The east wind was a hot and dry wind from the desert. It dried up the land and drove it to barrenness. To chase after this wind; to feed on it was a picture of vanity. It was useless, of no value; consuming their life for nothing. This is likened to making covenants with the Assyrians and attempting to win over Egypt. There was no redeeming value in these allies. God alone could bring them life abundant.
Through Hosea, God's attention is drawn to Judah and He looks back to Jacob and recalls His walk. The meaning of Jacob's name is heel catcher. From the womb he struggled agaist his brother; in life he struggled against God in His own strength. This struggling is our sinful desires to have life our way; to walk our way, make our rules and in essence lord our own life. This is in the heart of every natural man; its as if we can't help our self but to walk in our way and turn from God's way. That's why we must die to self and actively turn away from our sin and purposefully strive to the Lord. God is calling us upward while sin is calling us downward.
Jacob wrestled with God at Bethel. According to Hosea's account Jacob prevailed against the angel of the Lord. This prevailing was submission to God. We might say that he loss the wrestling match and gained a walk with the Lord. He clung to the Lord for mercy and a blessing.
Jacob was given a new name that day after wrestling with God. And Jacob asked God His name. Hosea states the Yahweh is the name by which He was to be remembered. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Israel had forgotten this memorial name. They are urged in verse six to return; to use this story and memorial name to remember the lesson of the patriarch. They were called to mercy and justice and waiting on the Lord.
God calls Israel a 'cunning Canaanite'; this is no complement. It is meant to shock and offend, to wake them from their sleepy sin. They are like wealthy merchants who brag of their wealth even though it was brought about by dishonest means. Israel is pictured as this rich and prosperous merchant who finds life and comfort in this deceitful gain. He has so deluded himself by prosperity he can't even recognize his own sin. He thinks so highly of himself, he believes whatever he does will be accepted by God.
We see God's love who continues to bring correction and hold onto them in spite of their turning away and departure. In spite of all they've done, He remains their God. That brings great comfort to me. I can be sure in the promises God has brought to me that he will never leave me or forsake me. The relationship I have with God isn't based on my performance, my goodness or my faithfulness. In fact, all those things are flawed by my sin. My relationship is based on God's faithfulness and His promises.
God would remove Israel from their prosperity. They would once again dwell in tents instead of fine homes. As God remembers thoses days, so may they remember the days God delivered them. This is the means by which God would bring them back to him. There would be no silent treatment as if it were a punishment. But in correction He would speak to them through prophets, visions and symbols.
All the sacrifices of bulls and worship of Idols is nothing but vanity. It's chasing after that hot east wind. This wind would dry up their economy and bring them to nothing. Their fine altars and high places of religion would be brought low. They would be making altars by heaping mounds in the furrows of their fields.
Israel's stumbling, wandering and correction is likened to that of Jacob's exile when he fled Esau. He served Laban to gain a wife. In spite of the deceit and intentions of Laban, God watched over him and blessed him. He was brought back to the land. In a similar way, Israel was brought out of Egypt by God's hand working through Moses. Israel was preserved and guided by His prophet. The response of this nations was to provoke the Holy One to anger. He was a like a Father leading, guiding and loving; they were like a child obstinate, rebellious and ungrateful. It was time for a spanking! Because of their response, the guilt and reproach would remain on them. They would need to be corrected.
It's so important for us to never forget our humble beginnings. This is what we do when we share at the Lord's supper; we remember who we were without Him and celebrate what He did for us. I once was lost, but now am found; I was blind but now I see. Our sinful nature is this calling downward, always working against that upward call. From that nature comes pride; a pride that will spoil you and make your memory short. It will turn you from God, from His blessing and protection.
©2016 Doug Ford