Hosea Chapter Five


Read Hosea 5:1-7 – Judgment Against Priests and Kings


v.1Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.”


            In any society, culture or organization it is the leadership that will bear the greatest burden of responsibility for whatever they are or what they become.  This is true in congregations of the Lord’s church today relative to its elders, preachers and teachers and it was true of the priests, prophets, princes and kings of Judah and Israel.

            In Judah the priests still served in the temple.  In Israel it would be reasonable to expect that, even though their king had set up idols for them to worship, there were priests and Levites still living in the cities, the cities that were called the cities of refuge, that were given them by Joshua as God directed.  We find those cities listed in the book of I Chronicles, an example:


I Chronicles 6:67-68And they gave unto them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with her suburbs, 68And Jokmeam with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs,”


All but one of the cities listed, just in these two verses, are in the northern kingdom.  In Israel, in addition, as we have studied earlier, their kings sought to restrict their people from worshiping in Jerusalem for political reasons.

            We all know the purpose of snares and nets.  They are used to catch and trap the unwary, the same is true in the spiritual realm as well as the physical.  Israel had been warned that the Canaanites would be a snare to them:


Exodus 23:33They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.”


But they ignored that warning and now their priests and kings have led them into the trap of idolatry from which they would not escape.


v.2And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.”


            Today, as it was in the days of Israel, those who have revolted against the rule of Almighty God and turned away from him are the arch enemies of those who remain faithful.  When Paul asked the question:


Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Galatians 4:16


More often than not the answer to this question is a resounding YES.  But today rather than the slaughter of people we have the slaughter of character, reputation, and influence among brethren.  Rather than debate and reason from the scriptures of their false doctrines our apostate brethren when pushed will attack their antagonist personally instead.  They apparently have learned this from watching our politicians in action.

            God had indeed been a “REBUKER OF THEM ALL”, literally from the days of the Judges to the days of this prophets record; admonishing, correcting, turning them from evil and then watching them turn back again.  Each time they became more difficult to influence because as the wise man records for us:




We’re told that not only with those who have reproved repeatedly will stiffen their necks, bow their backs and harden their hearts not to hear but that this will lead them to their own ultimate destruction.


v.3 “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.”


            Just as Amos had warned before; God knows Israel’s iniquities:


Amos 5:12 “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.”


They had defiled their own bodies with fleshly lusts, they had defiled their souls with their worship of idols and God was a witness.  Their shame and degradation is complete in his sight.  They are, as Amos also writes, like fruit ripe for picking.


v.4They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.


            Just as Hosea wrote in the previous chapter; “MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE”.  Israel no longer knows God.  This was not because the knowledge of God and his law was not available but because they had rejected the knowledge of God.  Their hearts had been completely captured by worldly lusts and false gods.  They have turned from God completely and will not be turned back again.  They were like king Rehoboam:


II Chronicles 12:14And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.”


v.5And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.”


            Not only had the Israelites rejected God and the knowledge of God, they were arrogant and insolent in their attitude toward God and Gods messengers.  They are like a man who has so much pride that he refuses to hear any warning of spiritual danger.  The wisdom of the Proverbs, writings that were available even at this time to Israel say much about pride, first God hates it:


Proverbs 8:13The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (see also Proverbs 6:17)


It brings shame to those who are too proud:


Proverbs 11:2When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”


It breeds contention and contentious people:


Proverbs 13:10Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”


It brings destruction and those who worship it will fall:


Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”


And Israel was a prideful as well as a rebellious people.  Just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day; they reveled in the fact that they were children of Abraham and Jacob, called Israel and God’s chosen people.  The fall of both the northern kingdom and of Judah was coming.


v.6They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.”


            All throughout their history Israel had turned from God, rejected his commandments, and disobeyed his laws.  Then when God brought punishment upon them they repented and turned back to Him again for a time.  But this time this will not happen.  As God warns them through Isaiah:


Isaiah 1:15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”


And also through the weeping prophet, Jeremiah:


Jeremiah 14:12When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.”


Their lives are an affront to God, their worship is an abomination, their prayers are no longer heard, their sacrifices are no longer accepted.  God has abandoned them and will not allow them to find him again in this generation nor for many generations to come.


v.7They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.


            They are like the Gomer that God instructed Hosea to marry.  They have borne children as a result of their adultery, strange children that their spiritual father does not recognize.  The message is the same as would later be given to Judah by His prophet, Isaiah:


Isaiah 1:14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.”


They were going through the motions of worshiping God but indeed their hearts were far from Him.  This to God is treachery and deceitfulness.  They were living a life of hypocrisy, professing to follow God but in reality following their own wants, wishes, desires and lusts.


Read Hosea 5:8-15 – God Urges Israel to Sound the Warning


v.8Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.”


            This warning is also addressed to the kingdom of Judah.  The town of Gibeah was in the area of the tribe of Benjamin, Ramah was the home of Samuel, the last judge of Israel, Bethaven was in Benjamin near Ai.  They were to blow the cornet, or trumpet to sound the alarm as they did in times of danger or when Israel was called to assemble for some purpose, whether it was for worship or for war.  We have examples in:


Numbers 10:4  And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.”


Judges 3:27 “And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.”


This time the cornet or trumpet was to be sounded to call Israel back to the God whose ways they had abandoned and whose laws they no longer kept.


v.99Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.”


            Now God emphasizes the judgment against Israel.  Ephraim will be made desolate; a warning that is repeated throughout the writings of both the Major and Minor prophets.  Isaiah compares them to drunkards:


Isaiah 28:1-4Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! 2Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. 3The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: 4And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.”


v.10The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.”


            Now he turns to Judah and says that their princes were like those who “REMOVE THE BOUNDS”.  What are the “BOUNDS?”  In physical Israel the bounds were the landmarks that designated the corners and boundaries of a person’s land.


Deuteronomy 27:17Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.”


What would be the spiritual parallel and the parallel that we would apply today?  Jeremiah characterized it this way:


Jeremiah 6:16Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”


Jesus said that the way to life is narrow and many will not find it.


Matthew 7:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


But how would one move the landmarks, or boundary markers for the narrow way today?  By teaching false doctrines, professing and turning people to knowledge that did not come from God.


Galatians 1:8-9But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”


v.11-12 “Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. 12Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.”


            Ephraim, i.e. Israel, will be oppressed and broken by God’s judgment.  Was it because she was deceived and led astray?  Not at all.  It is true that King Jeroboam placed the golden calves in Dan and Bethel for Israel to worship and their succeeding kings maintained this practice to keep them from going to Jerusalem.  It was the law of the land at that time.  But was it a law that the Israelite people rebelled or protested against?  There is no record in scripture that they did so.

            Consequently the people followed that law, not only in a blind implicit obedience of their king’s authority, but they also willingly followed it, not objecting to the worship of idols and abandoning Jerusalem and God’s temple.

            God’s punishments will be mild at first, silent, not obvious unless someone is really aware.  Both Hosea and Isaiah compare these judgments to moths and worms, not what we would equate with a major punishment:


Isaiah 51:88For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.”


v.13When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.”


            When the northern kingdom of Israel, represented here by the tribe of Ephraim, was troubled by Assyria, instead of turning to God for his assistance they turned to alliances with their pagan neighbors.  We noted this in our study of chapter two and Hosea reviews it again later in his prophecy:


Hosea 7:11Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.”


Judah wasn’t any better.  When she was set upon by Assyria:


II Kings 18:2121Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.”


Consequently she became little more than a vassal of Egypt, paying tribute to Pharoah and allowing Pharoah to appoint her kings.  Later when she was faced with total destruction and captivity by Babylon we read the following:


II Kings 24:77And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.”


Judah is abandoned by Egypt to her fate, Egypt’s allegiance was false.


v.14For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.”


            God uses the analogy of the fierceness of a young lion, killing in the frenzy of blood lust, because while powerful and physically mature he has not yet matured enough to learn not to kill just for fun.  We find the same analogy:




Micah 5:8And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.”


v.15I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.


            God will “GO and RETURN TO MY PLACE”, God will abandon them to their folly and their affliction.  He will not rescue them from harm as he has done so many times before during their history as a people.  Like a husband of an unfaithful wife they shall be estranged and he will have nothing to do with them until such time as their sin is acknowledged and the forgiveness of God is sought.

            The punishment that God will bring upon them will cause them to “SEEK ME EARLY”, that is diligently and earnestly.  Just as a wayward child, who under the conviction of sin against his father and under the rod of correction, is very quick to promise that he will do as has been expected of him and plead for his chastisement to end.  This is the advice of the Holy Spirit:




William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport. LA; October 6, 2008