Vol. 5, No. 12
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"Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned" (Hosea 7:8). Or, as the Geneva Bible has this verse, "Baked on one side and raw on the other, he is neither through hot nor through cold, but partly a Jew and partly a Gentile." Ephraim (or Israel) was mixing with the uncircumcised and unclean Gentile nations and was the worse for such social intercourse. Hosea illustrated such a condition by depicting a scene wherein a person was cooking a circular pancake over the scorching heart of red-hot stones. The cake had to be quickly turned or else the cake would be burnt on one side while still moist and raw on the other side. The bread would be neither fully cooked nor raw. It would be unfit to eat in such a condition.
Israel seemed to be plagued with the perpetual problem of a divided allegiance. Joshua exclaimed in the long ago, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). In the days of King Ahab, Elijah the prophet asked the children of Israel on Mount Carmel, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word (1 Kings 18:21).
Ephraim was guilty of hypocrisy and inconsistency. While extolling God, he was addicted to Baalism. Today, many members of the Lord's church claim faithfulness to Christ while seeking the company and the pleasures of the world. They need to "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). Paul also exhorts Christians in this manner, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). A child of God cannot "run both with the hare and the hound." He must make a choice. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). The church in Laodicea tried to hold hands with the Lord and with the devil at the same time. Because of their divided loyalty, Jesus had John to write these words of condemnation, "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:16).
Man is still much like a cake unturned. He has his warm side to the earth and his cold side towards heaven. Some members are not necessarily wicked sinners but neither are they devoted saints. One has said that this type of person is "too good for hell but not really good enough for heaven." How miserable such a life must be!
The Rhine and the Arno Rivers flow side by side in the same channel without mingling their waters; but though the swifter stream keeps clear for a while, at last, it is defiled; and it is the turbid stream that conquers. We should all heed to these words of wisdom, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20).