Read Hosea 4
The Charge Against Israel
4 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.
4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.
7 The more priests there were,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.
9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.
I will punish both of them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10 “They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
14 “I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!
15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
do not let Judah become guilty.
“Do not go to Gilgal;
do not go up to Beth Aven.
And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
they continue their prostitution;
their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame.
Many parents know that anxious feeling—“How is my kid going to act in public and how is it going to reflect on me?” Probably just as many of us have seen a kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store and shaken our heads in judgment of the failed parenting on display. Sure, we think the kid should know better, but somehow, he has come to understand from his parents that acting out is acceptable.
In Hosea, we see a somewhat similar, albeit holy, perspective from God regarding the degradation of Israel. Yes, the people are faithless, loveless, adulterous, and murderous (v. 1-3), but God reiterates, “With you is my contention, O priest” (v. 4). He doubles down, saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, [but this is] because you have rejected knowledge” (v. 5). If the world is Godless, Hosea states that it flows specifically from the failure of its priests to seek the one true God, to submit in obedience to Him and to diligently and unwaveringly call others to do the same. In our clinical reading of this historical book, we can appreciate the failure of the Levites to guide the children of Israel towards God. But it is much harder to internalize the fact that in the New Testament church, we are the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) established by God as the catalyst for holiness in the world.
As we look at the world around us and bemoan the godlessness, the dissolution of truth and the humanistic elevation of self, God says that failure falls at our feet. For those of us who have sought to represent Christ to the culture and call all men to repentance, we feel affronted by this. But of course, we alone hold truth, so we alone are responsible to disperse it. This affront is less about guilt, however, and more about opening ourselves to conviction. Paul writes, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)
The challenge before us is less about changing the world for righteousness and more about submitting ourselves in obedience to the holy convictions of the Spirit. The current state of our world is less an indictment on the godless and more an indictment on those who know God but fail to live from that truth.
- As you look at the broken world around us, what characteristics are primarily caused by the active presence of evil as opposed to the passive presence of a God’s holy church?
- When you watch the news, how often do you naturally sit in judgment of “those people” instead of asking, “Where am I missing it?”
- What are three practical ways that you can love truth, submit in obedience to the Holy Spirit, and believe in the redemption of those you consider “your enemy” (political or otherwise)?
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” — Brennan Manning
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