Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hosea 6: 1-5

Hosea 6

The Response to God’s Rebuke
1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2 “He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.

For three verses of Hosea 6, the people respond to God's rebuke with words that would indicate a rightness of heart and a renewed acknowledgment of who He is. Three whole verses. Then God speaks, once again, through the conclusion of the chapter, to address the people once again. My study Bible indicates that the people's verses are what Israel will speak at the time of Christ's millennial reign--a reminder that true restoration of God's chosen is still something yet to be.

Regardless, the people's words are truth and indicate the movement of Israel to return to their one true God and Father. The people have been torn--remember last week's lion--but they will be mended up and revived once again. Verse 2 is interesting because it sounds as though they are speaking of Christ and His resurrection. But even though there is a parallel in the timing and action, it is not a direct reference (i.e., Israel is not dead), but a similarity strictly in numbers. But the reassurance that Israel will return to their God and know eternity with Him is a promise reaffirmed here.

"So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord." (vs. 3) That is what we all should be striving to do. To 'know' doesn't just mean by seeing, but by true recognition as that of a follower. How do we 'know'? Maybe by instruction. But, maybe by punishment. Maybe by trial, in which we then, over time, understand more of God's mercy and grace. God's people would discover Him through their captivity at the hands of other nations; through His calling them back to rebuild the temple; and, eventually, through their recognition, their true knowing, of His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Messiah and Lord, at the end times.

The rest of verse 3 is so encouraging--God's presence "as certain as the dawn" and His coming "like the spring rain" at just the time it is needed. Praise be to God for His Word of encouragement to us today! [Especially the part about the rain; I know many of us have been seeking that refreshment and restoration.]

With verse 4 comes God's voice, shifting the reviving sense of the passage back to one of concern for Israel. Do you not picture God shaking His head with the reading of verse 4? "What shall I do with you?" I can hear myself saying this, substituting some words here and there. "For your good behavior is like a morning cloud and like your helpful, kind-spoken nature which goes away early." (italics mine) God the Father is speaking, all right!

Must stop at the phrase, "For your loyalty," as bloggy friend and graphic designer (see sidebar bookmark), Edie, made known something interesting and wordy that fits in beautifully today. Some translations suggest the use of 'lovingkindness' for 'loyalty'. Edie posted yesterday that 'lovingkindness' appears 176 times in the Bible, the Hebrew "meaning, perhaps, 'to bend or bow oneself,' 'to incline oneself'; hence, 'to be gracious or merciful.'" God's point, being, that Israel's ability to bow itself to Him is as a morning cloud, that vanishes with the dawn, or the dew that is evaporated in the sun. Short-lived! Explains why God is continuing to speak here in Hosea 6. [Thank you, Edie!]

Moving on to verse 5, God says, "I have hewn them in pieces," which, again, brings to mind last week's image of the roaring lion and the Lord's tearing Israel to pieces, leaving them alone (5:14). 'Hew' means to strike forcibly, as with an ax, or to chop or sever from a larger whole. The cross-reference verses for verse 5 refer to the story of Samuel and God's disappointment over His selecting Saul to be a king. Samuel, having received a vision from God, directed Saul, as new king, to kill Israel's enemy, the Amalekites. Saul killed everybody but their king, Agag, and he also instructed the people to take the choicest plunder (the animals to be used to sacrifice to God). Samuel and God were disappointed and displeased with Saul's disobedience, and Samuel prayed throughout the night to God. Then, Samuel faced Saul with God's message:

"Samuel said, 'Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.'”

--I Samuel 15: 22 & 23

Samuel then asked for Agag to be brought to him, at which time Samuel "hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal." (I Samuel 15:33) Samuel's words needed to be heeded by Israel and Judah, but, as God says, "I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets." Hosea's words would go unheeded, and the nations' rebellion would mark their award of punishment and rejection. God not only severed His ties with His people, but He divided up the tribes as well.

Food for thought, in looking at I Samuel: If we claim to be "in the Lord's army," do we understand what "insubordination" in the ranks truly means? That's a powerful passage right there, and we'll revisit Samuel's words next week as well.

Israel will know God through numerous means. The rest of Chapter 6 will provide more instruction to them, not that they will retain what is taught to them at the time. Those first three verses, however, will be revisited, will be spoken, at at time yet to be. And God will respond!

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."
--Psalm 30:5

Chapter 6 concludes.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 6: 6-11

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).