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Israel Committed Spiritual Adultery -- Hosea Four --
Hosea four again deals with the theme of Israel turning to false gods. How sad it was when God said, "Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." ( Hos_4:1 ) Israel had turned from the truth of Jehovah to the false gods of Baal, Molech and others. The people of Israel were very religious people. They were busy with their worship. Sadly they worshipped false gods at false altars.
Hosea wrote to warn Israel of the tragic result of their unfaithfulness to the one true and living God. Having left God their sins increased and they became more and more wicked. Their spiritual adultery was caused by a lack of knowledge of God and of His word. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." ( Hos_4:6 ) The religious ignorance of that day was first the fault of the priests and teachers. They had utterly neglected their duty as teachers of God's word. The second responsibility for the religious ignorance rested upon the people themselves. Spiritual ignorance among the people and corrupt priest lead Israel to spiritual ruin.
The children of Israel worshipped false gods and looked to them for leadership in life. God scattered Israel throughout the Assyrian Empire as a result of their spiritually sinful state. There they were exposed to injury and much violence. God said Ephraim is joined to idols. Ephraim is mentioned because it was the most influential of tribe in the Northern Kingdom. The priests, the rulers and the people would now face the consequences of their sins.
A controversy with Israel -- Hos_4:1-5 : When people depart from God's arrangement of things then no one is faithful or loyal or truly cares about God. Without God these people turned to other gods and practice all kinds of evil. The children of Israel were guilty of spiritual adultery. They had forsaken truth, mercy, and the knowledge of God. Their conduct had become godless and sinful. They were so corrupt that "the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land." Israel had fallen into a very corrupt way of life. There was cursing, dishonesty, murder, robbery, unfaithfulness and all kinds of violence everywhere in Israel. Hosea said, "Blood touches blood." One violent act was not completed until another was done.
God punished their disobedience by bring misery upon their land. Their wickedness caused everything to suffer; the land, the people and the animals. The horrible things that had happened in Israel were the fault of the priests. God said, "Not everyone is at fault. My case is against you, the priests." The common people were also guilty. But if you cannot reason with the priest about religious error what hope would there be for reasoning with the common man about eternal things. Both the prophet and the entire nation, pictured with the term "thy mother," would be destroyed because of their spiritual adultery. .
A Lack of knowledge -- Hos_4:6-11 : Religious ignorance is always sad. This is especially true when people have had the opportunity to know what is right. These people and these priests were destroyed because they had neglected knowledge. God said, "Now I will reject you and forget your children, because you have forgotten my Law." "No one is as blind as he who will not see, nor deaf as he who will not hear." Israel's priests rejected the knowledge of God and the knowledge of His word. The result of their rejection was that God likewise rejected them.
Good judgment would say that the more priests you have the better the people will be. Sadly the more numerous the priests and the people of God became the more they increased their ungodliness. Instead of trying to help the people avoid sin the priest encouraged them to sin. This allowed them to stuff themselves on their sin offerings. "They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity."
God treated both the people and the priest alike when He sent the promised punishment upon Israel. They were all to blame for the sinful condition of the nation. Jeremiah described this mutual guilt saying, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" ( Jer_5:31 ) The punishment included eating but not being satisfied, and having sex through whoredom but not being able to produce children. This would be devastating to a nation that depended on and bragged about physical strength. The people gave themselves up to revelry, lust and drunkenness. They left God out of their thinking.
A god that cannot answer -- Hos_4:12-15 : The children of Israel were asking counsel from their wooden idols and other objects of wood. Their sinful living had lead them to terrible judgment; thinking they could receive good advise from a stick of wood. Their whoredom, both fleshly and spiritual, had led them to lust for sex at pagan shrines. They had become unfaithful to God. The people sacrificed to their idols on mountaintops and hills. They would find a shady tree under which to conduct their pagan worship. The spiritual adultery of the leaders of Israel caused their own daughters and wives to sell themselves for sex. As these leading men proved unfaithful to God spiritually their wives and daughters prove unfaithful to them by committing physical adultery.
God is not condoning or supporting the wrong that was being done. He allowed the wrong in order to teach these leaders of Israel a needed lesson. God said He would not punish the prostitution of the wives and daughters of the leaders of Israel because they themselves "go to prostitutes and offer sacrifices with them at pagan shrines. Your own foolishness will lead to your ruin."
Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had played the harlot and suffered the consequences. God warned Judah (the Southern Kingdom) that the same thing could happen to them. Gilgal and Bethel were once places of respect for the true God, but now they had been polluted by idolaters. Judah was warned to stay away from such places and to avoid the evils of idol worship that went on there.
A backsliding heifer -- Hos_4:16-19 : In their relationship with God Israel was nothing more than a stubborn cow. They had thrown off the yoke and refused submission to God. God would now deal with as a lamb turned out into a large field. Out in the field there would be much more danger of attack by wild beasts. God punished Israel by "turning her out" into exile in Assyria. There she faced sure and certain difficulty.
The name "Ephraim" refereed to the children of Israel or the 10 Northern Tribes. Israel had gone beyond the point of hope so the prophet was told to leave them alone or not to try any more to reform them. The rulers of Israel got drunk; went in to prostitutes, lived vulgar lives and practice covetousness and bribery. Israel was swept away for sacrificing to idols. They shall be so humbled by God that "they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices" to idols.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26