Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Apostasy and Restoration of Israel- A Commentary on Hosea 3-4

Hosea chapters 3-4 begins a prophesy the coming judgment and restoration on Israel and Judah. Ch 3 gives us the summary while 4 gives us some details. We see in these chapters that the ancient Israelites used relativism and spin as means to evade the truth so that they could pursue their selfish desires.

In chapter 3, God commands Hosea to buy back Gomer. She had committed harlotry, left Hosea, and ended up as a slave on the market. The history of Gomer parallels that of Israel. As Gomer left Hosea for a season, ended up in slavery and then was redeemed, so Israel would become dispossessed from the land, the temple, and her King for a season, and then become redeemed. Israel has twice been scattered from the land. The first was under the Babylonians and lasted only 70 years, the second was the Roman occupation. The temple was destroyed in 70 and in 135 most of the Jews were evicted from their land. There was no more Jewish state until 1948. Both times, God restored the Jews to the land He promised them.

Chapter 4 begins by laying out the issues that are the grounds for His judgments. These are developed into three layers: relativism, spin, and party-party. These are intertwined in a systematic rejection of the truth. (Isaiah 59;John 3:18-21; Romans 1:18-32)

We see in verses 1-3, the harbinger of moral relativism. The text reads “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery they break all restraint ” They throw off moral norms by simply taking what they wanted, whether it by money or sex, and then using deception and murder to cover it up. The Ancient Israelites rejected the moral absolutes of God's Word to accommodate their selfish nature.

In verses 4-6, we see the spin cycle in full motion. God admonished no one to rebuke one another “For your people are like those who contend with the priest. ” Because ancient Israel rejected the “knowledge” of absolutes of God's Word (v6), they stumbled “Day” and “night” (vs5), and perished. God was going to reject them. This people's heart were set upon iniquity(vs8) to the degree that they actually fed off of it. The spin, the lies, and the harlotries was practiced by both the leaders and the people.

From verse 11 to the end of the chapter a dark picture is painted of people devoted to debauchery, from spiritual adultery to physical adultery to ritual sex. In verses 16, the Lord gives them over to a reprobate mind. “ He lets them “forage like a lamb in open country ”. He admonishes people to leave Ephraim alone, because he is “joined to idols.”

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