Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.II. THE MESSAGE OF EXPOSTULATION, JUDGMENT, AND MERCY
CHAPTER 4 The Lord’s Controversy with His People
1. The condition of the people (Hosea 4:1-5)
2. The loss of their priestly relation (Hosea 4:6-11)
3. Israel’s idolatry (Hosea 4:12-19)
Hosea 4:1-5. This chapter begins with a terse description of the condition of the professing people of God. First, we have the negative side--no truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God. And there was no truth, because they had rejected the Word of the Lord, hence the result no mercy and no knowledge of God. It is so still whenever and wherever the Word of God is set aside. Then follows the positive evil which was so prominent in their midst: Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, and abundant shedding of blood. Such was the continued moral condition of the house of Israel, the ten tribes. It was all the result of having rejected the Word of the Lord and having turned away from Him. The result of unbelief, destructive criticism and denial of the truth is today, as it was then, swearing, lying, stealing, killing and the immoralities of our times. Therefore judgment would overtake all, even the land itself.
Hosea 4:6-11. The people were destroyed for lack of knowledge, the knowledge of God and His truth. They had lost their place of nearness to the Lord, their priestly character into which the Lord had called the nation Exodus 19:1-25. Therefore they would be rejected to be no longer in priestly relationship to Jehovah. And the priestly class was as corrupt as the people--“like people like priests.” They were to be punished for their ways and their doings.
Hosea 4:12-19. Having left Jehovah they had turned to idols, asked counsel of a piece of wood and practiced divination. This abominable idol worship was practiced upon the tops of mountains. There, under trees, they gave themselves over to the vile rites of Baal-peor and Ashtaroth, both men and women abandoned themselves to the grossest sins of the flesh. And the Lord threatens that He would leave them alone in their vileness and not correct them, that they might be brought back. The first chapter of Romans is illustrated by Hosea 4:14; they glorified not God, became idolators and then God gave them up to their vile affections.
Then there is a warning to the house of Judah in Hosea 4:15. The most sacred places, like Gilgal, had become the scene of the idolatry of the ten tribes. Bethel, the house of God, became a Beth-aven, the house of vanity. If Judah offended and committed the same whoredoms, she would not escape judgment. The warning was unheeded.
“Ephraim (the ten tribes) is joined to idols; let him alone.” Ephraim was too far gone; further remonstrance’s would not help, and so the evil is permitted to go unchecked, to run its full course.