Today’s Scripture reading records the LORD’S indictment against Israel and Judah with Hosea’s adulterous wife, Gomer, serving as the backdrop.
With the words, “Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel” (4:1), we observe a setting reminiscent of a heavenly court with the LORD presiding, and Hosea serving as the prosecuting attorney.
The opening charge against Israel was threefold: “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). 1) Truth and integrity were lacking in Israel; 2) There was no mercy, kindness or compassion; 3) There was “no knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). Though Israel had the Law and Commandments, and God had sent His prophets and teachers, the people had no knowledge of God’s person and character.
The children of Israel were charged with five violations of God’s Commandments. They were guilty of swearing(for it is a sin to “take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” 4:2; Exodus 20:7). They were liars, violating the ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” (4:2; Exodus 20:17). They were a nation of murderers, violating the sixth commandment (4:2; Exodus 20:13). They were thieves (4:2; Exodus 20:15). Breaking the seventh commandment, they had become adulterers (4:2; Exodus 20:14).
Israel had become a violent nation with civil strife among the people (“they break out, and blood toucheth blood,” 4:2). Because Israel had shed innocent blood, the land itself would suffer.
Religious Leaders Charged (4:4-11)
The priests had failed in word and example (4:4-5). Hosea decried the failure of the priests, and the spiritual condition of the nation, saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (4:6).
The spiritual failure of the priests and the people had turned Israel’s glory to shame (4:7). Therefore, God promised the nation would suffer the consequences of their wickedness (4:8-11).
An Admonition (4:12-14).
The children of Israel were charged with three counts of gross wickedness. They refused to seek the LORD for wisdom, and had turned to “their stocks” (idols carved from wood), and spiritually “gone a whoring” (4:12). They neglected the LORD’s altar, and offered sacrifices upon the mountain peaks, and burned incense in the groves(4:13). They had become a grossly immoral people (4:13b-14).
Hosea’s Warning to Judah (4:15-19)
For a few brief sentences, the admonitions of the prophet focused on Judah, and he pled with that nation: “Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend” (4:15). Israel was backslidden (4:16), and Hosea urged the southern kingdom to not go up to “Bethaven” (4:15). Bethaven had been a sacred place known as “Bethel” (the “house of God”), but the people in their wickedness had turned it into “a house of evil” (4:15).
Hosea 5 – The Court is in Session
Our spiritual courtroom continues in Hosea 5, and the priests, king, and the people are judged guilty as charged (5:1). God declared, “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: For now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled” (5:3).
An Appeal Rejected (5:6-7)
The people appealed to the LORD for mercy, going “with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord” (5:6a), but Hosea declared, “they shall not find Him [the LORD]; He hath withdrawn himself from them” (5:6b).
Judgment Declared (5:8-15)
The hour to repent had passed, and the judgment of God was imminent. A trumpet was heard (5:8), and the judgment of God declared: “Ephraim [i.e., Israel] shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: Among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be” (5:9).
Like a lion that seeks and devours its prey, the LORD declared He would “be unto Ephraim [Israel] as a lion, And as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him” (5:14).
Closing thoughts – I close today’s devotional and am reminded how much our world parallels the last days and hours of Israel as a nation. The priests failed to teach the people the Law and Commandments, even as preachers in our day trifle with their sacred duty to declare Word of God.
What a tragic time! In the hour the nation was desperate for a clarion call to repent and turn back to God, the spiritual leaders were themselves guilty of all manner of wickedness (4:6-11). They had failed God, and failed the nation!
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith