In chapter 4, God indicted Israel, specifically the priest. Now comes the verdict.
The Lord opens this reading of the verdict by naming the priests first. He does go on to list the house of Israel and the house of the king, but starts with the priests.
What makes this particularly interesting is that these are not Levites or other descendants of Aaron. These are not God's priests, chosen and assigned to minister to the people. These are Jeroboam I's priests and their descendants. Jeroboam I excluded Levites as his priests. He didn't want any loyalties to Judah or Jerusalem in his rule and reign.
And yet. God is referring to them and treating them like priests. There seems an important lesson here and in chapter 4 where he berates them for leading the people astray. In this chapter, verse 2 He proclaims that the revolters have gone deep into depravity because of the snare set by these priests. And so, even though this is an illegitimate priesthood, it seems to me that they are still being held responsible. Which makes sense. If you take responsibility for the spiritual needs of the people, even if it wasn't your real job, you're still going to be held accountable for the outcome.
I suppose I can find comfort in that when I see these con men poorly representing Christianity by promising things in return for money; as well as all of the "progressive" Christians that have brought race-baiting and perversion into the church. They are going to be held accountable as if they are ministers to the people because they have taken on that role.
On the other hand, it would behoove me to restrain myself form too much glee at the thought of their judgement, because all Christians have been called His priestly nation. We are His body and are actually called to minister to the world. So I should be asking myself if I am doing all I can to be His hands and feet and spreader of the good news.
Starting in verse 3, God reiterates that He sees what is going on in Ephraim and Israel. And in verse 4 He states that they've gone too far. They are unable to return to the Lord. In verse 5, their pride leads them to testify in their iniquity. And Judah stumbles with them.
In verse 6 the people of Israel come looking for the Lord in their flocks and herds, They still expect to see the prosperity He has given them, even though they don't acknowledge Him as the sole God of the universe.
They dealt treacherously with the Lord through their illegitimate children and "the new moon will devour them with their land."
This kind of thinking is still prevalent today. I know that I think like this. We are so blessed, in this country, in this age, in the specific lives we've been given. We get so comfortable we begin to think we've done something to deserve it. We're annoyed when the temperature in the room is off by a degree of comfort. We think the quality of life we enjoy is a baseline and things cannot drop below that.
But tomorrow is promised to no man.
Lots of things can happen in the blink of an eye that can change your life forever. We haven't "earned" what we think we have.
Israel's children didn't understand that. They thought the could walk away from the Lord, or include a nod to Him mixed with the local idolatry and then head on over to their herds and still find prosperity.
He'd had enough and said, "No more."
He tells them to blow the horn from high places, to sound the alarm that rebuke and desolation were arriving.
I think He calls Judah a thief, by describing them as one who would move a land boundary to own more land (that belonged to someone else.)
He also makes it clear that He is part of the instrument of destruction- the moth and rottenness.
And when Ephraim would take this wound of the Lord to Assyria for healing...none was to be had.
He will be a lion to Israel and a young lion to Judah. Tearing off the parts and walking away.
I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My Face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.Hosea 5:15
It's not a pretty picture; but it is a hopeful one. The Lord chased Israel for centuries, giving them every chance. And even in His washing of His hands of them, He leave a clear breadcrumb that can follow to get back to Him.
- Acknowledge their Guilt.
- Seek His Face.
That's it. That's all it would take to turn this sunken ship around and begin the repairs.
The same is true today.
Turn toward Him, acknowledge yourself as a sinner and seek Jesus as your Savior. You will be indwelled by His Holy Spirit and you will be a new creature in Christ. From there it may be a long or a short journey; but you will see the changes you need to restore your life.