Hosea 5:1–15 (NKJV)
5:1 “Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king!
For yours is the judgment, Because you have been a snare to Mizpah And a net spread on Tabor.
2 The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, Though I rebuke them all.
3 I know Ephraim, And Israel is not hidden from Me; For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry; Israel is defiled.
4 “They do not direct their deeds Toward turning to their God, For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, And they do not know the Lord.
5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them.
6 “With their flocks and herds They shall go to seek the Lord, But they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them.
7 They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, For they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.
The Lord addresses all levels of leadership in this rebuke, speaking to priests, the family of Israel, and the king. All of them have been involved in various ways of trapping the people in sin. Because of this, God will rebuke (put in shackles, literally interpreted) all of the nation. In this state, their harlotry (idolatry) reeks and is reprehensible before God. Their pride shouts in His face. Therefore, He withdraws Himself from them, and they cannot find Him.
8 “Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah, The trumpet in Ramah! Cry aloud at Beth Aven, ‘Look behind you, O Benjamin!’
9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.
10 “The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out my wrath on them like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, Because he willingly walked by human precept.
12 Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth, And to the house of Judah like rottenness.
13 “When Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah saw his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria And sent to King Jareb; Yet he cannot cure you, Nor heal you of your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.
15 I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
Blow the horn! God is sending a warning to Israel. Desolation, wrath, oppression, brokenness are all coming to the various tribes and regions. Ephraim is an overall name considered to represent the nation at times. He describes His judgment of Ephraim to be like a moth. A more direct translation of that word, although a bit unseemly, is that He will be like pus, or infection, to Ephraim. To Judah He will be like rottenness. What a stark image! Sin creates death. Infection, a buildup of foul infectious material, is offensive and hard to stomach. He goes on to say that He would be like a young lion, tearing them apart and taking them away. Ephraim and Judah will seek help from Assyria, but will not find it. Then God says that He will go home and wait for them to see the error of their ways and acknowledge their sin. Then they will seek Him earnestly.
So many times, the people of God trangress the laws of God and walk in their own ways. Even though many do not see the role of the Lord as the Great Judge and Punisher any longer in this age of grace, it is important to know that sin will bring consequences. When you walk out of the covering of God’s grace in your rebellion and disobedience, you will be infected by sin, and will be torn by the humiliating treatment of the enemy, Satan. Don’t walk in the place of trouble. Seek Him while grace is available before the backlash of sin infects, tears, and takes you away from all that is good.