The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Hosea 6

Hos 6:1

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 55:6,7.

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).

Hos 6:2

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 conscience.

Or, two days = a relatively brief period of judgment.

THE THIRD DAY: Number of solidity, reality; the first cubic (3-dimensional) number (cp 3 kinds of matter). Sig the resurrection of Christ.

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).

Hos 6:3

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.

Hos 6:4

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 6:15-17).

Hos 6:5

MY JUDGMENTS FLASHED LIKE LIGHTNING UPON YOU: These messages had been as destructive as lightning bolts (cf Amos 4:6-11).

Hos 6:6

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).

Hos 6:7

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 2:16,17).

Hos 6:8

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.

Hos 6:9

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.

Hos 6:11

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.

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