Hosea 4:1-19

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Text:   Hosea 4:1-6:3


  II.     The Teaching of the Prophet, 4:1 - 14:9


The remainder of Hosea’s prophecy expands the message of the first three chapters. Though emphasis is placed on Israel’s guilt and impending doom, each of the three major sections (in chapters 4-14) . . . concludes on a positive note by referring to Israel’s restoration. . . (Bible Knowledge Commentary).


            A.  National pollution and its cause, 4:1 - 6:3


Five different judgment-salvation cycles are seen in Hosea. The first one is found in Hosea 1:2-2:1 . The second one is found in Hosea 2:2-3:5 . The third one is found in Hosea 4:1-6:3 . Although judgment on Israel is predicted in 4:1 - 5:14, salvation is predicted for Israel in 5:15 - 6:3.


Chapter 4 focuses on the sins of the Northern Kingdom (BKC).


Hosea 5 a establishes the guilt of the entire nation (Judah included) and announces judgment (BKC).


In Hosea 5:15 b - 6:3 Israel’s repentance is envisioned (BKC).


                        1.   The findings of the Judge and the pronouncement of sentence, 4:1-19


The guilt of the Northern Kingdom is the main theme of chapter 4. The people and their leaders (the prophets, the rulers, and especially the priests) were the objects of God’s displeasure. Although most of the verses are making accusations, announcements of their coming judgment are also found throughout the chapter (BKC).


Hosea 4:1 Hear [i.e. listen to] the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel [i.e. you Israelites]: for the LORD hath a controversy with [i.e. brings a charge against, brings a case against] the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth [i.e. no faithfulness], nor mercy [i.e. nor kindness], nor knowledge [i.e. or nor acknowledgment] of God in the land.


Hosea 4:2 By swearing [i.e. by cursing], and lying, and killing [i.e. murder], and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out [i.e. they break all restraint, they break all bounds], and blood toucheth blood [i.e. they break all restraint with bloodshed upon bloodshed, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed].


4:2 – (RSB) blood toucheth blood. i.e., one murder follows another, leaving a trail of blood.


Swearing (or cursing), lying, killing (or murder), stealing, and committing adultery are violations of five of the Ten Commandments. Simply put, the people are not keeping God’s law.


Because of these sins, the land will experience severe drought.


Hosea 4:3 Therefore shall the land mourn [i.e. lament], and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish [i.e. everyone who dwells there will waste away], with the beasts [i.e. with the wild animals] of the field, and with the fowls of heaven [i.e. with the birds of the air]; yea, the fishes [i.e. the fish] of the sea also shall be taken away [i.e. shall be removed, shall perish].


Drought was one of the curses threatened by the Law for breaking the covenant . . . (BKC).


Deuteronomy 28:1-21 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.


In verses 3-14 there follow many blessings which Israel will experience if they do what is right in God’s sight. We don’t have time to deal with these right now.


Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.


In verses 16ff many curses are listed for Israel if the Israelites fail to obey God’s word.


One of the curses is severe drought.


Deuteronomy 28:23-2423 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. 24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.


The priests addressed in Hosea 4:4-11 a shared the guilt of the people and therefore would not be exempt from punishment (BKC).


Hosea 4:4 Yet let no man strive [i.e. let no one contend, (find fault or bring a charge)], nor reprove [i.e. nor rebuke (or accuse)] another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest [i.e. your people are like those who contend with the priest, your people are like those who bring charges against the priest].


Hosea 4:5 Therefore shalt thou fall [i.e. you, O priest will stumble] in the day, and the prophet also shall fall [i.e. stumble] with thee [i.e. with you, O priest] in the night, and I will destroy thy mother [i.e. the priest’s mother].


Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [i.e. because the priests have neglected their responsibility to teach the law to the people]: because thou [i.e. you, O priest] hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee [i.e. you, O priest], that thou shalt be no priest to me [i.e. I will also reject you from being priest for me]: seeing [i.e. because] thou [i.e. you, O priest] hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children [i.e. the LORD will also ignore the priest’s children].


Hosea 4:7 As they were increased [i.e. the more the priests were increased], so they sinned against me [i.e. the more the priests sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame [i.e. I will change the glory which the priests received because of their position as priests into shame].


One would expect that an increase in the number of priests would have positive effects on the nation’s moral climate. However, in Israel it only brought greater sin (BKC).


Hosea 4:8 They [i.e. the priests] eat up the sin of my people, and they [i.e. the priests] set their heart on their [i.e. the people’s] iniquity.


In their greed the priests fed on the sins of the people by encouraging them to multiply the hypocritical sacrifices which the Lord hated. . . . The priest’s underlying motive in doing this was greed, since they received portions of the offerings which were presented. . . (BKC).


Hosea 4:9 And there [i.e. it] shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them [i.e. I will punish the priests as well as the people] for their ways, and reward them their doings [i.e. deeds].


Hosea 4:10 For they [i.e. the priests] shall eat, and not have enough: they [i.e. the priests] shall commit whoredom [i.e. harlotry, prostitution], and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD [i.e. they have stopped giving heed to the LORD, they have ceased obeying the LORD].


Hosea 4:11 Whoredom [i.e. harlotry, prostitution] and wine and new wine take away the heart [i.e. take away the understanding, enslave the heart].


Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks [i.e. consult their wooden idols], and their staff declareth unto them [i.e. their stick of wood answers (or informs) them]: for the spirit of whoredoms [i.e. the spirit of harlotry, the spirit of prostitution] hath caused them to err [i.e. has caused them to stray, has led them astray], and they have gone a whoring from under their God [i.e. they have played the harlot against, they are unfaithful to their God].


Hosea 4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good [i.e. because their shade is pleasant]: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom [i.e. harlotry], and your spouses [i.e. your brides, your daughters-in-law] shall commit adultery.


4:13 – (RSB) Sacrifices to the heathen gods were offered on the tops of the mountains and were accompanied by immoral ceremonies.


Hosea 4:14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom [i.e. when they commit harlotry, when they turn to prostitution], nor your spouses [i.e. your brides, your daughters-in-law] when they commit adultery: for themselves [i.e. the men themselves] are separated with whores [i.e. for the men go apart with harlots], and they sacrifice with harlots [i.e. with temple prostitutes]: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall [i.e. will come to ruin].


Hosea 4:15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot [i.e. although you commit adultery, Israel], yet let not Judah offend [i.e. let not Judah become guilty]; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth [i.e. nor swear an oath, saying, As the Lord lives].


4:15 – (RSB) The people were told not to worship at what were formerly holy cities, Gilgal and Bethaven (which means House of Wickedness and was Hosea’s name for Beth-el, which means House of God).


Hosea 4:16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer [i.e. Israel is stubborn like a stubborn heifer (calf)]: now the LORD will feed them [i.e. Israel] as a lamb in a large place [i.e. like a lamb in a large field].


Hosea 4:17 Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone [i.e. you, Judah, let Ephraim alone].


4:17 – (RSB) let him alone. Judah was warned to stay away from the Northern Kingdom. . . .


Hosea 4:18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom [i.e. harlotry] continually [i.e. even when their drinks are gone, they continue their prostitution]: her rulers with shame do love [i.e. her rulers dearly love shame (dishonor)], Give ye.


Hosea 4:19 The wind hath bound her up in her [i.e. in its] wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.


4:19 – (RSB) The wind of judgment will come suddenly and violently.


This sermon is the 3rd part of the series, Study of Hosea. Other sermons in this series are: