“When Ephraim spoke, men trembled; he was exalted in Israel. but he became guilty of Baal worship and died.” (v1) The wages of sin was death and the end was at hand.
“Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all them the work of craftsman.” The things they worshipped were manmade. Made by human hands out of things that go away. Nothing compared to the Creator of all things who will never leave or disappear.
”Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like the chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.” (v3) All these are examples of things the are seen initially, then disappear quickly. The idols might mean something to the people now, but they do not last for eternity and therefore should not be what you put your hope in.
In verses 4-6, God again reminds them that He is the one who rescued them, cared for them, and fed them while they were in the desert.
“When they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” (v6)
How many times in hardships do we lean on God, but then when things get easier we remember Him less and less. Once we have what we want, we become satisfied too. We become proud.
Due to this pride, God gets angry: “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Proverbs 8:13
“So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart.” (v7-8) Lions attack without reserve. A leopard will lurk and spring on it’s victims. The Lord is usually pictured as a shepherd, but here is the wild beast that hunts to kill. A bear is not usually a ferocious animal, unless they feel that their cubs are in danger or personally threatened. Like these animals, the Lord will destroy you if he is threatened: “You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper.” (v9)
No king, prince, ruler, or person can save the people from His wrath. Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Verse 13 compares the helplessness of the people to a woman in childbirth who cannot deliver the baby and consequently dies.
“I will ransom from the power of the grave, I will redeem from death. Where O death, are your plagues? Where O grave, is your destruction?” (v14) This is alluding to Jesus’ victory over death! Similar to Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The chapter ends with another warning for the people to repent or God will have no compassion for them.