Chapter 4 starts more like the other prophet books I've read so far. The Lord is bringing a legal case against the inhabitants of the land.
Not surprisingly, He mentions their lack of faithfulness; but then He mentions that they lack kindness and that there is no knowledge of God in the land. It might just be my memory, but those last two have a different tone than the other cases the Lord has brought against Israel.
It seems more personal than many of the larger scale sins He mentions.
However, starting in verse 2, the charges look more familiar--murder, swearing, deception, stealing, and adultery. Extreme violence and bloodshed. MacArthur and Wiersbe point out how many of these align with the 10 Commandments.
Verse 3 tells us that there are consequences for this sin in nature--the land mourns; the people languish; beasts, birds, and fish disappear. These were creatures to whom we'd been given dominion. We shouldn't be surprised to learn that they are affected by our sin.
In verse 4, no one seems to understand consequences. We sure do see that today. People repeatedly voting for leaders who repeatedly pass laws that have had disastrous consequences in the past.
For your people are like those who content with the priest.Hosea 4:4b
Again, this could be written about modern times. One group it is ok to be prejudice against is Christians. Biblical truths are called hate speech and perversion can sue and win in court against faith. Wiersbe points out that his people are salt and light. When the people of a nation turn against His salt and light, they should be surprised to see both fade.
Verse 5 tells us how that turns out. The people stumble by day and their religious "leaders" stumble by night and God rages against the nation.
The Lord details the root cause of all of this failure in verse 6.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...Hosea 6:6a
It goes on to describe that they actually rejected knowledge...not just lack of access to it; but rejection. So He will reject them. They will no longer be His priestly nation. He explains that they forget His law, so He will forget them. Blessedly for all of us, He does have compassion.
The reason this lack of knowledge is so corrosive is that we replace the knowledge of God and His laws with our own reasoning. If it makes sense in our own thinking and if "feels" right, we trust ourselves over what God wants us to know about HIM. And all is quickly lost
Verse 7 describes that the more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Him.
I will change their glory to shame.Hosea 4:7
We see this so clearly in the Hosea/Gomer model. She was a wife and mother. And instead, she traded that in for shame and slavery.
This indictment seems specific to the priests, who He accuses of feeding off of the sin offering of the people; while leading the people astray. (I think.)
Wiersbe points out that the priests were the counterfeit priests established by Jeroboam I to keep the people from following Judah and the real Godly priesthood.
And so, the people and the priests will share in the consequences.
Verse 11 warns us that harlotry and wine dull the understanding. I know that's true in my own life. The times when I went chasing something titillating, something I knew to be wrong, I turned off my brain so I didn't have to live with the cognitive dissonance. I hardened my heart so I didn't have to hear wisdom, listen to my conscious, or to the Holy Spirit. Just like alcohol...it dulls our awareness.
Even worse, in verse 12 the people outright consult their idols. Not even dulled senses, but outright rebellious and disrespectful. Offering sacrifices, burning incenses, losing their daughters and wives to harlotry.
But the Lord refuses to punish the daughters and wives while their fathers and husbands are off with other harlots, even sacrifices to temple prostitutes.
Hosea pleas with Israel not to drag Judah into this guilt. And warns Judah off from meddling in the affairs of the drowning ship.
Verse 16-19 further indict Israel for her stubbornness, idols, and harlotry, all leading to shame.
Way back in the days immediately following Solomon's death, Jeroboam I drove the sip of Israel off course and centuries later, they have gone so far, the Lord can see that they aren't coming back. Their end has come.