1. What took away the hearts of the people?
“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart” (Hosea 4:11).
- Whoredoms included false reports and murmuring against God and His chosen leaders (Numbers 14:1-33).
- Whoredoms included idolatry [as the context bears out too] (Jeremiah 3:1-11, Jeremiah 13:22-27, and Ezekiel 43:7-9).
- Whoredoms, in addition to idolatry, including bowing down to other nations and peoples (Ezekiel 23:1-49).
- Whoredoms is inclusive of transgressing the covenant between God and His people in general (Hosea 6:7-11).
- Wine, as is translated here from the Hebrew “יַיִן” means: “to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication, intoxication: — banqueting, wine, wine-bibber” (Strong’s # 140). New wine means: “in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape-juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: — (new, sweet) wine” (Strong’s # 8492).
- As you study the Scriptures, you cannot come to any other conclusion other than it is sinful to drink alcoholic beverages for any purpose or reason (Proverbs 20:1, Proverbs 21:17, Proverbs 23:20-21, Proverbs 23:29-35, Proverbs 31:4-5, Isaiah 5:11, Isaiah 5:22, Hosea 4:11, Habakkuk 2:15, Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:33-34, Romans 14:21, Galatians 5:16-21, I Thessalonians 5:1-6, Titus 2:1-14, I Peter 1:13-16, I Peter 4:1-5, and I Peter 5:8).
- Their hearts were removed (Isaiah 29:13).
2. What sexual transgressions did the Lord use to describe the idolatry of Israel?
Harlotry, whoredoms, adultery: “(12) My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. (13) They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
(14) I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall. (15) Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth” (Hosea 4:12-15).
- The Lord’s so-called people were looking to their “stocks” [wood; trees] for counsel (Isaiah 57:1-8, Jeremiah 2:27, and Jeremiah 10:8).
- They had a history of looking to the wrong places for counsel (Joshua 9:14, I Chronicles 10:13, and Isaiah 30:1-3).
- Spirit of whoredoms (Hosea 5:1-5; cf. Ephesians 2:1-3 and James 4:1-4).
- Caused them to err (Isaiah 3:12, Isaiah 9:16, Jeremiah 23:13; 23:32, and Amos 2:4).
- Their practice of idolatry was everywhere (Isaiah 2:8 and Jeremiah 11:13).
- How could a people expect judgment on the sins of others when they themselves are guilty of the same thing. That is hypocrisy and the Lord was not going to punish their erring when they themselves were doing the same thing spiritually (Luke 6:41-42). Moreover, it would have done no good (Isaiah 1:5).
- The Lord did not want the sins of Israel to spread to Judah. Sadly, it did (Jeremiah 3:6-10, Jeremiah 5:11, and Jeremiah 7:30-34).
- They spoke vainly with their lips (Isaiah 48:1 and Jeremiah 5:1-2).
3. What did the Lord compare the backsliding of Israel to?
A backsliding heifer: “For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place” (Hosea 4:16).
- They were certainly backsliders (Jeremiah 3:14; 3:22 and Hosea 11:7).
- That condition was curable (Hosea 14:1-4).
- The translation of the KJV is not the greatest here. The end of the verse is better translated… “now will Jehovah feed them as a lamb in a large place” (ASV 1901)? The ESV puts it as a question.
- If they did not return… Proverbs 14:14, Proverbs 26:11, and II Peter 2:20-22
4. What was to be done to Ephraim?
Let him alone: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4:17).
- The tribe of Ephraim were decedents of Joseph (Genesis 46:20).
- They should not have been coupled together with idols (Leviticus 19:4, Deuteronomy 4:15-19, II Kings 17:9-12, I Corinthians 10:14, and II Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
- The instruction to let him alone is something, even in purpose, saints should understand (Matthew 18:15-17, Romans 16:17-18, I Corinthians 5:9-13, and II Thessalonians 3:6; 3:14-15).
5. Was their spiritual whoredom a one-time affair?
No: “Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye” (Hosea 4:18).
- The idea of becoming a sour drink (Jeremiah 2:21).
- Their whoredom was continual (Isaiah 65:2-7).
- Think of what happened when sin was done continually in the past (Genesis 6:5ff.).
- What they should have been doing continually (I Chronicles 16:11, Psalms 119:44, and Hosea 12:6).
- The rulers (Isaiah 3:12, Isaiah 9:16, Isaiah 56:10-12, Amos 5:12, and Micah 3:11).
6. Were the sacrifices they offered to their idols going to be beneficial to them?
No, they were going to bring them shame: “The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices” (Hosea 4:19).
- There was a wind coming (Jeremiah 51:1).
- Those sacrifices to those idols would do nothing from them (Isaiah 1:28-31 and Isaiah 44:9-28).
- Sadly, what at one time separated the heathen from the children of God was now what the children of God had in common with the heathen (Psalms 115:1-8).
© 2020 This study was prepared for a Bible class with the Sunrise Acres church of Christ in El Paso, TX by Brian A. Yeager.