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FRAMEWORKS: Hosea 4: Israel's sins, all guilty


[Preliminary Comment: Moving away from his family being used to convey prophetic truths about Israel, the word now comes directly to Israel about their unfaithfulness [v.1], and the awful state of the nation [v.2] and how this has brought judgment on the land itself [v.3]. The Lord charges prophets, priests and the people with being equally guilty [v.4,5] and this has come about because the priests have failed to teach the people [v.6] and had, in fact, become as bad as the people [v.7-9]. Their idolatry would never satisfy them [v.10,11], an idolatry that was blatant and obvious throughout the land [v.12,13] that will bring God's punishment down on them [v.14]. Judah are warned not to go the way of Israel [v.15] for that stubbornly idolatrous people will be judged and removed [v.16-19]



v.1,2 The Sin of Israel


v.1 The Lord charges Israel with unfaithfulness to Him


v.1  Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
‘There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.

v.2 As a result, all sorts of wrong behaviour abounds


v.2  There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.

[Notes: The Lord confronts Israel with their sin and the state of their lives as a people.]



v.3 The Effect on the Land


v.3 Drought or famine is often a sign of God's judgment


v.3  Because of this the land dries up,
    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the fish in the sea are swept away.


[Notes: The state of the Land should speak volumes about them and God



v.4-9 They're all the same, priests & people


v.4,5a Don't blame one another, you're all as bad


v.4  ‘But let no one bring a charge,
    let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
    who bring charges against a priest.
v.5  You stumble day and night,
    and the prophets stumble with you.

v.5b,6 The priests failed to teach the people, so they are being destroyed for their sin


So I will destroy your mother –
v.6   my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

‘Because you have rejected knowledge,
    I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
    I also will ignore your children.

v.7-9 The priests who should have led, followed the people into sin


v.7  The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
v.8  They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
v.9  And it will be: like people, like priests.
    I will punish both of them for their ways
    and repay them for their deeds.


[Notes: The priesthood should have led the people, teaching righteous adherence to the Law, but they not only failed to do that, when the people ran amok with sin, they joined in and were as bad.]



v.10-19 Israel's Prostitution – Idolatry


v.10,11 Their false religions will always leave them needy


v.10,11  ‘They will eat but not have enough;
    they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
    to give themselves to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
    take away their understanding.

v.12,13 Their sin is clear and obvious - idolatry


v.12  My people consult a wooden idol,
    and a diviner's rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
    they are unfaithful to their God.
v.13  They sacrifice on the mountaintops
    and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
    where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
    and your daughters-in-law to adultery.


v.14 It was the priests who led them astray, they are the most guilty


v.14  ‘I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine-prostitutes –
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!


v.15 Judah, don't follow the example of Israel


v.15  ‘Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
    do not let Judah become guilty.

‘Do not go to Gilgal;
    do not go up to Beth Aven.
    And do not swear, “As surely as the Lord lives!”

v.16-19 Israel are stubbornly set in idolatry so they will be judged and removed


v.16  The Israelites are stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
    like lambs in a meadow?
v.17  Ephraim is joined to idols;
    leave him alone!
v.18  Even when their drinks are gone,
    they continue their prostitution;
    their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
v.19  A whirlwind will sweep them away,
    and their sacrifices will bring them shame.


[Notes: Because the priests had failed in their role of teaching and acting as an example, constantly drawing people to God, the people had turned to the idols of other nations and entered whole heartedly into a life of idolatry. The result of this ongoing, stubborn replacing the Lord with idols will be destruction.]



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