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Tough Love

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Hosea points out specifically those sins for which Israel is to be punished. Chief among these crimes, causing all the rest, this prophet sets the worship of idols. Despite all God’s guidance in the days of Moses, Israel has followed false gods. For this, Hosea chiefly blames the priesthood. They should have been the guides of the people; they have been false to their trust. Let these evil priests beware; for a terrible vengeance shall fall upon them.
“By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.”

Charges Brought Against Israel

Chief among these crimes, causing all the rest, this prophet sets the worship of idols. Despite all God’s guidance in the days of Moses, Israel has followed false gods. For this, Hosea chiefly blames the priesthood. They should have been the guides of the people; they have been false to their trust. “And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.” Let these evil priests beware; for a terrible vengeance shall fall upon them.
Hosea 4:1–5 ESV
1 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; 2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. 4 Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. 5 You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother.
a. The chapter begins by assuming that the Israelites are standing as the accused before the divine bar of justice. Hosea calls the court to order. The divine Judge, though invisible, is understood as present. The reason for the court session is given: the Lord has a charge to bring against his people in northern Israel. The King James Version translates the Hebrew word here as “controversy,” which could be understood as a quarrel. To prevent this misunderstanding, recent translations have the legal term charge.
b. Immediately, the charge is brought forward; it is an accusation of spiritual and moral misconduct. The spiritual sins are unfaithfulness, lovelessness, and ignorance of God. In biblical Hebrew, “faithfulness” and “truth” are closely related words, for both denote firmness and dependability. In personal relationships, the opposite is fickleness and unreliability. This is true of Israel’s spiritual condition. Likewise, love and mercy can be closely related, for either word can translate the Hebrew covenant word that denotes loyalty and exclusive devotion. The Israelites lack this quality of character. The fact that they do not acknowledge God is not simply because of ignorance; rather, they deliberately reject the Lord as ruler of persons and nation. The Israelites have violated the first two commandments.
c. The people’s moral sins violate the third, ninth, sixth, eighth, and seventh commandments, which are regarded as bounds, that is, limits that cannot be crossed without sinning against God and other people. To break these limits is to engage in bloody violence.
d. The consequences of the people’s sins are fatal. The land dries up and ceases to produce adequate harvests so that the people starve and animals die.
Sometimes Love isn’t enough.

The Judge Sentences Israel

Hosea 4:6-9
Hosea 4:6–9 ESV
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. 7 The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. 8 They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. 9 And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.
a. The Judge begins to sentence the people; their mother, the nation, will be destroyed. But the pronouncement is not completed. The Judge pauses to give the reason: they are guilty of lack of knowledge. In the Old Testament, “knowledge” is a broad term encompassing facts, experience, skills, insight, and understanding. The Book of Hosea stresses moral sensitivity and an intimate, personal relationship with God. The people are not stupid; they are morally and spiritually dead, because they have rejected God and ignored his law. Having given a basis for his pronouncement, the Judge declares that he rejects the priests and their children.
Then after the people are sentenced

The Judge Sentences the Priests

Hosea 4:10–14 ESV
10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the Lord to cherish 11 whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding. 12 My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore. 13 They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters play the whore, and your brides commit adultery. 14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes and sacrifice with cult prostitutes, and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.
Hosea 4:10-14
a. The Judge returns to supporting his decree. The priests are sinners because they have switched their allegiance to that which is disgraceful (idolatry). They should have served the true God. Serving idols led the priests to exploit their people and join with them in wickedness, again a reference to idolatry. Instead of providing a means of atonement for sins and instructing the people in the laws of holiness, the priests became one with the people in sin.
The Priests stopped being leaders
They took pleasure in the sins of the people because they could take advantage of them in their crisis.
The Sentence
a. The people are included but the emphasis is on the priests. Their appetites will be unlimited and their immorality will produce sterility. Why? They have left the Lord for prostitution and drunkenness which destroy understanding. They seek instruction from sticks thought to be gods. They are captured by the spirit of prostitution and are breaking all ties with the Lord and his covenant. They conduct their worship services at pagan shrines on hills and mountains with the result that their daughters and daughters-in-law become morally polluted. Yet, the Judge will not punish them; he will place the blame on the men who model immorality by their actions.
No matter how much our leaders seem to get away with, God unconditionally loves us and will bring his wrath upon those he placed in charge, from the president to the local resident. Your next blank is.
Sometimes Love hurts.

The Lord’s Appeal to Judah

Hosea 4:15 ESV
15 Though you play the whore, O Israel, let not Judah become guilty. Enter not into Gilgal, nor go up to Beth-aven, and swear not, “As the Lord lives.”
a. The Lord desires that Judah keep free of the sins of Israel. He thus warns Judah to stay away from the favorite shrines: Gilgal and Beth-Aven (meaning “house of wickedness” and serving as a substitute name for Bethel, which means “house of God”). Both shrines were across the border just north of Jerusalem; there worshipers honored Baal while using the words of vows associated with worshiping the Lord.

The Prosecutions Closing Remarks

Hosea 4:16–19 ESV
16 Like a stubborn heifer, Israel is stubborn; can the Lord now feed them like a lamb in a broad pasture? 17 Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone. 18 When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring; their rulers dearly love shame. 19 A wind has wrapped them in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
Your last blank is
Hosea 4:16-19
Sometimes Love requires letting go.
Sometimes Love requires letting go.
a. The sentence is stated vividly. The people will be removed by a whirlwind and sacred sacrifices will not provide atonement, but will cover them with shame.


We see that God loosens his grip on us and allows us to go ahead stumble. Sometimes he even allows the land to mourn for our disobedience, but I’m not worried. Because, I have read the book and I know how the story ends.
Even though we are brazenly ungrateful, we reject his love and grace in sinning against him, God won't let you stay there. God is merciful and gracious and welcomes you back with no strings attached. We don't get what we deserve, he does not abandon us, not give up, not reject us, he embraces us.
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