Hosea 5 has the prophet calling out the leaders for the situation that Israel is in – deep in sin. “Hear this, O priests”! No sugar coating. No, let’s take accountability for our sin collectively. God saw the sinful state of the nation of Israel and makes it clear it will not be tolerated. He saw that it had happened because the leaders did not lead in a godly way. It would be tempting for the priests to blame the people, but it was really the fault of the spiritual leadership (priests) and political leadership (house of Israel) of the nation. The people are like sheep that merely follow those in charge. That’s not an excuse, but God holds leaders to a higher standard.
Sin is a personal choice. We can be influenced in many ways. By others individually, by the culture, by an ungodly worldview, by the enemy himself. But at the end of the day, no one else can be blamed and no one else will stand before God to address our sin. It is ours when we choose it, and it will be ours when judgment day comes. God says “I will chastise all of them”. Like all sin, which is really simple rebellion, Israel’s rebellion was centered on pride.They arrogantly thought that what God said didn’t really matter compared to their own opinions and desires.
That’s usually the heart of it. We push God off the throne and His Word or His Holy Spirit no longer are the source of truth in our life. We allow our own mind, will and emotion to step onto the throne of our life and follow that very flawed direction. It will always lead us into sin, because we are not holy or righteous as God is. Our only hope for a life of holiness is to let God drive our life. Any other approach will cause us to fail. “Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also has stumbled with them”. Sin can often drag others with it, and it was certainly the case with Israel and Judah.
Ephraim sinned by living by man’s standards and opinions instead of God’s. We can’t walk by human ways unless we first reject God’s ways, and that was exactly what Israel did. Israel was foolish enough to trust in man – her eventual conqueror – instead of trusting in God. So punishment comes, and God focuses on how to win back the hearts and lives of His people. Sin always creates a separation, and while God may appear to move away, He never goes far. “In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me”. This was the goal of God’s judgment against Israel. The goal was not destruction, but restoration. Are you walking in harmony with God, or in your own wisdom and strength without him? One choice is far better than the other!