Formations 07.19.2020: God’s Indictment

Hosea 4:1-11a

As I read the words of God’s indictment in our lesson text, I wondered how many times people have read them over the centuries and thought, “The prophet is talking about our world today. This is what is happening right now.”

The prophet Hosea was writing to a specific group of people in a specific time, but, like most lessons in the Bible, his words are timeless. God’s message is consistent because human beings are consistent—for better and for worse.

We are children who must be told again and again not to touch the electrical outlet. We are teenagers who repeatedly try to push the boundaries only to hear the same lectures. We are partners who have the same conversations about the same issues over and over. We are employees who go through the same training every single year. We are followers of the Lord God who hear sermons and participate in Bible studies on the same topics and passages week after week.

Will we ever learn?

It’s easy to look at the circumstances in my state, country, and world at this point in history and think that humanity has never been more deserving of God’s indictment. Political strife, violence, racial tensions, faulty leadership, environmental distress, and (of all things) a pandemic add up to a collection of sins and hardships that seems unmatched. Of all people in all times, surely we are the ones who truly have “no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land” (Hos 4:1b).

But Hosea’s words have been true in every time and every place. Our tendency as humans is to draw apart, to self-preserve, to think of “me” before considering “you,” to use resources as if they will disappear, and to take the easy way out whenever we can. That’s why strong leadership is so important. Notice that God indicts the leaders too—the priests who are charged with the spiritual health of the people. The consequences for poor leadership are severe (see vv. 4-6).

Again, it’s easy to connect these words to our present circumstances. It’s easy to call out leaders who are falling short. It’s easy to find someone or something to blame for the ways people and creation are suffering right now. But how does this help us?

Maybe a healthier way to react to this text is to do a self-assessment. Am I faithful? Am I loyal? Do I behave in ways that go against God’s commands? Am I treating the earth carelessly? In my spheres of leadership, what kind of example do I offer?

Change starts with me.


  • If Hosea were writing today, what words and phrases would he use to describe “the inhabitants of the land” (v. 1)? How are we behaving? What is the result of our actions?
  • What kind of indictment would God give us today? Would it be the same as what we read in Hosea 4, or can you think of differences?
  • Whom do you tend to blame for the circumstances humanity is facing? Why do you blame this person or group? Does it help you to blame them?
  • Why could it be healthier for you to do a self-assessment using Hosea’s words?
  • Ask yourself these questions: Am I faithful? Am I loyal? Do I behave in ways that go against God’s commands? Am I treating the earth carelessly? In my spheres of leadership, what kind of example do I offer? Answer honestly, and then decide what you can do to more closely follow Jesus Christ.

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, and her husband John. Occasionally, she appears onstage in community theater productions and can sometimes be found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, and she’s still trying to write a young adult novel that her girls will enjoy.


For further resources, subscribe to the Formations Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email