Hosea 5: The Spirit of Harlotry in the Midst of Israel


(15 verses, 2:15 to read)

What I am about to READ

  • Hosea continues to preach the law to Israel to warn them of the coming disaster and to bring them to repentance.


  • There are three verses to especially pay attention to in this chapter.
    • First, verse 4, “They do not direct their deeds toward turning (repenting) to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst.” Remember that the Lord had Hosea marry a harlot, and this was a testimony to the people that they were committing idolatry. Adultery and idolatry are often connected in the Scriptures, both symbolically and practically. With King Solomon we see the practical connection; all his pagan wives tempted him away from the true worship of God. In Hosea we see the picture; like a bride is unfaithful to her husband in committing adultery, so the Lord’s people are unfaithful to God in committing idolatry.
    • The second important verse is 14, “I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah.” This image is not good. “I, even I, will tear them.” The Lord uses the picture of a lion attacking a village to warn the people of His coming wrath.
    • Finally, verse 15. In verse 6 the Lord warned that even if the people sought the Lord they would not find Him, because He is withdrawn. Not, in verse 15, we see that all of these warning are give to the people for the purpose of repentance. “Then they will seek My face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” The Lord is bringing trouble on the people to turn them back to Himself.
  • It is always a good exercise to compare the preaching of the prophets to the Ten Commandments. Here are the connections I see. 3, “you commit harlotry” is breaking the 1st commandment, idolatry. 7, “begotten pagan children” is a breaking of the 3rd (false doctrine), 4th (God’s institution of family) and 6th (God’s institution of marriage) commandments. 10, “remove a landmark” is breaking the 7th commandment (theft), and, in this case, the 4th (which institutes earthly government), the princes should have protected the people’s private property instead of taking it. (It is a mark of tyranny and ideology that the ruler thinks that property belongs to him, remember Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard.)


  • God sends His prophets to preach the Law for the same reason He sends His pastor’s to preach the Law: Repentance. He does not want to destroy His people, so He warns us, He shows us our sin, He turns us back to His Law and His kindness. The prophets preached the Ten Commandments, and we continue to hear them. The Commandments still accuse us, but we also have the Lord’s promises, His kindness, His Son. So while the Law crushes us, we are glad to know that we have a Savior, Jesus, who has carried our sin and gives us the righteousness of God.

Questions? Thoughts? Join the conversation in our Facebook group.

Lord’s Blessings,
Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, CO


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