Study of Hosea - Chapter 4

In Chapter 3 we saw how much God loves his people and what He is willing to do to reconcile us back to Him. However, His abundance of love and mercy does not give us a free pass to continue in our sins. Chapter 4 of Hosea is typically titled “The Charge Against Israel” in which God lays out all of the sins of His people and how far they have strayed from Him. He explains why His judgement against them is coming. This will be a difficult Chapter to study but it shows us how we can be lead astray and away from the Lord. We must learn from the Israelites so that we do not fall down their same path.

Chapter 4


Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. 2 There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. 4 “But let no one bring a charge, let no one accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest. 5 You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother— 6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.7 The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful. 8 They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. 9 And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. 10 “They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not flourish, because they have deserted the Lord to give themselves 11 to prostitution; old wine and new wine take away their understanding. 12 My people consult a wooden idol, and a diviner’s rod speaks to them. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God. 13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant. Therefore, your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery. 14 “I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—a people without understanding will come to ruin! 15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery, do not let Judah become guilty. “Do not go to Gilgal; do not go up to Beth Aven. And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 16 The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow? 17 Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone! 18 Even when their drinks are gone, they continue their prostitution; their rulers dearly love shameful ways. 19 A whirlwind will sweep them away, and their sacrifices will bring them shame.



Verse 1-2: The Lord identifies the sins of the people which include unfaithfulness, lack of love, lack of acknowledgement of God, cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery, breaking of bonds, and bloodshed followed by more bloodshed.

Verse 3: Because of their sins there will be famine in the land and in the sea and the people will waste away.

Verse 4-6: No one should point the finger of blame at another person. Everyone is guilty, both the priests and the people. They rejected the true knowledge of the Lord, His Word, and His will so in return He will reject the nation and their children.

Verse 7-9: Many false priests rose up and were not of the Lord. The priests were supposed to lead the people to the Lord but instead lead them astray into sin. They worshiped other gods and profited from the sins of the people. Because all of the people have sinned, they will all be judged and punished.

Verse 10-11: The people will eat but not be satisfied. They continue to rely on themselves and prostitution against the Lord but it is in vain and they will not get ahead. They deserted the Lord in exchange for old wine and new wine which has separated them from Him.

Verse 12-14: The people consult man made idols and tools of divination. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray from the Lord. They offer sacrifices to false gods (spiritual prostitution and adultery). Therefore, daughters become prostitutes and wives become adulterers. However, God does not punish them separately because the men also engage in adultery and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes so all will come to ruin.

Verse 15: Though Israel is guilty, the Lord tells them not to let their brothers in Judah commit the same sins. He tells them not to return to Gilgal or Beth-Aven or make false claims and prophecies about the Lord. (Gilgal and Beth-Aven were former places of worship of God that had since been corrupted).

Verse 16-18: Israel is stubborn and refuses to follow the Lord so why should He bless them and give them rest? They are fully committed to their idolatry. Even after they are drunk, they sin more by seeking prostitutes (sin on top of sin). The leaders revel in their sin and reject honor. Therefore, a whirlwind (tornado) will sweep them, their sacrifices, and idols away and bring all to shame.


Contextual Background

Chapter 4 of Hosea mirrors Chapter 2 and discusses the sins of the people under the leadership of the corrupt leadership of the kings of Israel from Jeroboam to Ahab. Spiritually, the people were far from the Lord. In addition to their physical sins of cursing, murder, stealing, etc. they committed spiritual adultery and prostitution by rejecting the Lord, worshiping and sacrificing to false idols, and not committing to the Lord. Therefore, the Lord intends to punish them as He said He would if they continued in their ways. In Deuteronomy 8 He told them to heed His words and not to turn away or think their blessings were self-obtained. He also warned them what would happen if they turned away from Him.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20 – “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. Just as the Lord has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the Lord your God. 


Interpretation and Explanation

The charges against Israel in Hosea 4 are the same charges God has against His people now. Today, we are neither faithful to each other nor the Lord. We do not show love to our neighbors as the Lord instructs us to but instead, we are divided and show hate. Many people do not acknowledge God anymore or His Word. They refer to Him as “the universe, a higher power, etc.”. People will say “God” but won’t say “Jesus”. People say they are “spiritual” but they don’t follow God, His will, or His Word. They admit that He is there but don’t want to acknowledge His and submit to His authority and Word. Truthfully, we are only alive because He breathed His spirit into us so to claim to be spiritual but not have a relationship with the Lord is a prideful delusion. 

Today, cursing, lying, stealing, adultery and fornication, and murder are rampant and are increasing. Road rage is up with cases of it even turning into shootings. Armed robbery has increased and is often followed by murder instead of just theft. Infidelity is commonplace. Music and television glorify it and make it acceptable. There are even websites that cater specifically to adulterers. Bonds are broken because there are no longer any real repercussions. Sin is piled on more sin. As a result, there is loss, famine, and people are wasting away spiritually, financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. None of us are without blame. As a nation and world we have rejected the Lord, chastised those that have spoken against sin, and we have not acknowledged the Lord, His Word, and His will.

People follow after false prophets and priests. Instead of leaders calling out sin for what it is and speaking the truth of the Word, they boost their profits and congregations in attempts to be inclusive and justifying sin that the Bible specifically speaks against. Yes, we are to love everyone despite our sins for we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. However, we must also be held accountable for our actions and we must help each other grow in the knowledge of the Lord. Pastors have perverted the Word for their own gain. Therefore, everyone will be held accountable – from leaders, to priest, to common people.

In Hosea 4, because of their apostacy the people were fed but not satisfied. In the land of plenty, the people were consumed by greed. Does this sound familiar? The people prostitute themselves by seeking provision from people and places (idols and false gods) instead of the Lord. They give themselves away for profit yet they do not get ahead. Entertainers push products, services, and ideas that promote lifestyles of sin. Youtubers put our content solely for view with no regard for right or wrong. Nations sell their people for cheap labor to other nations. Business leaders sell away their principles to enter new markets and increase profits. The list continues, yet no one is better off in the long run. People are defiled by their prostitution which separates them from God.  They are drunk on old wine and new wine that separates them from god and hinders understanding of Him and His will.

People consult psychics, false idols, astrology, tarot cards, and other tools of divination to get answers but they are lead a stray. A spirit of prostitution is over the world right now. Men and women are equally guilty. Daughters have become prostitutes and openly sell themselves on websites like FansOnly. Divorce is rampant due to infidelity as wives have lovers while husbands do the same, whether it’s on websites like Backpage or in massage parlors, strip clubs, or Facebook and Instagram DMs. All are guilty and we must do better.

People sacrifice time, money, and everything else to everyone and everything before they do it for the Lord. People will wait days for the latest smartphone or new pair of shoes but can’t be bothered to spend a couple hours at church or serving the community. We spend entire weekends binge-watching Netflix or playing video games but when God wants us to spend time with Him we are suddenly too busy.

In verse 15 the Lord tells the people not to corrupt Judah in their sins and not to go to Gilgal and Beth-Aven – former places of worship of the Lord. In the same way we must be cognizant of our actions and words so we do not lead others astray and we must also avoid places of worship that do not truly speak the truth of the Word or honor the Lord. This does not mean we should stop going to church and just focus on reading the Word ourselves. On the contrary, Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Instead, we must test the Word that we hear and make sure it lines up with the scripture. God cannot contradict Himself and neither can His Word so anything that we hear from somewhere should be in line with the scripture.

1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 


We refuse to follow the Lord and we reject His ways. Why should the Lord give us rest when we actively work against Him? God will bless the world when the world blesses Him. Many of our leaders globally, nationally, and spiritually are committed to their sins and seek to commit more. Therefore, the judgement of the Lord will come like a whirlwind (tornado). Like a tornado, we won’t know where it will land, where it will go, how bad it will be, or how long it will last. Although, we may see the storm forming we won’t see the whirlwind until it touches down. At that point we can only pray we are not in the path of destruction. At that time, all who chased after idols, that gave a false sense of security, will be put to shame and their false gods will be exposed for nothing more than man-made constructs. The Lord is calling us to wake up!

2 Peter 3:9-12 - “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen”



The Bible talks about literal sins but the Lord also uses metaphors. In the context of the Word, wine is a metaphor for things that aren’t bad in and of themselves but become sins when we over-consume and allow them to distract us from God and disconnect us from Him. This can literally be wine for one person, or it can be work for someone else, or a hobby that becomes an addiction. Wine also symbolizes things we mistakenly use to sustain us instead of the water of life – Jesus. You can’t live on wine but your body lives, grows, and thrives on water. We all have our own wines that we over-consume and distract us from the Lord. We must recognize it and turn it over to the Lord.

Prostitution (Spiritually) is the act of seeking fulfillment, provision, and blessings at the cost of ourselves and contrary to God. Not acknowledging God as your source, prideful reliance on self, and turning a gift from God into a source for simple personal gain are all forms of spiritual prostitution. This does not mean that you cannot use the gifts He gives you for your career or anything of that nature. It means that you must give glory and honor to the Lord with your gifts, not just yourself.

Idols and false gods are metaphors for anything that you prioritize and place before God, trust in other than God, and anything you acknowledge for blessings, answers, knowledge, and provision that should actually be attributed to the Lord. Sometimes this can be literal idols and sometimes it can be people or things in our lives that we devote our time and energy to.

Whirlwind (Tornado) in nature occurs when warm and humid air collides with cold dry air at differences in pressure. Biblically, the Lord’s wrath and judgement are often compared to a whirlwind because it is the response of the drastic differences in the Lord’s holiness and the unrepentant sins of the people.


Key Points and Application

  • Wake up and come out of sin! Do not look to blame anyone else for we are all guilty and have all fallen short. We cannot help anyone else if we do not first allow the Lord to change us and our hearts.
  • The world today is repeating the same mistakes and sins of Israel. If we do not repent and turn from our ways then the same whirlwind awaits us.
  • Do not be afraid to call sin, sin, and do not follow leaders that preach messages that contradict the Word.
  • All that we are seeing around us and experiencing is because we failed to acknowledge the Lord, His will, and His Word. God will not bless us or heal our lands if we continue to stubbornly reject Him.
  • Honor and acknowledge God and put Him first in all that you do. Trust in him and lean not on your own understanding.
  • Do not let wine [distractions of any sort] separate you from a relationship with God.
  • You must know the Lord for yourself. Otherwise, you can be easily deceived, led astray, and reap the same the destruction of the false leaders that you follow.