Today: [Hosea 4] God Contends with Our Generation. In chapter 4 of Hosea the prophet cries out as God’s spokesman against the blindness of the people regarding their own adulterous ways. The people of Hosea’s generation deeply bemoaned the decadence of the younger people in their midst, but Hosea declares that the decadence and godlessness of youth was only a reflection of the older generations refusal to walk in humility before God.
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[Hos 4:1-19 KJV] 1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is] no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. 4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people [are] as they that strive with the priest. 5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: [therefore] will I change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. 10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. 11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. 12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused [them] to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. 13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof [is] good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. 14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people [that] doth not understand shall fall. 15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, [yet] let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth. 16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. 17 Ephraim [is] joined to idols: let him alone. 18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers [with] shame do love, Give ye. 19 The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
In chapter 4 of Hosea the prophet comes as God’s spokesman, charging the nation with their truce breaking, and their inveterate abandonment of the truth of God, the mercy of God and the knowledge of God. Man sins and suffers the consequences and instead of asking “why did I bring this on myself” the default judgment is “how could God allow this to happen to me?”. In this manner the absence of God’s mercy does not originate with Him but in our own disobedient conduct that estranges us from His clemency in our lives and situations. This is the controversy that God expresses to the people of Judah for their unfaithfulness and for the system culture of violence, perverse speech, dishonesty and bloodletting.
Because of these sins, v. 3 tells us that the land will mourn, along with the beasts of the field, the fowls of heaven and the fish of the sea that would be taken away. Today, ecologist bemoan mass extinctions, and the shifting global client and point to industrialization run amok, but in the scriptures these problems, flood, fire, ice caps melting, storm cycles intensifying are originated not in the mismanagement of natural resources, but the moral failure of the nation. We are told two places in the book of Leviticus:
[Lev 18:28 KJV] 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that [were] before you.
[Lev 20:22 KJV] 22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
These calamities and more afflict the nation, but v. 4 tells us that rather than striving with one another to correct the flagrant and systemic sinfulness in their culture that the people instead chose to strive with the priesthood, the spiritual leaders of their day, accusing them of being out of touch with reality in suggesting that perhaps their behaviors were at the root of the suffering that was intensifying in their personal lives and in the nation itself. Because of this v. 5 tells us that they people will fall in broad daylight. In other words the troubles of the nation would not be something that they wouldn’t see coming although they were very steeped in denial that the nation would ever fall. They believed that they were in fact the chosen people and regardless of their personal choices or lifestyles they thought they would never fall, because they were the children of God by Abraham. This attitude exists even in our nation, when leaders suggest that God will never judge America because so much of the gospel originates in America and is spread throughout the world. The Jews in Jesus’ day thought this way and He warned them:
[Mat 3:9 KJV] 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
The Jews could not see God working with anyone other than them. This was the excuse they generated and the false security they clung to because they knew but looking into the law of God that they were offenders. They simply believed that the yearly sacrifice when the High Priest atoned for the nation that it would be enough and their sins would be covered, and thereby they would not suffer consequences for their sin. Unfortunately, this is exactly the false doctrine that pervades Church culture by suggesting that those Christian’s lives fall so far short of God’s expectation, but the blood covers it all and that God would never look anywhere but the Church and the community of the redeemed to bring about His purposes. Those who think that Christianity is too big to fail need to learn the lesson that Judaism learn in bitter failure after having rejected their Messiah, saw their race and their religion become a pariah among the nations because they flaunted their sin in the face of God.
V. 6 famously declares that the people of God are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Not that the knowledge of God was not available to them, but they had by default rejected the knowledge of God and chosen to marginalize the law of God and the word of God in their lives. Because they had forgotten the word of God in their day, the Father says that He will forget them. Ask yourself the question, if the lack of esteem and the place of God’s word in the life of the average Christian was the metric for God’s involvement with the Church, what would that look like? What if God neglected the Church the way the average Christian neglected the word? Is this not exactly the fall out predicted to come on the people of Judah by the word of the prophet Hosea. Is this not a warning to us that if God spared not the natural branches of Judaism, but rejected them because of unbelief, what fate does Christian culture await if they are held accountable for the marginalization of God’s word and true accountable relationship to Him?
V. 7 tells us, because the people were increased and blessed, yet continued in sin that God will change their glory into shame. Rom. 2:4-5 tells us that God’s goodness leads men to repent. If you are experiencing God’s goodness and you are not responding in godly fear and reverential reformation of your lifestyle, what is the outcome? The definition of this from God’s standpoint is that our hearts are set on iniquity – not the sinner who doesn’t know God but the believer who calls upon His name without consequence or accountability to His word in spite of the outpouring of His goodness. What about you? Are you capable of change? Are you capable of self-examination? If God required something of you in terms of actually changing your conduct, your relationships or convictions, to a degree that you were inconvenienced, are you even capable of making that adjustment? The children of Judah were incapable, and they paid with their lives, being led into captivity leaving the smoldering ruins of their lives behind them, because they refused to repent and live in the fear of God.
Verse 12 declares that the people are looking for answers at the altars of their idols. Zech. 4:6 tells us that it isn’t by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord. When we look to man for solutions, that is idolatry and God considers it whoredom. When Christian culture looks to the political arena for answers, or to the courts, or to any other instrumentality other than God as their deliverance, God constitutes that as going whoring out from under their God, just as a deceitful wife goes out from under the embrace of her husband to seek out various lovers. The metaphor cannot be more graphic.
We look at the decadence of our youth culture and do not see any sense of restraint or boundaries, but v. 14 says when the younger generation debauches itself unchecked it is because God chooses not to chastise them because of the secret sins of the generation before them. We can look at the younger generation and bemoan their lack of anchor in the things of God, but their lack of moral compass is a reflection of the separation between their fathers and the living God in terms of honest and true fidelity to His word. So the answer is not the cluck our tongues and wag our fingers at the youth but to ask God to identify our own generation’s transgression and to find the grace to make amends in our own lives, however difficult it is for us to find anything actually wrong in our lifestyle choices.
Because of the sins of the nation, v. 19 tells us that the wind of ungodly spiritual influence will clip the wings of the nation of Judah and ultimately cause them to be ashamed of the sacrifices they have made to facilitate the worship of the works of their own hands. The lesson for us is to identify the spiritual influences that bring our generation into captivity when we thought we were merely exercising our freedoms but were in fact wrapping ourselves into the captivity with chains forged of our own iniquity.
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