Going Through Religious Motions Won’t Cut It With God!

God Announces The Sentence!


God laments his people’s lack of understanding and commitment even in the face of his discipline, so he brings judgment on them.


God laments over his people


“O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.

Hosea 6:4 (NLT)


In a series of vivid similes and metaphors, Hosea revealed the true character of the people of Israel. God enters into a one-sided conversation with his people, never giving them opportunity to respond.


The deity’s rhetorical questions formulate a lament, bemoaning the spiritual condition of his people. He faces a decision he does not want to make even though the answer is obvious.


Their love for the Lord was like a morning cloud and the dew. Early in the morning, the dew looks like sparkling jewels, but as soon as the sun comes up, the dew is gone. Israel’s devotion to the Lord was temporary, lovely but not lasting.


This loyal love was part of God’s marriage vows with his people (Hos. 2:19) and part of his earlier accusation against them (Hos. 4:1). But it was not part of Israel’s life in relationship to God. The Lord had become one of Israel’s many lovers to be wooed today and wronged tomorrow.


I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light.

Hosea 6:5 (NLT)


To give some substance to their faith, God sent them His prophets with the Word of God that is like a penetrating sword (Eph. 6:17) and a flash of lightning, but the people turned a deaf ear.


I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6 (NLT)


God doesn’t want our relationship with Him to be one of shallow, transient feelings and empty words and rituals, hearts that are enthusiastic one day and frigid the next.


Humans love to relate to God through ritual and sacrifice rather than through covenant loyalty and obedience. A superficial ritual can never take the place of sincere love and faithful obedience (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Matt 9:13; 12:7).


But God reduces ritual and sacrifice to a second tier of priorities. Israel has acted like Canaanites. They thought in Canaanite fashion that a person showed devotion to the gods by regular sacrifices.


So Smith writes: “Their worship at their temples does not satisfy the Lord because he wants them to love him, fear him, worship only him, serve him, and obey him (Deut 10:12). Going through the religious motions will not cut it with God”.


Israel has experienced God’s deadly prophetic word and the murderous enemy armies that God has sent to discipline them. Now they have one last chance to learn their lesson and relate in love and loyalty to the God whom they can come to know.


Can this really happen?


But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust.

Hosea 6:7 (NLT)


Sadly, history repeats itself. God promised Adam His blessings if he obeyed His commands, but Adam deliberately destroyed and plunged the human race into sin and death (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22).


God promised Israel the blessings of the Promised Land if they would obey Him (Deut. 28), but they broke the covenant and suffered the consequences. For both Israel and Judah, God had appointed a harvest, and they would reap just what they had sown.


“Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood.

Hosea 6:8 (NLT)


Gilead was a large territory east of the Jordan River. The tribes of Manasseh and Gad settled it. The prophet poetically refers to it as a city populated by doers of injustice (Job 31:3). The streets of the city were stained with footprints of blood.


Such behaviour is treachery, unfaithfulness to God, betrayal, and thus a breaking of God’s covenant. But it has a concrete illustration to prove how wicked these doers of injustice really were.


Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin.

Hosea 6:9 (NLT)


This verse is quite difficult in Hebrew. Apparently, it uses legal language to indict Israel’s priests for murder – among other shameful crimes. The particular incident occurred on the way to Shechem from Adam east of the Jordan River.


When priests do no even stop at murder, what can we expect from the rest of the nation?


Betrayal is in their nature. Covenant loyalty has vanished from their lives.


Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods!

Hosea 6:10 (NLT)


God has yet more evidence against “my people” Israel. He has seen a most horrible thing (Jer. 18:13). This is the same thing Hosea has focused on since chapter 1 – harlotry or prostitution, both on the physical level and in the realm of cultic worship. Thus Israel is defiled and banned from God’s worship.


“O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.

Hosea 6:11 (NLT)


God announces the sentence. This sentence falls on Judah. He has set a harvest for the people. Normally, this would sound like good news. Harvest time is what a people suffering from drought or from invading armies’ need most.


But the harvest here is not food. The harvest is Judah herself harvested by God, acting as the Grim Reaper to bring ultimate judgment on his people.


Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Amazed (Hosea, Joel).
Holman Old Testament Commentary



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