Today’s passage is a damning indictment of Israel leading up to God’s disciplining of them in the exile.
There was no faithfulness, no steadfast love (the Old Testament word for grace “hesed”), no knowledge of God and widespread breaking of the 10 commandments (swearing, lying, murder and adultery). The fundamental issue for the prophet Hosea is a lack of knowledge – they don’t know God or His ways. That meant they threw off all restraints – “break the bounds” (v2).
If you were to look up modern day advertising slogans “No rules just ride”, “Just do it”, “living without boundaries”. They sum up a philosphy of ignoring God and life being about me and what I want. The result in Hosea 4 “bloodshed follows bloodshed.” Romans 1 tells us that people exchange the truth of God for lies and then are given over to live for what they want with all its consequences.
Part of the issue is that the people weren’t being led well – the priests and many of the prophets were corrupt and so the knowledge of God wasn’t being spread, as it should have been.
Verse 7 tells us “the more they increased, the more they sinned.” For Hosea in the midst of it, you can feel his hopelessness. I’m so grateful for the words of Romans 5:20 “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” While there is mess of sin all around us and even in us, God has broken in with his grace, his kindness leading us to repentance for forgiveness and a new heart and new power to be holy.
Hosea goes on – the people have given themselves to cherishing whoring, wine and new wine. As in 2 Tim 3:6 they were being led astray by their passions. Without understanding they were coming to ruin. In tomorrow’s reading we will see Hosea pleading for repentance.
The takeaway from this depressing chapter is to seek to know God more – enjoying His presence in worship, seeking His face in prayer and growing in knowing in His Word daily. Go for it church!