Many passages in the Prophets show that the church among the Israelite and Jewish nation was completely destroyed and was no longer a church because its members had falsified the meaning, or their understanding, of the Word. Nothing else destroys a church.
In the Prophets, especially in Hosea, the name “Ephraim” stands for an understanding of the Word, whether true or false. Throughout the Word, in fact, “Ephraim” means the church’s understanding of the Word. Because an understanding of the Word forms the church, Ephraim is called a precious child and one born of delight (Jeremiah 31:20); a firstborn (Jeremiah 31:9); the strength of Jehovah’s head (Psalms 60:7, 108:8); powerful (Zechariah 10:7) and someone outfitted with a bow (Zechariah 9:13); and Ephraim’s children are said to be armed and to shoot with a bow (Psalms 78:9). A “bow” means a body of teaching from the Word that fights against false ideas. For this reason Israel laid right hand rather than his left on Ephraim and blessed him, and Ephraim took the place of Reuben (Genesis 48:5, 11 and following). For this reason during Moses’blessing of the children of Israel, Ephraim and his brother Manasseh were exalted above all the rest as part of Moses’ blessing of their father, Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:1-17).
The Prophets, epecially Hosea, also describe as “Ephraim” what the church is like when it has lost its understanding of the Word. For example,
Israel and Ephraim will collapse. Ephraim will be desolate. Ephraim will be oppressed and broken in judgment (Hosea 5:5, 9, 11-14)
What will I do to you, Ephraim, since your holiness has gone away like a cloud at sunrise and like the dew that falls in the morning? (Hosea 6:4)
They will not live on Jehovah’s land. Ephraim will go back to Egypt and will eat what is unclean in Assyria. (Hosea 9:3)
“Jehovah’s land” is the church; “Egypt is scholarly syudy on the part of our earthly self; “Assyria” is reasoning based on that study. The latter two things together falsify our deeper understanding of the Word. This is why it says that Ephraim will go back to Egypt and eat what is unclean in Assyria.
Ephraim is feeding on the wind and pursuing the east wind. Every day he increases lying and devastation. He is making a pact with Assyria and oil is being carried down to Egypt. (Hosea 12:1)
“Feeding on the wind,” “pursuing the east wind,” and “increasing lying and devastation” means falsifying truths and thereby destroying the church.
Ephraim’s whoring means the same thing, in that “whoring” in the following passages means falsifying an understanding of the Word and its genuine truth:
I know that Ephraim has whored in every way and Israel has become defiled. (Hosea 5:3)
In the house of Israel, I have seen a foul thing. Ephraim has whored there and Israel has become defiled. (Hosea 6:10)
“Israel” is the church itself; “Ephraim” is the understanding of the Word on which the church depends and is based. This is why it says that Ephraim whored and Israel became defiled.
Since the church in Israel and Jewish nation was obviously destroyed by falsifying the Word, therefore we read of Ephraim,
I will go away, Ephraim. I will hand you over, Israel, like Admah, and I will make you like Zeboiim. (Hosea 11:8)
Because the prophet Hosea from the first chapter to the last is about a genuine understanding of the Word becoming falsified and the church being destroyed by that, and because “whoring” there means falsifying the truth, therefore the prophet Hosea was commanded to represent the condition of the church by marrying a whore and having sons by her (Hosea 1); and later by marrying an adulterous woman (Hosea 3).
I have quoted these passages to make known, and to support the concept, that the quality of the church is the quality of its understanding of the Word. If its understanding is based on genuine truths from the Word, the church is excellent and highly valuable. If its understanding is based on falsified truths from the Word, the church is ruined and in fact become something foul.
from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 247