Hosea Chapter 6: God Tells Israel their Transgressions

Mar 16th, 2010 | By | Category: Hosea

Hosea Chapter 6: God Tells Israel their Transgressions

Hosea 6:1 Come, 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.

Verses 1-3, a positive, comforting message, are the prophetic sentiments of a faith element, yet to be fulfilled. The sentiments in natural Israel will be, “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and … hath smitten [by scattering us in our captivities, especially in the Diaspora].” But “he [God] will heal us [the faith element in natural Israel] … and … bind us up.”

Verses 1-3 are like a voice out of nowhere, indicating that at a point far distant from Hosea’s day, Israel (the Holy Remnant) will repent, and the ten-tribe kingdom will be restored to favor with God.

Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

“After two days [the fifth and sixth thousand-year days] will he revive us: in the third day [the seventh thousand-year day, the Millennium] he will raise us up.” These are thousand-year days. At Jesus’ First Advent, 4,128 years had elapsed since Adam; that is, it was the fifth “day.”

The year 1872 completed the 6,000 years, and we are now in the seventh (or third) “day.”

Verse 2 also expresses the hope of the Church class. From their standpoint, the “tearing apart” of verse 1 would apply in a favorable sense. The Church is consecrated to suffering—if they suffer with Christ, they will reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12). Just as Jesus was bruised and humbled under God’s mighty hand so that he could be exalted, so it is with the Church. The suffering is designed to develop them for future exaltation. With natural Israel, however, the smiting was for wrongdoing, for going astray. But in due time, God will forgive them and reinstate them as His special representatives. Thus the two different Israels (natural and spiritual) are intertwined in verses 1-3. The first verse applies more to natural Israel, and the second verse applies more to spiritual Israel.

Hosea 6:3 Then 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.

“His [God’s] going forth is prepared [as sure] as the morning.” Every morning the sun comes up at a definite, prearranged time; that is, God has a plan, and there are definite chronological features to that plan. In fact, God’s plan is just as accurate and dependable as the solar clock, which is on time every day. The sun is God’s clock. Just as the sun comes up with regularity each morning, so the Millennial morning would come—and on time! The raising up would come after “two days,” in the “third day” (verse 2).

We are already in the third day, but it is still dark because the sun has not yet risen over the horizon. At dawn, when the sun comes up, the world will know that the Lord is present and establishing his Kingdom.

Spiritually speaking, the time of the early, or “former,” rain was the First Advent, during the apostles’ day. When the apostles were here, there was plenty of light, but after they fell asleep, it became dark little by little. In time came the period known as the Dark Ages, and eventually, in the Harvest period at the end of the age, came the time of the “latter” rain. Today we are living in the period of the latter rain, when information on the Bible is available as never before except for the apostles’ day.

With natural Israel, the nation is receiving the “latter” rain in our day. After a long dispersion, favor is returning in a limited sense. The nation has been reestablished with its own elected rulers. Even the restoration of literal rain has begun following a long period of drought.

With natural Israel, the “former rain” refers to their earlier period of favor. Israel had prophets, the Law, the Tabernacle, the Temple of Solomon, etc. The early rain ended with the Diaspora, the great gulf fixed between the Jews and God, as shown in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Now the dry bones (Ezekiel 37) are beginning to come together. Sinews (organizations) are attached to the bones, and flesh has even appeared on the body state of Israel. However, from God’s standpoint, the breath of life has not yet entered Israel.

Not until Jacob’s Trouble will that happen—when the nation of Israel will stand on its feet in a real way. When God fights for Israel as He did in days of old, that will be like an awakening from the dead (Zech. 14:3). There will be a mighty shaking and a resurrection, as it were, both figuratively and literally (the Ancient Worthies).

Part of verse 3 in the NIV reads, “As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” This rendering suggests a time cycle—like a plan of the ages. Just as the sun sets, there follows a period of darkness until morning, and then morning comes, so after 2,000 years, the Sun of Righteousness will arise at dawn. It is a time cycle with the sun and the rains.

The early, or former, rain came at the First Advent. Jesus died as a sin offering to establish the basis of redemption and restoration. The Ransom at the First Advent had to precede restitution, and once the Ransom was paid, restitution (the fruits of Jesus’ sacrifice) must follow at the Second Advent.

In the natural picture, the early rain was the winter rain, which occurred in the fall of the year. The ground was plowed so that the rain would enter the soil. Seed was planted in the spring with the latter, or spring, rain.

Hosea 6:4 O 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.

Verse 4 is a break in thought. Ephraim (the ten-tribe kingdom, or Catholicism) and Judah (the two-tribe kingdom, or Protestantism) are contrasted. Their “goodness” disappeared like the morning dew. The morning cloud (fog) or dew lasts but a short time before the sun burns it away.

The Lord did much for Ephraim and Judah, but they did not heed the lesson. “What [more] shall I do unto thee?” Their initial favorable beginning deteriorated to such an extent that they had to go into captivity and Diaspora, and up to that time, they were fickle. Their love was like the morning mist and the early dew that disappears. They honored God with their lips, but their honor was not from the heart.

Hosea 6:5 Therefore 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 “hewed” Israel and Judah—He mowed or cut them down—”by the prophets.” The prophets issued stern warnings, speaking the words God gave them, but Israel and Judah ignored the warnings. Verse 5 helps us to see how the Church can orally give a judgment message; no carnal weapons are needed. The prophets were the Lord’s mouthpieces. When the Israelites did not repent, judgments came on them.

God’s “judgments are as the light that goeth forth”; that is, His judgments are manifested as clear as day. When the Lord exposed the wickedness through the prophets, the people could not deny their unfaithfulness. The necessity for retribution was obvious, and when it came, it woke up the people as to their sad condition.

Verse 5 is like saying to the Holy Remnant that the hopeless condition both the ten- and the two-tribe kingdoms were in necessitated the Lord’s turning His face from Israel for a long period of time so that they would get the lesson. In the past, through the prophets, God warned of the sinful condition, but Ephraim and Judah turned a deaf ear to the need for repentance. God “cut … [them] in pieces with the prophets” (NIV). It is as if at this end of the age, God is explaining about the warnings given to the ten- and the two-tribe kingdoms before they got so corrupt, and then, when they were in an unfit condition, what the necessary steps of repentance were. Because the warnings were ignored, judgment was necessary. Hewing the nation by the mouth of the prophets sounds like Jeremiah’s ministry.

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

“I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” God had ordained the animal sacrifices, so there was nothing wrong with them per se, but as the Prophet Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). Obedience is required and not empty professions. To offer animals and money alone, without heart obedience, is displeasing to God. The animal sacrifices were offered without spirit, and the Israelites even offered sick animals. Perfunctory sacrifice without the right spirit is an abomination to God. Spiritually speaking, we, too, can be guilty of this.

Everything has been dedicated to the Lord, but of course we use some of our time and money to provide the necessities of life. However, we should guard against giving the Lord the “sickly” portion of our life. We should be zealous to give of our best to the Lord, by rendering service that is as effectual as possible.

On the surface, mercy seems to have nothing to do with animal sacrifice. For the Israelites, sacrifice involved the giving up of their substance to the Lord. It is relatively easy to just make a temporal or “monetary” donation, but “mercy” referred to their love for the Lord. Their hearts should have been involved in the sacrifice, for God was to be worshipped in spirit, as well as in the letter of the Law. Moreover, dealings with neighbors and family should be based on love and consideration. Those who want mercy from God must be merciful to others and not carry a grudge. As Christians, we must constantly examine our hearts lest we be guilty of natural Israel’s sins.

The “knowledge of God” is contrasted with burnt offerings. For instance, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Mass is considered effective for forgiveness. Some communicants will go from midnight Mass to a tavern across the street, or vice versa. They pay money to light candles and use prayer beads. Repetitious prayers are said to various saints in order to get indulgences. Everything is mechanical. Sacrifice is involved in that Catholics take time out to go to church, but generally speaking, their attendance is only a “form of godliness” that does not affect their lives and lead to true repentance (2 Tim. 3:5). It is more important to have a knowledge of truth and to live by it. Therefore, mercy and knowledge are superior to sacrifice.

Comment: Isaiah 1:11-15 is similar to verse 6 here in Hosea. The Israelites were sacrificing to the Lord, but He had no pleasure in the sacrifices. “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”

Reply: And Isaiah 1:6 says the people were sick “from the sole of the foot even unto the head,” and they were full of “putrifying sores.” Nevertheless, though their sins were “as scarlet,” God invited them to come and reason together with Him (Isa. 1:18). God desired mercy and not sacrifice merely.

In reading Isaiah 1:10-17, many Christians have felt that the Law is dead and gone and that grace in Christ is all that matters now. But the Old Testament is to be studied and its principles imbibed. We are not to concentrate solely on the New Testament and the Christ life, to the exclusion of prophecy, chronology, etc. We should be wary of joining a new arrangement, and we should weigh the long-term effects. Many brethren are currently being misled because they feel a lack along a certain line, but they enter a worse condition. They will get love, love, love, and not the Old Testament and the principles of justice. “The end of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5).

However, we cannot get God’s love in our heart without considering the whole Word. The Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13 are the ideals, but we cannot attain to them without the whole Word. Concentrating only on the Christ life is very deceptive.

Hosea 6:7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

“But they like Adam [see KJV margin and the NIV] have transgressed the covenant.” The Law Covenant was made with Israel at Mount Sinai, and Adam had a covenant in the Garden of Eden. The Israelites transgressed their original covenant just as Adam had done years earlier. And both Catholics and Protestants have transgressed the Grace Covenant by forsaking their first love and going and marrying the world.

Adam was made perfect and given nice surroundings, food, and the comforts of life, and he was promised life for obedience, yet he fell into sin and reaped death. Israel was treated similarly by God, and Israel similarly sinned. With both Adam and Israel, there was willful transgression. Both were unfaithful. Adam’s love for Eve was inordinate, and the ten tribes thought more of the fleshly desires than of God despite the prophets’ warnings. The prophets also told of penalties to come, but because the penalties were delayed, the people did not give credence to the warnings.

Hosea 6:8 Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.

“Gilead is a city of … iniquity, and is polluted with blood.” Gilead was singled out because it was notorious as time went on for idolatrous worship and for waylaying any pilgrims (from mounts Tabor and Mizpah) who tried to return to Jerusalem to worship.

In addition, much earlier, when Jacob left Laban way up north near Haran, Laban chased and overtook him. They made a covenant in Gilead, thus marking it as a holy spot. Later the idolatry of the ten tribes desecrated this spot. Hence Gilead was a center of corruption.

Hosea 6:9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.

The RSV reads, “As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the priests are banded together; they murder on the way to Shechem, yea, they commit villainy.” What a strong condemnation of the priests! Gangs of priests lay in wait for even one man who was trying to get down to Jerusalem to worship properly in the old paths. They were guilty of premeditated murder and robbery.

Gilead was on the east side of the Jordan River, and Shechem was the chief city on the west side. The priests watched for travelers going from Shechem to Jerusalem and from Gilead to Jerusalem.

“The company of priests murder in the way by consent.” The phrase “by consent” means the priests were in agreement regarding their evil ways. We are reminded of how the priests premeditated and planned Jesus’ murder. He was apprehended at night and rushed through a mock trial to be crucified the next day.

The priests also oppressed widows (by devouring their estates) and orphans. Like robbers, they capitalized on the misfortunes of others, especially in times of bereavement, and showed no mercy.

“They commit lewdness [villainy, shameful crimes—KJV margin].” The priests did monstrous things. In the Lord’s sight, these premeditated sins were far more to be condemned than a slipup on a sacrifice or two, for they involved principles and character. The priests were lax on the weightier matters of the Law.

When people were branded as heretics in the Dark Ages, the Roman Catholic Church acquired their possessions. Sometimes the possessions were such a temptation that the church looked for excuses to seize them. They wanted to accuse rich landowners as heretics.

Hosea 6:10 I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.

Again prostitution was mentioned. Morals are just as low today.

Hosea 6:11 Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.

The NIV reads, “Also for you, Judah, a harvest [of punishment and judgment] is appointed.”

The word “also” proves this harvest would be unfavorable, for it tied in Judah with Israel’s (Ephraim’s) condemnation. It would be a harvest of tares, or the grapes of wrath, as it were. Judah’s turn for judgment was next.

The harvest was set for Judah when God “returned the captivity” of His people. First, the ten tribes were taken captive. Many years later Judah was also taken captive, in the days of Zedekiah in 606 BC. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed at that time, and Judah shared Israel’s earlier fate. Then both were in captivity, and the land lay desolate for 70 years. The thought is, “When I [God] return to take Judah captive as I previously took Israel captive.” As soon as Israel was taken into captivity, Judah occupied the farmlands of the ten tribes. The Lord condemned this usurpation of property. The people of Judah should have bemoaned what happened to their brethren and learned a lesson instead of trying to profit from their judgment. Therefore, God was saying, “I have already taken Israel away. Now I am coming back [returning] to take you captive, Judah, because you are really no better than they are.”

Judah felt superior when the ten tribes were taken captive, but they were not. Protestantism acted similarly in the Reformation when Catholicism was condemned. Generally speaking, Protestantism was more godly because of using the Bible, but it deteriorated after leaders such as Luther died. The Protestant denominations were overcome by “flatteries” (Dan. 11:32,34).

(1969 and 1993 Studies)

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