About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Charge Against Israel
(ch. 4:1 - 19)
Verse 1 is speaking to
"the Israelites" as stated in the NIV and other translations.
Again, I need to point out, the word "Israelites" here
refers only to the northern kingdom of Israel. It does not refer to the
From this point on in the
book of Hosea, "the charge against" Israel
is set forth, as stated here in verse 1.
God has certain things against Israel, and as the prophet of God, Hosea, will now speak on God's behalf and
Note the word
"charge". This in
fact is a legal term. An
offense has occurred, and Israel
is the offender. This would
give credibility to whom some believe that God is actually divorcing Israel
as I've stated earlier in this commentary. The word "charge" is used in verse 4 as too we will
see. The Mosaic Covenant was
a legal document that both God and
Right off the bat, in
verse 1, God says that there are three things that are no longer in the
land. They are,
faithfulness, love, and acknowledgment of God. My
suggestion would be that there is no faithfulness and love because there
is no acknowledgment of God. The
northern kingdom forsook their God and joined themselves to pagan gods.
Love was not part of the vocabulary of these pagan gods, except
for physical love of course. Love
is not part of our
vocabulary today either, other than in loves songs and love that really
In the western world
today, we no longer acknowledge God on a national scale.
Even many so-called churches really don't acknowledge the true
God of the Bible. For this
reason, divorce rates are on their way up, both in Christian and
non-Christian circles. Faithfulness
has been turned into freedom to sleep around.
Love has lost its real meaning.
Love is now simply emotion and sex.
Any modern pop song with prove I am right on this point. The
Bible defines love as sacrificing one's self for the benefit of another.
1 Corinthians 13 shows this to be true.
"charge" in verse 1 is a legal word, much like the word
"rebuke" in chapter 2, verse 1.
Remember, there are legalities to God's relationship with
"faithful" here means "loyalty".
lost her loyalty with her God.
The Hebrew word that is
translated as "love" in verse 1 is equivalent to the Greek
word "agape" in the New Testament.
This is a godly love that is based on commitment no matter what
happens in the relationship.
"acknowledgment" here denotes that you have a personal
relationship with God and that you acknowledge it to others.
Instead of love,
faithfulness, and the acknowledgement of God, verse 2 states what the
northern kingdom has instead. They
have, cursing, lying, murder, steeling, and adultery.
All of these are in direct violation of the Mosaic Covenant that Israel
agree to keep. These are
things that are seen in movies in our day.
These movies resemble real life.
All this happens because people have forsaken the knowledge of
God in society. Paul teaches
on this very point in Romans 1 and 2.
Eventually God hands people and nations over to their sins.
He simply says, "if that is how you want to live, go ahead
and live that way". Yet
once God pronounces that judgment on a nation, that's it, judgment will
soon come. Judgment swiftly
came to the northern kingdom, then to the southern, as it will come to
the western world today.
The phrase "they
break all bounds" in verse 2 means that people just break out, they
explode in sin. They move
beyond the boundaries the Lord has set for them. I've always said that
if one stays within the boundaries the Lord sets out for him, the Lord
will look after that one. But,
if you move outside of God's boundaries, then He is not obligated to
look after you.
As verse 2 says,
"bloodshed" is a result of this explosion, of the failure to
acknowledge God. our so-called educated and civil nations of the western
world are more and more seeing bloodshed in their streets.
Each morning as you read the newspaper, you read the headlines of
murders and killings. The
failure to acknowledge God results in the breakdown of society.
Verse 3 is so relevant.
Because of the sin of the northern kingdom, both land and
livestock are dying and wasting away.
The sin of human beings has an affect on both the land we plant
on and the animals that live on the land.
This is an ecological message.
Sin pollutes. Sin
destroys. Sin causes
environmental disasters. You
can't get much more relevant than that today.
And we wonder today, why we are seeing so much trouble with
nature, with the environment, with the animals.
This is the real "Inconvenient Truth", to quote the
title from a popular book in the early 21st century.
It was Adam and Eve in
the Garden of Eden that sinned, but they brought all of creation down
with them. God judged all of
creation, not just Adam and Eve. When
man sins today, we still bring the environment down with us.
The popular documentary entitled "The Inconvenient
Truth" doesn't really tell the real story of climate change. Climate
change is all about the sins of those people who live in the climate
that is changing. Simply
put, environmental disasters and problems that we face today are all a
matter of judgment by God for our sins.
Romans 8:18 to 25 speaks
of a day in the future that creation itself is actually looking forward
to. When the redeemed
inherit their new glorified bodies, all creation will be made new as
well. Creation will glorify
God in a way we can't imagine. What
Paul says in Romans 8:18 to 25 seems to suggest that creation itself,
the rocks, the land, the animals, have some kind of intelligent
In verse 4 God says not
to bring charges against one another like they do against the priests.
Charges against priest were strictly prohibited in the Law of
Moses. (Deuteronomy 17)
The point of this verse is that the people of the northern
kingdom were always striving, or fighting against what the priest were
telling them, that is, what the good priests were telling them.
They were now doing the same with each other.
They were back-biting, arguing, and blaming one another, much
like what you hear in the media today and on talk radio.
We do the same today. At
a drop of a pin, we sue our neighbour.
God simply says "blame yourself". The whole land has
become populated with complainers and blamers.
God sounds a little sarcastic here, but if you study the
prophets, you will see that God does speak sarcastically at times.
Verse 5 says "you
stumble day and night". Simply
put, "it's the blind leading the blind".
Even the so-called prophets, the so-called men of God, stumble
with the population in general. The
same is happening today in many parts of the church.
Leaders are just as blind as those they are meant to lead.
They're all walking around as blind men, thus the destruction
that comes on the northern kingdom will come on those blind parts of the
church as well. What I say
When verse 5 says
"that I will destroy your mother",
the word "mother" refers to the nation of the northern
kingdom, the mother of the people who live in the nation.
In verse 6 God gives us
the reason for the mess the northern kingdom is in, and the reason why
He is now going to destroy them as seen in verse 5.
It is because of "lack of knowledge".
"Lack of knowledge" here is not only "not
knowing", but "rejecting the knowledge" they do know or
have been taught in the past. Over
the prior generations, one generation after another all did a
poor job of passing godly knowledge down to their children because they
rejected the knowledge themselves. It got to the place that those who
lived in the northern kingdom had no knowledge of what was right and
what was wrong, what was godly and what wasn't godly.
How they lived was the way they thought God wanted them to
live. The same is true
today. We are so far removed
from God that we think the way we live is what God wants, but it isn't.
Lately I encountered a 28
year old person that had never heard of the story of David and Goliath.
Biblical knowledge in our secular societies is non-existence.
Even in the church, Biblical knowledge and understanding is
fading fast. For this reason
we, as happened with Israel, will perish, as verse 6 states. "My
people are destroyed from lack of knowledge", or, "for
rejecting knowing God". This
should be at the top of the church's list today to fix.
Verse 6 also says,
"because you (Israel) have rejected knowledge (of God), I will reject you as priests".
God had ordained
Verse 6 also says, because you have ignored the law of God, I will also ignore your children". This has come true throughout much of the history of Israel. That may sound unfair to you, but this is how God works. He does not change to meet our expectations. We are the ones in need of change. We need to submit to His expectations. This is something we really do need to understand. All that being said, the individual Israeli could still find repentance and God's blessings if they turned from their sin. God may reject a generation, but there is still hope for the individual in that rejected generation.
also says, "they exchange their Glory for something
disgraceful". The word
"Glory" in the NIV is capitalized because it refers to God
Himself. Yahweh was the
Glory of Israel, but in rejecting God and turning to other gods, they
lost that glory. The glory,
the shine, the vibrancy that comes from the Lord Himself will disappear
as we reject Him and His Word. Worse
still, they lose the Lord as He steps back from them.
says that the Jewish leadership fed on the sins of their people.
Simply put, the more sins committed by the people, the more
animal sacrifices would be made for their sins and the more the priest
would feast from these animals. A
man would bring his sacrifice and instead of the priest caring for the
man in his sin, he was caring for his stomach.
says, "like people, like priests".
The two groups just feed off each other.
They encouraged each other to sin. The
priests promoted sin and the people sinned by doing what the priests
promoted, and in the long run, the priests would benefit.
God would punish both the priests and the people because of this.
Does God still punish today?
There is no place in the Bible where it says He doesn't. As
a matter of fact, Hebrews 12:5 says that God rebukes, or punishes, his
children. We need to
distinguish between God's punishment, as a father would discipline his
children, and God's judgment. They
are two different things. I
think many get confused about this.
about God's punishment is that the people and priests are both punished.
Even though the priests didn't properly teach the people, and the
people may be ignorant of God's will, the people were still punished.
That being said, I do believe there is Scripture evidence that leaders
are judged more severely than the people.
punishment is seen in verse 10.
of prosperity is due to God's punishment of
to understand that prostitution as seen here and elsewhere in Hosea are
seen in two ways. It is
literal prostitution, and it is spiritual prostitution.
thing to note here is that part of the worship of other gods often
included prostitution. As
time went on, more and more of the religious life of paganism included
temple prostitutes, which by the way, were both male and female.
Having sexual encounters with these temple prostitutes was seen
as a religious experience.
continues with punishment and the reason for God punishing
sounds pathetic. God says
second half of verse 12 speaks of "a spirit of prostitution leading
speaks of sacrificing on mountain tops and hills.
This would be on the mountains and hills of
reason why these people, and pagans in general, sacrificed on the top of
mountains and hills was because they simply believed the higher up you
get, the closer you are to the gods. That
sounds logical from a pagan standpoint.
remember John, chapter 4, where Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman,
she asked Jesus about worshipping on "this mountain".
What she said concerning worshipping on "this mountain"
stems from this verse. The
paganism of Hosea's day was still part of Samaritan worship when Jesus
was on earth. Remember,
Samaritans were part Jew and part pagan, both in ethnicity and religion.
also states that
the adulterous lifestyles of both the men and the women, we see in verse
13 the reason why this took place. It
was because they worshipped wooden idols in the mountains and hills of
the term "temple prostitutes" in verse 14.
This was common place among pagan civilizations. As
I said earlier, these prostitutes were both men and women, mothers,
daughters and sons. Throughout
the centuries, in front of pagan temples and places of worship,
prostitutes would make themselves available to the men who came to
worship. The mixture of sex
and false worship is another tendency of man.
We're actually seeing a revival of that today with the mixture of
yoga and sex. Sex and yoga
are combined for a greater sexual experience, or so they say.
speaks of these sexual encounters beneath trees.
The simple reason was to stay out of the sun.
in the NIV states that God would not punish the daughters and
term "sacrifice with the temple prostitutes" in verse 14.
This tells us that men having sex with these temple prostitutes
was seen as a sacrifice, as a means of worship.
Truly, this is the pagan mentality and this is what the Jews were
ends with, "a people without understanding will come to a
ruin". The simple point
here is that Israeli society had lost all understanding of God and His
ways. Children born of Jews
were being raised as pagans and that's all they knew.
The result was that their society would fall into ruins.
15 God gives up on the northern kingdom.
She has gone too far to return. He
acknowledges the sin of the northern kingdom and gives some hope for the
southern kingdom that she will not do the same. We know from history,
however, the southern kingdom did commit such adultery, but the number
one reason why the southern kingdom experienced God's judgment about a
hundred years later was because of their neglect to keep the Sabbaths.
verse 15 God tells the Jews not to go up to Gilgal.
Gilgal became one of the important cities for idol worship.
A once important city for godly heritage now became paganized.
Joshua first led
Beth Aven in verse 15 as well. The
Jews weren't to go there either. This
city was known for its idol worship.
The Hebrew word translated as "Beth" means
ends by saying, "do not swear , as surely as the Lord lives".
If those in the northern kingdom swore an oath based on their
God, as would have been the case, for them in the sinful condition they
were in, the oath would have been meaningless.
So they would have sworn based on a relationship with their God
that they did not have. The
oath would have been a joke. The
Lord does not want us swearing, or basing a promise, on Him if we have
no association with Him, something people often do these days.
If one swears on the Bible in court, and if that one is not a
Christian, swearing on the Bible is meaningless, and disgraceful in the
sight of God. If one swears
on the Bible in court and claims to be a Christian who upholds the
Bible, but doesn't, his swearing is a joke as well.
speaks to the stubbornness of the northern kingdom, as described in
farming terms. They say that
you cannot get a stubborn cow to move.
That's the picture of
states that Ephraim is joined to idols.
Again, Ephraim in this verse is in reference to the whole of the
northern kingdom. One reason
why Ephraim is used in this sense is that it is one of the largest, if
not the largest tribe in the northern kingdom.
It was located near the northern borders of the northern kingdom.
"leave Ephraim alone" in verse 17 clearly tells us that God is
handing the northern kingdom over to its own sin and folly.
Just as Paul speaks of in Romans 1 and 2.
Eventually when people, and when nations, fail to repent, God
will step back and leave the people and the nations alone.
He will let them live as they wish, but of course, the people and
the nations will suffer the consequences from the Lord.
If God leaves people and nations alone, those people and nations
are in serious trouble. We
are all so depraved, without God's help, our depravity will kill us.
states that even when their drinks are gone, they still play around with
the prostitutes. Those who
commit adultery often combine their pleasure with drinking alcohol.
For some, drinking enhances the pleasure, possibly relieves
shame. For others, it dulls
the senses, meaning, it dulls the guilt.
Yet with those in the northern kingdom, even when the alcohol is
gone, they keep going with the prostitutes.
When the alcohol wares off, they still sin with the prostitutes.
They really don't need their sense of guilt dulled anymore. They
just don't care any more. As
the apostle Paul said, "their conscience has been seared as with a
hot iron". (1 Timothy 4:2 )
only the ordinary people who go after prostitutes, it's the leaders of
ends this chapter. It says
that a whirlwind will sweep the northern kingdom away.
I believe this refers to Assyria, especially in the way in which
they came into the northern kingdom and literally swept them away back
chapter ends on a sad note. It
says, "their sacrifices will bring them shame".
Something that was meant to forgive sins, something meant to be
redemptive, and a form of worship, in the long run brought them shame.
None of these religious practices brought the results they were
intended to have because they had been adulterated with humanism and
paganism. They were useless
in the eyes of God. Parts of
the Evangelical church are doing the same today.