Today's Scripture Meaning
Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Hosea
Date Penned: BC 715 (Covering Events BC 753-715)
Overview: God's Wayward People (c 4-14)
Theme: Israel's Sinfulness (c 4-5)
Message: God Charges Israel with Sins (v 1-19)
Hosea: Chapter 4 Commentary
(4:1) In this chapter, God brings a charge of disobedience against Israel. The religious leaders had failed to turn the people to God, and ritual prostitution had replaced right worship. The nation had declined spiritually and morally, breaking the laws God had given them. The people found it easy to condemn Hosea's wife for her adultery. They were not so quick to see that they were faithless to God. God explains the reasons for Israel
s suffering. Their lawless behavior had brought the twin judgments of increased violence and ecological crisis. There is not always a direct cause & effect relationship between our actions and the problems we face. Nevertheless, when we are surrounded with difficulties, we should seriously ask, "Have I done anything sinful or irresponsible that has caused my suffering?" If we discover we are at fault, even partially, we must change our ways before God will help us.
(4:2) This verse may allude to the assassinations of kings during Hosea's lifetime. Shallum killed Zachariah and took the throne. Then Menahem killed Shallum and destroyed an entire city because it refused to accept him as king found in 2 Kings chapter 15. God pointed out that even murder was being taken casually in Israel.
(4:4) We often blame others if we fear punishment for wrongdoing. Hosea warned the priests not to blame anyone else. The Nation's sins were largely their fault. Israel's priests pointed out the people's sins, but God would not allow them to overlook their own irresponsible actions. Instead of instructing the nation in religion and morality., they had led the way toward idolatry and immorality. Their Failure to lead the people in God's ways placed most of the blame for Israel's destruction on them. Knowing that God will not allow us to blame others for our mistakes should cause us to deal with our sins head on. We are responsible for our own sinful actions. Beware of the tendency to blame others because it can keep you from feeling the need to repent.
(4:5) Hosea leveled his charges against the religious leaders. Who were these religious leaders? When Jeroboam I rebelled against Solomon's son Rehoboam and set up a rival kingdom in the north, he also set up his own religious system as noted in 1 Kings chapter 12. In violation of God's Law he made 2 gold calf idols and told the people to worship them. He also appointed his own priests, who were not descendants of Aaron. At first the residents of the Northern Kingdom continued to worship God, even though they were doing it in the wrong way. But very soon they also began to worship Canaanite gods. Before long they substituted Baal for God and no longer worshiped God at all. It is not surprising that Jeroboam's false priests were unable to preserve the true worship of God.
(4:6,7) God accused the religious leaders of keeping the people from knowing him. They were supposed to be spiritual leaders , but they had become leaders in wrongdoing. The people may have said to one another. "It must be OK if the priests do it" Spiritual leadership is a heavy responsibility. Surrender yourself to the Lord according to your service to the Lord.
(4:8) The priests relished the people's sins. Every time a person brought a sin offering, the priest received a portion of it. The more the people sinned the more the priests received. Since they couldn't eat all of the offerings themselves, they sold some and gave some to their relatives. The priests profited from the continuation of sin. It gave them power and position in the community. So instead of trying to lead the people out of sin, It gave them power and position in the community. So instead of trying to lead the people out of sin, they encouraged it to increase their profits.
(4:10) What was ritual prostitution? The chief Canaanite gods, Baal and Ashtaroth, represented the power of fertility and sexual reproduction. Not surprisingly, their worship included rituals with vile sexual practices. Male worshippers had sex with female temple prostitutes, or priestesses, and young women wishing to bear childen had sex with male priests.
(4:11) God created wine to make man glad as seen in Psalm chapter 104 and tells man to "rejoice with the wife of thy youth" But all of God's good gifts can be misused. Be sure to acknowledge the Gift and Giver as not to abuse the gifts of the Lord.
(4:13,14) By divorcing themselves from God's authoritative religion centered in Jerusalem, inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom had effectively cut themselves off from his Word and from his way of forgiveness. The Drive to be free and independent from all restrictions can move us completely out of God's will.
(4:15) God sent a warning to the Southern Kingdom of Judah and its priests not to become like Israel. Israel's priests who remained in the north had forgotten their spiritual heritage and sold out to Baal. They now promoted idol worship and ritual prostitution Israel would not escape punishment, but Judah could if it refused to follow Israel's example.
(4:17) Ephraim is another name for Israel, the Northern Kingdom, because Ephraim was the most powerful of 10 tribes in the north. In the same way, the Southern Kingdom was called Judah after its most powerful of the 10 tribes in the north. In the same way, the southern Kingdom was called Judah after its most powerful tribe.
(4:19) The wind that would sweep Israel away refers to Assyrian invasion that destroyed the nation about 20 years later.