For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

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.”

This expresses the heart attitude of the repentant Tribulation remnant; but relative to the Israel of Hosea’s day, conspicuously absent from Israel’s euphoric confidence of Divine healing is any mention of confession and repentance.  They arrogantly assume that all they have to do is resume the ritualistic form of worship of Jehovah in order to secure His blessing.  But His favor may not be thus easily obtained.  Sin must be confessed, repented of, and forsaken before He will bless Israel or anyone else.

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

Obviously Israel expected that there would be a relatively short interval between their resuming the mere outward ritual of the Levitical form of worship, and God’s blessing them, but they were mistaken.  They neither knew the God with Whom they were dealing, nor did they know their own evil hearts.  Almost eight hundred years were to pass before God would send His Son to die for the remission of their sins, and make the millennial kingdom available to them.  They never dreamed that they, as represented by the generation of Christ’s day, would yet compound their sin by crucifying God’s Son, that consummate evil delaying the time of their blessing by what has now been an additional twenty centuries.

That that later generation could have been blessed beyond their greatest expectation had they only believed that the Jesus they had condemned was their Messiah, God the Son, is declared by Peter in Ac 3:17-19, “And now, brethren, I wot (know) that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.  But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when (so that) the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”  Had they believed at the time of Christ’s first advent, the seven years of the Tribulation would have followed, and been ended by the return of Christ in power and glory, to banish His foes into hell, and inaugurate His long promised millennial kingdom.  The Millennium would have run its glorious course, and ended a thousand years ago, without changing a word of the prophetic Scriptures, for while room is made in them for the two thousand years of the Church age, that age is not essential to their fulfillment, but comes in rather as a parenthesis between Daniel’s sixty-ninth and seventieth week.

Israel’s disobedience, however, has invested their words with a very different prophetic significance.  The “two days” which they envisaged as a relatively short time, have thus become twenty-eight hundred years - eight hundred from the time of Hosea till Christ’s first advent, plus the two thousand years since His crucifixion.  But it is clear that God’s prophetic clock is beginning to tick again.  Everything points to the imminence of the Lord’s coming to rapture His Church home to heaven, an event that will be followed by a short interval of unspecified length, following which will come the seven years of the Tribulation which will bring a remnant of Israel, and of the nations, to repentant faith in Christ, and which will be ended by His return in power and glory to establish His millennial kingdom.  The “two days” therefore are of peculiar prophetic significance when we remember that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” 2 Pe 3:8.  Israel’s ultimate blessing is near!

Inasmuch as three is the biblical number of resurrection, the third “day,” i.e., the millennium following the two that have just ended, will indeed be the day of Israel’s resurrection when the believing remnant, the new Israel, will emerge from the Tribulation to enjoy the blessings of Christ’s millennial reign.

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.”

Another translation of the first part of this verse is, “And let us eagerly strive to know the Lord.”  This was a virtual admission that they hadn’t bothered to know Him, and for an obvious reason: they had been too busy acquainting themselves with the knowledge of an imaginary Baal.  Their resolution, however, was impelled by an ulterior motive.  Their only interest in acquiring a knowledge of God was that they might follow the correct procedure in “worshiping” Him, so as to secure His favor, and thus guarantee their own enrichment.  What they didn’t know was that God’s blessing can’t be bought by such bogus worship.  He blesses only those who trust and obey Him.

They were right in stating that his going forth was as certain as the dawning of each day, but they were very much mistaken in believing that a loveless ritualistic worship would ensure His sending the necessary rain upon their fields. 

Christendom is equally ignorant of the knowledge of God, and equally deluded in believing that such things as church membership, baptism, confirmation, the parroting of ritualistic “prayers,” etc., will secure His blessing.

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.”

God’s question was rhetorical.  He knew all too well that Israel’s “goodness” would last as briefly as a morning cloud or as the early dew which is quickly gone, and that His only response to such ephemeral good must be judgment.  The goodness which God values is that which is enduring and prompted by love for Him rather than for what He might give.  It is, in fact, the love that only redeemed hearts can give, as it is written, “We love him, because he first loved us,” 1 Jn 4:19.

Neither Israel, nor Judah, knew anything of such love, nor does Christendom.

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.”

Hewed is used here in the sense of carving into shape rather than of cutting down.  The prophets had warned the people that continued disobedience would result in God’s destroying them.  As for His having slain them by the words of His mouth, the meaning is that the words He had commanded the prophets to utter were words of warning: continued disobedience would bring destruction.  The judgments soon to fall upon them were as certain as the fact that every morning without fail the light shines forth, and that they were His judgments would be as clear as light.  God doesn’t utter any idle threats.

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

Mercy here means love or kindness, and what God was saying was that He wanted their unfeigned love rather than the sacrifices they offered as part of a cold ritualistic so-called worship.  Rather than the burnt offerings which they presented ritualistically, He wanted them to know Him, because to know Him is to love Him.

Obedience is the ultimate expression of love, and therefore the ultimate form of worship, as it is written, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Sa 15:22.  See also Jn 14:15,21, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

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

Phillip’s translation of this verse makes comment unnecessary, “But they, like Adam, have broken their agreement; again and again they have played me false.”

Man “in Adam,” that is, in his natural state, lacks the ability to do right.

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

6:9.  “And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way (toward Shechem) by consent: for they commit lewdness.”

While “toward Shechem” is omitted from the KJ version, these words occur in many others.   Gilead (probably Ramoth Gilead), in those days was a city marked by outstanding wickedness, for other translations indicate that troops of priests from Gilead, by common consent lurked in hiding along the road and murdered travelers going to Shechem.  Dr Tatford has pointed out that the word translated lewdness “referred particularly to crimes of immorality,” so that they “murdered, raped and outraged at will.”

It is sadly ironic that Ramoth Gilead and Shechem, which in the days of Joshua had been appointed as cities of refuge for the manslayer, should now have become the haunts, not only of cold blooded murderers, but of those who habitually practiced every form of vileness, while occupying the place of priests!

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

The “horrible thing” is understood by some to mean not only the literal adultery and prostitution which had spread like a plague through the land, but the gross sexual activities practiced in connection with the worship of Baal, thus sanctioning what was an abomination to Jehovah, and disguising its evil character under the cloak of religion.

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

Again, Judah is included in the warning of coming judgment.  The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, would also reap a terrible harvest as a result of their evil sowing.  The use of the term “harvest” emphasizes not only the fact that literally and spiritually men reap what they sow, but also the certainty of God’s judgment, for normally every sowing produces a harvest.

The last part of the verse, “when I returned the captivity of my people,” i.e., when Israel and Judah would both be brought back from their impending captivity to Assyria and Babylon respectively, are believed by many to belong to the first verse of chapter seven.

[Hosea 7]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough