Amazingly, the book I referred to does not include Hosea 7:9 which states, “Gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.” Imagine turning gray and not knowing it. That was the condition of Ephraim — not the son of Jacob, but the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ephraim was going gray and wasn’t even aware of it.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel was in a state of spiritual free-fall. Having turned away from the royal house of David and the God of Israel, they severed all connections with their faith and were drifting dangerously on a sea of idolatry and immorality.
So the Lord made this observation, “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples” (Hosea 7:8a). The people who lived around the Northern Kingdom of Israel were sinful idolaters. Ephraim was called to a life of holiness and the worship Jehovah. But rather than changing the culture, they yielded to it. Rather than confronting it, they compromised with it. Knowing that God doesn’t go in for mixtures, they went ahead and mixed themselves with the ungodly.
The Lord went on to say in v8, “Ephraim is a cake unturned.” Imagine ordering pancakes for breakfast only to find them burned on one side, and uncooked on the other. That was Ephraim. They blew hot and cold for God. Their commitment was half-baked. One day they lived like the people of God. The next day they lived like the rest of the world.
Hosea 7:9a continues, “Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it.” Read the story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16 and you will learn how the ways of the world can slowly but surely erode spiritual strength. The scary thing is that you can be oblivious to what is happening until it’s too late.
Here comes the strange text, “Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it” (Hosea 7:9b). Sorry to all who are gray or are turning gray (myself included), but gray hairs are a physical sign of decay. The body is aging, and at a certain point our hair turns gray. Notice that the gray hairs are here & there. The process is so slow it’s almost imperceptible. Little by little we lose out with God until nothing remains.
I know, it is a terribly sad story. But it can have a happy ending if we will obey the call of Hosea 14:1, “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” The call is to wake up from our backsliding ways while there is time. God says, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). And rather then slipping into spiritual oblivion, we will come out of it saying, “What have I to do anymore with idols?” (Hosea 14:8).
I remember an old commercial from a hair-color company with the song, “I’m gonna wash that gray right out of my hair.” If spiritual gray hairs are appearing here and there, wash them away at an altar of repentance and renewed dedication to Jesus Christ.
Here’s to never going gray!
Pastor Todd Weston