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The Scriptorium

The Shepherds of Israel

Israel's problem came down to leadership.

Hosea: Introduction and Overview

Hosea 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."

Israel had broken covenant with God, turning to pagan idols, practicing a religion of convenience, and engaging in all manner of transgression of God’s Law. Though all the people of Israel were guilty in the eyes of God, special blame lay at the feet of the shepherds of God’s flock – priest, prophets, and rulers.

The shepherds of Israel had become a “snare” to the nation, causing the people to stumble and become trapped in idolatry and wickedness. They were not leading the people to trust and follow the Lord (5.4), and they had cut the nation off from its heritage and history, teaching the ways of men rather than those of the Lord (5.10, 11). The priests presided at the wicked and lascivious worship of pagan deities (6.9). Their rulers were wicked, drunken, and politically pragmatic (7.3, 5, 11; 8.4). Their prophets were fools and liars (9.7-9). The result of such wicked leadership was that the entire nation had become ensnared in lies, deceit, and wickedness (11.12).

The wrath of God was about to fall on His people because they had become corrupt, disobedient, weak, and a byword to the nations. And, in large part, this situation was the result of wicked, self-interested leadership.

Leaders bear special responsibility before the Lord, because the people look to them to guide them in the paths of the Lord. Israel’s leaders, expedient and pragmatic from the beginning, set aside the plain teaching of God’s Word and embraced the practices and ways of the surrounding pagan cultures, thinking this would enable them to get along with their neighbors. Instead, their compromises led to the collapse of the nation under the hand of God’s discipline.

The leaders of God’s people today should pay special attention to the words of prophets like Hosea.

Read Hosea 11, 12
In the midst of judgment God holds out the promise of restoration, calling the people to remember His works in the past and the faithful words of His prophets. Look ahead, look back, return to the Lord: Does this suggest a pattern for our daily walk with and work for the Lord?

Glory to Glory
The people of Israel provoked Him to anger (12.14) because they would not listen to the words of His prophets. How could they know God in His glory and glorify Him in their lives if they would not heed His Word? How does such a warning apply to you?

Closing Prayer
We do not see our signs;
There is no longer any prophet;
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
O God, how long will the adversary reproach?
Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?
Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?

Psalm 74.9-11

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For all available studies in Hosea, click here.

A primary theme of the book of Hosea is Israel’s failure to keep covenant with the Lord. God’s covenant is a central theme and provides the organizing motif for all of Scripture. Learn more about God’s covenant by ordering a copy of T. M.’s book,
I Will Be Your God, from our online store (click here).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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