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.
(Hosea 4:1-3 NIV)
As we move into Chapter 4 of the book of Hosea, we begin the second major part of the book. The first part was chapters 1 – 3 where the Lord illustrates the kingdom of Israel’s good start, bad ending, and God’s planned redemption through Hosea and Gomer’s marriage.
The second part of the book is a collection of sayings about Israel’s issues as well as their current and future state. This second part covers the rest of the book (chapters 4 – 14).
Chapter 4 begins with the Lord speaking, as communicated through Hosea. The Lord has a charge, a complaint against Israel. The word “charge” is not just a complaint to be aired; this word is a legal term. The implication is that the Lord has a serious issue with the northern kingdom of Israel, and the issue will stand up in a court of law.
So what is the charge? Israel broke their covenant relationship with the Lord.
The evidence is manifested in two parts: 1) what is missing, and 2) what is there instead.
So what is missing? The second half of verse 1 lists the evidence:
- No faithfulness
God had remained faithful to Israel, just as Hosea had remained faithful to Gomer. But Israel had wandered away from her covenant relationship to the Lord, giving herself to other gods, just as Gomer had given herself to other men and broken her marriage vows to Hosea.
- No love
God loved Israel unconditionally, and in return, Israel was not even willing to show basic kindness to the Lord, much less to each other. Hosea loved Gomer deeply, even going to the slave market to choose her a second time and bring her home and care for her. She had no desire to be with him, as we learned in chapter 3.
- No acknowledgment of God in the land
The people of Israel acted like God did not even exist. They gave him no credit for their provision and well-being and gave thanks to the other gods instead of the God of Israel, just as Gomer looked to her suitors as the ones that provided her needs and wants, not Hosea.
So what was the second evidence of this broken covenant relationship? What had replaced the godly characteristics of faithfulness, love, and giving God glory?
This was not just bad language; this was using God’s name to harm others – a hex or a curse spoken onto another. This was clearly the opposite of God’s character and love.
Truth had been replaced by lies of every sort. God’s wisdom and knowledge were swept out the door and replaced by the knowledge of man.
Life as God created it was precious; since God was out of the picture, life became cheap, dispensible, like yesterday’s trash.
This was not just the taking of physical goods that did not belong to that person; this included stealing of human life – kidnapping.
Sexual sin was rampant; in fact, Baal worship involved sexual promiscuity as part of the worship. Gomer was likely a temple prostitute engaged in these cultic practices.
- Breaking all bounds
The rule of law was no longer in effect; anarchy reigned. The covenant relationship that God had instituted with His people included governing instructions on how to live in peace and harmony with one another. When God was pushed out of normal everyday life, chaos and anarchy ensued.
- Bloodshed following bloodshed
Justice was no longer God’s domain; instead, justice and revenge were taken up by the people themselves. And with no rule of law in place, the people did whatever they wanted to do to satisfy their own needs, wants, desires, and lusts.
So what was the result of all this ungodliness? Self-destruction. Even the natural resources would be totally consumed and disappear – with no care for each other or for their environment, there would ultimately be no one left and nothing left for any that might survive.
God is not an ill-tempered cosmic entity that gets some sick sense of enjoyment from seeing others suffer. Quite the opposite – He made the covenant relationship with Israel because He knew that they would self-destruct on their own.
And so it is in our modern day as well. God is not out to suck all the joy out of our existence. He desires to show us a better way, a way that leads to life everlasting with Him, and peace with one another.
May we see and seek God’s love and relationship and experience the joy that comes from walking with Him.