Rebellion and False Repentance
Hosea 5:1 – 6:11
To love God is to hate evil (Psalm 97:10). “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13). So declares the inspired Scriptures.
The problem with Israel as much as with people today, in general, even professing Christians, is that, we claim to love God, and hang onto evil as well. That cannot be, if we love God. God says so, and it is so often ignored.
God’s desire for His people is that we learn. Learn His ways, walk His paths of beauteous splendor. But, there is such (what seems like) an unwillingness to learn, such desire for ignorance, rather than for a knowledge of God.
Many times in Scriptures the words “hear”, “give heed”, and/or “listen” are verbalized with great vehemence, that God cries out for their attention, but they do not give it. Maybe I ought to say “We do not give it” just to be fair.
The Word of God has been rejected and despised by the priests and rulers of Israel. They have captured the people for their own gain. The priests, the common people, and the king are guilty before God. They all must repent and seek God.
“Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.” Hosea 5:1-2 (KJV)
Many times God cries out through His messengers, the prophets, for His people to “Hear”. Sometimes they listen and hear and turn form their path of destruction; many times they do not.
The judgment is toward all who are in the land. As a response to hearing the Word some will turn, but will still suffer in judgment along with the nation. Like we are told in Scripture “It rains on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), and that includes blessing and judgment.
The leaders; the priests, the king, tribal leaders had ensnared and exploited the people. The nobles and leaders were not only indulging in the practiced sin of the nation, but were also profiting from the immorality. They did not want to cease from their sin. There was too much profit, and an extravagant amount of pleasure to lose in doing so. As long as there is enjoyment in sin there is no chance for repentance, and no blessing from God.
There was much bloodshed “slaughter”. Slaughter of innocence. The baby to the fire, the elderly “No longer useful to society”, those who cry out against audacious and vile decadence. This will be judged. There are many people today who worship at the fiery idol of “Choice”.
“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.” Hosea 5:3-7
Rebellion and impenitence is the theme of these verses.
When a lost soul turns to God for salvation, that same soul has turned away from sin and the path of Hell. There has been a change of heart and of life, and of lifestyle.
This is what God was wanting for Israel. Israel’s problem is that, they wee caught in a trap. They were enslaved to their won devices of sin, and could find no way out. In fact they did not want out. That is the blindness of sins darkness. Jesus spoke of the bondage of sin and its darkness in John 3:19-20. He said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (NKJV).
In verses three through seven God cites five reasons He would chastise Israel, and ultimately Judah. There were probably some in Hosea’s audience who would not believe Israel could or would be destroyed, thus, the five reasons.
- Ephraim had prostituted herself, and Israel stood defiled (v. 3);
- The Israelites deeds would not allow them to return to the Lord their God (v. 4);
- They in their pride had rejected God’s appeal for them to turn to Him for help (v. 5);
- They, instead, turned to the fertility gods for help (vv. 5b-6); “The real tragedy is that their sin had so blinded them that they thought they were seeking God by the sacrifices, and other rites at the fertility shrines.” Traylor page 56.
- Their treachery against the Lord God (v. 7).
On the part of Israel was betrayal, rebellion, and an intensity to sin. On God’s part, He remained faithful. The result of Israel’s continued rebellion against God was destruction. Who are we to think that it cannot happen to us when we want to hang on to our sins?
“Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out My wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.” Hosea 5:8-15 (KJV)
Judgment would come from within and without. For those today who say, “Well, God wouldn’t do that” you better get a new thought. God does not allow His children to sin successfully.
This blowing of the “Ram’s horn” is a warning to invaders. There is a need for sounding a warning of invaders when people forsake God, and refuse to return to His way. The warnings, as with Israel, often go unheeded, and the people continue to live a life of indulgent sin. Wanting the blessings, of God, and yet clinging to godless living.
Judgment is inevitable when people hear the Word of warning, and refuse to turn. The judgment comes due to the lack of care. Complacent, and apathetic toward the warnings; the enemy then comes in tearing and ripping and killing fulfilling the rebuke of God to turn His people from their sins. Who can rescue one who is under the judgment? God says, “No one can.”
God leaves His children to face their own sin, and its fruit. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galations 6:7). He will not come to their aid until they confess their evil and repent of it. God’s judgment upon His people is always redemptive. Do not deceive yourselves; there are consequences to your sin. You will reap the harvest of those sins.
“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3
By all appearances these verses seem to be a sign of true repentance. At least what the Lord requires of His people for His promise to be fulfilled. Let us keep them in context with the verses which follow.
How long does it take us to learn that we cannot fool God? He knows our heart. He knows our thoughts. He knows when we are truly penitent, and when it is false.
Sorry they had been discovered, their sin found out, they want to avoid the judgment that was about to fall upon them. Notice, there is no mention of forsaking their evil ways, only seeking to return in order to get blessing again. They want healing, revival, and the rains, but God knows the heart.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against Me. Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” Hosea 6:4-11
God will, and does judge His people to produce godly knowledge, and loyalty to Him.
The two questions of verse four are very penetrating. They imply with force, “Why do you deceive Me?” The repentance of “Ephraim” is only fleeting. Clinging to their sin, loving their sin, they cry for forgiveness. The “Morning cloud” appears until the light and heat of the sun hits it, then, it is gone. The “Early dew” lingers on the leaves, grass, flowers, and the fields until the light of day causes it to evaporate into nothingness, and it is gone. The describes the repentance of Israel. Sadly, it also describes the feeble cries of repentance; if there are any; in the Church of the 21st century. While wanting the blessings of God we also want to cling to our sin that separates us from God. Wreaking havoc upon ourselves, our Church, our nation, and the world, sin continues while God calls us to repent. God’s people are to be a stabilizing force in society, and culture by being unmoved by passions of lust and greed.
The Word of God in written form, and from the mouths of His prophets inflicts wounds to cut out sin. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is the Law which shows the way of freedom. Sin is an evil, and cruel master destroying life, and godly relationships.
The LORD God desires permanence in our loyalties. His frustration is with words that have no commitment, no devotion, no perseverance. When judgment comes it is as a light revealing pitfalls, stumbling blocks, and dead-ends. Judgment shows that departure from God to sin has taken place.
False repentance is eager to sacrifice money, maybe time, and even attendance at worship, programs and feasts, but not personal commitment to change, to show mercy and kindness, to love as God loves – loving “God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as we love ourselves”- to know God, and not just ritual.
The vileness of man’s heart continually transgresses God’s Law. Acts of treason are committed against Him daily. Treachery, the act to deceive, and that which destroys trust, is committed by refusing to obey what has been agreed to by all parties. God has no other choice but to judge. Remember our God is holy.
Bloodshed, robbery, harlotry seem to be permanent encroachments upon the land. God says, that it is “A horrible thing in the house of Israel.” The house of Judah will not be exempt. None who turn from God to serve self are exempt from God’s wrath. Is there hope in that? Those who experience God’s judgment, and confess their sins, and turn from their sins [repentance] to Jesus Christ, God’s holy Son will experience His mercy and grace.
-Tim A. Blankenship