(Calvin on Hosea, part 21) Lecture Twenty-first. We were not able yesterday to complete the first verse of the eighth chapter. It then remains for us to consider the latter clause, in which the Prophet expresses the cause of the war which he had previously proclaimed by God's command. He says, that the Israelites had transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and conducted themselves perfidiously against his law. He repeats the same thing twice, for the covenant and the law are synonymous; only the word, law, in my view, is added as explanatory, as though he had said, that they had violated the covenant of the Lord, which had been sanctioned or sealed by the law. God then had made a covenant with Israel, which he designed to be comprehended in the tables. Since then it was not unknown to the Israelites what they owed to God, they were covenant-breakers. It was then the doubling of their crime, as the Prophet shows, that they had not fallen through mistake when they transgressed the covenant of the Lord, for they had been more than sufficiently taught by the law what faith and what purity the Lord required of them: at the same time, the covenant which the Lord so openly made with them was yet neglected. It follows - Hosea 8:2,3 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off [the thing that is] good: the enemy shall pursue him. By the Prophet saying, "To me shall they cry", some understand that the Israelites are blamed for not fleeing to God; and they thus explain the Prophet's words, "They ought to have cried to me." It seems to others to be an exhortation, "Let the Israelites now cry to me." But I take the words simply as they are, that is that God here again touches the dissimulation of the Israelites, "They will cry to me, We know thee"; and to this the ready answer is "Israel has cast away good far from himself; the enemy shall pursue him". I thus join together the two verses; for in the former the Lord relates what they would do, and what the Israelites had already begun to do; and in the latter verse he shows that their labour would be in vain, because they ever cherished wickedness in their hearts, and falsely pretended the name of God, as it has been previously observed, even in their prayers. Israel, then will cry to me, "My God, we know thee". Thus hypocrites confidently profess the name of God, and with a lofty air affirm that they are God's people; but God laughs to scorn all this boasting, as it is vain, and worthy of derision. They will then cry to me; and then he imitates their cries, "My God, we know thee". When hypocrites, as if they were the friends of God, cover themselves with his shadow, and profess to act under his guardianship, and also boast at the same time of their knowledge of true doctrine, and boast of faith and of the worship of God; be it so, he says, that these cries are uttered by their mouths, yet facts speak differently, and reprove and expose their hypocrisy. We now then see how these two verses are connected together, and what is the Prophet's object. The verb "Zanach" means "to remove far off," and "to throw to a distance;" and sometimes, as some think, "to detest." There is here, I doubt not, an implied contrast between the rejection of good and the pursuing of which the Prophet speaks afterwards, "Israel has driven good far from himself"; some expound "tov" of God himself, as if it was of the masculine gender: but the Prophet, I have no doubt, simply accuses the Israelites of having receded from all justice and uprightness; yea, of having driven far off every thing right and just. Israeli then, has repelled good; "the enemy", he says, "will pursue him". There is a contrast between repelling and pursuing, as though the prophet said, that the Israelites had by their defection obtained this, that the enemy would now seize them. There is then no better defense for us against all harms than attention to piety and justice; but when integrity is banished from us, then we are exposed to all evils, for we are deprived of the aid of God. We then see how beautifully the Prophet compares these two things - the rejection of good by Israel - and their pursuit by their enemies. He then adds - Hosea 8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew [it] not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. The Prophet here notices two things, with respect to which he reprobates the perfidy and impious perverseness of the people, - they had, against the will of God, framed a religion for themselves, - and they had instituted a new kingdom. The salvation of that people, we know, was, as it were, founded on a certain kingdom and priesthood; and by these two things God testified that he was allied to the children of Abraham. We know where the happiness of the godly is deposited, even in Christ; for Christ is to us the fulness of a blessed life, because he is a king and a priest. Hence I have said, that through a certain kingdom and priesthood did the favor of God towards the people then shine forth. Now when the Israelites overturned the kingdom, which God by his own authority instituted, and when they corrupted and adulterated the priesthood, did they not, as it were, designedly extinguish the favor of God, and strive to annihilate whatever was needful for their salvation? This then is what the Prophet now speaks of, that is, that the Israelites in changing the kingdom and priesthood had undermined the whole appointment of God, and openly showed that they were unwilling to be ruled by God's hand; for they would have never dared to turn asides even in the least degree, from the kingdom of David, nor would they have dared to set up a new and spurious priesthood, if any particle of the fear of God had prevailed in their hearts. We now perceive the design of the Prophet, which interpreters have not sufficiently considered; for some refer this to the covenants, as it seemed strange to them, that the Israelites should be so severely reproved for setting up Jeroboam as their king, since Ahijah the Shilonite had already declared by God's command, that it would be so. But they attend not sufficiently to what the Prophet had in view; for, as I have already said, when God instituted the priesthood, there shone forth in it the image of Christ the Mediator, whose office it is, to intercede with God that he might reconcile him to men; and then in the person of David shone forth also the kingdom of Christ. Now when the people tumultuously chose a new king for themselves without any command from God, and when they built for themselves a new temple and altar contrary to what the law prescribed, and when they divided the priesthood, was not all this a manifest corruption, a denial of religion? It is hence evident that the Israelites were in both these respects apostates; for they forsook God in two ways, - first, by separating from the house of David, - and then by forming for themselves a strange worship, which God had not commanded in his law. With regard to the first, he says, "They have caused to reign, but not through me; they have instituted a government, and I knew it not", that is, without my consent; for God is said not to knov what he does not approve, or that concerning which he is not consulted. But some one may object and say, that God knew of the new kingdom since he was the founder of it. To this the answer is, that God so works, that this pretext does not yet excuse the ungodly, since they aim at something else, rather than to execute his purpose. As for instance, God designed to prove the patience of his servant Job: the robbers who took away his property, were they excusable? By no means. For what was their object, but to enrich themselves by injustice and plunder? Since then they purchased their advantage at the expense of another, and unjustly robbed a man who had never injured them, they were destitute of every excuse. The Lord, however, did in the meantime execute by them what he had appointed, and what he had already permitted Satan to do. He intended, as it has been said, that his servant should be plundered; and Satan, who influenced the robbers, could not himself move a finger except by the permission of God; nay, except it was commanded him. At the same time, the Lord had nothing in common or in connection with the wicked, because his purpose was far apart from their depraved lust. So also it must be said of what is said here by the Prophet. As God intended to punish Solomon, so he took away the ten tribes. He indeed suffered Solomon to reign to the end of his days, and to retain the government of the kingdom; but Rehoboam, who succeeded him, lost the ten tribes. This did not happen by chance; for God had so decreed; yea, he had declared that it would be so. He sent Ahijah the Shilonite to offer the kingdom to Jeroboam, who had dreamt of nothing of the kind. God then ruled the whole by his own secret counsel, that the ten tribes should desert their allegiance to Rehoboam, and that Jeroboam, being made king, should possess the greater part of the kingdom. This, I say, was done by God'a decree: but yet the people did not think that they were obeying God in revolting from Rehoboam, for they desired some relaxation, when they saw that the young king wished tyrannically to oppress them; hence they chose to themselves a new king. But they ought to have endured every wrong rather than to deprive themselves of that inestimable blessing, of which God gave them a symbol and pledge in the kingdom of David; for David, as it has been said, did not reign as a common king, but was a type of Christ, and God had promised his favor to the people as long as his kingdom flourished, as though Christ did then dwell in the midst of the people. When therefore the people shook off the yoke of David, it was the same as if they had rejected Christ himself because Christ in his type was despised. We hence see how base was the conduct of the people in joining themselves to Jeroboam. For that sedition was not merely a proof of levity, as some people do often rashly upset the state of things; it was not merely a rash levity, but an impious denial of God's favor, the same as if they had rejected Christ himself. They had also, in this way, torn themselves from the body of the Church; and though the kingdom of Israel surpassed the kingdom of Judah in wealth and power, it yet became like a putrid member, for the whole soundness depended on the head, from which the ten tribes had cut themselves off. We now then see why the Prophet so sharply expostulates with the Israelites for setting up a kingdom, but not through God; and solved also is the question, how God here declares that that was not through him, which yet he had determined and testified by the mouth of his prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite; that is, that God, as it has been said, had not given a command to the people, nor permitted the people to withdraw themselves from their allegiance to Rehoboam. God then denies that that kingdom, with respect to the people, was set up by his decree; and he says that what was done was this, - that the people made a king without consulting him; for the people ought to have attended to what pleased him, to what the Lord himself conceded; this they did not, but suddenly followed their own blind impulse. And this place is worthy of being observed; for we hence learn that the same thing is done and not done by the Lord. Foolish men at this day, not versed in the Scripture, excite great commotions among us about the providence of God; yea, there are many rabid dogs who bark at us, because we say, (what even Scripture teaches everywhere,) that nothing is done except by the ordination and secret counsel of God, and that whatever is carried on in this world is governed by his hand. "How so? Is God, then a murderer? Is God, then a thief? Or, in other words, are slaughters, thefts, and all kinds of wickedness, to be imputed to him?" These men show, while they would be deemed acute, how stupid they are, and also how absurd; nay, rather what mad wild beasts they are. For the Prophet here shows that the same thing was done and not done by the Lord, but in a different way. God here expressly denies that Jcroboam was created king by him; on the other hand, by referring to sacred history, it appears that Jeroboam was created king, not by the suffrages of the people, but by the command of God; for no such thing had yet entered the mind of the people, when Ahijah was bidden to go to Jeroboam; and he himself did not aspire to the kingdom, no ambition impelled him; he remained quiet as a private man, and the Lord stirred him up and said, "I will have thee to reign." The people knew nothing of these things. After it was done, who could have denied but that Jeroboam was set on the throne, as it were, by the hand of God? All this is true; but with are regard to the people, he was not created by God a king. Why? Because the Lord had commanded David and his posterity to reign perpetually. We hence see that all things done in the world are so disposed by the secret counsel of God, that he regulates whatever the ungodly attempts and whatever even Satan tries to do, and yet he remains just; and it avails nothing to lessen the fault of evils when they say, that all things are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to themselves, they know what the Lord enjoins in his law; let them follow that rule: when they deviate from it, there is no ground for them to excuse themselves and say that they have obeyed God; for their design is ever to be regarded. We hence see how the Israelites appointed a king, but not by God; for it was sedition that impelled them, when, at the same time, the law enjoined that they should choose no one as a king except him who had been elected by God; and he had marked out the posterity of David, and designed that they should occupy the royal throne till the coming of Christ. Then follows the other charge, - that "they made to themselves idols from their gold and from their silver". God here complains that his worship was not only fallen into decay, but that it was also wholly corrupted by superstitions. It was an impiety not to be borne, that the people had desired a new king for themselves; but it was the summit of all evils, when the Israelites converted their gold and their silver into idols. "They have made", he says, "their gold and silver idols"; that is, "I destined the gold and the silver, with which they have been enriched, for very different purposes. When, therefore, I was liberal to them, they abused my kindness, and from their gold and their silver they made to themselves idols or gods." Here, then, the Prophet, by implication, sharply reproves the blind madness of the people, that they made to themselves gods of corruptible things, which ought, in the meantime, to be serviceable to them; for to what purpose is money given us by the Lord, but for our daily use? Since, then, the Lord has destined gold and silver for our service, what frenzy it is when men work them into gods for themselves! But this main point must be ever remembered, that the Israelites, in all things, betrayed their own defection; for they hesitated not to overthrow the kingdom which God had instituted for their salvation, and they dared to pervert the whole worship of God, together with the priesthood, by introducing new superstitions. Then follows a denunciation of punishment - "Therefore Israel shall be cut of". Were any, indeed, to object and say that God was too rigid, there would be no reason for such an objection; for they had betrayed and violated their pledged faith, and by condemning and treading under foot both the kingdom and priesthood, they had rejected his favor. We hence see that the Prophet threatens them now with deserved destruction. Let us proceed - Hosea 8:5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast [thee] off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long [will it be] ere they attain to innocency? The Prophet goes on with the same subject; for he shows that Israel perished through their own fault, and that the crime, or the cause of destruction, could not be transferred to any other. There is some ambiguity in the words, which does note however, obscure the sense; for whether we read calf in the objective case, or say, "thy calf has removed thee far off", it will be the same. Some say, "has forsaken thee," as they do above, "Israel has forsaken good;" but the sense of throwing away is to be preferred. Thy calf, then, Samaria, has cast thee off", or, "The Lord has cast far off thy calf." If we read thy calf in the "objective" case, then the Prophet denounces destruction not only on the Israelites, but also on the calf in which they hoped. But the probable exposition is, that the calf had removed far off", or driven far Samaria or the people of Samaria; and this, I have no doubt, is the meaning of the words; for the Prophet, to confirm his previous doctrine, seems to remind the Israelites again, that the cause of their destruction was not anywhere to be sought but in their wickedness, and especially because they, having forsaken the true God, had made an idol for themselves, and formed the calf to be in the place of God. Now, it was a stupidity extremely gross and perverse, that having experienced, through so many miracles, the infinite power and goodness of God, they should yet have betaken themselves to a dead thing. They forged for themselves a calf! Must they not have been moved, as it were, by a prodigious madness, when they did thus fall away from the true God, who had so often and so wonderfully made himself known to them? Hence God says now "Thy calf O Samaria"; that is "The captivity which now impends over thee will not happen by a fortuitous chance, nor will it be right to ascribe it to the wrong done by enemies, that they shall by force take thee to distant lands; but thy very calf drives thee away. God had indeed fixed thee in this land, that it might be to thee a quiet heritage to the end; but thy calf has not suffered thee to rest here. The land of Canaan was indeed thy heritage, as it was also the Lord's heritage; but after God has been banished, and the calf has been introduced in his place, by what right can you now remain in the possession of it? Thy calf, then, expels thee, inasmuch as by thy calf thou hast first attempted to banish the true God." We now perceive the mind of the Prophet. He afterwards says that "his anger kindled against them". He includes here all the Israelites, and shows that it cannot be otherwise, but that God would inflict on them extreme vengeance, inasmuch as they were not teachable, (as we have before often observed,) and could not be turned nor reformed by any admonitions. "How long", he says, "will they be not able to attain cleanness, or innocence?" He here deplores the obstinacy of the people, that at no period or space of time had they returned to a sane mind, and that there was no hope of them in future. "How long then will they not be able to attain innocence?" "Since it is so; that is, since they are unimpressible, as they commonly say, since they are void of all purity or innocence, I am, therefore, now constrained to adopt the last remedy, and, that is, to destroy them." Here God shuts the mouth of the ungodly, that they could not object that the severity which he so rigidly exercised towards them was immoderate. He refutes their calumnies by saying, that he had patiently borne with them, and was still bearing with them. But he saw them to be so obstinate in their wickedness, that no hope of them could be entertained. It follows - Hosea 8:6 For from Israel [was] it also: the workman made it; therefore it [is] not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. The beginning of this verse is not rightly explained, as I thinks by those who so connect the pronoun demonstrative "hu'" as if it had an interposed copulative; and this ought to be noticed, for it gives a great emphasis to the Prophet's words. "Even this is from Israel. But what does the Prophet mean? He means this, that the calf was from Israel, as they had long before, at te beginning, formed to themselves a calf in the desert. But we do not yet clearly apprehend the mind of the Prophet, unless we perceive that there is here an implied comparison. For he accuses the Israelites of being the first founders of this superstition, and that they had not been, as it were, deceived by others; for they had not borrowed this corruption from the Gentiles, as it had been at times the case; but it was, so to speak, an intrinsic invention. "From Israel", he says, "it is"; that is, "I find that you are now the second time the fabricators of this impious superstition. Could your fathers, when they forged a calf for themselves in the desert, make excuse (ae they did) and say, that they were led by the faith of others? Could they plead that this cause of offence was presented to them by the Gentiles, and that they were ensnared, as it often happens, when some draw others into error? By no means. As then your fathers, when no one tempted them to superstition, became the founders of this new superstition through their own inclination, and, as it weren through the instigation of the devil, so this calf is the second time from Israel, for ye cannot otherwise account for its origin, ye cannot transfer the fault to other nations; within, within," he says, "has this evil been generated." We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, which is, that this superstition was not derived from others, but that Israel, under the influenee of no evil persuader, had devised for themselves, of their own accord, this corruption, through which they had departed from the true and pure worship of God. It ia indeed true, that oxen and calves were worshipped in Egypt, and the same also might be said of other nations; but rivalship did not influence the people of Israel. What then? It cannot certainly be denied, but that they had stimulated themselves to this impious denial of God. The same thing may be brought against the Papists of this day; that is, that the filthy mass of superstitions, by which the whole worship of God ia corrupted by them, has been produced by themselves. If they object and say, that they have borrowed many rites from the heathens: this is indeed true; but was it the imitation of heathens which led them to these wicked inventions? By no means, but their own lust has led them astray; for being not content with the simple word of God, they have devised for themselves strange and spurious modes of worship; and afterwards additions were made according to the caprices of individuals: thus it has happened, that they are sunk in the deepest gulf. Whence then have the Papists so many patrons, on whom relying, then despise Christ the Mediator? Even because they have adopted them for themselves. Whence also have they so many ungodly ceremonies, by which they pervert the worship of God? Even because they have fabricated them for themselves. We now then see how grievous was the accusation, that the calf was even from Israel. "There ia no reason then", the Lord says, "for you to say that you have been deceived by bad examples, like tbose who are mixed with profane heathens and contract their viccs, as contagion creeps in easily among men, for they are by nature prone to vice; there is no reason," he says, "for any one to make an objection of this kind." Why? "Because the calf your fathers made for themselves in the desert was from Israel; and this calf also is from Israel, for it was not thrust upon you by others, but Jeroboam, your king, made it for you, and you willingly and applaudingly received it." "The workman", he says, "made it, and it is not God". Here the Prophet derides the stupidity o the people; and there are many other like places, which occur everywhere, especially in the Prophets, in which God reprobates this madness of having recourse to modes of worship so absurd. For what is more contrary to reason than for man to prostrate himself before a dead piece of wood or before a atone, and to seek salvation from it? The unbelieving indeed put on their guises and say that they seek God in heaven, and, because idols and imaneg are types of God, that they come to him through them; but yet what they do appears evident. These pretencea are then altogether vain, for their stupidity is openly seen, when they thus bend their knees before a wood or stone. Hence the Prophet here inveighs against this senseless stupidity, because man had made the idol. "Can a mortal man make a god? Ye do certainly ascribe divinity to the calf; is this in the power of the workman? Man has not bestowed life on himself, and cannot for one moment preserve that life which he has obtained at the pleasure of another; how then can he make a god from wood or stone? What sort of madness is this? He then adds, "It is not God, for in fragments shall be the calf of Samaria". The Prophet shows here from the event, how there was no power or no divinity in the calf, because it was to be reduced to fragments. The event then would at length show how madly the Israelites played the fool, when they formed to themselves a calf, to be as it were the symbol of the divine presence. We now see what the Prophet means: for he enhances the sin of Israel, because they had not been enticed by others to depart from the pure and genuine worship of God, but they had been their own deceivers. This is the meaning. It follows - Hosea 8:7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. The Prophet here shows by another figure how unprofitably the Israelites exercised themselves in their perverted worship, and then how vainly they excused their superstitions. And this reproof is very necessary also in the present day. For we see that hypocrites, a hundred times convicted, will not yet cease to clamour something: in short, they cannot bear to be conquered; even when their conscience reproves them, they will still dare to vomit forth their virulence against God. They will also dare to bring forward vain pretences: hence the Prophet says, that they have sown the wind, and that they shall reap the whirlwind. It is an appropriate metaphor; for they shall receive a harvest suitable to the sowing. The seed is cast on the earth, and afterwards the harvest is gathered: "They have sown", he says, "the wind, they shall then gather the whirlwind", or, the tempest. To sow the wind is nothing else than to put on some appearance to dazzle the eyes of the simple, and by craft and guise of words to cover their own impiety. When one then casts his hand, he seems to throw seed on the earth, but yet he sows the wind. So also hypocrites have their displays, and set themselves in order, that they may appear wholly like the pious worshipers of God. We hence see that the design of the Prophet's metaphor, when he says that they sow the wind, is to show this, that though they differ nothing from the true worshippers of God in outward appearance, they yet sow nothing but wind; for when the Israelites offered their sacrifices in the temple, they no doubt conformed to the rule of the law, but at the same time came short of obedience to God. There was no faith in their services: it was then wind; that is, they had nothing but a windy and an empty show, though the outward aspect of their service differed nothing from the true and legitimate worship of God. They then sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. But we cannot finish to-day. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that since the rule of thy true and lawful worship is sufficiently known to us, and thou continues to exhart us to persevere in our course, and to abide in that pure and simple worship which thou hast fully approved, - O grant, that we may, in true obedience of faith, respond to thee: and though we now see the whole world carried here and there, and all places full of the awful examples of apostacy, and so much madness everywhere prevailing, that men become more and more hardened daily, - O grant, that, being fortified by invincible faith against these so many temptations, we may persevere in true religion, and never at any time turn aside from the teaching of thy word, until we be at length gathered to Christ our King, under whom, as our head, thou hast promised that we shall ever be safe, and until we attain that happy life which is laid up for us in heaven, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 22...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-21.txt .