Hosea 13 Ransom Is The Only Hope.
Ephraim, the largest of the northern tribes, exalted themselves, and as with all of sinful pride, they were brought low and died, like the Baals they worshipped-monuments to that sinful pride (v. 1). This progressed to “molded images” and “idols of silver…the work of craftsmen,” in other words, a man-made religion (v. 2). All non-biblical religion is man-made. It is all superficial, useless, and fleeting, like the morning dew, chaff from the threshing floor, in other words the waste that is left over after one has sifted out the good. It is also as fleeting as smoke, not the fire of true religion itself, but the pretentious claim to the same, and those who practice such are themselves as fleeting as the smoke, till no trace of them can be found (v. 3 Cf. Ps. 1:4; Is. 17:13; Dan. 2:35). Yet, the covenant LORD was their God, from the time the covenant was renewed with their forefathers delivered from Egypt. He was the only God they knew, the One who was their Saviour (v. 4 Cf. Is. 43:11; I Tim. 2:5).
The LORD knew them in the wilderness, “in the land of great drought” (v. 5), and He preserved them, but they forgot Him all the more (v. 6 Cf. Dt. 2:7; 8:12-15; 32:10-15; Jer. 5:6-7). For this abandonment of their covenant LORD, He would come upon them and devour them like a wild beast (vv. 7-8 Cf. 5:14; II Sam. 17:8; Prov. 17:12; Lam. 3:10). The whole purpose of this destruction was that they might realize that God would be their king, but instead they wanted a human king like all the pagan nations, so in anger He gave them a king and took him away in His wrath (vv. 9-11 Cf. Dt. 32:34-38; I Sam. 8:5-7; 10:17-24). They lacked wisdom in storing up their sin (vv. 12-13 Cf. Is. 13:8; Mic. 4:9-10). The covenant LORD alone can redeem a sinner from death by paying the ransom price, and in so doing, for the redeemed death is destroyed (v. 14 Cf. Jer. 15:6; I Cor. 15:54), which would take the blowing away of every man-made construct which they depended on and took pride in. Those who continued to rebel would, out of pride, die in their sin (vv. 15-16 Cf. Gen. 41:6; II Kgs. 15:16; 18:12; Jer. 4:11-12; Ezek. 17:10; 19:12).