In Hosea’s day, the people’s hearts were compared to hot ovens. They wanted to be satisfied. They turned to the world, but nothing could tame the fire in their hearts. They even assassinated their kings (7:7) – like four in a row! – because they couldn’t give the people what they wanted. God says they are like an adulterous spouse because he wants them to have their desires fulfilled in him, not anyone or anywhere else.
7:4 │ They are all adulterers; they are like a heated oven whose baker ceases to stir the fire, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
If the leaven is a metaphor for sin, then we can understand why Hosea included this picture of a baker who does nothing while leaven spreads through the dough. This illustrates the kings of Israel who do nothing while evil (leaven) spreads through society and the court. Eternally, the people of Israel in danger, but the bakers (Israel’s leaders) could care less. They are busy kneading the dough with leaven, symbolic of the sin that was being worked in and through the royal family and the priest of Israel.
The entire society, from the kings to the people, are aflame with lust, like a heated oven that is so hot, the baker doesn’t need to stir the fire. To Israel’s king and society, idolatry is mere entertainment – a way to blow off steam and relax a little bit. Sexual immorality, drunkenness, and gluttony were a way for the leadership to take away the pain of life. God calls it adultery. Certainly, this is literal, as the pagan religions were quite sexual in nature.
Some of the practices of Baal worship in Israel conformed exactly to the worship of the true and living God. The cult of Baal involved the offering of many animal sacrifices. Priests would officiate on behalf of the persons presenting sacrificial animals to the god. Yet many of the practices of Baal worship are unimaginable. Some of the northern kingdom rulers even “made their sons pass through fire”—offering their own children as sacrifices to Baal. “Holy prostitutes”—both male and female—were available to worshipers, encouraging the fertility of both land and people.
All classes of society, from the poorest to the richest were all engaging in fornication and adultery, participating in lurid Baal worship with prostitutes. But Baal worship is not the problem: it’s a symptom. The root of the problem is their spiritual adultery. They are enslaved to sin because they are not surrendered to the God who will more than satisfy their deepest longings.
How We Commit Spiritual Adultery
Before we turn up our nose in self-righteous shock, let’s be honest and realize that we are all guilty at times of spiritual adultery. The human heart is like a heated oven, burning to be satisfied. We all have an infinite capacity to worship and love. The only one who can fill the infinite capacity of the human heart is the infinite God. Any time we are drawn away by sin, we are unfaithful to our infinitely satisfying God. James tells us:
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.James 1:14-15
Are you allowing sin to grow in your life? Is it growing like leaven in your life? Yeast is wonderful when it in bread, but when sin is like yeast, it spreads everywhere.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5
The passage in Hosea speaks of sexual sin. Don’t ever use sex outside of marriage as a game. Flee from it. It will destroy you. Sexual sin is prominent in our society and even in the church. Sex outside of marriage will always be frustrating and useless. Doing something at the wrong time destroys the true enjoyment. Concentration on the illicit leads to distraction from the legitimate. Illicit sex can only be enjoyed for a moment; legitimate sex for a lifetime. Lasting sexual satisfaction can only be found in marriage. Illegitimate sexual activity actually kills the sex drive. Today men and women have access to so much filth on the internet that they are disaffected by a living, breathing human being. Don’t allow even a glance or a thought to remain in your heart without quickly confessing it as sin. If you let it grow, it will kill your spiritual life, your marriage, your testimony, and your influence.
Confess Sin at Its Conception
All sin must be confessed immediately at its very conception. “When sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (Jas 1:15, NLT). We need to pray: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13, NLT). If you don’t cut temptation off instantly, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:12), sin will destroy you.
Are you angry? Confess it or you are capable of having bitterness destroy you over days, weeks, and a lifetime. Are you lustful? Cut off all inroads of lust to your heart, or you will be like a rich person with no locks on your doors in a dangerous neighborhood. Are you afraid and fearful? Confess and forsake it and trust in the Lord or you will be controlled by fear. Are you covetous? Confess it and forsake. Cut it out like a cancer, or you will be enslaved by materialism. You get the picture.
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