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4:1-8:14 ISRAEL’S MORAL CORRUPTION
Hosea now turns from his personal experiences to the conditions in Israel that they illustrated. There appears to be little chronological order or logical development in this section. It consists of collections of numerous short messages that Hosea apparently delivered on various occasions over a number of years.
Corrupt religion; corrupt people (4:1-5:7)
The people have no knowledge of God or his law, and therefore they are unfaithful to him and deceitful in their dealings with one another. Their wickedness is the reason for the present drought they are suffering (4:1-3).
Chiefly to blame for this nationwide corruption are the priests. They have not taught God’s law to the people (4-6). Instead they have encouraged the people to offer more sacrifices so that they (the priests) can profit. Since they receive the meat of the sin offering, the priests welcome the people’s sins. The more the people sin, the more sin offerings the priests receive (7-8). The priests are as bad as people in general and are guilty of the same sins. They look for increase in their families, flocks and herds through the Baal practice of carrying out sexual rites with religious prostitutes. God will make sure that their hopes are disappointed (9-10).
Throughout the land people follow religious practices of the worst kind. They become drunk at their religious feasts. They look for guidance by superstitious ceremonies using sacred sticks. They offer sacrifices under sacred trees at the Baal high places. Their young women become religious prostitutes, though the chief blame lies with the men, who, by their immoral desires, made the women into prostitutes (11-14).
Judah is warned not to follow Israel in trying to mix the worship of the living God with the false religion that operates at places such as Gilgal. God cannot bless those who stubbornly go their own way (15-16). The idolatry, greed and immorality of Israel will be the cause of its destruction (17-19).
Priests, common people and the royal family are all corrupt. They are condemned as spiritual prostitutes and slaves to the false religion that is practised throughout the nation. The prophet names some of the more popular Baal centres (5:1-3). The people are firmly held by the power of idolatry and unable to return to God. They still offer their animal sacrifices, but God does not accept them. They are not his children, but the children of prostitution. Within a short time God will send another judgment upon them in the form of further devastation of their crops (4-7).
Foreign policies (5:8-15)
During the reigns of the Judean kings Jotham and Ahaz, Israel and Syria tried to persuade Judah to join them in an alliance aimed at resisting the spreading power of Assyria. When Judah refused to cooperate, Israel and Syria attacked Jerusalem, whereupon Ahaz, contrary to Isaiah’s advice, asked Assyria for help. Assyria replied by conquering Syria and much of Israel. But Judah’s independence also suffered, because in asking Assyria for help, it placed itself under Assyria’s power (2 Kings 16:5-9; Isaiah 7:1-9; Isaiah 8:4).
Hosea sees Israel going to battle and knows that the nation is about to bring a fitting calamity upon itself. He also condemns Judah, who took the opportunity to seize some of Israel’s territory. He sees the inner decay of both kingdoms as a judgment of God upon them (8-12).
When Israel’s foreign policy proved fatal, the king Pekah was assassinated by Hoshea, a sympathizer with Assyria who then became king (2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 17:3). But Assyria could not solve Israel’s problems any more than it could Judah’s. Both Israel and Judah were morally sick. They turned to foreign nations to help them instead of turning from their sins to God. Now they will find that God will use foreign nations to punish them. As a lion destroys a lamb, so God will destroy Israel and Judah (13-14). He will give no help to his people till they repent of their sins and seek him afresh (15).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Hosea 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13