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
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
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
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
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.
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