen people, they were the descendants of Abraham. God would not turn them over to their enemies. God would not judge them. God would save them! Right?