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FRAMEWORKS: Hosea 5: Declaration of Guilt and Warning of Coming Judgment


[Preliminary Comment: The prophecy moves on to speak of a coming judgment [v.1] that will be an act of discipline [v.2] because of the idolatry that Israel turned to [v.3]. The truth is that it was so ingrained in the minds and culture of the northern kingdom [note it started with their beginning under Jeroboam and had never been removed] that there was no likelihood of repentance occurring [v.4] and Judah had tended to follow the established life of Israel [v.5] so even if there is token repentance it won't be real and they won't find God [v.6] because it is so rooted in them because it has gone on for so long [v.7]. The chapter then turns to the warning of the judgment that is coming [v.8,9] that will touch Judah as well [v.10]. The north might have recognized their need [v.11] but God is drawn back to them [v.12] and although they turned to Assyria for help, they couldn't help [v.13] because it was the lord who was coming to bring and end to their time in the land [v.14], taking them into exile until eventually their hearts would be turned back to Him [v.15]



v.1-7 Israel's Guilt


v.1 Priest, People, Princes, this is about you!


v.1  ‘Hear this, you priests!
    Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house!
    This judgment is against you:
you have been a snare at Mizpah,
    a net spread out on Tabor.

[Notes: Mizpah and Tabor were in the south and north respectively so the judgment spoken of against priests, rulers and people is because the two peoples had become a snare that had trapped all their people in this wicked idolatry that Hosea keeps mentioning.]


v.2 Because of your violence God will discipline you


v.2  The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.
    I will discipline all of them.

v.3 The northern kingdom is godless, corrupt & idolatrous


v.3  I know all about Ephraim;
    Israel is not hidden from me.
Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;
    Israel is corrupt.


[Notes: In that the tribal area of Ephraim was immediately north of Judah and Benjamin [the southern tribes simply referred to as ‘Judah'], Ephraim became common usage to indicate the northern kingdom usually referred to as Israel.]


v.4 So strong is it there is not hope of repentance coming to you


v.4  ‘Their deeds do not permit them
    to return to their God.
A spirit of prostitution is in their heart;
    they do not acknowledge the Lord.

[Notes: The fact was that this idolatry was so entrenched in the minds and habits of these people that there was no hope of them ever coming to repentance [unless something drastic happened.]


v.5 You pride makes you stumble and Judah then follows your example


v.5  Israel's arrogance testifies against them;
    the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin;
    Judah also stumbles with them.

[Notes: Their pride and arrogance made them feel invulnerable but in reality they were stumbling along as people enveloped by this superstitious idol worship that held them.]


v.6 If they seek the Lord, He won't be found by them


v.6  When they go with their flocks and herds
    to seek the Lord,
they will not find him;
    he has withdrawn himself from them.

[Notes: So entrenched is this behaviour that even if they decided to turn to God, it wouldn't be real and they wouldn't let go their idols – implied – so God won't meet with them on these terms.]


v.7 Why? Because they are so established in their idolatrous unfaithfulness


v.7  They are unfaithful to the Lord;
    they give birth to illegitimate children.
When they celebrate their New Moon feasts,
    he will devour their fields.


[Notes: It is because of their unfaithfulness that just brings the next generation into the same thing which will keep on carrying on until He acts.]



v.8-10 The Coming Judgment


v.8 So give warning of battle coming


v.8  ‘Sound the trumpet in Gibeah,
    the horn in Ramah.
Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven;
    lead on, Benjamin.

[Notes: This ‘action' will be first heard in the sound of an approaching invader.]


v.9 The north will be laid waste in judgment


v.9  Ephraim will be laid waste
    on the day of reckoning.
Among the tribes of Israel
    I proclaim what is certain.

[Notes: It will strike Israel first, but Judah should also heed the warning.]


v.10 Likewise Judah's leaders follow suit


v.10  Judah's leaders are like those
    who move boundary stones.
I will pour out my wrath on them
    like a flood of water.

[Notes: Judah's leaders have moved the boundaries of belief and obedience to the Law so God's judgment will come on them.]


v.11-15 Although Israel turned to others for help, they will still fall


v.11 The north was in a mess worshipping their idols


v.11  Ephraim is oppressed,
    trampled in judgment,
    intent on pursuing idols.

[Notes: Israel recognised their weakness and vulnerability, their idols being of no help.]


v.12 God is drawn back again and again to these two, to undermine them


v.12  I am like a moth to Ephraim,
    like rot to the people of Judah.


[Notes: But the Lord won't leave them in their mess, in His love He feels drawn back to them again and again, but He will always be undermining their beliefs in their idols.]


v.13 Israel, feeling her plight, turned to Assyria for help


v.13  ‘When Ephraim saw his sickness,
    and Judah his sores,
then Ephraim turned to Assyria,
    and sent to the great king for help.
But he is not able to cure you,
    not able to heal your sores.

[Notes: Israel, looking around for help, had turned to Assyria as a great power [who seemed to have got it together] but they will not be the help Israel need.]


v.14 Yet the Lord will come with destructive power to carry them off


v.14  For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
    like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;
    I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.

[Notes: Because it is the Lord they are against and He will eventually come in roaring power and have them carried away from their land.]


v.15 He will then bide His time until they eventually seek Him


v.15  Then I will return to my lair
    until they have borne their guilt
    and seek my face –
in their misery
    they will earnestly seek me.'


[Notes: This will be a careful strategy designed – in the long-term – to bring the people to their senses so they will turn back to the Lord.]



Continue to Chapter 6