“‘Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.
When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them’” (Hos. 7:11-12, NIV). Read these verses in context. What warning is being given here? What principle can we take from these verses for ourselves?
Ephraim was the name of the younger son of Joseph. Because Ephraim was the name of the principal tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel, the name is applied to the entire kingdom, just as the name Judah was applied to the kingdom in the south. In the above verses, Israel is compared to a senseless bird (compare Jer. 5:21), allowing itself to be an easy prey for the fowler’s net. In this context, her reliance on other nations for help was an act of rebellion against God.
Why? Because an alliance with the mighty Assyrian Empire or ambitious Egypt would require Israel to recognize the supremacy of the gods worshiped by those two superpowers (see also Isa. 52:4, Lam. 5:1-6). Going to them would mean, of necessity, turning away from the Lord. What they needed to do was return to the Lord, repent, obey His commandments, and put away their false gods. That was their only hope, not political alliances with pagans.
“The very position of Palestine exposed it to invasion by these two ancient empires. . . . The much-coveted prize for which these powerful empires fought was this highway that connected the rich watersheds of the Nile and the Euphrates. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah were caught in this international counterplay and squeezed between the two rivals. In desperation, without spiritual trust in her God, Israel fatuously appealed first to the one and then to the other for a support that could only turn into a snare to her own national well-being.”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 908.
It is so easy to seek human aid for our problems instead of seeking the Lord, is it not? Of course, the Lord can use human agents in answer to our prayers. How can we be sure that, in desperate situations and in need of help, we do not make the same mistake that Israel did here? How can we use human aid without, of necessity, turning away from the Lord?