Attention all Israelites! God’s Message!
God indicts the whole population:
“No one is faithful. No one loves.
No one knows the first thing about God.
All this cussing and lying and killing, theft and loose sex,
sheer anarchy, one murder after another!
And because of all this, the very land itself weeps
and everything in it is grief-stricken—
animals in the fields and birds on the wing,
even the fish in the sea are listless, lifeless.
“But don’t look for someone to blame.
No finger pointing!
You, priest, are the one in the dock.
You stumble around in broad daylight,
And then the prophets take over and stumble all night.
Your mother is as bad as you.
My people are ruined
because they don’t know what’s right or true.
Because you’ve turned your back on knowledge,
I’ve turned my back on you priests.
Because you refuse to recognize the revelation of God,
I’m no longer recognizing your children. (Hosea 4:1-6)
How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t even know? If you don’t love other people, then you don’t love God—and vice versa. Not loving people results in all the crimes God listed. The crimes were merely symptoms of the underlying disease: an unfaithful and unloving heart.
Those who were in positions of leadership—particularly those tasked with the responsibility of teaching, had failed to live up to their calling. Priests and prophets had turned their back on God’s revelation to his people. They did not concern themselves with what God had told them: they ignored the Bible as it existed to that point, and consequently, they had no idea what it was that God expected of them. They mistreated the people around them, and had no idea who God was, what he cared about, what mattered to him.
What we know is what we will live. Christians today are all priests, with direct access to God. But to whom much is given, much is required. It is impossible for us to worship God in spirit and in truth if we know nothing about the one whom we claim to be worshipping. The religious establishment in Hosea’s day had forgotten who they were worshipping and they imagined that it didn’t matter: that all that counted was their enthusiasm, their sincerity, their rituals. But we can’t love someone we don’t know.