“Indeed I tremble for any country when I reflect that God is just.”
It was Thomas Jefferson that wrote those words about the United States and as Hosea pleads with the nation of Israel, I’m sure he would agree. Hosea chapter four reads like the front page of today’s news. It contains a message that needs to be heeded by all of us. God starts by giving a general indictment of the nation’s condition (v.1-3) and then He gives more specific charges of their sin (v.4-19).
The General Indictment (v.1-3)
A Threefold Lack (v.1)
… there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. These people were …
- failed to show compassion for others
- no real knowledge of God.
Sure there was religion in the land, but no real knowledge of God. Notice what this lack leads to ….
Moral Failure (v.2)
In each of these sins they were breaking the 10 Commandments. God’s Commandments are for the welfare of all people. And the breaking of them only leads to moral chaos. The Commandments were for us to show our love toward God, and as a result, our love toward each other. (cf Mt.22:36-40) Notice the Commandments they were breaking …
What has happened? They break out. There is no restraint! We have become a nation like ancient Israel. A nation where blood toucheth blood (one violent crime after another).
- 34 million crimes are estimated to be committed in the United States annually.
- 80% of Americans will become crime victims at some point in their lives.
- The rate of violent crime committed by young people is rising faster than the rate of adults.
- In Philadelphia, a mere 7% of the criminals commit 65% of all violent crimes, including three out of four rapes and robberies and practically all murders.
- Of the high-risk offenders that are on parole or probabion, 40% are arrested for another felony within three years.
- Of all violent crimes reported there was a 371% increase between 1960 and 1992.
The Devastating Results (v.3)
The land belonged to the Lord (Lev.25:23) and the sins of the people polluted the land. Natural calamities like droughts, famines, and the devastation of war were sometimes sent by God to discipline His people.
The Specific Charges (v.4-19)
The Sins of the Pulpit (v.4-11)
- They didn’t warn the people (v.4-5)
As a result destruction would come as God had promised. Today preachers do the same thing. We tell the people, “Everything is going to be all right.” The Bible, many say is an outmoded book. We tell people that we must learn to be broad-minded and open to new thoughts and ideas.
- They didn’t teach the people (v.6)
The minute preachers walked away from teaching the Word of God that’s when they doomed their people to failure in the Christian life.
- They didn’t lead the people (v.7-10)
They were more interested in what was in it for them personally. They wanted an easy job, pleasure and especially opportunities for their own self-gratification.
Hosea was basically saying to these so called preachers, “Don’t be upset with the people for what’s happening, they’re only following your lousy example.”
The Sins of the Pew (v.11-19)
It is argued in our day that the abuse of alcohol is a disease and not a sin. So, alcoholism is a disease? If it is, it’s the only disease …
- contracted by an act of the will
- that is habit forming
- that comes in a bottle
- causing thousands of family disruptions
- promoting crime and brutality
- contributing to thousands of automobile accidents
- sold by license
- bought in grocery stores and retail outlets
- taxed by the government
We condone all kinds of sinful practices. Do we think that we are so sophisticated that God will not judge us? If He judged Sodom and Gomorrah do we think He doesn’t see our sin? If He condemned and sent into captivity His own chosen people, do we think we will escape?
… swearing (1st – 4th Commandments) This is not speaking of verbal language, but a lack of understanding about God’s character and nature.
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex.20:3) Love for God is to be LOYAL.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Ex.20:4) Love for God is to be FAITHFUL. (cf Hosea 4:12-13)
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Ex.20:7) Love for God is to be REVERENT.
- Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy (Ex.20:8) Love for God is to be SET APART.
I believe that it is significant to notice that the rest of the broken Commandments are related to sins against mankind. See, when we can’t be loyal to God we can’t treat each other right either.
… lying (9th Commandment) Thou shalt not bear false witness (Ex.20:16) Love for each other is to be TRUTHFUL.
… killing (6th Commendment) Thou shalt not kill (Ex.20:13) Love for each other is to be HUMANE.
… stealing (8th Commendment) Thou shalt not steal (Ex.20:15) Love for each other should be UNSELFISH.
… adultery (7th Commandment) Thou shalt not commit adultery (Ex.20:14) Love for each other is to be PURE.
Is it a great surprise that in a nation, such as ours, that claims to be Christian, that we are seeing moral failure? Moral disaster is all we should expect when we disregard the Commandments of God.
There was no mercy in the land, no love for one’s neighbor, no compassion for the poor and needy. People were false hearted toward God and as a result were hardhearted toward people.
We as a nation are doomed unless we return to God. The United States stands condemned as did Israel. And as we sink deeper and deeper into sin the pulpits of this country are strangely silent.
Hosea gives a closing word of advise to the nation of Judah (v.15-19).
Concerning Separation (v.15,17)
There comes a time when it becomes necessary to separate ourselves from those that would not follow God (2 Cor.6:14-7:1). It doesn’t matter who’s doing it or how popular something might be, what matters is not public opinion, but the Word of God.
Concerning Backsliding (v.16,18)
Some people think that backsliding is when you become a Christian, join the church, and drop back into sin. But that’s not what we see here. Israel is described as a backsliding heifer. She was stubborn. She wouldn’t go forward, you couldn’t move her back, she just stiffened up in total rebellion.
We say, “I don’t have to obey God’s word. I’ll do as I please.” When you refuse to go the way od leads you, then you backslide. See the pattern? When you compromise where you stand on the Word of God you will eventually backslide and that leads to judgment (v.19).
The basic sin was ignorance; there was no knowledge of God in the land (v.1). This basic idea is repeated two other times in chapter four (v.6, 14b).
This means much more than knowledge ABOUT God; it refers to a personal knowledge OF God. To know God is to have a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ (cf Jn.17:3). Do you possess that knowledge?