The Lord accuses Israel
1 Israelites, listen to the Lord's message! The Lord accuses the people who live in Israel of these bad things:
4:1It is like God is accusing his people in a court of law. They have not been faithful to him or obeyed his covenant with them.
‘Nobody in the land of Israel is faithful. They have no true love. They do not want to know God. 2 They curse people, they tell lies, they murder people, they rob people. They are guilty of adultery. They continue to kill more and more people. 3 Because of this, the land will become like a desert. Everyone who lives there will become weak. Everything will die: the wild animals, the birds, and even the fish in the sea.
4:2Adultery is when a married person has sex with a person that they are not married to
4 Do not argue among yourselves or accuse one another. It is you priests who are guilty. 5 You are always falling over. In the day and in the night, you trip and you fall. The false prophets are the same as you. So I will destroy Israel, your mother. 6 The people do not know me. Because of that, they will come to an end. You refuse to respect my authority, so I will remove you as my priests. You refuse to obey the law of your God, so I will refuse to accept your children as my priests.
4:5When they fall over, that is a picture. It shows that they do not know what they should be doing. They have lost their way.
7 The more priests that there are among you, the more sins they do against me. They should have received honour as priests, but I will make them ashamed. 8 They get food to eat when the people bring their sin offerings to them. So the priests are happy when the people do bad things, because they get more food to eat. 9 The people do whatever the priests do. I will punish them all for the bad things that they do. I will give them what their sins deserve. 10 They will eat, but they will still be hungry. They will have sex with prostitutes, but they will still have no children. This will happen because they have turned away from the Lord. 11 Instead, they worship other gods.
My people cannot think properly because they drink too much old wine and new wine. 12 They ask wooden idols to tell them what to do! A stick tells them what will happen in the future! They have turned away from me and they have lost their way. They have not been faithful to me, their God, as a prostitute is not faithful to her husband. 13 They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains. They burn offerings on the hills. They do this under the oak trees, the poplar trees and the other big trees. They enjoy the shade under those trees. As a result, your daughters serve the false gods as prostitutes. Your sons' wives are also guilty of adultery. 14 But I will not punish them for those sins, because the men are just as guilty! They sleep with prostitutes. They join with prostitutes to offer sacrifices to the false gods.
All of this shows that people who cannot think properly destroy themselves.’
The people of Judah must not copy Israel's sins
15 You people of Israel are not faithful to the Lord. But do not let the people of Judah become guilty of the same sins. Do not travel to Gilgal to worship! Do not go to Beth Aven! Do not say, ‘I promise this is true, as surely as the Lord lives’. 16 Israel's people have turned against the Lord. They are like a young cow that refuses to obey its owner. So how can the Lord take care of them? Will he put them in a big field to eat the grass like lambs? 17 The people of Israel enjoy their idols. Do not go near them! 18 After they have drunk enough wine, they are happy to sleep with prostitutes. They enjoy doing things that should make them ashamed. 19 Now a strong wind will pick them up and take them away. They will become ashamed because of their sacrifices to false gods.
4:15Hosea's message is sometimes like Amos's message. See Amos 5:5. They did not want Israel's people to worship at Gilgal or at Bethel. Gilgal was an important place for the Israelites. They stopped there after they crossed the Jordan River. See Joshua 4:19. Hosea calls Bethel ‘Beth Aven’. Bethel means ‘House of God’ but Beth Aven means ‘House of wicked things’.
4:19It is time for God to judge them.