The third cycle of the prophecy sets forth the love which Jehovah had for His people, notwithstanding their sin. This section sets forth Jehovah's love toward His sinning people, and, for the most part, is the speech of Jehovah Himself. Thrice in the course of Jehovah's message to the people, the prophet interpolates words of his own. In studying the section it is necessary to take the words of Jehovah in sequence, and then the interpolations of the prophet in sequence also.
The message of Jehovah falls into three clearly marked movements, which deal, respectively, with the present in the light of past love, the present in the light of present love, the present in the light of future love.
In the first, Jehovah reminded the people of all His past love for them in words full of tenderness, setting their present condition in its light, and crying, "How shall I give thee up?" His own inquiry was answered by the determined declaration of the ultimate triumph of Iove and the restoration of the people.
In the second movement Jehovah set the present sin in the light of His present love. The sin of Ephraim and the sin of Judah, if the marginal reading be adopted, are both declared. The sin of Ephraim is then more distinctly stated, and its pride and impertinence declared. Yet love would triumph over all. Jehovah declared Himself to be the God who had delivered Israel from Egypt, and who would yet again deliver, being true to the messages of the prophets, to the visions of seers, to the similitudes of the ministry of the prophets.
Finally, the present condition of Israel is set in the light of the future love of Jehovah. Opening with the question, "Is Gilead iniquity?" He immediately answered by declaring, "They are altogether vanity," "they sin more and more," charging them with determined persistence in idolatry. Because of abounding sin, judgment was absolutely unavoidable. Yet love would triumph by the way of the wilderness. They had sinned against love in the strength of love's gifts. Jehovah would therefore come against them in terrible judgment, and that because Israel was against God. The sin of Ephraim would create His sorrow. Nevertheless, at last the almighty strength of love would overcome even death and the grave.
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25