God’s Controversy with Israel1Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel,
For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land.
2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery.
They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore the land mourns,
And everyone who lives in it languishes
Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky,
And also the fish of the sea disappear.
4 Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof;
For your people are like those who contend with the priest.
5 So you will stumble by day,
And the prophet also will stumble with you by night;
And I will destroy your mother.
There is no "faithfulness...kindness...knowledge of the Lord." Other translations use the words truth and loyalty instead of faithfulness and kindness. I like what the Amplified Bible tacks on about knowledge--"[from personal experience with Him]." It is such a stark contrast to come from Chapter 3, knowing God's ultimate plan, to being in the pit of Chapter 4, at a point in Israel's relationship with God that there truly is no relationship with God. And how are we all looking today, as a nation?
Verse 2 expounds on the issues. Self-explanatory, really, though I like my study Bible's mention of how many of these issues are found in the Ten Commandments--The Law. Should have spoken volumes to the Jews. Verse 3 is then the verse of consequences. Note the phrasing: "The land mourns...and everyone who lives in it languishes." (italics mine) The land, beasts, birds and fish also face consequences. The King James' says, of the fish, they "shall be taken away." Strong's defines the Hebrew word as "to gather for any purpose." The One who has established creation is also the One who can gather up creation, for His purpose! Do we really question why flocks of birds fall from the sky or schools of one species of fish flip belly-up?
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."--Romans 8:20-22 (italics mine)
Then, verse 4: "Yet let no one find fault" or let no one contend. We studied the word contend in Chapter 2, with reference to Israel's looking at itself as the nation of God's chosen people in light of its sinful behavior. "Contend with your mother," it says in 2:2. But here, no one is grappling, wrangling and holding a controversy [Strong's] over his sin--not the nation, not the Israelite.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."--I John 1: 9 & 10
It is no wonder Hosea says to "Listen to the word of the Lord," and "there is no knowledge of the Lord in the land." Had there been, Israel "coulda been a contender." And there would have been no "deception." Not only was there no self-reflection or confession, but there was no one challenging the sin. No one upholding the Word before others. Check out this interesting cross-reference from Ezekiel:
"Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house."--Ezekiel 3:26
Perhaps I was too quick to say that Israel didn't contend. Problem was, they were contentious as if dealing with the priests--those whom, under God's direction, they were not to disregard.
"According to the terms of the law which they [the priests] teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again."--Deuteronomy 17: 11-13
Hosea certainly knows how to reach the heart of the Israelite, drawing from The Law to make clear and meaningful the charges laid before the people. Verse 5 closes with the people and the prophet stumbling, and the "mother," or the nation, of Israel, being "destroyed." Strong's defines the Hebrew root as meaning "to be dumb or silent" rather than obliterated. Oh, Israel! God's got your tongue! The One who brings creation under His feet will bring this nation to a humbling place under its Father.
"He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.'”--Psalm 46:10
Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).