Hosea 5 Judgment On Israel And Judah-The LORD Hides Himself.
Israel’s leaders, priest and king, were the blind leading the blind (v. 1 Cf. 6:9). Leaders and people were all guilty of covenantal revolt (v. 2 Cf. 4:2; 6:9). God sees all things (v. 3 Cf. Is. 29:15; Amos 3:2; 5:12). They may have engaged in religious activities with the thought of somehow pleasing God, but those taking pride in their own works in reality did not know Him (vv. 4-5 Cf. 4:12; 7:10). In response to this neglect on their part, He would hide Himself from them (v. 6 Cf. Prov. 1:28; Is. 1:15; 45:15; Jer. 11:11; Ezek. 8:18; Mic. 3:4; Jn. 7:34). They were guilty of giving over the LORD’s covenant children to paganism-another violation of the covenant (v. 7 Cf. Is. 48:8; Jer. 3:20).
An enemy would thus come upon them from the south (v. 8). “These commands sound the watchman’s cry to warn of an approaching enemy (Judah) from the south (cf. 8:1). The Syro-Ephraimite war described in 2 Kin. 16:5-9 and 2 Chr. 28:5-21 seems to stand behind this warning. These Benjamite towns lie in a straight line running north from Jerusalem; Gibeah, three miles; Ramah, five miles; Beth Aven (Bethel), eleven miles. At various times in their history they were claimed by one or the other kingdom (I Kin. 15:16-22)” (NGSB. p. 1367). Israel’s sister, in her rebellion, would also violate the lines drawn in the land of inheritance (Cf. Nu. 27:1-11).
The LORD alone is the one who makes “known what is sure” (v. 9). On the other hand, “the princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark” (v. 10 Cf. Job 24:2; Prov. 22:28; 23:10), a clear violation of the law, meriting a covenantal curse (Cf. Dt. 19:14; 27:17; 28:33). Instead of walking according to the law, Ephraim “willingly walked by human precept” (v. 11 Cf. Mic. 6:16), and as a result they would be eaten up and rot or decay (v. 12). For this deep spiritual sickness, they in their ignorance thought they could go to pagans, in this case the Assyrians, for help (v. 13 Cf. 7:11; 10:6; II Kgs. 15:19; Jer. 30:12-15).
To Ephraim and Judah the LORD would be as vicious as a lion and as complete in their judgment, with none to deliver (v. 14 Cf. 13:7-8; Ps. 7:2; 50:22; Lam. 3:10; Amos 1:2; 3:8), and the LORD would remain hidden from them until they acknowledged their offence (v. 15a). They would not be allowed to dwell in His place, in His presence. “Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me” (v. 15b). It is a sad truth that people will often not turn to the LORD until affliction based on judgment comes. Here the words of Isaiah are applicable-they should have sought the LORD while He was near and could be found (55:6).