A People Without Understanding Will Come to Ruin

Posted on September 28, 2016


By David Ettinger

An Ancient Oracle
woodstockI love reading the Minor Prophets, undoubtedly the most neglected books in the Bible. That’s a shame. If any portion of the Bible speaks to the world today, it is this insightful, explicit, and precious parcel of scriptural real estate. Three books in particular, Amos, Micah, and Hosea, speak more to modern-day America and Western culture than all other “minor” prophets – “minor” in book length as compared with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; not “minor” in message. The particular verse from which the title of this piece derives is Hosea 4:14, and if ever ancient words applied so fittingly to today, it is these words in connection to America and the West.

The Context
Hosea was a prophet to Israel’s Northern Kingdom between 755 and 710 B.C. The Northern Kingdom, also known as Samaria, was as vile as the surrounding heathen nations when it came to abominable practices. Such wickedness included idol worship, adultery, sexual unions with shrine prostitutes (male and female), and the upper class’s oppression of the poor. Contributing to Samaria’s disregard of God was the fact that it was prospering economically under King Jeroboam II, whose 41-year reign was the Northern Kingdom’s longest.

God sent Hosea to warn the people of Samaria about the destructive path they were traveling, and caution them that persisting in it would lead to judgment. Hosea begins his castigation like this: “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, hoseabecause the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land’” (4:1). This last clause can be read: “There is no faithfulness of God, no love for God, and no acknowledgement of God in the land.” When a society reaches this point of scorn for God, almost anything goes. People generally replace the love of God with love of themselves, which leads to personal and societal ills of every kind, among them “lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (4:2).

In Samaria, contempt for God led to, among other things, pagan worship, the result being that “your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery” (v. 13). However, the Lord seems not to mind: “I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes” (v. 14). At first glance, it appears God is pardoning this galling behavior. A closer look, however, reveals this as mere hyperbole. The key is the phrase, “because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes.” It is as if God is saying, “How am I supposed to punish the women for turning to prostitution when the men – the nation’s leaders included – actively engage in this grievous practice. The women are only doing what they see the men doing.”

It is following this rebuke of the men that Hosea says, “a people without understanding will come to ruin!” What are the people not understanding and what does this have to do with modern-day America and the West?

America and Samaria
AshleyMadisonThere are too many good churches and true Christians in America to say that our nation has become Samaria, but we are getting there. Sin has never been more overt, brazen, and rampant than it is now in the U.S. One fairly recent news item spotlights our nation’s acute amorality.

Last summer, a website called Ashley Madison made international news when hackers stole its customers’ data. Word of this massive hack sent shivers up and down the spines of millions of men and women (mostly men) across America and many Western nations, as well as prompting such simpletons as myself to ask, “What is Ashley Madison?”

According to Wikipedia, Ashley Madison is “a Canada-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’”[1] Basically, Ashely Madison is a website specifically created to match up people who very blatantly want to cheat on their partners. Amazingly, this website boasted 124 million visits PER MONTH.

What God Says
The Ashley Madison website is an offspring of a libertine society where God’s commands are habitually despised, rejected, and forsaken, no thought allotted to consequences. Where much of society demands no fetters on personal behavior, God has placed prohibitions on humanity’s conduct for its own good. Where the U.S. and much of the West denigrate marriage to a “feel-good, do-as-you-please” option, God expects lifetime spousal faithfulness.

marriage 2 ringsHumanity spouts, “If your marriage isn’t working out, end it and find someone new,” but God says: “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’” (Genesis 2:24). To this, Jesus adds, “… what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 14:6).

Humanity says trade in your aging spouse for a “younger model”; God says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).

Humanity scorns marital fidelity; God says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

Humanity says divorce is perfectly natural and sometimes even a good option for a struggling marriage; God says, “For I hate divorce … and him who covers his garment with wrong” (Malachi 2:16).

What America Doesn’t Understand
Hosea said, “A people without understanding will come to ruin.” So, what is it America doesn’t understand? Actually, there are several things America doesn’t understand.

First, America, and the West as a whole, fail to understand that God is the Creator of all things and has every right to demand of His creation what He will. Isaiah 41:14 declares: “Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.” Isaiah 43:13 tells us: “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”

Second, America, and the West as a whole, fail to understand that God is real, and, ultimately, all people know it: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Acts 17:25-27 echoes this truth:

… [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

judgment seatIn other words, God has placed a basic, or general, knowledge of Himself in the hearts of all men and women. From the most sophisticated of societies to the most primitive, men and women innately know that there is a “force” greater than themselves which created all they see. No person has been born without this “sense.” Those who are humble will seek God and reach out to Him; He in turn will accept them and make Himself known to them. Jeremiah 29:13 affirms this precious truth: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The third thing America, and the West as a whole, fail to understand is that there will be a final judgment for all sinners. We see this in Matthew 25:31-46 in what is known as the “Sheep and Goat Judgment,” and in Revelation 20:11-15 in what is referred to as the “Great White Throne Judgment.” Following these judgments, we will see the fulfillment of Philippians 2:9-11:

For this reason also, God highly exalted [Jesus], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

America is a Nation Without Understanding
There can be no other conclusion: America becomes more godless by the day and ruin is inevitable. Optimists may argue, certain that one last revival is coming, but there doesn’t seem to be any realistic hope of this happening. So what’s left for America and the West? It’s all on an individual level from this point on. God still has those who are His, and He will continue to hold out His offer of salvation to all men and women until the last designated individual is brought to salvation. In the meantime, as Christians we carry on, doing His work until either He calls us home to Him or returns to usher in His Millennial Kingdom. Despite the ruin that is coming, salvation is always just a profession of faith away.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Madison