4 And the
glorious [ts@biy] beauty [tiph'arah], which
is on the head [ro'sh] of the fat [shemen] valley [gay'], shall be a
fading [nabel] flower [tsiytsah], and as the hasty fruit [bikkuwr] before the summer [qayits];
which when he that looketh [ra'ah] upon it
seeth [ra'ah], while it is yet in his hand [kaph] he eateth it up [bala`]. KJV-Interlinear
4 and the
fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will
be like a first-ripe fig before the summer: when someone sees it, he swallows
it as soon as it is in his hand. ESV
The early fruit, or the fruit that ripens early, gets picked and eaten quickly. It is not picked and stored for later use, but is taken quickly and eaten or devoured immediately, leaving nothing for later use.
And so the prophecy against Ephraim states that, that nation is going to be devoured, leaving nothing for later use.
When an enemy invades, it takes what it wants but generally keeps the cities and resources of the conquered territory to be incorporated into its larger size. Its people are added to its military or work force and a governor is set over the region for control.
But not so with Ephraim.
When Assyria makes the final decision to invade, it will destroy the entire nation, leaving nothing for later use.
This is a harsh prophecy intended to get people to repent, which they did not.
But also, it applies to our current day and to each person throughout history.
Ignore God and Christ and doctrine and your life will be snuffed out. Your legacy, your possessions, your whatever it is that you have, will be lost to you.
And in the final days, in the Tribulation, those last seven years will see the harshest time of all times against not only the northern portion of todays Israel, but to the entire world.