Crossing the Line… Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. (Hosea 4:17)
I'M TRYING TO GET BACK to Daniel, but our text today is a short statement that has drifted down to me for most of my life. I heard it from a preacher when I was maybe twelve.
WHEN I WAS ABOUT FIVE, my mother was washing clothes in a big iron kettle. Grandpa (her daddy) had caught a mule, harnessed him, hooked up to the sled and loaded the kettle onto the sled and dragged it beside a wet-weather stream below our house that had plenty of water to fill the kettle and two rinsing tubs.
AFTER MOVING THE IRON KETTLE, he unhooked the sled and used the mule to pull a couple of dead tree limbs up to the kettle. He started a fire under the kettle and pushed the ends of the limbs into the fire. As they burned up, my mother fed the limbs into the fire and kept it burning. Mother had two galvanized tubs near the stream that contained rinse water.
WHEN THE CLOTHES HAD BOILED LONG ENOUGH IN THE KETTLE, she took a broom handle and moved the clothes several feet into the first rinse water. That cooled them enough, so she could wring them out by hand and put them through the second rinse water. This is the way we did it when there was water in the stream. Otherwise, we had to draw water out of the well, in the back yard, and that was much harder than using the water in the stream.
AS MOTTHER WAS BUSY RINSING CLOTHES IN THE TUBS, I began riding my tricycle around the kettle and the fire. The limbs were about burned up and were not in the way. There were plenty of red-hot coals all around the kettle. She promptly told me not to do that.
I IGNORED HER AND CONTINUED TO RIDE AROUND THE KETTLE. Quick as a clap of thunder, she hurried over to a bush and broke off a keen switch and stripped the leaves off it. Without saying a word, she grabbed me by one hand and pulled me off the tricycle away from the kettle and the fire. With the other hand, she “taught” me not to ride my tricycle around the fire… ever again!! After I got through wailing, I pushed my tricycle a few feet toward the creek and got on it to pout. She went back to her laundering.
AS I SAT THERE AND RECOVERED, I thought of a way to punish my mother. I got off my tricycle and went over to her where she was wringing out clothes and said as pitifully as I could: “You don’t love me.” (That will get her good.) She stopped what she was doing, dried her hands and came closer to me. It was her turn…
“IF I DIDN'T LOVE YOU, I WOULD HAVE LEFT YOU ALONE until you made a mishap and fell off your tricycle into the fire and burned you up.” (It wasn’t a scolding tone but a very subdued, quiet tone; very loving and reasoning.) I hadn’t counted on that. My attack on her had backfired. I was sorry I had brought it up. I deserved the lickin’ with the switch because I defied her authority and dishonored her. That theater played out so quickly and only one time. And yet, I remember it well after 79 years.
WHEN GOD SAID OF EPHRAIM, "LET HIM ALONE," it brought back the memory of my mother in dealing with my rebellion and shallow understanding of the danger of fire. I’m so thankful she didn’t “leave me alone.” But Ephraim (northern Israel) had crossed over a line where there was no hope. God had weighed them and saw that they would not repent. Their attachment to their idols was so strong that they would not turn back to God. There was only one thing left for God to do: judgment with a lot of blood and death.
McGEE EXPLAINS: "Ephraim" occurs thirty-six times in this book. God has picked out the name of one of the ten tribes in the north and applied it to all ten of the tribes. I used to wonder just how God used this term: was it a term of endearment or a term of ridicule? I have come to the conclusion that it was a term of endearment, actually His pet name for the northern kingdom.
THESE TEN TRIBES HAD REVOLTED, and Israel in the north actually had no name as a nation; it was Judah in the south who was really the nation. I think God gave this to them as a pet name—Ephraim. It is used throughout this Book of Hosea.
"Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." God says this in a longing sort of way but with a note of finality. If a man continues in a backslidden condition, refusing to listen to God, there will come a day when God can no longer speak to that man.” (McGee)
The Hidden Line of No Return
There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God's patience and His wrath.
How long may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?
An answer from the skies is sent;
"Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart."
by J. Addison Alexander
Read Through the Bible in a Year
OCTOBER 10, 2018 – WEDNESDAY
A.M. Isaiah 43-44 P.M. Colossians 2
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A good verse to memorize:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Song for Today:
Almost Persuaded (2:40) (Amish Youth-Acapella)
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