Hosea 4:1–6; 6:1–11
When U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan, he claimed that he wanted to report on misconduct in his unit. Instead, he was captured by the Taliban and tortured for five years. When he was finally released and eventually tried for desertion, the judge in his court-martial sentenced him to a dishonorable discharge, reduction of rank, and a monetary fine in lieu of prison time.
All of us are familiar with courtroom language: prosecution and defense, judge and jury, trial and testimony. At this point in our study of Hosea, the book shifts from the biographical context of Hosea and Gomer to the judicial setting: God brings a case against His people. His accusation against them isn’t that they’ve simply abandoned their religious duties. They’ve also sinned against one another by acting in violent, treacherous ways.
The failure to love neighbor is always a failure to love God—and vice versa. Abandoning “faithfulness” and “love” and “acknowledgement of God” (4:1) will necessarily lead to the crimes against humanity we see throughout Hosea and indeed all the Minor Prophets.
God issues a pronounced condemnation on the leaders of His people—the priests and prophets. It had been their responsibility to teach the knowledge of God, their obligation to speak the words of the Lord. But they had failed in these tasks, and as a result, the people had failed to uphold their covenant obligations.
The people of Israel could have resigned themselves to their fate of divine judgment. They had made their bed, and they must lie in it. But Hosea speaks words of hope: return to the Lord! His mercy, like spring rain, can be counted on (6:1–3).
APPLY THE WORD
We easily become discouraged when we fall into patterns of sin. I’ll never change. There’s no hope. I’m condemned to fail. These messages keep us far from God, never daring to believe He can forgive us or change us. But Hosea, along with all the Minor Prophets, assures us that God’s mercy is available to us if we “acknowledge the LORD” (6:3).