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A TERRIBLE INDICTMENT
‘The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.’
I. Abandoning the parabolic style, the prophet now turns to very straight and incisive dealing with the sins of Israel.—This chapter contains a terrible indictment against the chosen people. There was no truth, mercy, nor knowledge of God among them; swearing, breaking faith, theft, murder, and adultery were rife on every side, so that the very land groaned and travailed in pain. Nothing could avert the judgment of God that must follow on such crimes.
The priests were chiefly guilty, and it is against them that the Divine judgments would be specially directed ( Hosea 4:6, etc.). How terrible it is when those who should be the leaders in righteousness, both by word and deed, pervert the people! Dante places false priests in the nethermost circle of the lake of fire. And let it always be remembered that one of Satan’s most subtle temptations is the suggestion that we must be right, because all men think so, and that we have dealt with our own sins because we are so strict in reproving them.
II. What a picture of our own heart is given in these verses!—We are reminded of Bunyan’s words in Grace Abounding. He says: ‘My original and inward pollution was my plague and my affliction. It was always putting itself forth within me, and I had the guilt of it to amazement, by reason of which I was more loathsome in my own eyes than a toad, and I thought I was in God’s eyes also. Sin and corruption would bubble up out of my heart as naturally as water bubbles up out of a fountain. I thought now that every one had a better heart than I had. I could have changed heart with anybody; and thought none but the devil himself could equalise me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind.’
‘It is not so great an offence for men to sin as for them not to be willing to suffer the reproval of sin. For when they live in such a way as that their hearts have a horror of the cure of their malady, punishment can no longer delay. This sin is the most common of our time. Just look at Christian churches, and you will see everywhere that the teachers are hated for rebuking sin so freely. But this only excites God’s wrath more fiercely against us. For not man but God rebukes and challenges the sinner.’
HINDRANCES TO KNOWLEDGE
‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’
What is it which keeps a generation apparently possessed of advantages so largely increased for gaining knowledge, from the acquisition of true knowledge, whether in things earthly or heavenly?
I. The multiplication of outward helps and facilities for learning has a direct tendency to counteract true knowledge.
II. A second impediment to knowledge is, a misuse of stimulus in its pursuit.
III. A third is, the attractiveness of a sort of reading which does not tend to knowledge at all.
IV. The knowledge, the lack of which destroys, is the knowledge not of things but of persons: the acquaintance of soul with soul, of spirit with spirit. The contact of the inmost unseen self of man with the inmost unseen essence of Him in Whom man loves, and Whom to know truly is eternal life.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Hosea 4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24