Here the main part of Hosea’s prophecy begins. As we read it, we must remember that God does not want to condemn His people – He is trying to call them back from the brink of disaster.
Accusation (verses 1-3)
Now the scene is a law-court. God’s people are on trial, and He is the Prosecutor: He “has a charge to bring against you who live in the land.” The prophet has a long list to read – sins of both omission and commission. On the one hand, they fail to exhibit any of the fundamental qualities of God’s people: faithfulness (‘common honesty’), love, and a relationship with God. If these are lacking, no amount of ritual can make up for them (Matthew 23:23). On the other hand, they have broken every commandment in the book. God’s law has been widely and openly ignored for years, until crime is commonplace. Not only is society breaking down, but the land itself is beginning to suffer as a result.
Who was responsible? (verses 4-9)
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (verse 6) And the people mainly to blame for this sorry state of affairs were the religious ‘professionals’. The very priests were ignorant of God’s truth – not because they did not know His Law but because they had deliberately rejected it! And they could not teach the people what they did not put into practice themselves. Respect for God’s Word is the foundation for a secure relationship with Him (Proverbs 14:26). So the next generation would reap the consequences of their wilful blindness.
The priests had a privileged position in society, and had become rich and powerful. But they had abused these privileges. They encouraged the people to bring sin offerings (out of which the priests received the best meat), but did not discourage them from sinning in the first place. They needed reminding that their priestly status would not shield them from judgement; they would suffer along with the ordinary people.
What does this have to teach the Church today? We hear a lot about moving in the Spirit, but this is no substitute for solid Bible teaching. (Actually, we need both.) Will the Church be destroyed from lack of knowledge of God’s ways?