Corrupt spiritual leaders. Rampant idolatry. A divine controversy. It appears that Israel was not in a good place. She had been unfaithful to her God and fickle in her love. However, the crux of the issue, the central theme around which God’s controversy and Hosea 4 is built upon, and the reason for God’s contention with the priesthood was the lack of spiritual knowledge and understanding among the general populace. We touched on this topic briefly last week when analyzing God’s controversy with Israel, but it’s time to revisit and focus solely on this fundamental subject.
At the center of God’s controversy and accusation against Israel was His dispute with the priests. They were the ones entrusted with the spiritual welfare of Israel and were the ones God held responsible for the current moral slide.
As we dive into chapter four, we find a sudden shift in the focus of the message. No longer centered on Hosea and Gomer’s side of the story, from chapter four on, the rest of this book is entirely devoted to God’s relationship with Israel, His love for that wayward people, and the controversy He had with them.
God loves to shower blessings and good gifts upon His beloved children. However, sometimes we, as fallen man, love and worship the gifts rather than the Giver. When this begins to happen, God’s heart is very grieved and out of His love, He begins to discipline us—which often begins with deprivation.
Gomer’s sin and adultery led her into slavery and bondage. While it is unclear whether she became a literal slave, Gomer was indeed enslaved mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to the lifestyle she had chosen. She was trapped in the downward spiral of sin, and in her own power she couldn’t escape, even if she wanted to.
Nevertheless, the faithful husband that she had left behind was on his way to rescue her…
God and Israel. Hosea and Gomer. Two covenant relationships that ended in estrangement. However, as we learned last week, God would eventually woo back Israel’s wayward heart and Israel would return to the God of her fathers'. But what about Hosea and Gomer? After giving Hosea three kids, Gomer took off and returned to her life of prostitution, flitting from man to man until she ended up in slavery. So was there any hope for their relationship?
At some point in life, everyone makes a stupid decision or two. Okay, that was sarcasm. Let’s face it, we make a LOT of stupid decisions. But hopefully our moments of stupidity are nowhere near as serious and long lasting as Israel’s.
This chapter opened with the declaration “I am not her husband.” However, after the LORD drew Israel into the wilderness and spoke to her heart, she responded. She returned to the devotion of her youth and again recognized the LORD for who He is.
After this epiphany, the LORD gave Himself a new name.
Our God is a God of second chances, third chances, fourth chances, fifth chances, and more. He doesn’t give up on those He loves, but extends grace and offers them another chance to do things right. Even in the midst of holy anger, God was preparing to win back Israel’s heart and affection.