Pastor James J. Barker

Text: HOSEA 13:1-16


  1. Many years ago, a preacher named Jeremy Spencer described sin this way:
    1. First sin startles a man,
    2. Then sin becomes pleasing,
    3. Then he finds sin delightful,
    4. Then frequent,
    5. Then habitual,
    6. Then confirmed,
    7. Then the man is impenitent,
    8. Then he is obstinate,
    9. Then he is resolved never to repent,
    10. Then he is damned.
  1. Both the Bible and human experience tell us Jeremy Taylor was right.
  2. We have seen this backsliding vividly described by the prophet Hosea. In 13:2, he says: "And now they sin more and more…"
  3. Today, as we continue in our study of the book of Hosea, we shall see how Hosea sinned more and more through idolatry (13:1,2), by forgetting God (13:6), and by rebelling against God (13:16).
    1. When Ephraim served God, God exalted Ephraim (Israel); but when he began worshipping Baal, he died (13:1).
    2. Ephraim died and was put out of the land, and even the land itself died. Today Samaria is a dreary and desolate place (cf. 13:16).
    3. Allow me to make an application: Many churches have died. Years ago the Gospel was preached and souls were saved but not today. They have offended God and they have died (cf. Rev.3:1).
    4. A basic principle of the Bible is that sin brings death – "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek.18:4). This can be traced all the way from Genesis to Revelation (Gen.2:17; 5:5; Rom.6:23; 7:9; Rev.20:14,15).
    5. Sin brings death – physical death as well as spiritual death; and national death as well as individual death (cf. Ezek.37:1-10).
    6. Today Israel is dead. I read months ago about a group of rabbis flying around Israel seven times in a helicopter chanting and praying, hoping this will protect their country from Iraq. They would be better off getting out of the helicopter and getting on their knees and getting right with God.
    7. Hosea laments, "And now they sin more and more…" (13:2). Sinners think they can get away with their sin and they sin more and more, not realizing that sin has ensnared them.
    8. They were so blinded by the sin of idolatry that they even went so far as to "kiss the calves" (13:2b). Common sense should have told them that if a craftsman made it, it cannot be God (cf. 8:6). But sinners lose their common sense after sin has blinded them. For example, common sense should have told ex-President Clinton that he could not get away with all of his various sins; yet he recklessly plunged deeper and deeper into sin.
    9. The folly of idolatry is hard to comprehend. Kissing an idol seems ridiculous to those of us who are born again but the unregenerate consider it an act of worship (cf. I Kings 19:18). In the Vatican, a statue of St. Peter’s toe has been smoothed off by so many people kissing it. Muslims kiss their sacred stone of Mecca.
    10. Their dissolution was described in four similes:
      1. They were like the morning cloud that vanishes before the rising sun (13:3).
      2. They were like the early dew that passeth away (13:3; 6:4).
      3. They were like the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the (threshing) floor (13:3).
      4. They were like smoke out of the chimney (13:3; cf. Ps.68:2).
    1. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He started off by saying: "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt…" (Ex.20:2). All throughout the O.T., God kept reminding them of this (13:4; cf. 12:9).
    2. The LORD (Jehovah) was the only true God and Saviour (13:4b; Isa.45:21; Titus 2:13). A lot of people refuse to accept this.
    1. God always had to remind Israel of His faithfulness because they were always forgetting (13:5; cf. Deut.8:15).
    2. Like many Americans today, the Israelites became prosperous and proud and forgot all about God (13:6; cf. 2:13; 4:6; 8:14).
    3. Do you remember back in Chapter 5 when God warned Ephraim that He would be like a dangerous lion to them until they repented (5:14,15). Again God issues the same warning (13:7).
    4. "A bear that is bereaved of her whelps" (13:8) is well-known for being vicious (cf. II Sam.17:8).
    5. It is interesting to note that the lion and leopard (13:7), the bear and wild beast (13:8) correspond to the four beasts of Daniel 7, representing Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome.


    1. Of course, all sin is rebellion against God, and God especially hates rebelliousness (cf. I Sam.15:23). People rebel against God when they skip church because commands us to be faithful in our church attendance. People rebel against God when they do not tithe because God commands us to tithe.
    2. Mark it down, God hates rebelliousness. Israel had destroyed themselves through their rebelliousness (13:9).
    3. It was God’s original intention to be their King (13:10; cf. I Sam.8:5-7).
    4. Hosea 13:11 describes God’s judgment upon the monarchy, especially Saul, their first king, and Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom (cf. I Sam.15:22,23; 16:1). In fact, God’s hand of judgment was upon all the kings of the northern kingdom because not one of them was saved.
    5. Verses 11 and 12 describe how God’s wrath was building up in proportion to their sin (cf. Rev.6:17).
    6. Israel under the judgment of God is likened to a mother with sudden birth pangs (Hosea 13:13; cf. Isa.13:8; I Thess.5:1-3).
    7. What God is saying here in 13:13 is that if His chastisements do not bring about the desired repentance, they will result in death.
    8. Israel is also compared to "an unwise son" who stays too long in his mother’s womb and is born dead (13:13b).
    9. Though Israel was unfaithful, God is faithful – He "will ransom them from the power of the grave" and "will redeem them from death" (13:14). The Psalmist wrote: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me" (Ps.49:15).
    10. In I Cor.15:55, the apostle Paul wrote, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Christ has redeemed us from death and from the grave – therefore, the sting of death has been removed for those that have trusted Christ.
    11. Paul says that "the sting of death is sin" (I Cor.15:56). But thank God, the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and so the sting is gone.
    12. Years ago, M.R. DeHaan had a beehive and one of the bees stung his oldest son. The little fellow threw himself to the ground and started crying. Then the bee went after his other son. He panicked and stated crying too, but Dr. DeHaan told him to stop crying. "That bee is harmless," he said. "It cannot hurt you. It has lost its sting. A bee stings only once and leaves its stinger in the victim. Your older brother took the sting away by being stung." Then Dr. DeHaan went on to explain to his son how the Lord Jesus Christ took away the sting of death by dying for our sins on the cross.
    13. Thank God, God says in Hosea 13:14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death."
    14. After this quick ray of sunlight, which briefly penetrated the storm clouds of God’s impending judgment, Hosea resumes his warning to the backslidden nation. Though the name Ephraim means "Fruitful," they will not be fruitful after the Assyrians blow in like "the wind of the LORD" (13:15).
    15. The Assyrian emperor Shalmaneser (referred to as "Shalman" in Hosea 10:14) laid siege to Samaria in 723 BC and the city fell the following year (cf. II Kings 18:9).
    16. Israel’s punishment was severe because her sin of rebellion was deep and terrible (13:16). Also, her punishment has not ended but will become more sever during the coming tribulation.


  1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon told a story about how at one time there was not a single thistle in all of Australia.
  2. A Scotchman who very much admired thistles thought it a pity that such a great island should be without any thistle, the symbol of Scotland.
  3. So he collected a pack of thistle seed and sent it over to one of his friends in Australia. Within a few years thistle covered the land and became a major headache for the farmers. It spread like a plague throughout Australia.
  4. Spurgeon concluded his story by saying: "Take heed of the thistle seed; little sins are like it" (cf. Hosea 13:2a).

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