COME, LET US RETURN TO THE LORD: God's chief purpose in
inflicting punishment is to induce repentance. The first condition for salvation
is true repentance (cp prodigal son in Luk 15:18). See, generally, Lam 3:40; Isa
HE HAS TORN US TO PIECES BUT HE WILL HEAL US: He would
heal them (as a shepherd, cf Hos 5:13) even though He had torn and wounded them
(as a lion, cf Hos 5:14). They would recognize that their punishment had come
from Him, not just from a foreign enemy (Deu 32:39).
AFTER TWO DAYS: Two: the number of separation and
division. Two periods of scattering: Israel in 721 BC, and Judah in 589 BC. Two
thousand years of Israel being scattered -- with no national identity, no
Or, two days = a relatively brief period of
THE THIRD DAY: Number of solidity, reality; the first
cubic (3-dimensional) number (cp 3 kinds of matter). Sig the resurrection of
WE MAY LIVE IN HIS PRESENCE: A return to the Land of
Promise, where God's presence may be felt. "It is a land the LORD your God cares
for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of
the year to its end" (Deu 11:12).
LET US PRESS ON TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIM: In the Last Days,
the Jews will recognize that the Jesus whom they crucified is their Messiah and
Lord: Zec 12:10; 13:6.
AS SURELY AS THE SUN RISES, HE WILL APPEAR: Christ is
the rising sun of a new day: cp Mal 4:1,2; Psa 19:1-6; Rev 16:12.
HE WILL COME TO US LIKE THE... RAINS: The rain of God's
teaching, to give life: Psa 72:6; Deu 32:2; Isa 55:10.
WINTER RAINS... SPRING RAINS: "Latter and former rains"
(KJV). Cp Joel 2:23,24.
YOUR LOVE IS LIKE THE MORNING MIST, LIKE THE EARLY DEW THAT
DISAPPEARS: Short-lived, disappearing quickly in the hot Palestinian summer
mornings. Cp idea: seed sown in shallow soil (Mat 13:19-22), clouds without rain
(Pro 25:14; Jud 1:12), wandering stars (Jud 1:13), wadis in the desert (Job
MY JUDGMENTS FLASHED LIKE LIGHTNING UPON YOU: These
messages had been as destructive as lightning bolts (cf Amos 4:6-11).
Cited Mat 9:13; 12:7. Obedience and mercy are equated with
sacrifice: 1Sa 15:22; Psa 50:7-14; Isa 1:10-20. See also: praise and song are
equated with sacrifice: Psa 50:13,14r.
Sacrifices were meaningless, even offensive, unless offered
out of a heart of love that demonstrated obedience to God's Word (cf 1Sa 15:22;
Isa 1:11-17; Amos 5:21-24; Mic 6:6-8; Pro 21;3; Ecc 5:1).
"God is not setting up mercy and sacrifice as opposites. He is
not condemning the offering of sacrifices, but He is exposing their attitude of
mind in the offering thereof. Their worship was hollow, without heart. They
were, as Malachi so clearly stated, guilty of robbing God whilst in the very act
of offering sacrifices to him (Mal 3:7-12). They were going through the motions
of seeking forgiveness, for God had given them the blood of animals 'upon the
altar to make an atonement for your souls' (Lev 17:11), but there was no
appreciation of His mercy and consequently no spilling over of that mercy from
their own lives. There was no knowledge of God, no fear of His presence; their
lives were filled with self.
"This is a searching exhortation: to be exposed to the
possibility of incurring condemnation whilst in the act of performing that which
was designed to save. Is this not the Old Testament counterpart of, 'Wherefore
whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily,
shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine
himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that
eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body' (1Co 11:27-29). How important it is, then, that we
should have a 'knowledge' of God, a knowledge of His redeeming mercy and of His
searching truth, and that these should be discerned along with the Lord's body
in the emblems given for that purpose" (THos 47,48).
LIKE ADAM, THEY HAVE BROKEN THE COVENANT: Like Adam,
the first and typical man in an endless stream of human beings, the Israelites
had violated God's loving directions even though His blessings had been
abundant. The covenant that Adam transgressed was not the Mosaic Covenant, which
the Israelites and Judahites had violated. It was the arrangement with Adam that
God had specified for life within the Garden of Eden, the Adamic Covenant (Gen
GILEAD IS A CITY OF WICKED MEN, STAINED WITH FOOTPRINTS OF
BLOOD: The Lord viewed Gilead, the region of Israel east of the Jordan
River, as a city. Perhaps He meant that the whole area was similar to a city in
which violence and murder were so widespread that one could see bloody
footprints in the streets. He may have been referring to a particular city named
Gilead (Ramoth-Gilead?) in Gilead where those conditions prevailed (cf Gen
31:47,48; Jdg 10:17). In any case, the point is clear. Evidence of gross
violence against one's neighbors demonstrated lack of love for Yahweh and lack
of respect for His covenant.
AS MARAUDERS LIE IN AMBUSH FOR A MAN, SO DO BANDS OF
PRIESTS; THEY MURDER ON THE ROAD TO SHECHEM: Gangs of priests acted like
thugs, who plagued travelers, and extorted "gifts" and other money. Shechem and
Ramoth-Gilead were cities of refuge where people could supposedly flee for
safety (Jos 20:1,2, 7,8). Shechem stood on the route between Samaria and Bethel,
so many pilgrims traveled through Shechem.
It was at Shechem that Levi killed innocent men (Gen 34:25-30;
49:5-7), and now history was repeating itself.
COMMITTING SHAMEFUL CRIMES: The Hebrew word "zimmah"
refers to the most abominable sexual sins (eg, Lev 18:17; 19:29; Jdg 20:5,6; Job
31:9-11). Such behavior by priests, who should have been serving the people by
leading them to Yahweh, was vile to God.
A HARVEST IS APPOINTED: Presumably a "harvest" of
judgment: reaping what has been sown (Gal 6:7,8; cp Hos 8:7; ct Hos 10:12). See
also Jer 51:33; Joel 3:13; Rev 14:15.