The Tribe of Ephraim

        Because they were given a fertile region, the tribe of Ephraim prospered - Ephraim means "to be fruitful." They grew in wealth, they grew as an economic force, they started growing in size. It's economy flourished. It's cities were well built and fortified. Ephraim became well known not only for it's beauty, but also for it's luxuries and its indulgence, this passage records its reputation for excessive parties. Ephraim also grew in size. By the time of King Solomon, the better portion area of the tribe of Manasseh was ruled by the district governor of Ephraim. This governor's main job was to get enough taxes to supply provisions for Solomon's lifestyle - taxes which the people of Ephraim, who had a particular attachment to their wealth, did not appreciate. When Rehoboam, Solomon's son took over the ruler ship of the nation, and he wanted to continue the lavish lifestyle his father had, it was Ephraim that led the northern tribes in rebellion against Rehoboam and his taxes, a rebellion that divided the nation of Israel between North and South. The South was called Judah (though it included Benjamin,) the North included the other 10 tribes of Israel, and by the time of Isaiah, these tribes together collectively were called Ephraim because Ephraim was the dominant tribe.

        What was characteristic of Ephraimites was not only their excess, their success and their wealth, what was characteristic was also that they never had enough. They always were expanding. The blessing, the Lord's provision, did not satisfy! They wanted more and more. Success had to be followed by greater successes. A great crop had to be followed by greater crops. If their wealth was not increasing, if their good times were not better than the last good time, then it wasn't a good time at all. They resented the throne in Jerusalem. They resented their own lack of power even though they had some of the fiercest fighters for the nation within their boarders. They were driven to have more - more - with a little more effort, a little more wealth, a better house, a bigger chariot. Ephraimites were characterized by their up sizing business, taking care of themselves, their kingdom, their concerns. Their society was socialized toward growth and dissatisfaction with the status quo and so they were driven people always trying to outdo what was done before. "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there."

        These are words of success, improvement, accomplishment, expansion. They were short words, for us very hard to translate, but the phrasing seems to denote a relentless work ethic, command and oughts, pressures to perform. These were the words that characterized these people. For them the promised land was not a land of rest, it was the land of opportunity, of expansion, of empire building. The territory given them was not a place of repose, is was the fortress from which expansion occurred. Accomplishing everything themselves, so they thought, and being very successful at it, they thought they could even deny death, deny even the reality of the expanding Assyrian kingdom from the north, thinking that they themselves would not be affected.

        Ephraim trusted in their own strength, their own accomplishments, they became faithless people in a land given to them so that they could rest from their striving. And in judgment for their faithlessness, God gave back to them the very words they lived by "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there." When God pours out his judgment, you see, there is no rest for the wicked. For upwardly mobile Ephraim which found the blessings of God unsatisfactory, there would only be more work!

        The story of Ephraim is a lesson for today, being the Last Days, in which Satan and his servants engage in false signs and wonders. This is the work of the liar, deceiver, and murderer, all to fulfill the will and purpose of Satan. This spoken well of a land and people that should not be today, Isa 28:1-4 "1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valleys, To those who are overcome with wine! 2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand. 3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, Will be trampled underfoot; 4 And the glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valley, Like the first fruit before the summer, Which an observer sees; He eats it up while it is still in his hand. 5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty To the remnant of His people, 6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. 7 But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8 For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean. 9 "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little." 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest," And, "This is the refreshing"; Yet they would not hear. 13 But the word of the LORD was to them, "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little," That they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught. 14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, 15 Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us, For we have made lies our refuge, And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."
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