Hosea 4
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
Ephraim and His Idols

Hosea 4:17

These words are not intended as a threatening of the cessation of the Divine pleadings. There are no people about whom God says that they are so wedded to any sin that it is no use trying to do anything for them.

I. Ephraim is the name of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, one of the two into which the nation was divided. It is the people in the other, the neighbouring nation, that are spoken to; and what is meant by the 'letting alone' is plainly enough expressed for us in the previous verse: 'Though thou, Israel, be faithful, yet let not Judah offend....

Ephraim (Israel) is joined to idols; (Judah) let him alone'. That is to say, do you not go and walk in his ways, and meet a snare to your soul.

II. Between God's Church and the contiguous world let there be a gulf. Ephraim and the idols are confused and melted together, and the world and its idols are confused and moulded together in the same fashion. So then, if you are joined to them you are joined to their idols; and if you do not let Ephraim alone, you have community with the idolatry which belongs to him.

III. It is a very bad sign of a Christian man when his chosen companions are people that have no sympathy with him in his religion. There may be a great many things about religious people that may repel religious people as religious people of other characters, yet between you, if you are a Christian man, and the most unlike you of your brethren, there is a far deeper sympathy than there is between you and the irreligious man that is most like you in all these things.

—A. Maclaren, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vi. p. 56.

References.—IV. 17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1140. Bishop Woodford, Occasional Sermons, vol. i. p. 32.

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.
Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.
For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.
Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.
The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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