Hosea Chapter Six

 

Read Hosea 6:1-3Israel Exhorted to Repent

 

v.1 1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”

 

            Hosea gives Israel the only remedy for all sin – “RETURN UNTO THE LORD”.  Go to the Almighty, all powerful, God in humble repentance and he will heal the wounds that have been inflicted.  When God dealt with his people directly, through the words given to Moses, they were warned of his power over them. 

 

Deuteronomy 32:39See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.”

 

All men would do well to heed that admonition today.  We find one of the most eloquent descriptions of God and his power ever worded in the prayer of Hannah, mother of Samuel as she gives thanks to God for her son:

 

1 Samuel 2:6-10The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. 9He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

 

v.22After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

 

            Israel is spiritually dead in sin.  This spiritual death of Israel is pictured in the words of the prophet here as physical death from which God will rescue them.  They would be “dead” for only a short time and then God would revive them, or as we find many places in the New Testament “quicken” them, restoring them to life again.  God would that all men would repent and come to him and he continues to suffer man’s rejection in Godly patience:

 

II Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

 

The Apostle Paul describes God as being The One;

 

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.I Timothy 2:4

 

v.3Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

 

            Contrary to what some men would have us to believe, we can know the will of God.  We don’t need a priest, preacher, or pope to explain it to us; though a multitude of people prefer to have it that way.  Anyone who has the ability to read and comprehend can know the will of God for mankind.  Jesus said:

 

John 17:33And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

 

John 8:32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

Israel had the Mosaic Law readily available to them, but they abandoned it, even lost the scrolls in the temple, the “BOOK OF THE LAW” (II Kings 22:8) for a time.  When it was found by Hilkiah and presented to Josiah the king of Judah the Word of God created such a attitude of repentance in the heart of the king of Judah that scripture records:

 

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” II Kings 23:25

 

This repentance was simply because he knew and embraced truth, the Word of God.  Israel could do the same and as a result reap the blessings of God.  Blessings would be showered upon them without fail.  These blessings would restore their spiritual life just as the rain that waters the earth sustains and restores the means for man’s physical well being.  The Psalmist writes:

 

Psalms 72:6-7 “HE SHALL COME DOWN LIKE RAIN UPON THE MOWN GRASS; AS SHOWERS that WATER THE EARTH.  IN HIS DAYS SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS FLOURISH; AND ABUNDANCE OF PEACE SO LONG AS THE MOON ENDURETH.”

Read Hosea 6:4-11 – God’s Exasperation with Israel

 

v.4O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.”

 

            This sounds like a loving mother who is totally at her wits end in how to deal with a rebellious and disobedient child.  Time after time God has brought judgment against Israel before the kingdom divided and to Israel and Judah afterward, yet she refuses to remain faithful.  She enjoys the blessings of God but worships gods made with hands.  She is the chosen people of God.  She has been given a covenant that places her above all others in the world in relationship to our creator.  But she refuses to honor him or follow his covenant.

            Even when they did repent and turn back to Him, their faithfulness was like a morning cloud, the early dew, a little time went by and it disappeared.  In the latter part of this book, Hosea writes that the time that Israel has left will be the same as the morning cloud and the early dew, short lived.

 

Hosea 13:3-4Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. 4Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.”

 

v.5Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.”

 

            God says that he has “HEWED BY THE PROPHETS” what does he mean?  When God called Jeremiah to the work of a prophet He told him this:

 

Jeremiah 1:10See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”

 

In order to build we must first prepare the site upon which we are building.  In construction, if that is what we call a “green field” then that preparation can be relatively simple; but if that is what we call a “brown field” then the proper preparation can be much more difficult.  It is the same in reaching the minds of men with the Word of God.  If one has never been indoctrinated with the teachings of men then reaching them can be much easier than it is when people have had years to develop their own set of beliefs and ideas about the Word of God.  In that case the old must be rooted out, pulled down in order to build the new.

            God had indeed slain thousands of Israelites by the “WORDS” of his mouth.  We see God consuming them with fire when they murmuring because they had no meat (Numbers 11:1), the plague that he sent because of their gluttony when he did give them meat (Numbers 12:33), the ground opening up and devouring the princes who rebelled against Moses and against God (Numbers 16:32-33), and we could site many, many more.  The power of the word of God is described by the Hebrew writer this way:

 

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

 

And each time God had punished Israel she turned back to him.  It was like a light came on, they could see their sin, and they turned back to God.  But in the days of these prophets that has ended.  Now when they are oppressed they turned to their pagan gods and their pagan neighbors in political alliances rather than to God.

 

v.6For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

 

            This is a lesson that has been repeated many times over the years from both Bible school teachers and preachers.  The lesson that Saul learned from the Samuel:

 

I Samuel 15:22And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

 

Do we ever try to give a person who is dear to us a gift that we know that they will not appreciate?  Do we give gifts that we know someone won’t use or doesn’t want?  Like many others, we understand these concepts when we apply them to physical things and our daily lives but do not understand them when they are applied to spiritual things or our relationship to God.  God commanded that they make sacrifices and they were required but what was more important?  Obedience, righteous living, these things God desires more:

 

Micah 6:8He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

 

Deuteronomy 10:12And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,”

 

v.77But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.”

 

            But they “LIKE MEN” have rebelled against, ignored and violated God’s covenant.  From the time of Cain who refused to worship as God had instructed, to those whom God destroyed by the flood:

 

Genesis 6:55And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

 

To the days when there was no king in Israel:

 

Judges 17:66In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

 

To the multiplied millions who fit the description given by Jesus as those:

 

9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9

 

From the beginning of time, men have transgressed God’s covenants, ignored God’s commandments and dealt treacherously with God.  Israel is no better and neither are men today.

 

v.8-98Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. 9And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.”

 

            Gilead was that portion of Israel that was east of the Jordan River between the Yarmuk and Jabbok Rivers owned by the tribe of Manasseh.  On one map we find two major cities in this region, Jabesh-Gilead and Ramoth-Gilead.  Both were cities seeped in blood.  Jabesh-Gilead was where those Israelites lived who refused to join the rest of Israel in punishing the Benjamites who transgressed God’s law in Judges 21:8-15.  Consequently the city was destroyed along with all of its men and married women.  Ramoth-Gilead was the site where the son of Ahab went to war against Hazael king of Syria and was defeated (II Kings 8:28-29).  Both times Israel or a portion of Israel was punished because they violated their covenant with God and their covenant with Israel, thus these cities are pictured as being full of iniquity and blood.

            The reference to the priests is to the priests of the northern kingdom who served the idols erected by Jeroboam.  They were like robbers, cruel and blood-thirsty, they will even resort to murder if someone stands in their way.  But it wasn’t any different among the priests who served the temple in Jerusalem in the time of Christ. Jesus was their victim:

 

Acts 2:22-23Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”

 

As was Stephen who preached a message they did not want to hear:

 

Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Acts 7:57-58

 

v.10 “I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.”

 

            Again God returns to the analogy of adultery to describe the condition of Israel.  She is defiled because of her unfaithfulness to God, her spiritual adultery, chasing after and worshiping false gods made by the hands of men.  The language here is much the same as is found in chapter 4.  Jeremiah asks the question:

 

Jeremiah 5:29-31Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 30A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

 

v.11Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.”

 

            In the ending of this chapter we find God directing Hosea to give a warning to Judah as well.  A harvest has been set for them in their iniquity.  God will return, the ASV says “BRING BACK” Israel into captivity.  He rescued them from Egypt, gave them a land, gave them immeasurable blessings but they rejected him and the day will come when he will return or bring them back into captivity once again.

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; October 12, 2008