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Book of Hosea
Chapter  6

Hosea Chapter 6
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

Verse 1. "Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us."

The language of this verse is from the medical vocabulary of the time, and is reminiscent of Isaiah 1:6 – "A wound needs to be pressed out and bound up, and afterwards softened with oil." The chapter break here (between Chapters 5 and 6) is misleading, for this is a part of the direct context continuing from Chapter 5. The reference is Hosea 5:13 – Ephraim (the leading tribe of Israel) was making treaties with King Jareb of Assyria. They did not need the "medicine" of Assyria – they needed healing from the Great Physician, the Lord God.

And so it is with you and me. We must, like them, return to the Lord. He has lanced the open, festering wounds in our soul, that the poison (our sin) might be squeezed out and we may be healed. Sin is indeed like an infection, which must be opened through repentance, before the injury may safely be "bandaged". Our ultimate need in life is not in this world at all, but in God, who made this world, and He is the Healer of your broken heart.

Verse 2. "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him."

In 1st Peter 1:11-12, it is revealed that the great purpose of the Old Testament prophets was to reveal Christ. "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating, as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." Christ is not just seen in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 – The whole Old Testament speaks of not only of literal historical events, but also of the Christ who would come.

With that in mind, look at this verse in Hosea. How does the Lord "revive" (NKJV "heal") us and "raise us up" – in Christ. Isaiah 53:4-6 (and context) provides an excellent discussion of our revival (coming to life) in Him. He carried our grief's and our sorrows. He was "pierced" and "crushed" for you and me. "By His stripes (scourging) we are healed." We are "revived" by God Himself. By the second day, during His death for us, we were made alive in Him. We are "revived" as Hosea says, on the third day, when He rose from the dead. Through faith, we are raised with Him.

Verse 3. "So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth."

Our Lord taught us, "Seek and you SHALL find, knock and the door SHALL be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7-8). There is an ache in every one of us to KNOW the Lord. The verb "know" in this verse in Hosea, can also be viewed as "hunt," with all the intensity of a predator after its prey. But the "game" is rigged, because the Lord wants you to find Him.

The "malqosh" was the spring rain, which fell in March and until the middle of April. It preceded and promoted the harvest. Without our Lord, we are simply dry and thirsty ground, in desperate need of Him. This "need" is incredibly on both sides, for He longs to come to you with the "living water" of John 4:10,13. Our Lord will refresh you, and He will bring a wonderful harvest of joy into your life.

Verse 4. "What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud and like the dew which goes away early."

God here speaks to both the southern kingdom of Judah, and Israel ("Ephraim") in the north. He is also speaking to you and to me. Our loyalty tends to be conditional. If things are good, we decide all is O.K., but if things are not so good, we decide something is wrong. That is why the Lord in verse 3, tells us to KNOW Him. If our trust in Him is just based on the circumstances of life, we quickly go away from Him, like the clouds of the sunrise, or the dew on the morning grass.

In the first part of Matthew 13, we find 3-kinds of response to the call of our Lord in the hearts of men, and they are explained in Matthew 13:18-23. We respond to Him in one of three ways: 1) without understanding (caught by the emotions of the minute); 2) conditionally (I will follow You if I like what You do); and 3) unconditionally – we become like good ground that bountifully produces the seed of God. Our life is not our own – we are His, and "3)" is the only reasonable response to our Holy God.

Verse 5. "Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth."

Israel (and also Judah) chose responses "1)" and "2)" (see commentary on verse 4). Any response to God at all, was merely the emotional response of the moment. If their emotions tended toward other "gods" – off they went! And God was not pleased, any more than He is pleased with you and me, when we follow the religious "whim" of the moment. He cut them to "pieces" by the words of the prophets, and slew them by the "words" of His mouth.

This fits perfectly with Ephesians 6:17, where He (through Paul) calls the "sword of the Spirit" the "Word of God." As children we learned, "sticks & stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me." Actually, names (words) CAN hurt. "The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" – it goes to the "thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is more powerful than any weaponry mankind could ever devise.

Verse 6. "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

When David sinned (as reflected in Psalm 51), he said to God, "Thou dost not delight in sacrifice" (religious activities), "otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering" (more religious activities); "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:16-17). James taught us: "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this – to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted by the world" (James 1:27). TRUE religion is different from what people expect.

Jesus taught that you are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37) and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). He concluded "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:40). You can be wrong in a lot of ways, but if your heart is right (filled with love for God and for people), you’re going to be OK with Him. He’ll straighten out your "rough edges" – and it’s our job to receive and transmit His love.

Verse 7. "But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; there they have dealt treacherously against Me."

This has been translated as "they like Adam" and also "they like men." The latter translation was chosen by the Vulgate and also by Martin Luther; the former by others. Adam was given one simple command but it became complex for him when the woman (Eve) was deceived and fell. Adam actually was NOT deceived when he fell into transgression (1 Timothy 2:14). His was a deliberate act, and it was likely he wanted the woman, more than he wanted God.

Israel had a covenant with God, not so different from Adam’s. He had one command to acknowledge, and they had more, but all have sinned. To turn away from God is to deal treacherously with Him, which stems from a lack of love (see commentary on verse 6). Trust is a part of love, and Adam should have trusted that God would have made a way to rescue the woman from sin. Israel fell from a lack of trust and so do many fall today.

Verse 8. "Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, Tracked with bloody footprints."

He knows your city, your heart, and your ways. Gilead was land owned by Israel, from the south end of the Sea of Galilee to the northern end of the Dead Sea, and from the Jordan River, east to the desert – a plateau of approximately 2,000 feet in elevation. At the time of Moses, it was lush with forests, grazing lands, and abundant moisture.

The people of that place fell into gross idolatry (also Hosea 12:11), were overcome by Hazael (2 Kings 10:32-34) and were led into captivity by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:27-29). It’s interesting that not only the people fell, but so did the land, which became barren after that time. When we sin, God sees us. That which we "hide" from Him, is not hidden, and it is though we leave "bloody footprints" behind. We destroy ourselves and our land by our sin.

Verse 9. "And as raiders wait for a man, so a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; surely they have committed crime."

There has been a lot of discussion about whether this was a literal band of priests who waylaid travelers, or if it speaks of apostates who led others into false religion. Probably both, for this was a people (and leadership) that had fallen deeply into sin. Of the two choices for this verse, leading someone into apostasy is even worse than killing them. To murder them is terrible and God will judge you for it. But the other is much worse.

If a godly person is killed, they simply go to God. But if you lead them away from God, any hope is ruined – for all eternity. The person goes on, but the question is, under what circumstances? Jesus has said that the lost will be "cast into hell" (Mark 9:43 & context). What concerned God about Israel at the time of this verse, was that they (the people and the religious leaders) had no heart for Him. It was just like they (the priests) laid in wait to kill the people. For when you turn someone away from God, you kill his soul.

Verse 10. "In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraims harlotry is there, Israel has defiled itself."

We know from secular history, that Israel would fall as a nation in 722 BC, and Judah would do the same in 586 BC. Israel never broke away from the idolatrous golden calf worship of Jeroboam, their first king. Judah, on the other hand, was to experience some times of revival (renewal) in relation to the worship of God. Out of 20-kings, 8 were "good" (tended to have a heart for God) - Israel had no godly kings at all.

Ephraim is singled-out of the ten northern tribes here, because they exercised leadership in relation to the other tribes. Unfortunately, their example led Israel from golden calf worship to ritual prostitution, to the sacrifice of babies, from bad to worse. Israel split off from Judah in 931 BC - between that time and 722 BC, Israel was sent many prophets, as God reached out to them, again-and-again. Then the reaching out was over, and Israel was taken by the Assyrians. They would not turn to God and they were finally destroyed.

Verse 11. "Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, When I restore the fortunes of My people."

We sow "seeds" in our lives. The good that is placed in us through Christ, is "watered" and tended by God, and grows into something lovely to behold. We can become decent and honorable. A people of love. The evil that we do grows also, and often the good is crushed right out of a land and a people. Judah did better than Israel, but a harvest of destruction would come to them, too. Sin will destroy a people.

A portion of this verse can be read "when I restore the captivity of my people." The previous captivity in Egypt, was meant to be curative in nature. They were placed into a condition and circumstance, where unbelief would be difficult for them (they would need God) and where faith would become possible for them. The circumstances you have been given, are designed to bring you to faith in God through Jesus Christ.

Ron Beckham
Friday Study Ministries


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