Hosea speaks to the people, priesthood, and the monarchy; but the leaders are singled out because they have encouraged the people in false worship at the cult sites of Mizpah and Tabor. Mount Tabor was in northern Israel, 12 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee. Mizpah was either in Gilead or in Benjamite territory. The activity of the priests is explained in hunting imagery as they snare, net (see 7:12; Amos 3:5), and slaughter their prey (the people of Israel). Because of Israel's spiritual adultery and subsequent corruption, God will discipline. The Hebrew word for discipline is musar which means "severe punishment designed to restore one to proper behavior."
Punishment would come in two ways:
1) withdrawal of aid and blessing (5:6-7, 15a)
2) warfare (5:8-14)
Even ritualistic sacrifice would not save them (5:6) because this would be hypocritical and not from a heart to obey God's covenant. Judah's leaders were like those who "move boundary stones." This was forbidden in the Law and carried a curse (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17). It was like theft because it was a way of taking land unlawfully.
There is a reference in 5:13 about Ephraim turning to Assyria. This refers to the northern kingdom turning to Tiglath-Pilesar III of Assyria in order to restore national stability. This is probably referring to King Hoshea's alliance with Assyria (1 Kings 17:3). Judah had also formed an alliance when threatened by Syria and Israel (2 Kings 16). Hosea rightly observed that Assyria did not "heal/cure" them because only God could do that.
In the end, God would be the attacker and destroyer even though he would use foreign armies to accomplish this. A few years later, Ephraim would be conquered by Assyria and carry the people into exile (2 Kings 17). Judah would be overrun by Assyria in 701 B.C. but would be delivered through miraculous means. The prophecy about Judah's fall and exile (5:14) would be fulfilled later through Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (2 Kings 25).
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)As I read Hosea 5 this morning, I saw God's condemnation of the leaders who led Israel into false worship. The priests were to be the spiritual leaders, but they led them into sin! Spiritual leadership is a BIG responsibility! I want to be the kind of leader that leads others to seek God and obey Him. Are people watching my life and thinking, "Well if Carol does it, it must be OK," when it is really not OK?
Most of us are leaders in one way or another, we may be a Sunday school teacher, a bible study leader, hold a church office, or lead our children. Someone is probably looking at our life. Where are we leading them?
I have mentioned this before, but I had a friend whose mom told her, "You should look up to Carol and model your life after her." The next morning after my friend told me this, her mom was dead from a car accident. It really caused me to question things and say, "If I am someone that others should model their life after, then who am I looking up to and modeling my life after?" With my friend, it was like the "blind leading the blind" because even though I was a believer in Jesus I was not really following His leadership! I had to take a hard cold look at my life and say that I was just living for myself and not following the perfect leader. Within a year, my world spiraled into sin, but God in His infinite mercy showed His love to me (2:23), and I began to really follow Him. My wholehearted desire is to follow Him all the days of my life!
Evaluate your life in light of those who might be watching you. What would they see from the way you use your time, interact with your family, talk about others, or spend your money? Where are you leading them by your actions?
Lord, I pray that we would all be leaders who lead others to You. I ask this in the name of the best leader who ever walked this earth: Jesus! Amen.