Hosea 4:7–8 (HCSB)
7 The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me. I will change their honor into disgrace. 8 They feed on the sin of My people; they have an appetite for their transgressions.
This pericope brings us back to the sad, sinful, deplorable state of Israel and her relationship with God. And although, or perhaps because, there is nothing “good”, or “pleasant”, in this passage, there is certainly much to heed and be wary of in our lives.
Although I love the brevity and summary quality of the last line of Hosea 4:14, I would like to camp on my selection of the key verses: Hosea 4:7-8. I was immediately, upon reading these two verses, entranced by the imagery here. Let’s walk through it:
- “The more they multiplied” – the Israelites were multiplying… they were benefitting from the blessing of God and increasing in number. And not only were they being blessed physically to reproduce, but the land was blessed to support their increased number. There was obviously an abundance of fertility if the Israelites were multiplying, and that is a blessing from God.
- “the more they sinned against Me.” – Yet, despite the blessing of fertility, and their increased numbers, their sin increased proportionally. Or maybe it increased exponentially, who knows, but it at a minimum increased with the increase in their numbers. So the reaction to the blessing of God was not obedience and surrender, but it was sin.
- “I will change their honor into disgrace.” – Who is going to change it? God! Man is even incapable of disgracing himself apparently… God again reinforces His complete and total control of all existence. Note that God does not say He no longer loves or cares for man, but there are repercussions for our obedience.
- “They feed on the sin of My people;” – We are reminded, by the use of “they”, that this section seems to be referring specifically to the priests, but the principles of the previous verse remain even in that context. But we see here how much responsibility the role of priest (or pastor) carries. Just as the “layman” is susceptible to sin, so is the pastor. No human is exempt from temptation and sin, and when we are unchecked, when we surrender to sin, passages like this are the result.
- “they have an appetite for their transgressions.” – Hopefully our pastor is not craving our depraved and sinful behavior. But again, we are all, even our pastors, human, therefore fallen and broken. And as such, we can fall into the trap of feeding upon, and therefore craving, the sin of others.
In the end, just as it is said in Hosea 4:14, we need discernment, clarity of thought, focused on God and His ways, else we are doomed!
Lord, thank You for tough passages like this, where it seems there is little positive, uplifting, text to pull out of it. Even though these might be tough reads, we should still find guidance and Your character and will all over and in them, and this should lift our spirits! I pray for the discernment to choose You over sin and self. Amen.