God Issues Another Warning To Israel!
Sin has become so pervasive that the people can no longer return to their God.
Hear this, priests! Pay attention, house of Israel! Listen, royal house! For the judgment applies to you because you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread out on Tabor.
Hosea 5:1 (HCSB)
God calls the priests to attention. All Israel must listen up. The royal house, Jeroboam’s family and advisors, receive a special invitation to lend an ear. God, the righteous Judge, has just pronounced the verdict on Israel. The people are guilty as charged. God’s unjust people face judgment because they have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread out over Mount Tabor.
Mizpah was an ancient worship place in Gilead east of the Jordan River, and it had patriarchal connection (Gen. 31:49). Or Hosea could be referring to Mizpah in the territory of Benjamin (1 Kings 15:22). Mount Tabor was a high hill north of the Jezreel Valley and southwest of the Sea of Chinnereth (Ps. 89:12).
These examples stand for all the many places where Israel had traditionally worshipped God. All were corrupt. The leaders likely even encouraged the people to sin at these places. With both their civil and religious leaders hopelessly corrupt, the people of Israel did not have much of a chance. They looked to their leaders for guidance, and they should have found it.
Israel’s combination of worship of God with worship of Baal had turned all Israel’s worship centers from a place for worshippers to a stink hole for sinners. The allure of past tradition at these places must not beckon faithful Israelites into their traps.
Rebels are deeply involved in slaughter; I will be a punishment for all of them.
Hosea 5:2 (HCSB)
God issues another warning to Israel, referring to them as rebels who have revolted against him, removing him as their king. In all of their economic and political prosperity, they have forsaken God’s justice and become murderers of the poor among their own people. They do no see any crime in what they have done, nor do they expect any punishment. God will be their instructor who brings discipline or punishment and puts them in shackles like prisoners.
Today we can choose our own leaders, but we still need to be aware of whether they are taking us toward or away from God. God held the people responsible for what they did. Similarly, God holds us responsible for our actions and choices.
I know what you are like, O Ephraim. You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel. You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband; you are utterly defiled.
Hosea 5:3 (NLT)
The citizens of Israel thought they could live any way they pleased and not be found out. God had to remind them of the extent of his knowledge. He knew everything they did and said and thought and planned. Nothing escaped him. They could not hide.
Ephraim has engaged in prostitution in the fertility cults of Baal. Thus Israel is corrupt or defiled, no longer pure and clean, and no longer eligible to enter the holy place where God is worshipped (2 Chr. 23:19).
Their actions do not allow them to return to their God, for a spirit of promiscuity is among them, and they do not know the Lord.
Hosea 5:4 (HCSB)
Unable to enter God’s holy sanctuary, the people cannot find atonement. Thus they cannot return to their God. “Return” (Heb. Shub) also means repent.
How can anyone be so isolated from God?
The spirit of harlotry referred to in Hosea 4:12, 18 dominates their life. In their heart is literally “in their midst.” This is not so much a reference to individuals as it is to the community as a whole. All the people of Israel prefer the prostitution of Baal worship to the atonement of authentic worship. Thus even though God knows them (Hos. 5:3), they do not know (or acknowledge) the LORD (Hos. 6:3).
Persistent sin hardens a person’s heart, making it difficult to repent. Deliberately choosing to disobey God can sear the conscience; each sin makes the next one easier to commit. Don’t allow sin to groove a hard path deep within you. Steer as far away from sinful practices as possible.
But the pride and self-reliance of Israel testifies against him. Therefore Israel, and [especially] Ephraim, stumble and fall in their wickedness and guilt; Judah also has stumbled with them.
Hosea 5:5 (AMP)
Continuing his use of courtroom language, Hosea places Israel on the witness stand. Surely they can give testimony to clear themselves of such drastic charges. Hosea concludes sadly that this is not the case. Israel’s testimony is self-convicting because Israel is proud. Such arrogant pride never impresses God (Amos 6:8). Thus Israel will stumble (Hos. 4:5).
What is even worse for Hosea is that his own people, the Southern Kingdom (Judah), are not exempt. They will follow Israel’s example and stumble into sin and destruction. Hosea’s desperate plea of 4:15 is not answered. All God’s people are united in sin. God’s chosen nation has become God’s target for punishment and ruin.
They will go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord [diligently searching for Him], but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them [refusing to hear the prayers of the unrepentant].
Hosea 5:6 (AMP)
The Israelites did not listen to the prophet. They could not stay away from their places of worship. They led their sacrificial animals to the altars at the high places and at the traditional worship centers, expecting to sacrifice them to God, receive his blessing, and find atonement for their sins.
Israel claimed they were seeking the Lord. But seeking God requires repentance and humility (Zeph 2:3), obedience, love, and justice. Even then, it is God who chooses whether to reveal himself to the seeker (Isa. 65:1), but the person who sincerely seeks the Lord can hope to find him (Jer. 29:13).
The Israelites who were seeking God with their sacrificial animals were in for a surprise; God had deserted the camp. He was no longer at home in their worship places. The holy God would not live in unholy surroundings, and Israel had combined worship of God and Baal worship into a sinful ritual that had no place for the God of the fathers, the Lord of the covenant, the one and only holy God.
They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, for they have borne illegitimate (pagan) children. Now the New Moon will devour them along with their land [bringing judgment and captivity].
Hosea 5:7 (AMP)
Israel had done more than be unfaithful to the LORD. The Hebrew term (bagad) means to deal treacherously with or to depart treacherously from (Ps. 78:57). Israel had become deceptive and disruptive, even to the point of violence, severing the ties between themselves and God. They had betrayed the one they should have loved because he loved them.
Their outward worship covered over their inward intentions to betray God and follow other gods. Their treacherous betrayal left concrete evidence in its wake – illegitimate children. They trained their legitimate children in illegitimate worship; they turned their children into worshippers of Baal. Thus they were no longer God’s heirs and did not deserve to inherit his land and his blessings.
Now introduces God’s word of judgment and sentencing: their New Moon festivals will devour them with their portions. “New Moon” refers to the religious celebration of the first day of each month (Num. 28:11). This frequent festival was misused by Israel as a fertility rite for Baal (Isa. 1:13).
People and priests should join in the celebration, each eating his designated portion of the sacrificed animals. They should praise God for his saving acts for his nation in giving them their land. Instead, God’s sentence said, the festival itself would eat the people with their inherited portions of the Promised Land.
Holman Old Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible
Fertility Cults Of Canaan