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Exhortation to Repent and Return, vv. 1-3
Hosea 6:1-3 NKJV – (1) Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. (2) After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. (3) Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
let us return… Let us know… Let us pursue… These are admonitions from the prophet to return to God. God only departed from them because they departed from Him first (5:15). Similar admonitions are given to Christians in the warnings against unfaithfulness in Heb. 10:19-25. The writer repeatedly uses the phrase “let us”.
He has torn… This is a reference back to the affliction mentioned in 5:15. The affliction was for their own good. God will restore them if they would return to Him.
On the third day… This is a foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Christ was stricken and torn as an evildoer, was raised on the third day, and now lives perpetually before the Father (Acts 2:33, Col. 3:1).
His going forth is established as the morning; God’s promises are just as fixed and established as the fact dawn comes each day, as fixed and dependable as the sun rising each morning (cf. 5:15, Ezek. 10:4, 11:23, 43:1-4). His coming will be refreshing like the early and latter rains.
Israel’s Obstinacy, vv. 4-11
Hosea 6:4 NKJV – “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away.
what shall I do to you? Consider all that God has done for Israel to try to move her to faithfulness. What more could He have done? Does our faithfulness reflect a full appreciation for what God has done for each of us?
like a morning cloud, And like the early dew… Upon those rare occasions when Israel did repent, it was very short lived and in some cases, not very sincere (Jg. 2:18-19, Ps. 106:12-13, Jer. 3:8-10). The lesson for Christians is to be steadfast (1 Cor. 15:58, Col. 1:23, 2:5, Heb. 3:14, 2 Pet. 3:17-18).
Hosea 6:5 NKJV – Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
I have hewn… This verse speaks to the power of God’s Word to destroy as well as to save and to build up. The Hebrew writer states that God’s word is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12, cf. Rev. 1:16, 2:16, Jer. 23:29). They were hewn by the prophets because the prophets were mouthpieces or spokesmen for God (Ex. 4:15-16).
And your judgments… Because of their obstinacy, judgment has gone forth from God. Exactly what is meant by “like light that goes forth” is not certain. It may be a reference to lightning which would indicate the speed and severity of it; it may also refer to the certainty of the judgment like the certainty of the rising of the sun.
Hosea 6:6 NKJV – For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
God has never accepted mere outward religion. The outward practice of religion is essential (1 Jno. 2:3), but apart from an inward devotion, it is meaningless. Sacrifices and burnt offerings were commanded and required, but apart from knowledge of God and mercy toward others, they availed nothing (cf. Prov. 21:3, Micah 6:6-8, Matt. 6:1-18, 9:13, Matt. 23).
Hosea 6:7 NKJV – “But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.
like men… More literally, like Adam. The tendency of man is to disobey God (Psa. 78:32-39).
they dealt treacherously… This term is used repeatedly in Mal. 2:10-16 and had reference to the treachery of marital infidelity. This is a fitting term to describe Israel’s spiritual harlotry.
Hosea 6:8-9 NKJV – (8) Gilead is a city of evildoers And defiled with blood. (9) As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they commit lewdness.
defiled with blood… The city of Gilead was filled with bloody footprints. When a people turn from God, all types of wickedness follow, particularly violence.
the company of priests murder… Even the priests had formed themselves into bands and were highwaymen waiting to waylay the unsuspecting traveler. Some commentators assert that they were particularly interested in doing violence to anyone wanting to travel to Jerusalem to worship.
They also were committing spiritual murder in that they were leading the people away from God (cf. 5:1-2, Ezek. 3:17-21).
Hosea 6:10-11 NKJV – (10) I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled. (11) Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, When I return the captives of My people.
Israel is defiled… Israel’s punishment will be permanent. When taken by Assyria they lost their national Identity.
O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you… Judah, on the other hand, will return from their captivity.