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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Hosea 9:4

Commentary On Hosea by Jean Calvin

Hosea 9:4

4. They shall not offer wine offerings to the Lord, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the Lord

4. Non libabunt Jehovae vinum, et non dulcia erunt illi libamina (vel, ipsi non erunt grati et suaves Domino) sacrificia ipsorum sicut panis lugentium ipsis: quicunque comederint polluentur; quia panis ipsorum pro anima ipsorum, non veniet in domum Jehovae.

It is uncertain whether the Prophet testifies here, that they should lose their labour and their oil (as they say) when they sacrificed to God; or whether he declares what would be the case when they had been driven into exile. Both views seem probable. Now, if we refer the words of the Prophet to the time of exile, they seem not unsuitable, They shall not then pour out wine to Jehovah, and their sacrifices shall not be acceptable to him; no oblation shall come any more to the temple of Jehovah.| And thus many understand the passage; yet the former sense is the most appropriate, as it may be easily gathered from the context. The Prophet says, that they shall not pour out wine to Jehovah, and that their sacrifices shall not be acceptable to him; and then he adds, All that eat shall be polluted It seems not by any means applicable to exiles, that they should vainly endeavour to pour out wine to God; for their religion forbade them to do such a thing. Further, when he says, Their sacrifices shall be to them as the bread of mourners, -- this must also be understood of sacrifices, which they were wont daily to offer to God; for in exile (as it has been said) it was not lawful for them to make any offering, nor had they there an altar or a sanctuary.

What, then, is the meaning of the Prophet, when he says, |All that eat of their sacrifices shall be polluted|? We must know that the Prophet speaks here of the intermediate time, as though he said, |What the Israelites now sacrifice is without any advantage, and God is not pacified with these trifles for they bring polluted hands, they change not their minds, they obtrude their sacrifices on God, but they themselves first pollute them.| Of this same doctrine we have already often treated; I shall not then dwell on it now; but it is enough to point out the design of the Prophet, which was to show that the Israelites were seeking in vain to pacify God by their ceremonies, for they were vain expiations which God did not regard, but deemed as worthless.

They shall not then pour out wine to God. There is an important meaning in this sentence; for it is certain that as long as the Israelites lived in their country, they were sedulous enough in the performance of outward worship, and that drink-offerings were not neglected by them. Since, then, this custom prevailed among them, the Prophet must be speaking here only of the effect, and says, that they exercised themselves in vain in their frivolous worship, for they poured not out wine to Jehovah, that is, their libation did not come to Jehovah; and he explains himself afterwards, when he says, Their drink-offerings shall not be pleasant to him However much, then, the Israelites might labour, the Prophet says that their labour would be fruitless, for the Lord would reject whatever they did. He then adds what is to the same purpose, Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat shall be polluted; that is, all their sacrifices are polluted. The Prophet now shows more clearly, not that there would be no sacrifices, but that they would be in vain, because the Lord would abominate them, and would repudiate all the masks which they would put on in his presence, and under the cover of which they withdrew themselves from their allegiance to him. The reason is, because when any one unclean touches pure flesh, he pollutes it by his uncleanness. God then must necessarily abominate whatever impure men offer, unless they seek to purify their minds. And this principle has ever prevailed among the very blind, --

An impious right hand does not rightly worship the celestials. (Non bene coelestes impia dextra colit.)

These words, which spread everywhere, have been witnesses of the common feeling; for the Lord intended to draw out men, as it were, from their converts, when he forced them to make such a confession. It is no wonder that the Prophet now says (as this truth is also often taught in Scripture) that the sacrifices of the people, who continued in their own perfidy, would be like the bread of mourners; as Isaiah says,

When one kills an ox, it is the same as if he slew a man; when one sacrifices a lamb, it is the same as if he killed a dog,' (Isaiah 66:3.)

He compares sacrifices to murders; nor is it to be wondered at, for it is a more atrocious crime to abuse the sacred name of God than to kill a man, and this is what ungodly men do.

Then he says, |If any one eats, he will be polluted.| He enlarges on what he said before, and says that if any one clean should come, he would be polluted by being only in company with them. We now see how sharply the Prophet here arouses hypocrites, that they might now cease to promise to themselves what they were wont to do, and that is, that God would be propitious to them while they pacified him with their vain things. |By no means,| he says; |nay, there is so much defilement in your sacrifices, that they even contaminate others who come, being themselves clean.|

But it may be asked, Can the impiety of others pollute us, when we afford no proof of companionship, nor by dissimulation manifest any consent? when we then abstain from all superstition, does society alone contaminate us? The answer is easy: The Prophet does not avowedly discuss here how another's impiety may contaminate men who are clean; but his object was to show in strong language how much God abhors the ungodly, and that not only he is not pacified with their sacrifices, but also holds them as the greatest abominations. But with regard to this question, it is certain that we become polluted as soon as we content to profane superstitions: yet when ungodly men administer either holy baptism or the holy supper, we are not polluted by fellowship with them, for the deed itself has nothing vicious in it. Then the act only does not pollute us, nor the hidden and inward impiety of men. This is true: but we are to understand for what purpose the Prophet said, that all who eat of their sacrifices shall be polluted.

He proceeds with the same subject, Their bread for their souls etc. This clause, |for their soul,| may be explained in two ways. In saying, Bread for their soul, the Prophet spake by way of contempt; as though he said, |Let them serve themselves and their stomach with bread, and no more offer it to God; let them then satiate themselves with bread, for they cannot consecrate to God their bread, when they themselves are unclean.| But I am inclined to follow what has been more approved, that bread for their soul shall not come to the house of the Lord; for men, we know, are then wont to offer their sacrifices to God to reconcile themselves to him, or at least to present emblems of their expiation: hence the Prophet says, that bread is offered for the soul according to the directions of the law; but that the ungodly could not bring bread into the house of Jehovah, because the Lord excludes them, as it were, by an interdict. Not that hypocrites keep away, for we see how boldly they thrust themselves into the temple; nay, they would occupy the first place; but the Lord yet forbids them to come to his presence. This is the reason why he says, that the bread of the ungodly shall not come before God, though in appearance their oblations glitter before men. It follows --

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