Part 1 Analysis of Hosea 4:1-11
In Hosea chapter 4 we find that there is “no knowledge of God in the land”. As God surveys the landscape, He sees “swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery” as everyday occurrences. The culture has become anything but just, anything but moral. All the boundaries of decency have been broken and “bloodshed follows bloodshed.” We get God’s perspective not as a mere observation but as a “controversy”, or another word we might use is, indictment. God is bringing charges.
Who is God indicting? Is it the whole people? Does God have a bone to pick with every citizen of the Northern Kingdom? Is it the King and his court entourage? Surely these are the people responsible. Surprisingly to some, the answer is no, God does not name them in the indictment. Who does He name?
Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother.
God here wants to be very clear. His issue is with the spiritual leaders of Israel. For sure there are and had been over the history of the Northern Kingdom a lot of problems with Israel’s kings and their idolatrous leadership. But when it boils down to brass tacks, God points His finger at the shepherds of the people. Those who were tasked to be brave enough to confront the evil kings, and who, for the most part did not fulfill their callings as prophets. Those that were tasked to train, admonish, and correct the people according to God’s own Word. But instead these priests stood mute lest they offend the sensibilities of the average Israelite with God’s Law and risk reducing the gifts and offerings. Instead of obedience to the Divine Knowledge, they chose their own ways and thought themselves to be wiser than God.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge “
The men that God had tasked to shepherd His people were not just negligent, they were derelict in their duties. The rejected the Divine Knowledge, and the effects were upon their nation were devastating. What were some of those effects?
The first effect fell upon the children of the shepherds. God told the spiritual leaders at the end of verse 6, that since they had forgotten Him, He would “also forget their children.” Meaning, generational faithfulness would cease. There would not be a succeeding generation of priests.
The second effect was, as a spiritual leader, what was once their glory, would become their shame. What was their glory? It was the reverence in which their position was held in the community. Priest or prophet would become synonymous with shyster or con man.
The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity.
What would happen to the spiritual condition of their flocks? Verse 9 tells us plainly, “And it shall be like people, like priest”. In other words, all the children would be forgotten, and their glory as the people of God, their position before Him as His covenant people, would be lost. In addition to that a strange phenomenon would begin to occur that hadn’t been there before.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the LORD to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding.
The people will become dissatisfied, disaffected, and generally unhappy. They’ll seek satisfaction in things like sexual pleasure, drink, drugs, but none of this will make life any better. Their perspectives will become skewed. Their priorities will be severely misplaced. Their culture will crumble. Their nation will be taken captive. But long before the marauding Assyrians make them physical slaves, the sin of idolatry would have already turned them into spiritual slaves. And it was their spiritual leaders that allowed it all to happen. This is God’s indictment. This is the charge God that lays at the feet of the shepherds of Israel.