Continuing in Hosea 7 today, we see that when it comes to sin, we cannot deny that we are sinners or that we sin often! Numbers 32:23 reminds us, “You have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.” Knowing this, why do we try to hide our sin? Trying to hide it is itself evidence of our knowing it is sin! That is also why so often we make sure we are alone when we sin, or at least have the support of the crowd running with us, right? But we are never alone!

Ezekiel 18:20 says this, “The soul who sins shall die.” And lest we think this does not apply to us, Romans 3:23 tells us who has sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And in Romans 6:23 we read, “The wages of sin is death.” Paul closes the loop there. The soul who sins shall die – all have sinned – the wages of sin is death. There is no escape. We are all facing death.

We do however find a wonderful word right in the middle of Romans 6:23, because of course you recognized that I did not quote the whole verse, right? “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” God has made a provision for paying the price required for sin. He paid it all with the life of His Son. This is why we do not need to hide our sinfulness. God is completely aware of it and has already paid the wages for it all through Christ.

In this introduction then, God tells the people that while they try to hide their sin from Him, He is aware of it all. Sins of commission. Sins of omission. Sins of thought, word, deed, and even sins where we know what is right to do and we do not do it.  Sins that are seemingly good things, and yet, “whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:32). The truth is we can’t keep an accurate list, our list of sins to confess is never complete because there are sins we commit that we have no idea we have committed. What do we do? Confess the sin we know about and trust God that He will keep His promise to forgive us all unrighteousness. We cling to the promise of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood – “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34).

The rest of this 7th chapter now gives us four word pictures that tell us what to expect, and tell Israel specifically, what will happen if when faced with our sin we refuse to repent and confess. Israel would not turn back to the Lord and so He paints a very vivid picture here to set their expectations for what will follow their stubborn refusal to be obedient.

In verses 3-7 the Lord through the prophet tells the people that they are like A Burning Oven. The text tells us, “They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their lies. 4 “They are all adulterers. Like an oven heated by a baker— he ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough, until it is leavened. 5 In the day of our king princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; he stretched out his hand with scoffers. 6 They prepare their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait; their baker sleeps all night; in the morning it burns like a flaming fire. 7 They are all hot, like an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings have fallen. None among them calls upon Me.”

There are two things going on here in the description of the oven. The heating of the oven is a word that refers to passion, it is the heat of passion, that is, the unruly reign of unrestrained emotions and desires. It is a picture of being driven by lust, by desire, by a craving for self-fulfillment that we see here a baker that is working the oven to get it ready to bake. In this we see where the baker would get the fire going in a stone oven or a fire pit, and as he prepared the dough for baking, of course you know when you make homemade bread, you prepare and knead the dough and then you let is rise. In this day and time, as the dough was rising the fire was kept burning but was not tended to, and then when it came time to bake, the coals were stirred and if necessary more fuel added to the fire to get it up to the proper temperature.

The Lord is saying here that the people are burning so hotly in their lust and sin that it would be like a baker starting the fire and getting it so hot that not only could he go knead dough and let it rise, but he could go to bed and sleep and without any further attention in the morning he would find the fire burning too hot to be useful. After a night of being left completely alone the fire in this oven is scorching hot – and this, He says, is the passion driving the people into sin. It does not need to be stirred up because it never died down in the first place.

This description is repeated in Romans 1:26-28, where we find people given up to consuming passions. “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 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… ” 

Here in Hosea remember that we are looking at Israel being charged by God with spiritual adultery, unfaithfulness, and the truth is that they were running headlong into all sorts of immorality in their pursuit of selfish ambitions. They were being consumed, controlled, and driven by their lust.

There is a second progression here, this goes beyond the “vile passions”, as we see there is a moral problem and a political problem that follows. Verse 3 says, “They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their lies.” They flatter their leaders. They pretend to love and serve them in order to use them and manipulate them and get what they want out of them.

In verse 5 it says, “In the day of our king princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; he stretched out his hand with scoffers.” In the time period between this prophecy and the conquest of Israel by Assyria there will be a progression of six kings. Four of the six, remember, were assassinated by the person who replaced them as king. The kings who were killed were poisoned, or made to be intoxicated so that they could not even see what was coming as they were killed. They could not defend themselves.

The people were plotting evil things to do to their rulers – see verse 6, “They prepare their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait; their baker sleeps all night; in the morning it burns like a flaming fire.”

 “They lie in wait.”

And verse 7 tells us, “They are all hot, like an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings have fallen.” And all the while that this is going on, who thinks to call out to the Lord for help? No, they only want relief from the consequences of their sin. When it comes to their true need, to call out to God in repentance and faith for salvation, it says, “None among them calls upon Me.”

Not only is there spiritual corruption, not only is their physical corruption, but there is also political corruption. All of this is tied back directly to being unfaithful to the covenant that God had made with them when He brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Their nation is falling apart. Their lives and families are falling apart. They are facing threats and danger on every side, they are being ruled by their own wicked passions and also by wicked rulers, yet they still refuse to repent and call upon God.