The Lord is angry with the people in Israel
1 People in Israel, listen to the Lord's message! The Lord will argue against the people that live in this country to show that they have done wrong things. The Lord says:
4:1God is taking his people to a kind of court. The people will have to give an answer for their sins. The first of these sins is that the people do not love God. They do not know God.
‘Israel's people do not respect God. They are not kind to one another. And they do not do what they have promised to do. 2 They hope that bad things will happen to people. They tell people things that are not true. They kill people and they rob people. They do the sin of adultery. They kill more and more people. 3 So the people cry. And everything that lives is slowly dying. All the animals and birds, and even the fish, are dying. 4 Nobody among you should argue. And nobody among you should say that another person is wrong. You people are like people who argue with a priest. 5 You fall over during the day and during the night. And the prophets fall with you. And I will destroy your mother (Israel). 6 You are destroying my people because they do not know me. You have refused to learn. So I will refuse to let you be a priest for me. You have forgotten your God's rules, so I will forget your children.
4:4God does not have one priest that he is thinking about. He is thinking about all the priests and prophets in Israel.
7 The more priests that there are among you, the more my people sin against me. They should have been proud to be my people. But I will make them become ashamed. 8 The priests get food to eat when the people bring animals to them as sacrifices for their sins. So the priests are happy when the people sin. 9 The priests are not different from the people. I will tell them both what they should do. They will have to change the things that they do. I will punish them for the wrong things that they did. 10 You people will eat your part of the sacrifices, but you will still be hungry. You will live like prostitutes, but you will not have babies. This is because you have turned away from me to follow other gods.
4:8The priests became rich when Jeroboam 2nd was king. They gave help to the rich people and leaders. They did not tell them that they were wrong.
11 My people cannot understand anything because they drink too much old wine and new wine. 12 My people are asking idols that are made from wood to help them. They ask special sticks to tell them what they should do! That is because they have turned to those false gods, like prostitutes have sex with different men. My people have turned away from their God. They no longer worship me! 13 They give sacrifices on the tops of the mountains. They burn incense on the hills. They do this under many different kinds of trees. The shade under those trees is very nice. So your daughters become like prostitutes. Also your son's wives do the sin of adultery. 14 Your daughters are prostitutes. Your son's wives do the sin of adultery. But I will not punish them. I will not do it because the men, too, go to be with prostitutes. And they offer sacrifices with prostitutes. So these silly people will cause their own death.’
4:12The ‘wood’ might mean an idol. Perhaps it means a way to find out what God wants about something. The sticks of wood would fall in a certain way (Ezekiel 21:21).
The sins that will cause God to punish the people in Israel
15 ‘Israel's people, you live like a prostitute. But do not let Judah's people also do wrong things. Do not worship at Gilgal or at Beth Aven. Do not say promises there in the name of the Lord. Do not say, “As the Lord lives”. 16 Israel's people are like a young cow. This young cow does not let you lead it. It is not possible to feed my people. A farmer takes young sheep to a field where there is much grass. I want to be kind to my people as the farmer is kind to those young sheep. 17 The people in Israel have become friends with idols. Let them go their own way. 18 After they have drunk wine, they are happy to be with prostitutes. They do not think about what people will say about them. 19 A wind will take them away. Now they cannot think any longer. Their sacrifices will cause people to think bad things about them.’
4:15Hosea's message is sometimes the same as Amos's message (Amos 5:5). Neither of them want Israel's people to worship at Gilgal or at Beth Aven. Gilgal was an important place for Israel's people. They stopped there after they crossed the river Jordan (Joshua 4:19). Beth Aven means ‘House of Very Bad Things’. It is Hosea's name for Bethel, which means ‘House of God’.
4:19God does not want to wait. It is time for God to judge them.