This chapter marks a transition in the narrative away from Hosea and Gomer's family drama and toward Israel's sin and impending judgment.
In Israel, there was no faithfulness or loyal love for the Lord. The Hebrew word for faithfulness is ˒ĕmet. This carries the underlying meaning of certainty and dependability. They did not acknowledge God and they violated five of the Ten Commandments (in order: 3, 9, 6, 8, and 7), and their judgment would be drought.
Hosea took aim at the religious leaders who were not appointed by God because they were not descendants of Aaron. The people were "destroyed for lack of knowledge" (4:6) because the illegitimate priests kept them from knowing the one true God. If their priests were doing it, the people reasoned that it must be OK to do it themselves. Just like Gomer, a "spirit of prostitution" (4:12) led them away from following the One true God. This prostitution came in the form of worshiping the Canaanite gods, Baal and Asherah, who represented the power of fertility and sexual reproduction. Their worship included rituals of wicked sexual practices. Male worshipers had sex with temple prostitutes and women worshipers had sex with the priests.
In the midst of all of this, God also gives a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah to not follow the practices of the northern kingdom of Israel (4:15).
Ephraim is another name for the northern kingdom of Israel because it was the most powerful of the ten tribes in the north.
The priests were leading the people of Israel astray. The people would look at them and say, "Well, if the priests are doing it, it must be OK!"
This is such a reminder to me that I need to lead a life that leads others into a closer relationship with God! That is a big responsibility but a noble one!
We are all leaders to someone! What is your life communicating about what is OK?
Pray that your life leads others to God!
Lord, show us where we might be compromising. We know that others are watching. Help us to be watching You and following Your lead so that others might follow You too! Amen.