The Lord Accuses Israel
4 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel,
for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
Yet let no one contend,
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest.
You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
The more they increased,
the more they sinned against me;
I will change their glory into shame.
They feed on the sin of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity.
And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
My people inquire of a piece of wood,
and their walking staff gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,
and they have left their God to play the whore.
They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar, and terebinth,
because their shade is good.
Therefore your daughters play the whore,
and your brides commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.
Though you play the whore, O Israel,
let not Judah become guilty.
Enter not into Gilgal,
nor go up to Beth-aven,
and swear not, “As the LORD lives.”
Like a stubborn heifer,
Israel is stubborn;
can the LORD now feed them
like a lamb in a broad pasture?
Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone.
When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;
their rulers dearly love shame.
A wind has wrapped them in its wings,
and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
Hosea 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The rest of the book of Hosea takes a turn as it deals head-on with the sins of Israel. It is a brutal and a scandalous finger pointing to the ways of the people. As the worship of Canaanite gods Baal and Asherah have made their way into the morals of society, they have replaced true worship with sensual worship as sex runs fluid. In particular, if you read the Message translation of what the Lord says, it is appalling.
“Drunk on sex, they can’t find their way home. They’ve replaced their God with their genitals. They worship on the tops of mountains, make a picnic out of religion.”Hosea 4:12
As hard and shocking to believe this is Scripture, this modern-day translation would have been just as outrageous to the listeners as the original text. No holds are barred in what God brings of charges against the people. From the priests who are licentious to the prophets who are wicked, lust has overtaken the people. The moral and spiritual decay of this nation began slowly and grew to what it had become.
I think sometimes we underestimate the power of sin and the sneakiness of which it builds within not only an individual but a nation. From the first compromise, it grabs a foothold. In time if not surrendered to the Lord, if not shamed by our behavior or repentant as a nation for the atrocities we’ve shut our heart down to, it grows and becomes commonplace. Simply look at our nation itself today. Overrun with political correctness, hedonism and self-gratification have led to the state of where we are. Overall, as a nation, we are far removed from the ways of God.
And for those who are Believers we look at the state of the State and tremble or wag our heads in dismay. But this is a broader scale of what sin does to the individual. It begins with something so small and grows into something that overtakes.
As the rest of the book of Hosea lays out and graphically brings the judgment waiting on Israel for their whoredom, it also will have that red thread of redemption running through. Many times we have to be confronted with the wickedness of choices before the correct choice or turn around can happen.
Hosea 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
God is honest and open with Israel about their sins. As The Message translation puts it, it was sheer anarchy.
“No doubt, this happened after the pattern of human nature. When Hosea and Gomer first married, she probably promised eternal love and devotion. She probably showed every sign of being committed to Hosea. But after a while, and in difficult circumstances, she fell back into prostitution. Perhaps it was out of boredom. Perhaps it was out of a feeling of neglect. Perhaps it was out of a sense of need. Sadly, we share the same inexcusable reasons for our idolatry, when we prefer another god to the LORD God.”David Guzik
Throughout Scripture, God has tried to show man his sins in many different ways. It happens in nearly every chapter of Scripture. God knows that sin is our problem and at the cross, Jesus made it His problem. However, when we read of Hosea’s commitment and we reflect on how Jesus fulfilled that spiritually, the cost is staggering.
The world tells us our sins aren’t that bad; they are just “mistakes.” God says they are deep, concentrated stains, incapable of being washed cleaned by human hands or animal sacrifices. The law shows us we are flawed, condemnable, and deserving of death. We can’t please God, let alone please ourselves. Like concentric circles, the stains of our sins overlap the lives of others and vice versa. Like a seeping infection, the growth of sin knows no bounds.
For Israel, with each generation came new levels of idolatry and separation from their God. With each separation came the repetitive and continuous sacrificial system of animal blood being shed in order to pay for their sin. In between those sacrifices, we find the people once again returning to their vomit. If you have ever read the OT all the way through, it reads like a tense, frustrating see-saw relationship of human rebellion and God’s grace.
Amazingly, there is grace. Even in the stench of wickedness, God’s heart is set toward grace.
Oh, the amazing, unbelievable, flawless grace of our Lord Jesus. It cannot be overstated that the more we realize the depth of our sin, the more gratitude we have for His amazing grace; the grace that saved a wretch like me.