Question of the Week: Does Hosea 4:6 say that Christians can perish/lose their salvation?
There is a saying, “If the only tool in your toolbelt is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.” When it comes to the controversy concerning eternal security vs not taking your salvation for granted, there are good arguments on both sides of the issue that are entirely based on scripture. This passage is not one of those cases. You need to be extremely careful when coming to a passage in the Bible, or in this case the middle of a chapter, and reading into it something that reflects more of the reader’s emotional perspective/bias than the point actually being made. When it comes to clarifying the difference between the two, it’s often a problem reconciled by just going to the start of the chapter.
Hear the word of the Lord, You children of Israel, For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land.
Hosea 4:1 (NKJV)
If verse 6 is the passage in question, we already have an intended audience established as the people of Israel. Likewise, within the verse itself, we also have the kind of person in the audience clarified for us as well. Hosea 4:6 continues to address the priests (of Israel as established in verse 1) Their rejection of knowledge has resulted in them forgetting the law of their God. This was a serious charge because it was one of the reasons the Priesthood as a whole existed.
Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”
Leviticus 10:8-11 (NKJV)
People then continue down the passage in Hosea 4:6 by concluding that God forgetting their children somehow implies a truth statement within it that has long term implications towards those who sin. “If I fall back into an area of sin, I must have forgotten the Law of God. And if I’ve forgotten the Law of God, then I must also be the child being spoken of in this passage as being forgotten by God.” While a guilty conscience could certain make this sound reasonable, the most rational approach to words on paper is to finish reading the point before coming to conclusions.
“The more they increased, The more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of My people; They set their heart on their iniquity. And it shall be: like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, And reward them for their deeds. For they shall eat, but not have enough; They shall commit harlotry, but not increase; Because they have ceased obeying the Lord.
Hosea 4:7-10 (NKJV)
Hosea concludes the point made in this section of scripture by explaining that it is indeed the behavior of the people of Israel (Hosea 4:1-3), the negligence of the priests of Israel (Hosea 4:4-6), and the impact this is having on the behavior of the next generation (Hosea 4:7-10). The question then remains that we should consider this doctrine going forward. Is Hosea’s point that these people will perish as a result of their rebellion and negligence? Let’s finish the book to see how Israel is ultimately being addressed for their sinful behavior.
O Israel, return to the Lord your God,
For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
Hosea 14:1 (NKJV)
That sure doesn’t sound like someone who is going to perish. While their sins will warrant immediate consequences, God somehow still calls them to return. That seems like they won’t perish. Likewise, even the most extreme passages of condemnation towards the Tribe of Ephraim (Northern Israel) in Hosea 4:17 is ultimately something they’ll be redeemed from in Hosea 14:8. Not to mention the fact that there are 10 chapters after Hosea 4 and 3 chapters prior. Given the fact that the Lord uses Hosea’s adulterous wife Gomer as an illustration of Israel and she ultimately doesn’t perish, it would be inappropriate to esiegete this text and claim it’s saying something that someone reading the whole book would never conclude about the original audience.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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