Hosea, one of the minor prophets, is called, “the prophet with a broken heart.” This is much parallel to one of the major prophets, Jeremiah, known as “the weeping prophet.” In the book of Hosea, we find that while the Northern Kingdom is thriving in material prosperity, its spiritual condition is deplorable with the same, constant problem that God previously had with the entire nation of Israel during much of the time it was also united—-idolatry. Hosea speaks specifically of the pagan worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, along with the homage paid to the golden calves that Jeroboam I had set up at Bethel and Dan.
In chapter 6:4, Hosea says, “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” The reference made here to the morning cloud and early dew is comparing the instability or lack of permanence existing in the character of God’s children. Specificially here are mentioned Ephraim and Judah, who were not steadfast in serving God. It appears to have been an “on again, off again” type of relationship. This accompanies what was said of Israel in the book of Judges, where it repeatedly declares, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord.” Instead of being firmily rooted like pillars and posts, God’s chosen people too much and too often fell under the analogy of Psalm 1:4, where it reads, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” The way the ungodly were was compared to the way the godly live, as depicted in verse 3, where it says of the man who lives righteously, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The nation of Israel bounced in and out of obeying God like a yo-yo! They just could not continue doing right, come what may. Each time they would become involved with the neighboring Gentile nations, Israel would fall right into their heathen customs, including intermarrying, and worst of all, their idolatry, which always led to all kinds of immorality. So much of the Old Teatament especially tells of God’s continual plea through the prophets, and even sometimes talking to them directly, (Exodus 20) to obey Him, His many sharp rebukes, His numerous comparisons to them about their evil conduct, along with God promises of punishments for defying Him.
As a morning cloud and early morning dew are both temporary, (being as they are described as a morning cloud and early dew), so the righteousness and obedience of Ephraim and Judah never, ever lasted. It’s no wonder that God had to finally say, after a few thousand years of Israel’s shenanigans, “enough is enough.” Hence, after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when the Roman Captain Titus and his army besieged Jerusalem, and perhaps even before, Israel became forever and ever no longer God’s chosen people.
How sadly true this is of many today who begin the move towards Heaven, but they either spiritually remain on the top steps of the baptistry, or else they live righteously and godly for awhile, some even for a good many years, then either gradually out and out stop serving their Maker; the One who loves them more than words can say; the One who gave His only begotten Son Jesus to die for their sins; and the One who would have them saved more than anything else, rather than be lost! 2 Peter 3:9 declares, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” When Paul wrote his first letter to the young preacher Timothy, he said of God, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knoweldge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:4). Just like Israel, God wants us to obey Him, so that life will not only be easier and happier on this earth, but as well so that Heaven will be our home when time is no more.
It’s sad, and sometimes heart-wrenching, to see church members not grow in the Lord, or else drop out of serving Him as time goes by. Such is really grievous when seeing preachers and elders, along with church members in general, quit church, or else cross over into the camp of doctrinal error. Years before, one would never think they would do so.
In whatever way you may wish to define and illustrate the word “backslide,” this word shows no pretty picture! 2 Peter 2:20-22 teaches, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again engangled therein, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” In that very last sentence, Peter was partly quoting from Proverbs 26:11.
To be unstable as the morning cloud and early dew is to obviously be someone who is not dependable, but on the contrary, is unfruitful, untrustworthy, immature, and inconsistent. Of course, those who have permanently left the Lord no longer fall unter the category of inconsistent, do they?
We are taught, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). We are also instructed, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and foreever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). We don’t like to see people mistreat others—-spouse, friend, church elder, supervisor, or whatever—-with the “now I’m going to to do right, now I’m not going to to do right” kind of attitude. No, we don’t! Nor do we appreciate it when someone, whoever that person be, does us such a way. Who needs a person like that? The question answers itself.
Instead of being like the chaff that the wind drives away, let’s be like lead in concrete when it comes to serving the Lord. Instead of living like “a reed shaken with the wind” (Matthew 11:7), strive to be as firm as a tree rooted deeply into the gound. Rather than living like dust scattering in a storm, why not be like a telephone pole, that, like a tree, is also planted deeply and firmly into the earth? Paul said to Colossae, “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).
Never, ever let it be truthfully said that our righteousness and goodness can be compared to a morning cloud and an early dew that fades from the scene.