A General Arraignment
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Hosea, that portion of the Word of God we are considering together. Notice Hosea, chapter 4, beginning with verse 1:

Hosea 4

1Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
2By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
3Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
4Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
5Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.
6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
7As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
8They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
9And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
10For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
11Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
12My 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.
13They 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.
14I 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.
15Though 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.
16For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.
17Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
18Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.
19The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

We have been studying together the book of Hosea. We offered to you an analysis of the book that we said we trusted you would keep before you so that as you read progressively in the book, you will be able to know exactly where you are. The book falls naturally into four divisions: In chapters 1-3, we have the prophet's call; in chapters 4-8, we have the prophet's complaint; in chapters 9-11, we have the prophet's condemnation; in chapters 12-14, we have the prophet's consolation.

We have already noticed the prophet's call in the first three chapters, and we discovered it was a call to live a domestic life that would preach a message which would be so adequate that the spoken word would be but a re-emphasis of what was dramatized in the lives of the prophet and his family.

The Prophet's Complaint

You see by the analysis of the chapter which we read in your hearing that it is the first of the section which we have called the prophet's complaint . We refer to this section as the prophet's complaint because of what we find in verse 1 of chapter 4, where we read:

Hosea 4

1Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

The prophet is going to utter God's complaint concerning the nation of Israel at this particular period of her history. We would like for you to have the whole complaint fixed in your minds so that you can be thinking properly about it.

In chapter 4, which we will be considering in this lesson, you will have the general arraignment of the nation of Israel by God's prophet. Then, in chapter 5 through verse 3 of chapter 6, which properly belongs to chapter 5, we will have a threefold address on the part of the people to three different classes within the nation itself. Then in chapter 6, verses 4-11, which actually constitutes one chapter, we have a loving appeal given by God through the lips of His prophet to remind His people that though He had much with which to charge them, He loved them still in spite of it. Then in chapter 7, we are reminded that there is a day of accounting coming, even though God would have us know that He loves us. He would not have us think that His love is a warped kind of love that makes no provision for justice. Then we have in chapter 8 what, for want of a better way to describe it, we have referred to as the trumpet announcements .

In Israel, when the trumpets sounded, it meant something important was going to happen. We will find the sounding of the trumpets in chapter 8 as Israel prepares herself for the judgment of God upon her because of the complaint which has been offered which cannot be disproved, for which there is no answer given.

As we look together at the general arraignment found in chapter 4, we would like to remind you that if you get the most out of our discussion, you are going to have to think of what we are saying to you in a twofold way. You are going to have to think of it not only as applying to the ancient nation of Israel in an ancient time, but you are going to have to see the possiblity of application to our own nation in this particular hour, for God deals with all nations in the same manner; God deals with all nations in the same way. What makes one nation great makes another great; what makes one nation weak makes another weak.

The second thing that you need to keep in mind is that Israel was not only a nation to be considered such from an historical standpoint, but a spiritual people of God. As we suggested to you, Israel is the wife of Jehovah as the Church is the bride of Christ. Then the problems which Israel faced as a spiritual group of people will be akin to the spiritual problems which the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ faces today. Since you and I as individuals born again make up the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be able to recognize some very personal problems in relation to what we find before us.

No Room for God's Word

We call to your attention the general arraignment in chapter 4 by asking you to look again with us at verses 1 and 2 of the chapter:

Hosea 4

1Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

God arraigns the entire nation of Israel before Him and says, “I have some pleading to do with you. I have some pointing out of errors, of wrongs, of sins that must be done,” and He does so. In the last part of the first verse, He mentions, “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Then in verse 2, He mentions:

Hosea 4

2By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

If we wanted to pinpoint these remarks, we would say that the charge presented under the general arraignment is presented first from a negative standpoint by God's calling attention to the fact that there was no truth in the land. He was not referring here to the matter of falsehood. He was referring to the same thing that we would be talking about if we were talking about the Word of God—truth, the proper teaching of God's Word. It was not in the land. As we shall see, He did not mean that it was not available. He meant it was not being honored and it was not being practiced.

The first charge, then, that God leveled at this people is: You have no room for God's Word in your nation. Does that strike a familiar note in the hour in which we live? No room for the Word of God. We might say as individuals, “Do you have room for the Word of God in your life?”

No Mercy

Another thing that He mentioned was that there was no mercy, no pity of any description in the land. Everyone was interested in self, more interested in the pursuit of his own interests than in the needs of others. It has been said that some of the problems our nation is facing today are but the crop that was sown through the years when men had no thought for others.

No Knowledge

The third thing that is mentioned from a negative standpoint is no knowledge. Please do not confuse the word knowledge with the word truth and assume that we are having a repetition. We are not. The word knowledge here is a word that describes an experiential relationship. We could say that no one in the land had any real experience with God. Oh yes, they had the knowledge of God in the sense that they were aware of Jehovah and they were aware of the prophet of God, but there was no experiential knowledge in the sense that they were on a personal basis with God.

We are not pausing as we go along to make the application, save in a few instances, because we believe that you, if your heart is open to the Holy Spirit, will find the truth presented to your own personal life and to the life of our own particular nation.

Lack of Authority In the Land

From a positive standpoint, God leveled the charge at Israel by saying that the land was full of swearing and of stealing; the land was full of lying and adultery; the land was full of killing and anarchy. It is an interesting thing to glance at this list of which the land was full and recognize how many violations of the Ten Commandments are presented. Perhaps you are wondering why we used the word anarchy in the list, because if you listened when we read these two verses, you did not hear it mentioned. We used it because it is a one word description of the last statement of the second verse, where we read:

Hosea 4

2…they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Literally the phrase is, “they break through all restraint; they disregard all law and blood toucheth blood.” The suggestion is that because of the lack of authority in the land, there is so much murder that the puddle of blood that flows from the veins of one man who is murdered flows automatically into the puddle of blood from the veins of another murdered man because they are murdered so rapidly and so close together.

We are reminded of what we read in the book of the Revelation concerning the time of the end when the Battle of Armegeddon is fought and blood flows for 600 miles through the valley deep enough to touch the bridle of horses. We say that is one great battle at the end of the age. Quite true, but Israel was in such a sad state of anarchy that murder was so common that one puddle of blood flowed into another.

Again, we are reminded of how near this nation fills the pattern of Israel when Israel reached the place where God said that something had to be done. He could no longer let the nation carry on in the manner in which it did.

The Cost of Sin

Even though judgment comes, even though before the trial is over a sentence must be passed, something else must be considered and that is the cost of this kind of living. We would have you note that it is not a matter of facing judgment on Judgment Day alone that should concern men. It is a matter of considering the cost of sin in this hour in which we live. Notice, please, the paragraph which begins with verse 3:

Hosea 4

3Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
4Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
5Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

What is the cost of this kind of living? First, let us suggest the cost in the terms of the word drought . Because these people lived as they did, according to verse 3, the land would mourn and people would languish in the land with the beasts of the field and the fish of the sea because God's withholding the blessing of the former and latter rain would make the ground unproductive, the water streams drying up to such an extent that the fish of the sea would have to be gathered up and destroyed.

God dealt with Israel when she was disobedient by withholding the early and the latter rain. People today might be inclined to think that God has nothing to do with the weather, but it is wise to remember that He does. Sometimes when we are wondering why misfortunes fall upon us, instead of trying to find a scientific explanation for it, it might be wise to find a spiritual explanation, for God deals with us in the terms of what we have and what we love.

Another cost that was paid was the cost that resulted from the defiance of Almighty God. We have a phrase, pass the buck . Most of us have a tendency to blame other people for the fix in which we find ourselves. Israel was no different. In verse 4, God said:

Hosea 4

4Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another…

“Don't be arguing with one another. Don't be reproving one another. Don't be blaming one another. That isn't where the fault lies. The fault lies in the fact that thy people are as they that strive with the priests.”

This particular statement probably means very little to you without a background of understanding. Let me briefly say to you that when the priest made a pronouncement to Israel, he was speaking as the oracle of God. When the people were obedient to God, they recognized that what the priest said was the very Word of God. When they were in fellowship with God, they would not dream of striving with the priest about his words for they would feel they were striving with God. But when they were out of fellowship and in communion with idols, as they were in this particular portion of their history, they would find it very easy for Israel to defy the very Word of God, to defy the very prophet of God. So God said to the people, “Don't be arguing with one another. Don't be passing the buck. Recognize that the entire nation has defied Almighty God; the entire nation has defied His Word.” There is no blessing for the man who defies God and His Word. It is a costly procedure indeed.

One last word will describe the immediate cost of this matter being as they were. We have used the word destruction to describe it, and it is brought to our minds by what we read here in verse 5:

Hosea 4

5Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

A better word for fall is the word stumble . “Therefore shalt thou stumble…” Those of you who have been studying the book of Hosea with us know that when God speaks of the mother here, He is referring to the entire nation of Israel. When He is speaking of the children, He is speaking of the individual citizens of the nation. When God said, “I will destroy thy mother.”, He was referring to the fact that it would be necessary for destruction to fall upon the nation of Israel.

Here again we must be very careful in our interpretation so that we do not lead you to a misunderstanding. The word destruction here is not a word which describes annihilation; it is not a word which describes ruin. It is a word which describes being removed from a place of responsibility and from a place of privilege. What is the cost of negatively, positively disobeying God? The cost does not always wait until Judgment Day for payment. Sometimes God demands part payment before Judgment Day comes.

Thinking people will quite naturally wonder why there would be the problems we have been discussing with you. Why would any nation permit itself to get into the fix which we have been discussing with you? Surely there must be some reason. There was and there is. We would like for you to notice with us the cause for the predicament in which Israel found herself. The causes numbered more than one.

A Rejection of Knowledge

The first cause is presented to you in verse 6. We have labeled it a rejection of knowledge .

Hosea 4

6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

“The choice is up to you,” God said. “I would love to have fellowship with you. I would love to use you. I would love to do great things through you, but if you choose otherwise, then I will abide by your choice.” The reason these people were in the fix they were in was that they rejected this place of fellowship and left God no choice but to reject them. That is the reason He says, in the last part of verse 6:

Hosea 4

6…I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

When He said, “thou shalt be no priest to me,” He was speaking of the entire nation. He said, “I am going to take you as a nation out of your priestly place of blessing for the whole world because it is your choice.”

May I remind our hearts individually as believers that though we cannot lose our salvation because the gifts and the callings of God are without repentance, and for that we are grateful, we can lose our usefulness. If we choose to live our lives, God will let us. You say, “But I thought God would stop me.” No, not if you insist. If you insist on doing as you would do, then God will take all the string and all the ties and all the restraints away and let you have your way.

A Reliance On Riches

Another reason that these Israelites were in the fix they were in we have described as a reliance on riches . We have used that phrase because of the information that is found in verse 7, where God said:

Hosea 4

7As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

“As they increased, so they sinned against me. The more I prospered them,” He said, “the more liberties they took with Me. The more I prospered them, the more they sinned.” Why? Because they were relying upon their riches. They were relying upon their riches in a twofold mistaken way that people fall into even in our day.

They were mistaking (listen carefully to what I say) material prosperity as the irrefutable proof that God was pleased. Don't misunderstand me. God will prosper His own. “No good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly” (Psalms 84:11). Sometimes God does bring men to an end of themselves financially, but not always, because God has many ways of dealing with men. Sometimes God will let a man prosper that he might fall into a foolish and hurtful snare and find himself in deeper distress than he was when he first began.

A Refusal to Listen to God

The Israelites were in the sad state they were because the richer they got, the more forgetful they became. Make your own application as we suggest to you there was another reason they were in the state in which they were. I have described it as a refusal to listen to the voice of God . It comes to my mind because of what I read in verse 10:

Hosea 4

10For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.

Notice in the first part of the verse the dissatisfaction of a life that has rejected a relationship with God. There is no satisfaction there. That's the reason that we read in the first part of verse 10:

Hosea 4

10For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase…

They eat and are still hungry. They run from one sensual pleasure to another and find no real satisfaction. The reason we read verse 10 was because of what is found in the last statement where we read:

Hosea 4

10…because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.

A refusal to listen. Notice how the verse is stated. “They have left off to take heed to the LORD.” That is, they quit listening to the LORD. They used to. His voice was pleasant to their ears at one time, but they got tired of listening and they refused any longer to hear what God had to say to them. In their failure to listen, they became what is described in verse 16 as a backsliding heifer . In verse 16, we read:

Hosea 4

16For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.

I don't know how accurate a picture you have in your mind when you read of a backsliding heifer. It might be more helpful for you to read of a stubborn heifer , for that's the thought—a heifer that is back on its haunches and refuses to move. No matter how much prodding might be done by the farmer's wife from behind, the heifer refuses to move.

Israel, because she had refused to listen to the Lord, because she had left off listening to God, makes it all the more serious. If a person had never heard the voice of God, they might be excused for not listening, but an individual who has heard and then stops listening has the greater condemnation.

A Reliance Upon Stocks

There is another reason God dealt with them as He did and why they were in the state they were. I have described it by the phrase, a reliance upon stocks . That doesn't mean a thing in the world to you unless you look at verse 12:

Hosea 4

12My 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.

Notice what is said: “My people ask counsel at their stocks. The word stocks could better be translated by the phrase, a wooden idol . You see, man is innately religious and if he cannot rely upon God, he is going to find something else upon which he can rely.

The Israelites had made themselves idols out of wood and they worshiped them. Instead of asking of God, “What wouldst Thou have me to do?”, they set their little piece of wood upon a shelf and knelt down before it and asked the little piece of wood, “What is your advice for me today?” This sounds rather ridiculous, doesn't it? It sounds rather foolish for the practice of intelligent people. You might wonder how people with agile minds could do anything quite so foolish. I think you will find your answer in verse 11:

Hosea 4

11Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

You see, it is possible for a nation or for a people to depart so far from God that their spiritual senses are deadened to where they do most foolish things. Do you wonder how they could and why they are so foolish? The answer simply is that wine and whoredom have deadened their senses to the place where ordinary perception expected of Christian people is no longer possible for them.

If you think I am overdrawing the picture, I would remind you that the Apostle Peter drew it much more deeply than I have, for he said it is possible for an individual who has been born again, it is possible for an individual who has had a genuine experience of grace to even forget that such an experience ever occurred in his life. It is possible for him to forget it so that if you were to walk up to him and say, “My Friend, is Christ your Savior?”, he would say, “I don't know.”

In conversation concerning his past life, he might tell you of a time, as you prodded and probed, that he did receive Christ as his Savior; but he honestly said, “I don't know.”, because he had refused to heed the voice of God and his spiritual life was so covered over with the barnacles of sin that he did not even have any sense of relationship to God at all. This is the reason individuals do what they do when you expect more of them, and it's the reason Israel did what she did when more was expected of her.

Rejection From the State of Approval

The last thing I want to say to you is related to the consequence of the charge that God leveled against them, the ultimate consequence. Yes, we noticed together the cost that is paid all along the way, but we are talking now about the ultimate consequence. One word will describe this phase of it, the word rejection . Yes, we touched upon it, but we call to your attention once again what is recorded in verse 6:

Hosea 4

6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

He will reject from the place of service and the place of blessing; He will reject from the state of approval which one could rightly expect if they were in fellowship with God as they needed to be.

Refusal to Bless

There is something else that is the consequence of what we are considering, and I have described it by the words refusal to bless . It is brought to my mind by what I read in verse 7:

Hosea 4

7As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

Notice the last statement. “Therefore, I will change their glory into shame.” Then look again at verse 10:

Hosea 4

10For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.

God refuses to bless the nation or the individual who will not follow where He leads.

God Will Relinquish Control

There is another word, the word relinquish , which is brought to my mind by what you read in verse 14, where God said:

Hosea 4

14I 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.

Then down in verse 17:

Hosea 4

17Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

Verse 14 may seem like a rather strange comment to you, but it may be clearer if you keep in mind that what God had in mind was the adulteress' observances of fornication in the worship of heathen gods in the heathen temple. Husbands and wives enjoyed this sort of relationship, but then they became alarmed when someone would insist that a daughter be stoned for adultery or a son for fornication. God said, “I am going to relinquish all control I have over your children and all restraint that I might ordinarily put upon them. If this is the life you choose for yourself, then you can expect to see the same things in the lives of your children.”

God's principles are the same today. Water seeks its own level. If you permit certain things in your own life as a parent, you do not need to pray that God will keep your children away from those things, nor need you pray that God will make them any different than they already are. Perhaps the saddest words of relinquishment are these that are found in verse 17, which reads:

Hosea 4

17Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

I do not know of any sadder words than those. I can't think of anything sadder or more awful for my ears to hear than if I were praying for someone because their lives were not pleasing to the Lord because they had an idol with which they were enraptured, because they had something which they wanted to pursue, for God to say to me, “Joe, Ephraim is joined to his idols. Let him alone. Don't worry about him any more. Don't pray for him any more. Don't try to change his mind. This is what he wants. Let him have what he wants.” I don't know whether you have ever heard God say, concerning an individual, “Ephraim is joined to his idols. Let him alone.”, but when He says it, He means, “Don't bother Me about it any more either. They have made their choice. Let them follow where they will.”

Recompense

One other word I would leave with you and that is the word recompense , which is brought to our attention by a rather unique verse. Look at verse 19:

Hosea 4

19The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

What does this mean: “The wind hath bound her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.”? The wind in the Word of God is always used as a symbol of God's judgment. When it speaks of something being bound up on the wings of the wind, it speaks of something being lifted up by the wind and rolled before it with a force that will mean inevitable destruction.

God said Israel had reached the place where all that remained was inevitable destruction. I trust that you noticed as we read the chapter that God made an appeal to Judah. He said, “Ephraim is joined to her idols. Judah has not quite gone that far. Judah, don't make the mistake that Ephraim did.”

We might say of our nation today that it has not gone quite so far. Pray God it won't. We might say of individuals, perhaps some of you—I know not—you have not gone quite so far. Pray God you won't.


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