Rejection of the Knowledge of God
Verse 1 – Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.”
In this chapter, God brings a charge of disobedience against Israel. The religious leaders had turned worship into ritual prostitution. The people were quick to criticize Hose’s wife for adultery but didn’t condemn their own adultery against God.
Romans 2:3 – And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Verse 2 – By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed after bloodshed.
Verse 3 – Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away.
Verse 4 – “Now let no man contend, or reprove another, for your people are like those who contend with the priest.
Verse 5 – Therefore you shall stumble in that day; the prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother.
Verse 6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
The people’s ignorance of God was willful. They should have known better because the priest knew better. They had let false prophets which were not chosen by God, tell them lies.
Verse 7 – “The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.
When Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon’s son Rehoam and set up a rival kingdom in the north, he also set up his own religious system (1 Kings 12:25-33). In direct violation of God’s laws, he had made two golden calves and told the people they had to worship them. He also appointed his own priests, who were not descendants of Aaron. Before long, the people exchanged Baal for God.
Verse 8 – They eat up the sin of My people; they set their heart on iniquity.
The more the people brought the sin offering, the more the priest received because they received a portion of it. Because they couldn’t eat all the sin offerings themselves, they sold some to their relatives. In other words, the priest profited from the people’s sin; it gave them power and position in the community. So instead of discouraging them from sinning, they encouraged it to increase for their profit.
Verse 9 – And it shall be; like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their deeds.
Verse 10 – For they shall eat, but not have enough; they shall commit harlotry, but not increase; because they have ceased obeying the Lord.
Not only Israel’s wives, but the concubines would be barren. To be childless was great shame.
Verse 11 – “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart.
Verse 12 – My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.
The rituals of Baal and Asherah worship included vile sexual practices. Male worshipers had sex with female temple prostitutes, or priestesses.
Verse 13 – They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your brides commit adultery.
Verse 14 – “I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlot, and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled.
The fathers and the husbands will be the one who are punished because they didn’t teach their daughters nor did the leaders.
Verse 15 – “Though you, Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah offend. Do not come up to Gilgal, nor go up to Beth Aven, nor swear an oath, saying, ‘As the Lord lives’ –
God sends a warning to Judah to not become like the northern kingdom. Israel was not going to escape punishment, bu Judah still had time to repent.
Verse 16 – “For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf; now the Lord will let them forage like a lamb in open country.
Verse 17 – “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.
Ephraim is another name for Israel, the northern kingdom because Ephraim was the most powerful of the ten tribes that had separated from the other two. In the same way, the southern kingdom was called Judah after its most powerful tribe.
Verse 18 – Their drink is rebellion, they commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly love dishonor.
Verse 19 – The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
The whirlwind that would sweep Israel away was the Assyrians invasion about 20 years later.