The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is studying the book of Hosea. Israel's unfaithfulness to the Lord is depicted by Hosea in terms of a wife who has turned her back upon a faithful husband in order to follow evil lovers. These posts are my notes for each session. Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments below. We welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, and prayers.
Last week we talked about God taking His blessings away from Israel so that the nation would realize that it was Him that provided the things that caused her to prosper. Once she realized it and returned He would take her to a quite place and allure her.
God told Hosea to go get his wife so he went and bought her back for 15 shekels of silver and five bushels of barley. As we finished last week we talked about this time or allurement when everything was taken away from Israel being their exile to Assyria as the time that they realized how much God had done for them in the past and how much He loved her. During this time;
In her fallen state, Israel will not have the national or political leadership she needs. In her fallen state, Israel will not have the spiritual service she needs.In her fallen state, Israel will not have the supernatural guidance and direction she needs.
Hosea 3:5 (HCSB)5 Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.
In this time of political and spiritual ruin, Israel will return and seek the LORD again. This will mark their restoration - and there will be no restoration until they turn back to the LORD.
This shows that this prophecy will be ultimately fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.
Immediately after describing his vision of reconciliation;
Hosea 3:5 (HCSB)5 Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.
Hosea Chapter 4
The Lord led Hosea to prophesy about the terrible consequences of Israel's sin.
1. When do you feel most discouraged about your society?
Hosea 4:1-3 (HCSB)1 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!2 Cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery are rampant; one act of bloodshed follows another.3 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.
2. Because there was "no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land", what was happening to Israelite society?
They were forsaking the knowledge of God, truth, mercy, and restraint, resulting in a rash of violent crimes. According to Hosea Idolatry and crimes of violence are closely related.
As we read this chapter compare it with what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans;
Romans 1:18-26 (HCSB)18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
Wrath is God’s reaction to godlessness and unrighteousness. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
3. How do you see the same results of sin in your culture today?
The message is the same for us today: You make your own rules. You answer to no one. You are the one that matters. Your universe revolves around you. You should only restrain yourself if you want to.
You see it in modern advertising slogans:
- "To know no boundaries"
- "No rules, just right"
- "Just do it"
- "Break all the rules"
- "Peel off inhibitions. Find your own road"
- "Living without boundaries"
The corrupt and ineffective leadership of the priests.
Hosea 4:4-8 (HCSB)4 But let no one dispute; let no one argue, for My case is against you priests.5 You will stumble by day; the prophet will also stumble with you by night. And I will destroy your mother.6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.7 The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me. I will change their honor into disgrace.8 They feed on the sin of My people; they have an appetite for their transgressions.
But because the people cast off the knowledge of God, truth, mercy, and restraint, they wouldn't listen to the priests, and contended with them instead. The rejected the counsel of the God-ordained messenger - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
"They won't listen to the priest, but they contend with him instead. So he tells Hosea don't waste your time trying to contend or rebuke them yourself."
This not listening to the priests resulted in the lack of knowledge mentioned in verse 6 and since there was the lack of knowledge they would stumble and be destroyed. It isn't because God has lost either His love or strength. It isn't that God says His people are completely ignorant.
God clearly commanded His people to listen to and submit to the priests, who would lead and help the people with the Word of God.
Deuteronomy 17:8-12 (HCSB)8 “If a case is too difficult for you—concerning bloodshed, lawsuits, or assaults—cases disputed at your gates, you must go up to the place the LORD your God chooses.9 You are to go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who presides at that time. Ask, and they will give you a verdict in the case.10 You must abide by the verdict they give you at the place the LORD chooses. Be careful to do exactly as they instruct you.11 You must abide by the instruction they give you and the verdict they announce to you. Do not turn to the right or the left from the decision they declare to you.12 The person who acts arrogantly, refusing to listen either to the priest who stands there serving the LORD your God or to the judge, must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
They have some knowledge, but not enough. They may have just enough to make them think they know it all. Like the Corinthian Church….
1 Corinthians 8:1-2 (HCSB)1 About food offered to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it.
4. What kind of knowledge do they lack?
They lack the knowledge of God. They know God some - perhaps a little - but not enough. Perhaps they felt they knew God well enough already.
They lack is the knowledge of God's Word verse 6 says they have forgotten the law of God. They know the Word of God some - perhaps a little - but not enough. Perhaps they felt they knew God's Word well enough already. That’s why we urge you to read and study the bible for yourself. Just listening to somebody preach or teach on Sunday, or Tuesday, or Thursday isn’t enough. You need to spend time on your own searching and studying. As God to show you something in the Word that you had not seen or understood before.
There is a connection between knowing God and knowing His Word. Some people think that Bible knowledge is boring and brainy and not necessary for a real walk with God. But God and His Word are vitally connected.
Psalm 138:2 (HCSB) I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your constant love and truth. You have exalted Your name and Your promise above everything else.
Jesus is called “The Word”
John 1:1 (HCSB) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
When we know God for who He really is, it affects our conduct. This is what one commentator says "Where there is no knowledge of God, no conviction of his omnipresence and omniscience, private offences, such as stealing, adulteries, and so forth, will prevail." (Clarke)
It was so bad, in Israel, that the people dragged the prophet down to their level of ungodliness. Perhaps the prophet thought he was safe or immune because of his spiritual standing or reputation, but he is not. The prophet also shall stumble with you.
We see many examples of that today with pastors, evangelists and other church leaders being disgraced publicly. Remember what Paul said about being careful when trying to help others with sin?
But it was the priests who were responsible for giving the people the knowledge that they lacked.
Teaching was an important duty of the priests.
Deuteronomy 33:10 (HCSB)10 They will teach Your ordinances to Jacob and Your instruction to Israel; they will set incense before You and whole burnt offerings on Your altar.
Ezekiel 44:23 (HCSB)23 They must teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.
Malachi 2:7 (HCSB) For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of Hosts.
Their neglect of teaching the Word demonstrates what an important place the minister, the pastor, the preacher has in presenting God and His Word to the people. If he neglects his duty to preach the word , then he can't lead the people into the true knowledge of God, and will lead them into destruction. That’s what false teachers and prophets do.
What they are supposed to do is;
2 Timothy 4:2 (HCSB) Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.
But what they do is;
Titus 1:16 (HCSB)16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (HCSB)1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days.2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!
The priests themselves had rejected the knowledge of God and His Word. The priests had been poor examples, leading Israel into apostasy. For this reason they were rejected in the words thou shalt be no priest to me. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Hosea 4:8 (HCSB) They feed on the sin of My people; they have an appetite for their transgressions.
The priests had been highly honored, but as they were increased, so they sinned. That is, the more they increased, the more they sinned. Priests became greedy, and the mercenary spirit which prevailed among them is expressed in the charge, They eat up the sin of my people. Sin may refer to the sin offering, referring to the fact that the priests grew wealthy as they greedily seized the offerings which the people brought to the Lord. The sons of Eli were guilty of such sins. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
1 Samuel 2:12-17 (HCSB)12 Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD
13 or for the priests’ share ⌊of the sacrifices⌋ from the people. When any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged meat fork while the meat was boiling14 and plunge it into the container or kettle or cauldron or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh.15 Even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest ⌊some⌋ meat to roast, because he won’t accept boiled meat from you—only raw.”16 If that man said to him, “The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself,” the servant would reply, “No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don’t, I’ll take it by force!”17 So the servants’ sin was very severe in the presence of the LORD, because they treated the LORD’s offering with contempt.
The sons of Eli were guilty of a twofold sin: (a) instead of taking only their allotted portion, they took all the fork would hold; and (b) they took their share before the fat and blood were offered in sacrifice to the Lord. Apparently the priests did not accept invitations to every family meal but wanted prize cuts sent to their homes. To make sure of getting these prime cuts, they insisted that their servants get the best pieces before the offerings were made. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
This is an indictment of those today who are responsible for teaching the people of God, pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists, apostles who have rejected the Word and twisted it, taken it out of context for their own gain.
Judgment is promised
Hosea 4:9-10 (HCSB)9 ⌊The same judgment⌋ will happen to both people and priests. I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.10 They will eat but not be satisfied; they will be promiscuous but not multiply. For they have abandoned their devotion to the LORD.
The priests may have thought they would be immune from the judgment coming upon Israel. After all, they were priests! But God promises that when it comes to judgment, like people, like priest.
There is also another way to understand the phrase "like people, like priest." It also means that as the people go, so go the priests. Sometimes people expect their religious leaders to be holy for them or instead of them. But since the "priests" come from the people, if the people are backslidden then many backslidden men will seek to be "priests."
In Israel the priesthood was corrupt.
When the northern kingdom split the first king of Israel Jeroboam made priest from all kinds of people.
1 Kings 12:31 (HCSB)31 Jeroboam also built shrines on the high places and set up priests from every class of people who were not Levites.
1 Kings 13:33-34 (HCSB)33 After all this Jeroboam did not repent of his evil way but again set up priests for the high places from every class of people. He ordained whoever so desired it, and they became priests of the high places.34 This was the sin that caused the house of Jeroboam to be wiped out and annihilated from the face of the earth.
Exodus 28:1-4 (HCSB)1 “Have your brother Aaron, with his sons, come to you from the Israelites to serve Me as priest—Aaron, his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
2 Make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and beauty.3 You are to instruct all the skilled craftsmen, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron’s garments for consecrating him to serve Me as priest.4 These are the garments that they must make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a specially woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron and his sons so that they may serve Me as priests.
So most of the true priests and prophets left and went to the southern kingdom or Judah.
2 Chronicles 11:13-16 (HCSB)13 The priests and Levites from all their regions throughout Israel took their stand with Rehoboam,14 for the Levites left their pasturelands and their possessions and went to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons refused to let them serve as priests of Yahweh.15 Jeroboam appointed his own priests for the high places, the goat-demons, and the ⌊golden⌋ calves he had made.16 Those from every tribe of Israel who had determined in their hearts to seek Yahweh their God followed the Levites to Jerusalem to sacrifice to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.
Let’s go to Hosea 4:10-14
Hosea 4:10-14 (HCSB)10 They will eat but not be satisfied; they will be promiscuous but not multiply. For they have abandoned their devotion to the LORD.11 Promiscuity, wine, and new wine take away ⌊one’s⌋ understanding.12 My people consult their wooden ⌊idols⌋, and their divining rods inform them. For a spirit of promiscuity leads them astray; they act promiscuously in disobedience to their God.13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops, and they burn offerings on the hills, and under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, because their shade is pleasant. And so your daughters act promiscuously and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.14 I will not punish your daughters when they act promiscuously or your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, for the men themselves go off with prostitutes and make sacrifices with cult prostitutes. People without discernment are doomed.
Israel will not be blessed with increase. They will have, but it will never seem to be enough, and they will never be satisfied.
5. Although many sins are mentioned in this passage, which one does God condemn repeatedly?
Harlotry Israel’s harlotry was its idol worship. Israel's idolatry was like adultery against the LORD. Every sacrifice made to a pagan god was like an act of adultery.
The picture is striking when we consider what a faithful and good husband the LORD is to His people. Adultery is never excusable, but is even more heinous against a good, faithful, loving spouse.
6. Why do you think God focused on this sin?
The picture is striking when we consider how Israel wanted to add pagan gods to their worship of the LORD. It isn't as if Israel officially said, "We want to leave the LORD, and now serve only pagan gods." Instead, Israel wanted to add the worship of pagan gods to their worship of the LORD. God received this the same way a husband would if his wife said, "I want you to still be my husband, I just want to take on a few more lovers also."
For the men themselves go apart with harlots, and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot: Describing idolatry as spiritual adultery is especially appropriate when we understand that many pagan gods were "worshipped" by the hiring of a ritual harlot. This was far more enticing that just praying to a statue.
7. How does this passage answer a person who says, "It doesn't matter what you worship, as long as you have something to believe in"?
Just look at what is going to happen to Israel who do worship, but their worship is for idols and God. It certainly mattered and resulted in judgement. The same holds true for us today.
I will not punish your daughters: Because the men of Israel sinned this way, God would not single the women of Israel out for judgment when it came to this sin. God doesn't have a double standard for sexual conduct between men and women.
He goes back to the lack of knowledge when he said the people who don’t have discernment are doomed.
Judah is warned not to follow Israel's sinful ways
Hosea 4:15 (HCSB) Israel, if you act promiscuously, don’t let Judah become guilty! Do not go to Gilgal or make a pilgrimage to Beth-aven, and do not swear an oath: As the LORD lives!
At this time, God's people were divided into two nations - Israel to the north, and Judah to the south. Israel's apostasy was far more ingrained, so Judah is cautioned that they must not follow her neighbor's sinful ways.
The cities of Gilgal and Beth Aven were centers of idolatry in Israel. For a citizen of Judah to travel there meant they shared in Israel's idolatry. When we get too close to sinful practices, they often rub off on us:
1 Corinthians 15:33 (HCSB)33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Galatians 6:7-10 (HCSB)7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
At one time, Gilgal was a place where prophets were trained under Elijah and Elisha
2 Kings 2:1-2 (HCSB)1 The time had come for the LORD to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal,2 and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD is sending me on to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
2 Kings 4:38 (HCSB)38 When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. The sons of the prophets were sitting at his feet. He said to his attendant, “Put on the large pot and make stew for the sons of the prophets.”
But in Hosea's day it had become a center of false worship
Hosea 9:15 (HCSB)15 All their evil appears at Gilgal, for there I came to hate them. I will drive them from My house because of their evil, wicked actions. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.
Hosea 12:11 (HCSB)11 Since Gilead is full of evil, they will certainly come to nothing. They sacrifice bulls in Gilgal; even their altars will be like heaps of rocks on the furrows of a field.
We’ll talk about that later in our study.
There is no city actually named Beth Aven. Hosea is twisting the name of the city of Bethel - meaning "House of God" - into the more fitting name Beth Aven, meaning "House of Deceit." Bethel was the southern center of calf worship established by Jeroboam.
1 Kings 12:28-29 (HCSB)28 So the king sought advice. Then he made two golden calves, and he said to the people, “Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here is your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”29 He set up one in Bethel, and put the other in Dan.
It was also the place that Jacob had his dream about this being the door to heaven.
Genesis 28:10-17 (HCSB)10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.11 He reached a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.12 And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching heaven, and God’s angels were going up and down on it.13 Yahweh was standing there beside him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land that you are now sleeping on.14 Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.15 Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”
A summary of the charge: Israel's sin and God's remedy
Hosea 4:16-19 (HCSB)16 For Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn cow. Can the LORD now shepherd them like a lamb in an open meadow?17 Ephraim is attached to idols; leave him alone!18 When their drinking is over, they turn to promiscuity. Israel’s leaders fervently love disgrace.19 A wind with its wings will carry them off, and they will be ashamed of their sacrifices.
8. What effect did Israel's stubbornness have on the potential blessings of God?
Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf: Cattle can safely feed out on the open range, because they are not easy prey for predators. But a lamb in open country has strayed from the shepherd and is vulnerable. Hosea's point is plain: if you act like a stubborn cow, don't expect to be protected like an obedient sheep.
Psalm 32:8-9 (HCSB)8 I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.9 Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.
When he talks about Ephraim he’s referring to the entire nation of Israel. "Ephraim" was the largest tribe that made up the population of Israel. Therefore, the prophets often refer to Israel as "Ephraim."
Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone: This is one way to express the judgment that is coming against Israel. God will simple leave Ephraim alone. When the mighty Assyrian army comes against them, they may fight for themselves - God will let him alone.
9. What are some of the results of stubbornness in your life?
God will just let you do it your way and watch the results which most times are desastrious.
We don't want God to leave us alone because we need Him to protect us against our spiritual enemies. Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat, but Jesus did not leave Peter alone to face the attack. Jesus prayed for Peter, and he emerged victorious
Luke 22:31-32 (HCSB)31 “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
We don't want God to leave us alone because we need Him to protect us against ourselves. Left to ourselves, with our own sinful hearts, we will surely drift away from the LORD. All God must do to make certain a man goes to hell is simply let him alone. Our prayer should always be, "LORD, don't leave me alone. Keep working on me."
11. How can you turn an area of stubbornness into a channel of God's blessing this week?
Next week chapter 5
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