In verse 11-14 of Hosea 4 then it gets even worse. There is no restraint, no knowledge, no satisfaction, and now he says there is no understanding. “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart. 12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God. 13 They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your brides commit adultery. 14 “I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled.”

At what point does an addiction transition from being something we want to something we have to have? The people are seeking satisfaction in pleasure and in substances and instead of pleasure they find pain. They seek answers from idols, from false gods, and the staff that informs them is a reference to a divining rod. They are looking anywhere for answers. This is divination. They strayed from God and now can’t find the answers. Imagine that.

Here we see the unfaithfulness of the idolaters heart. They are committing physical and spiritual adultery. They are worshipping false gods by way of ritual prostitution. This has become an everyday way of life for men and women throughout Israel. They have accepted the debauchery of gross immorality in the name of worship. In fact they are worshipping themselves.

He says there that people who do not understand will be trampled. This is a reference to stumbling but it means that a person falls down because they are pushed down. People without understanding God will knock down. And the term for understand here is “to discern.”

Think back to Romans 1:28-31. Listen again to this list of sins. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. Did you just catch that? Included in this list of sins that flow from a debased mind is the sin of being undiscerning. We think that discernment is a gift. It is not. It is the ability to inform our minds and conscience with Scripture so that we might be able to tell right from wrong, good from bad, or as Spurgeon put it, right from almost right. And it is something we hone and develop, we learn and improve. To remain in a state of not understanding, or being undiscerning, is sin and will lead to stumbling, to being forcibly stiff armed by God.

Why? Because to be undiscerning is the worst kind of pride. It is to think we know it all, we know what is right, and we don’t need anyone or anything to tell us what to do. And how does God react to the proud?  “God resists (stiff arms, pushes down) the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

And here we see that the nation has crumbled because the family has crumbled. The fathers are pursuing immorality so surely they cannot pretend to be shocked when their wives and daughters do the same, right? The nation will be in ruins outwardly because it is already wasted away from the inside.

Looking at all that Israel did and at how far they fell, we see that it was His love and His mercy and His longsuffering patience that allowed them to continue on as long as they did. And how did they respond to that love and care and provision? They sinned more and more.