James W. Adams
In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us; our God shall fight for us. (Neh. 4:20.)
"Ephraim feedeth on the wind . . ." (Hosea 12:1). In this passage of Scripture, the prophet figuratively uses Ephraim, one of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to stand for the entire realm. The occasion for this statement was the fact that outwardly the ten tribes had prospered, and, in their prosperity, their hearts had been lifted up with pride and arrogance resulting in their being turned away from Jehovah. They forsook the Law of Moses, adopted the heathen customs of the nations about them, and multiplied their altars to the worship of Baal. They made covenants with Egypt and Assyria, contrary to the inspired advice of God's prophets, assuming that they would thus protect themselves from their enemies and enhance their prosperity in the land. So enamored were they of their own wisdom and the carnal devices which it suggested that they were swelled up with pride relative to the prosperity and security which they imagined they thereby enjoyed:
It was this state of affairs which caused the prophet, Hosea, to call Ephraim a "windbag," saying, "Ephraim feedeth on the wind. 7 ." They were like beasts in the slaughtering pen. They gorged themselves on the dainties that were proferred them by their heathen contemporaries not knowing that they were being fattened for slaughter. They "fed on the wind" became they trusted in the carnal rather than the spiritual for their prosperity mad security. True, they grew fat materially, but they were spiritually starved. Their fat was neither strength, prosperity, nor security; it was worldly bloat. When their hour of testing came, they were unable to stand; they were conquered and carried away into captivity and lost.
The Lesson For Us
It is our conviction that a very large number of the professed churches of Christ of our time are "feeding on wind." The pride, arrogance, and carnal boasting we see and hear on every side impress us with the fact that not all of the "spiritual windbags" passed away with the ten "lost" tribes of Israel. We are constantly bombarded with propaganda from our so-called "on-the-march" churches and preachers giving inordinate emphasis to the material evidences of the prosperity and security of professed churches of Christ. They rejoice in numbers, worldly prestige, and human schemes and institutions. Truth, piety, and moral excellence are buried and forgotten behind the glittering facade of worldly prosperity. They point with unbounded pride to the elegance of our new cathedrals (once modestly referred to as "meeting houses" by the faithful, self-sacrificing Christians of a generation past), to "our colleges, our benevolent institutions, our sectarian-seminary-educated clergy, our national radio and television programs, our summer camps, our homes for unwed mothers, our youth forums, our brotherhood." Need we say more?
Lost in this maze of carnal accoutrements are the old slogans: "We speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent; we call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible Ways; We demand a thus saith the Lord for every act of work and worship; we are dedicated to a complete restoration 7 of apostolic Christianity--the 'ancient order of things;' we give chapter and verse or we will quit doing it." From a spiritually dedicated group of "back to the Bible" New Testament saints and churches, we are fast becoming a noxious conglomerate of loud-mouthed "windbags" so materialistic in our concepts and programs as to be easily identified with the more liberal, social-gospel motivated denominations of our time. If this description is shocking and offensive to our "on-the-march'' brethren, let them remember that a "windbag" is almost invariably the last to recognize or admit that he is one.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 21, pp. 11-12
April 2, 1970