Hosea 6

Introduction

‘Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3

Israel Unrepentant

There are two points of view on these opening verses.

1. They are expressing the sincere desire of the people to return to God. This view follows on from verse 15 of the previous chapter.

2. It is an insincere desire. This view ties these three verses with the fourth verse. The people don’t really mean what they say, they are insincere.

The first view seems to be the most likely one. They are asking for God’s mercy.

Ward, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The repentance here is not something that comes on this side of national disaster, it is on the other side of it. So, the repentance that finally comes to the survivors of the nation’s death is not one that will serve to heal the nation as a whole and let it live. It is one that will affect an entirely new life with Yahweh, on different terms.’

Compared to the time it took them to go into captivity, Hosea appears to say that their binding will be brief, that is ‘two days’. Most commentators aren’t sure what the reference to ‘third day’ is, although some suggest it’s used symbolically of the resurrection of Christ, Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:15 / Luke 13:32-33 / 1 Corinthians 15:4.

It’s at this point they will be restored to live in God’s presence and eventually acknowledge God as their God and be obedient to His laws in all aspects of their lives.

When the sunsets, that is, morning, after they have repented, a new life will begin for them, Isaiah 58:8 / Isaiah 60:1-2. When there is rain, there is the beginning of a new existence, Leviticus 26:4-5 / Deuteronomy 11:14 / Deuteronomy 28:12.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Israel’s God is brought within the frame of reference of the deities of Canaan, whose activity was a function of weather and season. Rain is the peculiar provenance of Baal in Canaanite theology.’

When Israel finally becomes obedient to God, He will bless them richly. This will be fulfilled in the time of the Messiah, Isaiah 35:5-6 / Isaiah 44:3 / Ezekiel 36:25-28.

‘What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth—then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. As at Adam, they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me there. Gilead is a city of evildoers, stained with footprints of blood. As marauders lie in ambush for a victim, so do bands of priests; they murder on the road to Shechem, carrying out their wicked schemes. I have seen a horrible thing in Israel: There Ephraim is given to prostitution, Israel is defiled. “Also for you, Judah, a harvest is appointed. “Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people.’ Hosea 6:4-11

God appears to be perplexed by their insincerity as He says, ‘just what can I do with you, Ephraim?’

Mauchline, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Lord had done everything possible in the way of training his people, now there was nothing more which he could do. What was the use of continuing to make endeavours to redeem a people whose love was a transient thing, like morning dew?’

Israel’s behaviour was like the dew that goes away quickly. In other words, the righteous behaviour of the nation was short-lived.

God sent prophets with a message of rebuke and condemnation and gives a list of their transgressions. Some translations say different things in verse 7.

The Revised Version makes Adam a place.

The Authorised has Adam as men.

The NIV refers to Adam, the individual, the man.

God tells them what He requires, He requires mercy rather than meaningless sacrifices, Isaiah 1:11-15 / Isaiah 43:22-24 / Amos 5:21-25 / Micah 6:6-8 / Proverbs 21:3 / Matthew 12:7.

They were just going through the motions of religion with their hearts not it, Mark 7:1-9. Just knowing God isn’t enough, 1 Samuel 15:22 / Psalm 40:6-9 / Psalm 50:8-15 / Isaiah 1:11-17 / Micah 6:8.

Gilead was known as a city of murderers and evildoers, 2 Kings 15:25. Shechem was one of the Levitical cities and a city of refuge, Joshua 20:7 / Joshua 21:21. The priests at Shechem are being condemned for their crimes, they are committing murder.

God now expresses His astonishment at Israel’s harlotry, 1 Kings 12:29, and concludes the chapter with a word of warning to Judah. As God had harvested the wickedness of Israel by sending her into captivity, Judah also would suffer the same harvest.

Keil, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Ammi, my people, means the people of Jehovah; and it is not Israel alone of the ten tribes, but the whole covenant nation as a whole.’

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