Those who make creatures and things their confidence,
put a cheat upon their own souls, and prepare vexation for themselves.
God has His eye even upon the merchant weighing his goods,
and knows his methods and the idols of his heart.
If men put contempt upon God, God will let their neighbors look with contempt upon them.
1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
3 ¶ He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us;
5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
7 ¶ He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.
9 And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
11 Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.
13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.
14 Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
Hosea 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Hosea 11:12; 12:1-14 – Turn to God, Not to Selfish Gain.
Though Judah still ruled with God (11:12), yet there was grave fault in him, and, like Ephraim, which had been engaging the prophet’s thought, he also must come under the rod. But throughout this paragraph there lingers the sweet music of the previous chapter, and especially the reminiscence of Israel’s early days, when he had power with the Angel and prevailed. The angel-haunted ideals and resolves of Bethel could not be forgotten. Tears and weakness are the best arguments with God. He yields to us when we are weak; he yields to our despair. The soul that has been shut up to God and then casts itself at his feet can have what it will. Only beware lest after such an interview with the Angel, you deteriorate into a deceitful trafficker, and allow your God-given power to be reduced to making gain.
Notwithstanding all, God was still willing to call his people to the Feast of Tabernacles, the gladdest of all the feasts in the Hebrew year. But even divine love was thwarted by their inveterate sinning. How wonderfully these ancient prophets conceived of the love of God! The spirit of revelation led them to make declarations that the Cross has more than realized! (Meyer)
Hosea 12:3—By his strength he had power with God.
Jacob’s strength lay in his weakness. As long as he seemed strong, and was able to oppose force to force, he failed of the highest blessing; but when the sinew of his thigh shriveled beneath the angel’s touch, and was out of joint; when he was in imminent danger of falling helplessly to the ground—he prevailed, and received the name of Israel the Prince.
The eloquence of tears. — “He wept” (v. 4). There is no record of these tears in Genesis, but we can well understand that they flowed freely. The entire results of Jacob’s life—wife, children, and fortune—were at stake. With one fell sweep, Esau on the morrow might reduce him to the loneliness with which he had passed over Jordan years before. God is touched by tears. He puts them in his bottle. He hears the voice of our weeping, and interprets it
The power of prayer. — “He…made supplication” (v. 4). “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26). Remember how the Syrophenician mother cast herself at the Savior’s feet, and pleaded for help. The Lord kept her waiting till her prayer had reached a pitch which only delay could have induced, and then turned to her with the assurance that all she had claimed was hers. You may be kept in the attitude of prayer through the long night, but at daybreak you may receive what you sought.
The strength of weakness. — As long as we can stand and hold our own, we fail of our quest. When we are lamed and broken, and unable to do more than cling, we realize God’s hidden stores of blessed help. The sick child elicits most of the mother’s love. The last-born babe drags down to the level of its tiny mouth its strong and brawny father. (Meyer)