They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.
And the pride of Israel doth testify to His face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
Verses four and five are absolute statements. Israel’s heart, as a nation, is filled with the spirit of prostitution. They are unable to turn to God because of their sins, which they have deliberately chosen and have refused to acknowledge. Their situation is dire, but they cannot know God because they have chosen sin and are not interested in giving it up.
The core of Israel’s sin was pride. They apparently thought that what God said didn’t matter, just as a rebellious child believes that no rule applies to him until or unless he decides that it does. It is believing, in our pride, that WE decide what the rules are. We consider ourselves to be the only acceptable authority in our lives. Such prideful thinking always leads to ruin. It leads to disaster. In our pride, though, we are blind to everything but our own desires, our own plans. So it was with Israel. They operated on their pride right in the face of God.
The saddest thing is at the end of v. 5. Judah would also stumble stumble and fall.
And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.
When we deliberately turn to sin, we often do so with the idea in mind that God will not see; or that He will not be bothered by our small doings because He has more important things on His mind. Or we simply do not think of Him at all. This attitude only underlines our ignorance of the. “I AM.” He Who was, and is, and always shall be is not bound by the finite mind of man. We cannot hide from Him. Numbers 32:23 states, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
Israel was about to move into God’s judgment. They, those in rebellion against God, had been deep into making bloody offerings to idols, in spite of God’s ongoing rebukes and warnings. In verse 3, Ephraim and Israel are used interchangeably, in an almost poetic sense, to emphasize that God hasn’t missed a thing; He knows all about them, and they are corrupt, defiled, unclean before Him because of both physical and spiritual idolatry.
Hosea 5:1. Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
Have you ever wondered what Hosea might be thinking or feeling, when God gave him a specific message to preach to Israel? I wonder if he was ever beset by doubt, knowing that the people all new of his marital status; they all knew that he was married to an adulterous woman. So how did he have any authority to preach at them? Well, it was God-given authority, and Hosea could use his own life to illustrate what he was preaching about. Still, I don’t know if it was easy for him to stand before the people with his warnings.
This verse is quite specific. The priests, the people, and the family of the king all needed to pay attention. No one would be exempt from the coming judgment. And why was judgment coming? Because Israel had been snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
Mizpeh was both a mountain and a city or area in Israel; Tabor was a beautiful and bountiful mountain in the lands of the tribe of Zebulon. Both were filled with game, which were trapped and/or caught with nets. The meaning here is that both these mountains were used for idolatry, and the people of Israel had been caught up in the nets and snares of idol worship.
If you had children, did you ever say, “How many times do I have to tell you. . .” The answer is, you have to tell them until they change their ways, and often judgment (discipline) had to be exerted before that change happened.
I’m learning a crochet stitch that is new to me, after 64 years of crocheting all sorts of things. It’s called c2c, or “corner to corner.” Here’s what it looks like after four rows:
You just keep adding those little units until you have the piece as wide as you want it, and then you begin to decrease to make the final corner, if you’re making something square. You can use this to make all sorts of things. Right now, I’m working on a baby blanket:
And of course, as I was working, my mind was building an object lesson. It’s what you do when you’re a teacher. My friend Karyl Entner is a wizard when it comes to object lessons 🙂
If we want our lives to come together in a beautiful pattern, we have to learn to follow the directions. This piece that I’m working on is going to be all one color, but for most of us our lives will be a combination of many different colors, and perhaps textures as well, sort of like a crazy quilt. The trick is to put all the pieces together in a way in which they all fit naturally. When I finish this, I’ll use the same yarn to create a lacy border.
So, what are the directions we need to follow? Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 says,
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
God is the source of direction for our lives. His Word is the treasury of wisdom that we can never exhaust, no matter how old we grow or how many times we read it from cover to cover.
Micah 6:8 says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Notice that the word is justly, an adverb, meaning in a fair way and a righteous way. Some translations have used the word justice, which is a noun, and refers to something else entirely. We are to behave justly; we are, at the same time, to love mercy; and we are to walk humbly with God.
There’s a lot more, especially in books like Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians, and Proverbs. We are given principles on which to form our lives. The Bible won’t give you a specific answer for every single decision or action you are choosing. It does, however, outline learning to walk with God in a way that helps us approach each decision with His plan in mind.
One of my grandmothers was a young wife and mother when my grandfather moved her and two of their children out to a dugout in the Utah desert. There are some wonderful stories my dad used to tell from those years. Grandma didn’t have much to read, but she did have a family Bible. She read it until she understood that she needed to confess her sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and accept Him as her Lord and Savior. She went on to have six children, one of whom she lost to appendicitis because they were so far away from any help. She was quite an amazing woman. She lived her life as much according to the Pattern Book as she could, and her testimony was what eventually led my dad to become a preacher. Because of her, my dad’s siblings all came to the Lord; all my dad’s children are believers; and all my grandchildren, as well. Five generations of believers !I don’t have any great-grands yet, but I pray that the trend continues!
It’s important to learn the pattern; to follow the directions, and to persevere until the piece is finished. If I never add another row to my work, it will be useless.
I don’t want my life to be useless. I want to finish well, complete the pattern, and go to meet Jesus to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.
The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
Ephraim was the largest tribe making up the population of Israel, and is often used in place of Israel by the prophets. God tells Judah to leave Ephraim alone; God Himself will not rescue Ephraim from Assyria.
I read something the other day about people questioning how God could allow His people to suffer. The answer, given by Anne Graham Lotte, was that we shouldn’t be surprised when awful things happen in our country. We have kicked God out of politics, schools, and sometimes out of our churches–yet we expect Him to protect us from harm. I believe God has simply chosen to honor our demands, and “leave us alone.”
Her drink is sour: Not everyone agrees on the interpretation here, because the translation is considered misleading. The majority opinion is that the phrase refers to the wine being nearly gone, and so it is watered down until it is weak and unpleasant. The people then, including the priests, turn to even worse degradation involving sexual sin. They are not ashamed; in fact, they love their greed and lust, always looking for more.
The pronoun her in v. 19 refers to Israel. There is disagreement on v. 19 as well, with some commentators simply omitting these last two verses from any comment. I tend to agree that it seems obscure, but I also agree with those who see the wind in this verse as being the winds of judgment that God will release on Israel, so that eventually she does become ashamed of her false sacrifices and immoral behaviors. This point of view seems consistent with all the rest of this chapter, in which Israel has devolved into constant idolatry against God.
Hoseas 4: 16. “For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.”
I was hoping to find a picture of a young cow sliding down a hill backward, unable to stop the momentum. This was as close as I could come. I think it does aptly portray the cow’s resistance to going the way she should, digging in her heels against the pushing and prodding of the men to make her go where she should.
Israel was stubborn, choosing the path of idolatry against God. No matter how much she was warned of the dire consequences, still she resisted God’s offer of mercy, and chose His judgment instead. When it was all over, judgment having been passed and her repentance sincere, THEN God would care for Israel as a shepherd would take his lambs to a wise meadow of succulent green grass.
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.
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.
In yesterday’s passage, God told Israel that their “daughters and brides” would follow the example the men were setting, and would participate in whoredom. It is especially noteworthy that men would often hire a ritual harlot, thereby committing adultery against their own wives as well as spiritual adultery against God.
I have wondered about the ritual harlots, or temple prostitutes. Today we hear a lot about human trafficking, the sexual mistreatment of women and children, who were either lured or just outright taken by force and made to perform against their will. It could be that some–perhaps many–if those ritual harlots were also captured into the “trade” against their will, perhaps sold into slavery to pay the debts of a father or husband. I don’t know this for a fact; it is only conjecture. I’m sure there were women who participated willingly, but I’m also convinced that there were those who had no choice. This evil has existed for a very long time. It’s nothing new, It is just as despicable no as it was then.
God says he will not judge the wives and daughters for doing what the men in their lives have done. They will not be punished for the example their fathers/brothers/husbands have set; but they will fall under captivity because of their lack of understanding. Again, as earlier in the book, ignorance is not accepted as a valid excuse for sin.
I do find it significant that God makes it clear here that the blame will fall on the men; they are the ones who will answer to God for the way they led their families, and did not protect their women.
Women, if you have a strong, godly husband and/or father in your life, be thankful. Don’t resist his leading. He is doing the job God has given him to do. Women in a good marriage with a godly man have the place of privilege and protection under his arm. That is not subjugation. Again, it is privilege and protection.
In v. 15, God gives warning to the southern kingdom of Judah: Don’t follow Israel’s example! Gilgal and BethnAven were centers of pagan idolatry. Judah was cautioned against even going into these places; they were to avoid exposing themselves to idolatry, as in I Cor. 15:33: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Gilgal was once the place in which prophets were trained under Elijah and Elisha, but had become full of pagan idolatry. I’m pretty sure that happened just a little at a time, and most of the people probably ignored it until it became established and unavoidable.
There is not a city named Beth Aven. It seems Hosea was using it to describe how far Israel had gone from the original Beth El, meaning House of God, but had become Beth Aven, meaning House of Deceit.
There is nothing that delights Satan more than to destroy the holiness that once existed and to replace it with immorality and godlessness. He doesn’t do it all at once. Rather, he just nibbles away at it, bite by bite, untilhe has consumed it and replaced it with his own evil. How does that happen? It happens when believers are lulled, complacent, and comfortable. They don’t recognize the evil because they don’t know Truth.
Finally, Judah was not to follow Israel’s example even in expression, using phrases such as “As the Lord lives” because it too often was an empty phrase.
Our language ought not to be influenced or changed by the language of the world around us. NEVER use “OMG!” It is taking God’s name in vain, and the pervasive use has made His Name meaningless. That’s just one example. There are many more.
Hosea 4:13. 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.
It was the practice for idolaters to find shady, secluded places for their worship. They looked for comfort. They looked for places in which they would not be interrupted. It was also the practice to hire a “temple prostitute” for their “worship services,” making it of even more importance that they meet in secluded places.
This verse really doesn’t need much comment. I did look up the terebinth, which is translated elsewhere as elm and played an important part in Israel’s history. I’m going to copy/paste my reference here, because it is just more than I can readily summarize:
STRONGS H424:† I. אֵלָה noun feminineterebinth (= אֵילָה (?) see H352 IV. איל > StaGeschichte 455 who derives from אֵל = divine; but compare ib. on lack of clear distinction between אֵלָה, אֵלוֺן & אַלּוֺן) — Genesis 35:4 + 15 times + אֵילָה Genesis 49:21 (for MT אַיָּלָה see below) — terebinth = Pistacia terebinthus, Linn., a deciduous tree with pinnate leaves & red berries; occasional in Palestine; grows to great age; always of single tree; near Shechem Genesis 35:4 (E) compare † אַלָּה Joshua 24:26 (E, read אֵלָה ?), Ophrah Judges 6:11, 19; in Jabesh 1 Chronicles 10:12; tree in which Absalom was caught 2 Samuel 18:9 (twice in verse); 2 Samuel 18:10, 14; see also 1 Kings 13:14; expressly of idol-shrine Hosea 4:13 (|| אַלּוֺן, לִבְנֶה) Ezekiel 6:13; as fading, withering, simile of Judah Isaiah 1:30; as hewn down, simile id.Isaiah 6:13 (|| אַלּוֺן); figurative of Naphtali אֵילָה שְׁלֻחָה Genesis 49:21 ( Ew Ol Di > MT אַיָּלָה hind which see) a slender terebinth, see Di & compare II. אֵלָה; in topographic designation עֵמֶק הָא׳ 1 Samuel 17:2, 19; 1 Samuel 21:10 (see עֵמֶק).
The scripture references in red will tell you of several other places where this type of tree, which seems to grow only as one tree rather than in a grove of trees, is important. Source is BlueLetterBible.com.
As always, it is easy to draw comparison’s between Israel’s idolatry and that of my own country, America, as we walk through this study. God will withhold judgment only for a while; not forever!
Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
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.
For those who do not believe there is such a thing as sexual addiction, I would point to this verse. Harlotry (adultery, whoredom, prostitution). . . enslaves the heart. To be enslaved, in this context, is the same as being addicted to alcohol.
The practice in that time in Israel was not, in their minds, to forsake God. They just wanted to add a few pagan idols to their worship, as did the nations around them. If one god is good, then many gods are even better, right?
They wanted God to just be a part of their worship, instead of their only worship.
It’s kind of like a woman saying to her husband, “Look, I want to stay married to you, but you’re going to have to understand that you’re not the only one I’ll be sleeping with. I don’t want to give up my other lovers.” Of course, God was using His prophet Hosea and Hosea’s wife Gomer to illustrate the evil of this type of thinking.
The two uses of wine in this verse describe, first, fermented or aged wine; second, new wine has been freshly pressed, not yet aged. Both were alcoholic. They could become addictive, and the substance to which a person is addicted always ends up taking first place in the life of the addict. Nothing else is nearly as important.
I had to do some searching on verse 12, and I did find a general consensus among several commentators that I trust. The words stocks and staff would seem to refer to idols carved from wood. The staff could refer to a method of determining the future, in which long rods were placed upright in the ground. When they fell, the directions in which they fell were used in deciding upon which way a decision should be made.
The main point here is that Israel had, indeed, forsaken God in preference to pagan idols. They worshiped that which they carved with their own hands. The “spirit of whoredoms,” adultery against God, had led them into continuous sin against God.
And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
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.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. (Isaiah 24:2)
This is not the first time that God has made it clear that the priests have allowed the sin of the people to divert them from their responsibilities. When the priests of our own time (pastors, teachers, evangelists) give the people what they demand, then the priests are just as guilty of sin as are the people.
Think of it this way: The child in a family doesn’t know very much. He thinks he does, of course, and he firmly believes he knows more than his parents do. When the parents keep a firm hand, not allowing the child to call the plays, the child will usually be just fine as he grows into adulthood. However, when the child is demanding and constantly complaining, sometimes the parents give in and give him what he wants. That’s a slippery slope, for sure, because once the child gets what he wants, it is not enough. He has learned how to manipulate his parents, and will continue to do so as long as they allow him to set the rules for the household.
That is exactly what the Israelites did: They demanded that their priest sanction their idolatry, sexual immorality, drunkenness, on the grounds that “everyone else is doing it.” Not only did the priests relent; they eventually participated in sin right along with the people they were supposed to be preaching to, admonishing, warning. Like the people, so like the priests. When the leaders become just like the followers, there is no concern for righteousness.
The priests who thought they would be exempt from God’s discipline simply because they were priests were in for some unpleasant surprises. In I Kings 12:31 and 13:33, we learn that Jeroboam I had made priests from “all sorts of people.” As a result, true priests and probably true prophets had left Israel to live in Judah, leaving no true godly leadership in Israel (II Chron. 11:13-16).
One aspect of judgment against the people and the priests would be hunger. There would never be enough; their fields would not yield increase, and they would starve because of their adultery, both physical and spiritual.