Hosea 7:8 – I remember one of the first meals I ever made my wife Abby was a stuffed chicken dish. I prepped, stuffed, baked, and plated. It looked and smelled great. I was so impressed by myself and I think Abby was impressed too. One bite in and it tasted great, Abby and I smile at each other, with a smile that other food lovers know.
The second bite is when things go down hill. I realize the texture isn’t right. My greatest fear dawns on me. I check my “perfect” dish and my worst fear is realized, undercooked chicken. Abby realizes it at the same time. Frantically we spit out our once prized dinner, and start looking up symptoms of salmonella poisoning. When your dish is only half-baked it reveals your own incompetence. A dish only half-baked is actually no good at all.
Hosea, a prophet of the Lord, comes before Israel and in the middle of a 10 chapter chastisement of the nation of Israel and their unfaithfulness, includes this one little verse, that struck me as odd. “Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned.” (Hosea 7:8).
Ephraim (another name for the nation of Israel) is a cake not turned, or a cake half baked. In many respects, they were a people untouched, or not fully touched by divine grace. Yes, they were God’s people through ancestry but they had partial obedience. Various aspects of Israel’s life constitutes her unfaithfulness to the Lord. Israel was called to be a nation unlike any other nation (Deuteronomy 14:2), yet they are a people that mixed themselves with other peoples (Hosea 7:8a).
Is there anything wrong with being with unbelievers? Absolutely not! Jesus was a man who hung out with sinners (Mark 2:15). However, this phrase that Hosea uses tells us that Israel is virtually indistinguishable from the peoples they live in close proximity too. They share in the sins of their neighbors, they worship the same pagan gods, in word, thought and action they reject God (Hosea 4:1-3).
A cake unturned is usually burned on one side. They are disproportionate in the whole truth as told from Scripture, and cling to only one part that is most convenient to them. I see a lot of men and women who unintentionally live half-baked lives. They cling to one aspect of the truth of Scripture and assume that will be enough to get them to heaven. Perhaps they know of the do’s and don’ts of Scripture and follow it to the “T.” This makes them superior to everyone else.
However, as we see in Hosea 6:6, God prefers the steadfast love that comes from the knowledge of Him, instead of rehearsed deeds that do not have any impact on their heart. Perhaps they cling to the doctrine of the unsurpassed love of God, and tell themselves that God will certainly can never bring them to hell, no matter what they do. They can sin all they want, and God will always forgive them.
The question I must ask myself is if I am thorough in the things of God. Am I fully obedient to Christ? Has the grace of the gospel cooked through me completely, so that none of my being is left unbaked by grace. In my Spirit, soul and body, I need to seek to be sanctified. I know that I will never be perfect, yet, in word, deed and thought, I must let the gospel do its compete work (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
My prayer is the same as Charles Spurgeon. “O Lord, turn me! Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of thy love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from the heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace.”
Adam Cole is a youth ministry director at Emmanuel Baptist Church and guest columnist.