(Calvin on Hosea, part 31) Lecture Thirty-first. In the last lecture, we began to explain what the Prophet means by saying, that "the Israelites shall come after the Lord": that is, that when the time of the exile shall be completed, God will be the leader of his people in their journey, that they might return safe to their country. And for this reason, he also subjoins, that the Egyptians as well as the Assyrians would be timid; and hence he compares them to doves and sparrows, or birds; for when the nations should attempt to hinder the return of the people, and strive against them with great forces and great efforts, God would break down their courage. For as God had determined to redeem his people, his decree could not have been nullified, no, not by the whole world. Whatever then, the Assyrians, and also the Egyptians, might attempt to do, though powerful in forces, it would yet avail nothing; nay, God would strike into both such fear and dread, that they should not make any stir when the Lord restored his people. There is a similar mode of speaking in Joel, chap. 3, except that he does not introduce the similitudes that they would be like birds and doves. But he speaks of the roaring of God, as though he said, that the power of God would be terrible and invincible, so that he would defend and protect his people, and no one would dare to rise up against him; and that if one should dare, he would be constrained instantly to succumb. Let us now proceed - Hosea 11:12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. I shall not stay now to recite the opinions of others; nor does it seem necessary. I might have indeed referred in the last verse to what some say respecting the roaring of God, - that his voice will roar through the Gospel: but as this and the like are refinements of which I think the Prophet never thought, it is enough to understand the simple meaning of the Prophet, and not to accumulate the sentiments of others. I indeed know that this makes a great display, and there are some who are delighted with a mass of opinions; but I regard what is more useful. I come now to the last verse, in which the Lord complains, "that he had been compassed with the falsehood and fraud of the people". By these words he means that he had in every thing found the multiplied perfidy of the Israelites; for this is the import of the word, "compassed". We now then perceive that the Prophet means that the Israelites, not only in one way, or in one thing, acted unfaithfully towards God, and used frauds: but that it was the same, as when one besieges an enemy with a great army; so that they were thus full of innumerable frauds, with which on every side they surrounded God. And this is what hypocrites are wont to do; for not only in one thing do they endeavour to deceive God, but they transform themselves in various ways, and ever seek some new subterfuges. When they are caught in one sin, they pass into another; so that there is no end to their deceit. This subject the Prophet now takes up, that is, that the Israelites never ceased to act deceitfully towards God. And he speaks of frauds and falsehood; for they thought that they escaped, provided they covered themselves with some disguise whenever the Prophets reproved them. But God here testifies, that they gained nothing by their craftiness, as though he said, "Ye think indeed that your coverings will avail with me, but they are vain. I indeed see myself as it were encompassed by your falsehoods, for on every side ye attempt to cover your sins; but they are false coverings." In short, the Prophet reprobates those specious excuses, by which people think that they are absolved before God, so as to elude through this confidence all the threatening and reproofs of the Prophets. "I see," the Lord says, "what the Israelites bring forward for themselves; but they are only falsehoods and frauds." This passage then teaches, that men in vain make excuses before God; for when they contrive pretences to deceive God, they are themselves greatly deceived; for he clearly perceives their guiles and falsehoods. He afterwards subjoins, that "Judah still ruled", or, "held sovereignty, with God, and was faithful with the saints". By saying that he held sovereignty with God, he declares, I doubt not, that the kingdom of Judah was legitimate, because it was connected with a pure and lawful priesthood. For whence did arise the corruptions in the other kingdom, but because the people had revolted from the family of David? Hence it was that the new king changed both the law and the worship of God, and erected new temples. Israel then did not rule with God, for the kingdom was spurious, and the beginning of the dispersion, so that the people forsook God. But of Judah the Prophet speaks much otherwise, that "he still ruled with God", because the posterity of David, though we know that they laboured under many vices, had not yet changed the worship prescribed by the law, except that Ahab had erected an altar like one at Damascus, as the sacred history relates, (2 Kings 16: 12;) but yet pure religion always prevailed at Jerusalem. But the Prophet speaks comparatively, as it will be presently seen: for he does not wholly excuse the Jews, but says that in comparison with Israel they yet ruled with God; for the kingdom and the priesthood, as we have said, were joined together in Judah, and both had been divinely instituted. He says further, that he "was faithful with the saints". By saints some understand God. The word "kedoshim", we know, is plurals and sometimes an epithet of the singular number is joined to it, though not often. In the last chapter of Joshua we have these words, "kedoshim hu", holy is he. But as I have said, these examples are rare. And here I know not whether or not the Prophet means God. I would rather refer this word to the holy fathers or to the whole Church; so that the Prophet calls here "kedushim", saints, Abraham and others who justly deserved to be counted among the children of God; and I am inclined to include the angels. But of the sanctuary we do not find this word anywhere used; when the Scripture refers to the sanctuary, the letter "mem" is added. He uses indeed the plural number, though one may suppose that both the sanctuary and its worship are here intended. But as this application would be strained, and without example, I am satisfied with this plain meaning - that Judah was "faithful with the saints"; that is, that he retained faith in God together with the fathers, and departed not from the pure worship which had been delivered to him, according to which God had made his covenant with Abraham and his seed. But the Prophet here praises the tribe of Judah, not because he wished to flatter them; but, as it has been stated in a former place, he had regard to the office deputed to him. When we at this day cry against our domestic evils, when we say that things are better ordered elsewhere, under what supposition is this done? We take it as granted, that others have their own teachers by whom they are reproved and if there be any vices prevailing, there are those who are to apply the remedy. This consideration then ought often to be remembered by us, that we may, by way of reproach, bring forward the conduct of others, when we wish deeply to wound those, the care of whom has been committed to us by God. Even so our Prophet did: at the same time, those who then taught at Jerusalem did not spare the Jews; they cried boldly and vehemently against their vices. But Hosea, as we have said, does here attend to his own vocation; and hence he exposes the sin of the ten tribes in having departed from the legitimate worship of God, when they had at the same time a well-known and memorable example in the tribe of Judah, who had continued in obedience to the law. This is the meaning. Let us now go on - Chapter 12. Hosea 12:1 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. The Prophet here inveighs against the vain hopes of the people, for they were inflated with such arrogance, that they despised all instruction and all admonitions. It was therefore necessary, in the first place, to correct this vice, and hence he says, "Ephraim feeds on wind". For when one gulps the wind, he seems indeed to fill his mouth, and his throat, and his chest, and his whole stomach; but there is nothing but air, no nourishment. So he says that Israel entertained indeed much confidence in their crafty ways, but it was to feed only on the wind. They dreamt that they were happy, when they secured confederacies, when they had both the Assyrians and the Egyptians as their associates. They are only blasts, says the Prophet; nay, he says, they are noxious blasts; for by the "east" he understands the east wind, which blows from the rising of the sun; and this, as they say, is in Judea a dry and often a stormy wind. Other winds either bring rain or some other advantage: but this wind brings nothing but drought and storms. It hence then appears that the Prophet meant that Israel, through this their vain confidence, procured for themselves many sorrows and ever remained void and empty. "Ephraim then feeds on the wind", and further, "he follows after the east wind". Hosea explains afterwards his mind more clearly, "He daily multiplies falsehood and desolation", he says. By falsehood he glances, I have no doubt, at the impostures by which the people deceived themselves, as hypocrites do, who, by sharpening their wits to deceive God, involve themselves in many fatal snares. So also is Israel said to have multiplied falsehood; for they made themselves so obstinate, as to become quite hardened against God's teaching; and this obstinacy is called falsehood for this reason, for unbelieving men, as we see, fabricate for themselves many excuses; and though they be impostures, they yet think themselves safe against all the threatening of God, provided they set up, I know not what, something which they think will be sufficiently available. Hence the Prophet repeats again, that there was nothing but falsehood in all their crafty decrees. He then presses the point still more, and says, that it was "desolation", that is, the cause of desolation. He then first derides the vain confidence of the people, because they thought that they could blind the eyes of God by their vain disguises; "This is falsehood," he says "this is imposture." Then he presses them more heavily and says "This is your perdition: you shall at last perceive, that you have gained nothing by your counsels but destruction." How so? Because they made a "covenant". I take this latter clause as explanatory: for if the Prophet had only spoken generally, the impiety of the people would not have been sufficiently exposed; and the masks of secure men must be torn away, and their crimes, as it were, painted, that they may be ashamed; for except they are drawn forth as it were before the public, and their turpitude exposed to the view of all, they will ever hide themselves in their secret places. This then is the reason why the Prophet here specifically points out their frauds, which he had before mentioned. "Behold", he says, "they made a covenant with the Assyrian, and carry their oil into Egypt"; that is, they hunt for the friendship of the Assyrian on one side, and on the other they conciliate with great importunity the Egyptians; nay, they spare not their own goods, for they carry presents in order to gain them. We now then understand how Israel had multiplied falsehood and desolation; for they implicated themselves in illicit compacts. But why it was unlawful for them to fly to the Assyrians and Egyptians, we have explained elsewhere, nor is it needful here to repeat at large what has been said: God wished the people to be under his protection; and when God promised to be the defender of their safety, they ought to have been satisfied with his protection alone: but when they retook themselves to Egypt and to Assyria, it was a clear evidence of unbelief; for it was the same as to deny the power of God to be sufficient for them. And we also know that the Israelites never went to Assyria or to Egypt, except when they meditated the destruction of their own brethren; for they often laboured to overturn the kingdom of Judah: they only sought associates to gratify their own cruelty. But this one reason, however, was abundantly sufficient to condemn them, that they fortified themselves by foreign aids, when God was willing to keep them as it were inclosed under his own wings. Whenever then we attempt to provide for ourselves by unlawful means, it is the same thing as if we denied God; for he calls and invites us to come under his protection: but when we run in our thoughts here and there, and seek some vain helps, we grievously dishonour God: it is, as it were, to fly into Egypt or into Assyria. And for this purpose ought the doctrine of this verse to be applied. It follow - Hosea 12:2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. It may seem strange that the Prophet should now say, that God "had a controversy with Judah"; for he had before said, that Judah stood faithful with the saints. It seems indeed inconsistent, that God should litigate with the Jews, and yet declare them to be upright and separate them from the perfidious and ungodly. What then does this mean? The Prophet, as we have said, spake comparatively of the tribe of Judah, when he said that they remained faithful with the saints: for he did not intend wholly to exculpate the Jews, who were also full of grievous evils; but he intended to praise the worship which as yet prevailed at Jerusalem, that the impiety of the ten tribes might appear less excusable, who of their own accord had departed from the rule which God had given. When any one at this day reproves the Papists, they say, that another mode of worship is unknown to them, and that they have been thus taught by their forefathers, and that the worship which they observe has so continued from antiquity, that they dare not either to change it or to deviate from it. Such might have been the excuse made by the Israelites. But the prophet charges them with voluntary defection, for the temple which God had chosen for himself stood in their sight; there the face of God was in a manner to be seen; for all things were arranged according to the heavenly pattern which had been shown to Moses in the mount. Since then pure religion was before their eyes, was not their sin proved by this very fact, that having neglected the word of God, they gave themselves up to new and fictitious modes of worship? The Prophet then had before praised the worship, but not the manners, of the tribe of Judah; and he now comes to their manners, and says, that there were many things in Judah which God would chastise. "The Lord then has a controversy with Judah"; and he will begin with that tribe, and will then come down to "the house of Jacob". The Prophet, however, speaks here only in passing of the house of Judah, and touches but lightly on the controversy he had with that portion of the people. How was this? Because be was not a teacher, as it has been said already, set over the kingdom of Judah, but only over the Israelites. He now refers only to that kingdom for the purpose of striking terror into his own people: as though he said "Think ye that the forbearance of God is to be forever, because he has hitherto borne with you? Nay, God will begin to contend with the tribe of Judah. I have said, indeed, that they are innocent compared with you; but yet they shall not escape punishment; for in a short time God will summon them to judgement. If he will not spare the Jews, how can your great crimes go unpunished? For certainly you deserve hundred deaths in comparison with the Jews, among whom at least some integrity and uprightness exist; for they have made no change in the worship of God. Their life is corrupt; but yet the law of God and religion are not despised by them as they are by you. If then God will not spare them, much less will he spare you." We now understand for what purpose the Prophet says that God had a controversy with Judah; for it was not his design to terrify the Jews themselves, or to exhort them to repentance, except it may be by the way; but his object was to present an example to the Israelites, that they might fear; for they ought to have thought within themselves, "If this shall be done in the green, what shall become of the dry tree? (Luke 23: 31.) If God will exercise with so much severity his vengeance against our brethren the Jews, among whom pure religion as yet exists, what sort of end and how dreadful is that which awaits us, who have departed from the law, the worship, the teaching, and the obedience of God, who are become truce-breakers, and degenerate, and in every way profane?" Hence he immediately adds, "And will punish Jacob". "God will indeed begin with the tribe of Judah; this will be the prelude, and he will treat the Jews more mildly than you; but against you he will thunder in full force. It will not then be a remonstrance to draw you to repentance, but a punishment such as ye deserve; for he has already contended with you more than enough." "According to his ways. according to his doings, will he recompense him". He sets down here "ways" and "doings", with no superfluous repetition, but to show that the repentance of this people had been already more than sufficiently looked for; for they had not ceased for a long time to pursue their own wickedness. The Prophet then, no doubt, condemns here the Jews for their perverse wickedness, that they never left off their sins, though they had now for a long time been admonished, and had been often reproved by the Prophets. It now follows - Hosea 12:3-5 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] Bethel, and there he spake with us; 5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial. In all this discourse the Prophet condemns the ingratitude of the people; and then he shows how shamefully they had departed from the example of their father, in whose name they yet took pride. This is the substance. Their ingratitude is showed in this, that they did not acknowledge that they had been anticipated, in the person of their father Jacob, by the gratuitous mercy of God. The first history is indeed referred to for this end, that the posterity of Jacob might understand that they had been elected by God before they were born. For Jacob did not, by choice or design, lay hold on the heel of his brother in his mother's womb; but it was an extraordinary thing. It was then God who guided the hand of the infant, and by this sign testified his adoption to be gratuitous. In short, by saying that Jacob held the foot of his brother in his mother's womb, the same thing is intended, as if God had reminded the Israelites, that they did not excel other people by their own virtue or that of their parents; but that God of his own good pleasure had chosen them. The same is alleged against them by Malachi, 'Were not Jacob and Esau brethren? Yet Jacob I loved, and Esau I regarded with hatred,' (Mal. 1: 2, 3.) For we know wish what haughtiness this nation has ever exalted itself. "But whence have ye arisen? Look back to your origin: ye are indeed the children of Abraham and Isaac. In what then do ye differ from the Idumeans? They have certainly been begotten by Esau; and Esau was the son of Isaac and the brother of Jacob, and indeed the first-born. Ye then do not excel as to any dignity that may exist in you. Own then your origin, and know that whatever excellency may be in you proceeds from the mere favour of God, and this ought to bind you more and more to him. Whence then is this pride?" Even thus does our Prophet now speak, "Jacob held the foot of his brother in his mother's womb"; that is, "You have a near relationship with Esau and his posterity; but they are detested by you. Whence is this? Is it for some merit of your own? Boast when you can show that any thing has proceeded from you which could gain favour before God. Nay, your father Jacob, a most holy man indeed, while yet in his mother's womb, laid hold on the foot of his brother Esau; that is, when he became superior to his brother and gained primogeniture, he was not grown up, and could do nothing by his own choice or power, for he was then inclosed in his mother's womb, and had no worthiness, no merit. Your ingratitude is now then the more base, for God had put you under obligations to him before ye were born; in the person of the holy patriarch he chose you for his possession. But now, having forsaken him, and relinquished the worship which he has taught in his law, ye abandon yourselves to idols and impious superstitions. Bring now your pretences by which ye cover your impiety! Is not your baseness so gross and palpable, that you ought to be ashamed of it?" We now then understand the end for which the Prophet said that Esau's foot was laid hold on by Jacob in his mother's womb. Moreover, this passage clearly shows that men do not gain the favour of God by their free-will, but are chosen by his goodness alone before they are born, and chosen, not on account of works, as the Papists imagine, who concede some election to God, but think that it depends on future works. But if it be so, the charge of the Prophet was frigid and jejune. Now since God through his good pleasure alone anticipates men, and adopts those whom he pleases, not on account of works, but through his own mercy, it hence follows that those who have been chosen are more bound to him, and that they are less excusable when they reject the favour offered to them. But here someone may object and say, that it is strange that the posterity of Jacob should be said to have been elected in his person, and yet they had in the meantime departed from God; for the election of God in this case would not be sure and permanent; and we know that whom God elects he also justifies, and their salvation is so secured, that none of them can perish; all the elect are also delivered to Christ as their preserver, that he may keep them by his divine power, which is invincible, as John teaches in chap. 10. What then does this mean? Now we know, and it has been before stated, that the election of God as to that people was twofold; for the one was general, and the other special. The election of holy Jacob was special, for he was really one of the children of God; special also was the election of those who are called by Paul the children of the promise, (Rom. 9: 8.) There was another, a general election; for he received his whole seed into his faith, and offered to all his covenant. At the same time, they were not all regenerated, they were not all gifted with the Spirit of adoption. This general election was not then efficacious in all. Solved now is the matter in debate, that no one of the elect shall perish; for the whole people were not elected in a special manner; but God knew whom he had chosen out of that people; and them he endued, as we have said, with the Spirit of adoption, and supplied with his own grace, that they might never fall away. Others were indeed chosen in a certain way, that is, God offered to them the covenant of salvation; but yet through their ingratitude they caused God to reject them, and to disown them as children. But the Prophet subjoins, that Jacob "by his strength had power with God, and had prevailed also with the angel". He reproaches here the Israelites for making a false claim to the name of Jacob, since they had nothing in common with him, but had shamefully departed from his example. He had then power with the angel and with God himself; and he prevailed over the angel. But what sort of persons were they? As the heathen Poets called the Romans, when they became degenerated and effeminate, Romulidians, and said that they had sprung from those remarkable and illustrious heroes, whose prowesses were then well known, and for the same reason called them Scipiadians; so also the Prophet says, "Come now, ye children of Jacob, what sort of men are ye? He was endued with a heroic, yea, with an angelic power, and even more than angelic; for he wrestled with God and gained the victory: but ye are the slaves of idols; the devil retains you devoted to himself; ye are, as it were, in a bawdy house; for what else is your temple but a brothel? And then ye are like adulterers, and daily commit adultery with your idols. Your abominations, what are they but filthy chains, and which grove that there is no knowledge and no heart in you? For you must have been fascinated, when ye forsook God and adopted new and profane modes of worship." This difference between the holy patriarch Jacob and his posterity must be marked, otherwise we shall not understand the object of the Prophet; and it will avail but little to collect various opinions, except first we know what the Prophet meant, and what was the purport of this upbraiding, and of this narrative, that Jacob had power with God and the angel. But it must be noticed, that God and angel are here mentioned in the same sense; we may, indeed, render it angel in both places; for "'elohim" as well as "mal'ach" signifies an angel. But, however, every doubt is removed by the Prophet, when he at last adds, "Jehovah, God of hosts, Jehovah is his name", for here the Prophet expressly mentions the essential name of God, by which he testifies, that the same was the eternal and the only true God, who yet was at the same time an angel. But it may be asked, How was he the eternal God, and at the same time an angel? It occurs, indeed, so frequently in Scripture, that it must be well known to us, that when the Lord appeared by his angel, the name of Jehovah was given to them, not indeed to all the angels indiscriminately but to the chief angel, by whom God manifested himself. This, as I have said, must be well known to us. It then follows that this angel was truly and essentially God. But this would not strictly apply to God, except there be some distinction of persons. There must then be some person in the Deity, to which this name and title of an angel can apply; for if we take the name, God, without difference or distinction, and regard it as denoting his essence, it would certainly be inconsistent to say, that he is God and an angel too; but when we distinguish persons in the Deity, there is no inconsistency. How so? Because Christ, the eternal Wisdom of God, did put on the character of a Mediator, before he put on our flesh. He was therefore then a Mediator, and in that capacity he was also an angel. He was at the same time Jehovah, who is now God manifested in the flesh. But we must, on the other hand, refute the delirium, or the diabolical madness of that caviller, Servetus, who imagined that Christ was from the beginning an angel, as if he was a phantom, and a distinct person, having an essence apart from the Father; for he says, that he was formed from three untreated elements. This diabolical conceit ought to be wholly discarded by us. But Christ, though he was God, was also a Mediator; and as a Mediator, he is rightly and fitly called the angel or the messenger of God, for he has of his own accord placed himself between the Father and men. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou slowest thyself to us at this day so kindly as a Father, having presented to us a singular and an invaluable pledge of thy favour in thy only begotten Son, - 0 grant, that we may entirely devote ourselves to thee, and truly render thee that free service and obedience which is due to a Father, so that we may have no other object in life but to confirm that adoption, with which thou hast once favoured us, until we at length, being gathered into thy eternal kingdom, shall partake of its fruit, together with Christ Jesus thy Son. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 32...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-31.txt .