Hosea claimed Israel suffered because the people did not obey their heavenly husband and they ignored His law. As a result, they did not know God.
Is it possible that the problems you face have happened because you have refused to do what God has been telling you to do for so long that you really do not know God any longer?
God’s sinful people neither know nor seek to worship Him, so they must face destruction and isolation from him until they are willing to admit their guilt and turn back to worship Him.
God Brings A Charge Of Disobedience Against Israel!
The rest of Hosea’s prophecy deals with Israel’s sin and her impending judgment. Hosea points out the moral and spiritual decay of the nation. He describes the punishment awaiting the people and pleads with them to return to God. Although judgment and condemnation of sin are prevalent in the book, a strand of love and restoration runs throughout. Even in the midst of judgment, God is merciful and will restore those who repent and turn to him.
In this chapter, God brings a charge of disobedience against Israel. The religious leaders had failed to turn the people to God, and ritual prostitution had replaced right worship. The nation had declined spiritually and morally, breaking the laws that God had given them. The people found it easy to condemn Hosea’s wife for her adultery. They were not so quick to see that they had been unfaithful to God.
Hear the word of the Lord, people of Israel,
for the Lord has a case
against the inhabitants of the land:
There is no truth, no faithful love,
and no knowledge of God in the land!
The court is called to order as defendant Israel is called upon to hear the word of the Lord. God, the prosecuting attorney and judge, will present His case. This is not an ordinary court case. The indictment is the word of the Lord.
The people of Israel must listen to a litany of charges against them, knowing the case has divine authority behind it. Thus Israel has no defense as they listen to this charge from the Lord.
God does not use individual names. He addresses the ones who live in the land. Once these inhabitants of the land had been Canaanites whom God had told Israel to destroy (Josh. 9:4). Now the inhabitants were Israelites whom God had now begun to destroy.
God had good reason. He could not find the characteristics that were supposed to mark Israel off as God’s people who were unlike the peoples of the land. The first of these was faithfulness or integrity. The term means
- Trustworthiness, or
This certainly did not characterize Israel’s relationship with God. They flirted with other gods and entered intimate relationships with then and their cultic representatives rather than being loyal to the Lord.
Israel had no faithful covenant love. “Acknowledgment of God” was also missing from Israel’s character profile. This exact phrase occurs twice in Hosea 4:1; 6:6. But in a variation on this phrase, The Bible frequently charges that people do no know God (Jer. 4:22). Such knowledge involves the intimacy of personal relationship, the recognition of God’s power and authority, the confession of God’s will and ways. None of this characterized Israel’s life with God. They stood in the same relationship to God as Pharaoh did in the exodus.
The basis for judgment was the holy law of God, the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. “All that the Lord has spoken we will do,” was their promise (Ex. 19:8), but that promise was soon broken. Just as Gomer didn’t take her marriage vows seriously but went to live with another man, so Israel reneged on her promises to God and turned to pagan idols. There was no faithfulness (truth) in the land, no loyal love to the Lord.
|Even today there are religions that bow before statues and icons, a practice forbidden by God’s Word. The significance God places upon it is reflected in the fact that the first of the Ten Commandments refers to idolatry:
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5).
Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God.
Is it any wonder that God hates it?
God explained the reasons for Israel’s suffering. Their lawless behavior had brought the twin judgments of increased violence and ecological crisis. There is not always a direct cause-and-effect relationship between our actions and the problems we face. Nevertheless, when we are facing difficulties, we should seriously ask,
“Have I done anything sinful or irresponsible that has caused my suffering?”
If we discover that we are at fault, even partially, we must change our ways before God will help us.
When people reject God’s covenant, they begin to exploit each other, for the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with our neighbor as well as with the Lord. If we love the Lord, we will also love our neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40; Rom. 13:8-10). But there was no mercy in the land, no love for one’s neighbor, no compassion for the poor and needy. People were false-hearted toward God and hardhearted toward one another.
The basic sin was ignorance; there was “no knowledge of God in the land.” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). This means much more than knowledge about God; it refers to a personal knowledge of God. The Hebrew word describes a husband’s most intimate relationship with his wife (Gen. 4:1; 19:8). To know God is to have a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ (John 17:3).
The Judge pointed to the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) and reminded the people of how they had violated His law by –
Cursing, lying, murder, stealing,
and adultery are rampant;
one act of bloodshed follows another.
Hosea 4:2 (HCSB)
God has a list of traits that profile Israel quite accurately.
Cursing refers to using the divine name to call down evil on an enemy or to make a covenant in the deity’s name. A curse called down evil on anyone who did not keep the stipulations of the covenant or treaty agreement. When this is done without reason or with no intention of carrying the treaty obligations, then God’s name is misused, breaking the thirst commandment (Exod. 20:7)
Murder is an intentional, violent attack on an individual resulting in death; it affects the welfare of the community (Job 24:14). It goes against the precise wording of the sixth commandment (Deut. 5:17). Murder is different than unintentional manslaughter (Num. 35:12-30) and legitimate, government-sanctioned wars and executions (Gen 9:6).
Strictly speaking, adultery involves a man having sexual relationships with the wife or fiancé of another man (Jer. 29:23), though mention is also made of adulteresses (Prov. 30:20). The seventh commandment (Exod. 20:14) forbids adultery.
Bloodshed is a summary term referring to the prevailing attitude in the land where human life has no value. Such bloodshed defiles God’s sacred land that he gave his people (Num. 35:33). It violates the order of creation (Gen. 9:6).
For this reason the land mourns,
and everyone who lives in it languishes,
along with the wild animals and the birds of the sky;
even the fish of the sea disappear.
Hosea 4:3 (HCSB)
The evidence of Israel’s guilt is clear. Thus the Lord pronounces the sentence. The whole creation – land, sky, and sea – are affected.
As a result, they had brought suffering to themselves, to the land, and even to the animals. God’s covenant promise was that He would bless the land if the people obeyed Him, but that He would punish the land if they disobeyed (Lev. 26; Deut. 27-28).
Nothing in Israel’s life will remain the same when God, the righteous Judge, enforces his sentence.
The land belonged to God (Lev. 25:23) and the sins of the people polluted the land (18:25-28; 26:32-33). Natural calamities like droughts, famines, and the devastations of war were sometimes sent by God to discipline His people. Whether to bless or to judge, God always keeps His covenant promises.
Compare Hosea 4:3 with Genesis 9:8-11 and Revelation 4:7-11 and you will see that God takes seriously His covenant with creation. He will one day judge those who destroy the earth (Rev. 11:18). The basis for ecology is not politics or comfort but the holy law of God. We are stewards of God’s creation.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Amazed
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible
Holman Old Testament Commentary