Written by Paul J. Bucknell on October, 01, 2020
Hosea 4:1-3 The Decline of Civilizations
Civilization declines don’t just haphazardly occur; people invite them in by allowing their interests to delude them. Leaders pull down society’s stakes and speed up the oncoming disaster in an uncaring and ignorant manner. They don’t realize how their behaviors and decisions directly incur God’s wrath, blinking, and even scoffing at the suffering of those around them—gleeful of their supposed security (cf. Dan 5:22-23). Ruin always accompanies wickedness. This is the message that the prophets, and Hosea particularly, repeatedly state.
“1 Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. 2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land mourns, And everyone who lives in it languishes…” (Hosea 4:1-3).
Every civilization eventually will fall just as they arrogantly assert themselves against their Maker. The Book of Revelation foretells how the kingdoms and armies, along with their kings, counter the Lord and face defeat (Rev 19:19).
Societies grow and develop when vision and constraint enable them to live by principle (even though other principles are violated). Some discretion goes a long way in preserving justice. Injustice, the opposite focus of principle and love, ushers in this decline. People delude themselves when they think that their country or state is an exception and will perpetually prosper, escaping God’s judgment. This is the same time that they remove any fear of God and no longer consider themselves accountable to God, and if no longer responsible to God, then they become unaccountable to people.
Here are some recent, intolerable signs of increased injustice. Only the evil one’s delusion allows such darkness to consider any of the following acts as justice.
Dark deception enables them to accuse others of injustice while claiming their unjust acts are right. They have become blind to principles of justice and propriety. It’s easy to see how a little fire can get out of control, replacing trust with fear, love with hate.
- Releasing convicted prisoners from jail
- Framing innocent people
- Leaving out critical facts about a situation
- Condemning people without allowing them due process of justice.
- Excusing crime as a means of gaining justice
- Bringing damage to businesses and personal property
- Intimidating and threatening people and businesses to gain support
- Hurting those who seek to protect the innocent
Civilizations grow, decline, and disappear almost as if they follow a common rulebook. This has repeatedly happened and will happen again. With the immoral economic spending, nations and individuals worldwide are setting themselves up for a grand economic earthquake.
People need not give up hope no matter how common and how far along the path of decline. By noting God’s formula of humility, God will use the prayers of His people to hinder the onslaught of evil (2 Chr 7:14).
Check out the two aspects that Hosea 4:1-3 points out.
(1) Accountability before God
“Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land” (Hosea 4:1).
The Lord builds up cases, lawsuits against nations, including His people. No nation is an exception. If anything, God’s people, Israel in this case, will be held to a higher standard.
(2) Standards Given by God
“Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. 2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:1b-2).
Standards come from God’s character and what He deems good and right. Stealing and adultery, for example, are wrong. God states that. When a state disregards convictions of such crimes and even flagrantly defend such action, such as encouraging immorality, they disregard God (Ex 20:14-15).
By living in God’s land, they should know God and are held to His holy standards. Other nations do not profess to know God and will dispute this standard of righteousness, but inwardly, due to the conscience, they, too will be held accountable (Rom 1:18-21; 2:14-15).
Because the national models have many factors, including millions of people, hidden politics, and betrayal, we feel inadequate to judge. Rightly so. God, however, sees these countries as mere drops or specks (Isaiah 40:15).
“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust” (Isaiah 40:15).
The Link between immorality and judgment
The Lord has no problem linking a people’s wickedness to the troubles among the peoples (i.e., “mourning” Hosea 4:3)—often seen in outright decline, usually through losses at war and bankruptcy of the national economy. These acts always cause great harm upon the peoples who often are complicit in the same practices.
The Ongoing Challenge
Let’s consider each main point.
First, each nation lives accountable to the Lord, their Maker. They might not know or acknowledge a Creator, and yet, they are still beholden to Him and His expectations. As Paul the Apostle goes on, they have an inner witness in their conscience. The lesser are accountable to the greater, and so, every national leader is accountable to God (Dan 5:18,22): “He sets over it whomever He wishes” (Dan 5:21). National governments are appointed by God to rule for Him (Rom 13:1-6).
In Hosea 4:1, even God’s people lost the knowledge of God: “there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land.” God held them accountable, however. This judgment revealed itself in mourning in the land.
Second, if accountable, there lies a standard. In this case, God passes His expectations on to people and leaders. In verse 2, Hosea the Prophet lists numerous departures from God’s expectations of the nation: “swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”
National governments are expected to use their power and possess the authority to lessen evil and punish it. This show of force enables mutual trust among the populace.
It’s wrong to say that Christians should not get involved in politics. God is! It’s equally wrong to separate suffering in a land (i.e., fires, floods, etc.) from God’s judgment. The Lord makes individuals, corporate leaders, and national leaders accountable to Him. Civilization deals with the most massive clusters of people centered on some government or philosophy. They all remain responsible to God and His expectations—no matter how ignorant of God’s ways they seem to be. Since these holy expectations are familiar to God’s people, the Lord expects the church to shine and teach His standards brightly. The church’s greatest power should not be seen in the use of guns and lawsuits, but in displaying His love and kindness and how they care for the elderly, poor, and abused.
Existing civilizations need to work hard toward living uprightly for God’s glory. Without justice, there is no civility nor civilization. When mobs rule, following their lusts and bringing all sorts of harm to our societies, darkness enters a society quickly. Law and justice are discarded like garbage.
When Christ returns, each nation will be subject to God’s judgment, “All the nations will be gathered before Him” (Mat 25:32). Although it might appear that the nations will escape accountability, God will quickly and rightly judge them for standing against God’s purposes. Though the nations are deluded and manipulated by the antichrist himself, they are still accountable for their own actions. God often allows a display of evil upon a society briefly before full judgment comes. God is warning us of the evil of our deeds by reinforcing the terrible consequences linked to our evil deeds.
As God’s people, we need to put our trust in God, not in this world. We live for one King and look forward to giving up what He has given us on earth for what He has wonderfully prepared for eternity. However, we are to live righteous lives, unashamed of Christ’s return.
Study Questions on the Decline of Nations
- What are the two basic principles behind the judgment and decline of nations (see Hosea 4:1-2)?
- What is the big link we discover in verse 1?
- Is the judgment of a nation or civilization different from how the Lord deals with individuals or organizations?
- What are some foolish ways people confuse injustice with justice? Share how you might have observed this.
- Look again at Hosea 4:1-2. Does God deal any different with respect to His people compared to other nations?
- How should a Christian understand his involvement in politics and culture in general? Explain.
- Identify at least two of the wayward behaviors in verse two and define them.
- After reading verse 3, consider how consequences serve as a line of warning for the living.
Other resources on this topic from Paul J. Bucknell
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