They feed on the sin of My people and direct their desire toward their iniquity. Hosea 4:8 NASB
Feed – This one is difficult. It’s difficult because of the Hebrew and it’s difficult because of its implications. It’s one of those verses we might wish to remove. It’s even difficult to comment on this verse for fear that it will offend many. But we have plunged in before and we are still here, so let’s dive into the deep end once more.
The Hebrew opens with hatta’t ami yokeloo (literally, “the sin of my people they eat up”). Hosea employs a striking pun in Hebrew. The priests, who are the official recipients of some part of the sacrifices, are accused of eating up the sin of the people. Technically, they do, in fact, eat what has been offered to remove the guilt of sin. But Hosea takes this official activity and uses it as an illustration of the voracious appetite of religious officials who take advantage of their position by multiplying the sacrifices so that they can gain from the offerings. In other words, these men were given the sacred task of bringing the offerings before the Lord, but instead, they increased the burden of sacrifice so that they could get a larger portion from the people. They used their position as priests to extort material gain from the petitioners. Long before the Roman Catholic Church invented indulgences, Israel’s apostasy included priests who leveraged the guilt of sin to their advantage. They enriched themselves by encouraging sacrifices. They were gluttons for guilt.
The implications are hard to consider because they smack us right in the television. How many so-called prophets of forgiveness are actually gluttons of guilt? How many preachers of prosperity croon the melody of forgiveness in order to enrich their own empires? Do you suppose that even one of these charlatans would continue with the message of the good news if they lost their thousand dollar suits, their houses and cars, their mega-churches or their reputations? Recently one of the famous ones remarked that he had “repented too much” after being caught in immoral sexual activity. He was anxious to return to the limelight. It was time to cast off that suffocating mantel of humility and return to the star-studded stage. Apparently there is a statute of limitation of repentance. One thing is for certain. Repentance isn’t profitable.
It is a travesty to the gospel, an insult to the Messiah and blasphemy to YHWH to endorse, align with or follow “priests” (who usually assume higher titles these days) of guilt. They ooze the fat of fakery. The man of God is quite the opposite. He reflects the character of His Lord – compassionate, long-suffering, merciful, willing to lift another at cost to himself, humble and invisible as he serves. The man of God lives on a diet of repentance and obedience. Anything else is high-calorie heresy.
Topical Index: feed, ‘akal, sin, chatta’at, Hosea 4:8
 See the comments of J. A. Dearman, The Book of Hosea, NICOT, p. 160.