Session 6 | Hosea 4:1-6
Hosea 4:1-5 | Moving From Symbolic To Literal
In chapters 1-3 everything was symbolic, using Hosea, Gomer, and the three children. It did not take an astute mind to recognize that this was symbolism, and any seasoned student of the Word would recognize it as symbolism toward Israel (specifically the Northern Kingdom, due to context). Beginning with chapter 4 and going through the end of the book, the prophetic utterance is literal, not symbolic. This section confirms all speculation as to the symbolism of chapters 1-3.
Verse 1 --
The phrase the word of the LORD“minor" prophets as a section break, and is more reliable than the more modern chapter breaks.
This word of the LORD is directed to the children of Israel, to whom the Lord addresses directly (ye children...), but then begins to talk of them in the third person, referring to them as the inhabitants of the land. It would not be hard to speculate that the Lord expects a certain character of those dwelling on the Promised Land, and the current residents, though children of Israel were not exhibiting that character. The Lord expresses His controversy with these inhabitants. The word controversy is chiefly a legal term, first seen in Genesis 13:7.
The legal charges are then brought forth, beginning in verse 1 and concluding in verse 2. The charge begins with the foundational issue, that there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. The last phrase, concerning the knowledge of God is the most condemning for the people called to be God's. His call to them was given a sign: I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD( Ex. 6:7). Without this sign of knowledge of God, there was nothing unique about being the Chosen People. Compare the future New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:33-34, or the words of Jesus (quoting Isaiah) in John 6:45.
Verse 2 -
When there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land (v. 1) then the evils of society listed in verse 2 can be soon expected.
The phrase they break out refers to what we might call run wild, while blood toucheth blood is a Hebraism for something akin to murder follows murder or death follows death.
Verse 3 --
The punishment here cannot be natural consequences of sin, for such would not include the beasts of the field...the fowls of heaven...the fishes of the sea. Nor would such be the result of any short-term punishment. It must be assumed, therefore, that this is an end-times prophecy.
Verse 4 --
God proceeds to give a warning that no man strive, nor reprove another. The word man is the Hebrew word for male rather than the more general word which could be male or female. The word strive is the verb form of the legal word used in verse 1, controversy. The word reprove“to make a judgment." Possibly the male terminology is used because in that historical setting women would not have the rights to bring a legal matter before the courts. One potential meaning of this prohibition is that in the last days (as established in verse 3) the Israeli men should not take each other to court or attempt legal remedy, the reason begin given in the concluding words, thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
But what is the meaning of that final phrase? Since Israel was a Theocracy (though living under Monarchy), the priest made judicial decisions on behalf of the citizens. Thus this should not be taken as a religious issue alone, and more likely is civil. To strive with the priest, it seems, is to ignore the voice of the court, “wild-goose chase."
A potential comparison is found in 1 Corinthians 6:6, where Paul chastises the believing Jews for going to court with each other. Could it be that Paul saw his days as the last days and thus was giving such prohibition?
Verse 5 --
Normally the phrase the day is a reference to the day of the Lord. Here this could be questioned because there is also a reference to the night, and no prophetic phrase corresponds. So is this referring to sunlight verses darkness, or is the day and the night a comprehensive view of the day of the Lord? Since the people will fall in the day and the prophets will fall with thee in the night it seems that both day and night are the same time, based on the words with thee (for it is chronologically impossible to die in the day and have others fall with thee in the night). Therefore, I am interpreting this as a reference to the day of the Lord, a time of God's judgment.
Ultimately, the Lord says, He will destroy thy mother. This is likely a reference to the original generation represented by Gomer, with the mercy going to the children.
Hosea 4:6-11 | Charge Against The Priests
Verse 6 --
God now comes and speaks directly to the priesthood (which is both the religious and judicial branch of the theocracy), giving a full rejection, saying thou shalt be no priest to me. the word translated priestכֹּהֵן [kohen or cohen]. The Lord speaks in the singular to a Priest, likely the High Priest. Should we take this as the High Priest in Judah during the time of Hosea, a priest of the Northern Kingdom's false Judaism, or a priest of eschatological days, such as the false prophet? It is difficult to make a firm conclusion. Whatever it is, he shall no longer be priest, and his children will also be banned from the priesthood.
The reason is because the priest has rejected knowledge, namely the knowledge of God's revelation. The result is that My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Destruction always follows lack of knowledge, and it is sadly and shockingly easy for a few to keep knowledge from the masses, both then and now. How beneficial to any individual to decide that, though they may be destroyed, it will not be for lack of knowledge.