Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, you deserve all of my thanksgiving. Your love and care for me is inexhaustible and everlasting. Help me to daily respond in worship and praise, to live in ways that show who you are to others.

Read HOSEA 4:1–5:7

The Charge Against Israel

4 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing,[a] lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the fish in the sea are swept away.

“But let no one bring a charge,
    let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
    who bring charges against a priest.
You stumble day and night,
    and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
    my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
    I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
    I also will ignore your children.
The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God[b] for something disgraceful.
They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
And it will be: Like people, like priests.
    I will punish both of them for their ways
    and repay them for their deeds.

10 “They will eat but not have enough;
    they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
    to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
    take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
    and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
    they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
    and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
    where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
    and your daughters-in-law to adultery.

14 “I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!

15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
    do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;
    do not go up to Beth Aven.[c]
    And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
    like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
    leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
    they continue their prostitution;
    their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
    and their sacrifices will bring them shame.

Judgment Against Israel

5 “Hear this, you priests!
    Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house!
    This judgment is against you:
You have been a snare at Mizpah,
    a net spread out on Tabor.
The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.
    I will discipline all of them.
I know all about Ephraim;
    Israel is not hidden from me.
Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;
    Israel is corrupt.

“Their deeds do not permit them
    to return to their God.
A spirit of prostitution is in their heart;
    they do not acknowledge the Lord.
Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;
    the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin;
    Judah also stumbles with them.
When they go with their flocks and herds
    to seek the Lord,
they will not find him;
    he has withdrawn himself from them.
They are unfaithful to the Lord;
    they give birth to illegitimate children.
When they celebrate their New Moon feasts,
    he will devour[d] their fields.


  1. Hosea 4:2 That is, to pronounce a curse on
  2. Hosea 4:7 Syriac (see also an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition); Masoretic Text me; / I will exchange their glory
  3. Hosea 4:15 Beth Aven means house of wickedness (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means house of God).
  4. Hosea 5:7 Or Now their New Moon feasts / will devour them and

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


May the Holy Spirit search us and show us those areas that are ready for transformation. May we quiet our hearts to hear and obey, for God’s glory.

Think Further

Priests, prophets, and people, all come under the microscope of God’s judgment in this passage—not that God needs a microscope to see their sins! Their sins are public and promoted, visible like an advertising billboard or targeted internet advertising. Much like the example of Gomer that we read about earlier, promiscuity has become the norm. As we learn elsewhere, however, God cannot be mocked: we reap what we sow.1

It is sometimes easier to blame the influencers we follow than to take responsibility for our own lives. Bad leaders may be aplenty in the world, but we cannot hide our own mistakes by blaming them. Before I made a commitment to follow Jesus, I called myself a Christian but I took a piecemeal approach to accepting the teachings of the Bible. It was easy enough to find a church or a leader who would not have challenged my self-serving lifestyle. In truly choosing to follow Christ, however, I was faced with my own failings and had to start a process of repentance. Like Hosea’s audience, I could no longer blame a lack of knowledge.

God’s challenge to us is not just to follow some teaching or leader, but to know God personally. We need to be able to give a reason for the choices we make, not just to others but to ourselves and ultimately to God. Judgment is not limited to the Old Testament, as some try to claim. Rather, right at the heart of the cross, where we meet grace and mercy, we also see wrath and judgment. The message of the gospel is centered around Jesus taking our judgment. That is the foundation from which we must live. Now that is the kind of knowledge that we must never lack!


Consider the influencers in your life: are they helping you to grow closer to God? Equally, be encouraged to be a positive influence to all you meet today.

Closing prayer

Gracious God, may your grace and mercy so show in me and my actions, that others will be drawn to you and the gospel’s truth.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by kingstar

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