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"Stupid is as stupid does." --- Forest Gump.
Short version: Priests get secularized. The people follow. For details, read on...
Hos 4:4-5 Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. The order of priests and prophets formed base of the civil government as well as the day to day management of religious affairs in ancient Israel. They were structured as a primarily judiciary government. To “contend” means to bring up a legal case. When God says, “let no one contend and let none accuse,” He is saying there is no point in letting corrupt judges decide matters. It is the priestly order with which the Lord is bringing His case. Corruption causes stumbling because only the righteous can stand upright before God and men. The leaders will stumble and the nation will fall. Corruption has caused the collapse of many governments over the centuries. Modern countries that equivocate and surrender moral absolutes fall into corruption and collapse just as surely as ancient Israel or later Rome collapsed from internal decay.
Hos 4:6-8 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. A point of God’s contention with the priests is that His people are being destroyed because they do not know Him. The priests were charged with the duty to lead the people in YHWH worship. Instead, they obeyed the ruling king by accepting foreign “religious” practices leading idol worship, taking bribes, and engaging in or supporting all sorts of vile sin from cult prostitution to murder. For the religious leaders to promote evil they had to “forget” God’s laws in the Torah forbidding all these practices. As leaders, they led the people from God to sin and thus from glory to shame. As priests were turned from YHWH worship to the Baals, more and more people were admitted into the order which in turn led more and more people astray. God is glorious, but sin results in shame when gets exposed. God accuses the priests of greedily capitalizing on the sin nature of the people. In Hosea’s words to the religious leaders of Ancient Israel we can see wisdom to apply today. There are a number of false gospels being preached in popular churches today. These great lies delude people into false assurance of salvation. The greed of some high profile preachers, like the priests of old, takes food from the mouths of the poor and leaves the people with empty spiritual bowls. Even sincere religious leaders can be sincerely wrong, deceived by others who take even from them. Beware of the “decision” gospel, “prosperity” gospel, or any other gospel that allows the human to acquire salvation through human activity. Jesus said we must be born again (Jn 3:3) – this cannot be accomplished by our own doing. He never said recite this prayer and be saved. He did not promise worldly wealth. He never gave a four-step or ten-step or twelve-step plan to a better sex life or better health or better income or eternal life. Beware of hypocrisy as well as hypocrites.
Followers Go the Way of Their Leaders
Hos 4:9-11 And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the Lord to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding. Just as the priests were facing judgment for their sins, their followers were also to face God’s rejection and punishment. This would not be the first time God condemned an entire nation from leaders to citizens, but it would be the first time God’s wrath against sin within Israel would be poured out on the entire nation of Israel to this extent. They would not find contentment in their pleasure. They would not grow as a culture because their culture was corrupt. Turning from the righteousness of God, they sought the kinds of temporary worldly pleasures that cannot satisfy. Their priests directed the movement and the people followed. Jesus said when the blind lead the blind they both fall into the pit. Certainly he could have had Hosea’s prophecy in mind when he proclaimed that bit of wisdom. Sin leads to more sin, all of which leads us away from truth, away from wisdom, away from the relationship with our Lord that provides the contentment of security in eternal life.