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Chapters 4 and 5
Chapters 6 and 7
Chapters 9 to 11
The sins of priests, people and king specified; Judah warned from Israel's judgment
In chapter 4 we see that the prophet addresses the whole people together. In verse 15 he distinguishes Judah from Israel, warning the former not to follow the apostasy of the latter. He dwells upon the sins (v. 2) of which the people were guilty. Israel is rejected from being a nation of priests unto Jehovah -- a glory which had been promised them (Ex. 19). This introduces the judgments of the priests, properly so called, who took pleasure in the sins of the people, that they might enrich themselves with their sacrifices. The proverb, "Like people, like priest," was exemplified in them. Whoredom and wine took all sound judgment from the heart; and the people of God asked counsel of their stocks and of their staff, sacrificed in the high places, and committed whoredom there. God would give them up to the fruits of their iniquity.
It is then that God exhorts Judah not to follow this course. Nevertheless, the Spirit of the Lord, in unfolding all the iniquity of Ephraim committed in His sight, shews that Judah also was guilty before Him (v. 10, 13).
Priests, people, king, all are addressed as objects of the judgment; all had given themselves up to violence. Although God had rebuked them, they would not return to Him. Afterwards they should seek Him and not find Him. He would have withdrawn Himself from them. Another sin is imputed to them both. Ephraim had perceived his weakness, the consequence of his sin, and Judah his wound; but they had gone too far from Jehovah to have recourse unto Him; they had sought help from the Assyrian. Could he deliver the sinful people from the judgment of Jehovah? Surely not. God would be to them as a lion that rends its prey; and then He would go and return to His place, until they should acknowledge their offence. In their affliction they would diligently seek Him.
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