About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Hosea 6 

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IsraelUnrepentant (ch. 6:1 11)

 

The last two verses in chapter 5 begins the talk about Israel 's repentance.  Some Bible teachers suggest that Hosea 5:15 should actually be Hosea 6:1.

 

Verse 1 says, "Come, let us return to the Lord "  These words, along with the rest of this verse, up to the end of verse 3, suggest to me that Israel is repenting.  Now Israel has said these words before in their history, only to forget about them down the road.  I believe this prophecy speaks of a future day, at the end of this present age, when Israel's repentance will stick for good, but not all believe this.  Some say this prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Nehemiah, when the Jews rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and did have a measure of repentance.   

 

Israel admits that God has torn them to pieces and injured them, and they are right.  The trials that they will go through in the Tribulation at the end of this age will tear them apart and injure them.  This is what I believe these words are referring to.  Yet Israel now realizes that they had to be torn apart in order to be put back together.  This is the purpose of the Tribulation for Israel.  God will heal Israel when they repent and ask Him to return to them. 

 

Of course, those who believe this repentance took place in Nehemiah's day suggest that the ripping apart took place when the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom and later, Babylon took the southern kingdom captive.

 

I think many Bible teachers miss the truth of verse 1.  I believe this verse clearly tells us the very last thing that needs to happen before Jesus physically returns to this earth. Many people talk about the things that must take place before His return, but Israel finally repenting, is the very last thing that will happen.  It is this repentance that brings Jesus back to His people, back to David's throne, and back to earth.

 

The reason why some Bible teachers say that the repentance seen here is not a lasting repentance, and therefore probably the repentance in Nehemiah's day is due to the context.  From verse 5 on, God speaks of judgment on Israel.  So, if this follows the repentance of verses 1 through 4, then this repentance is not permanent and can't be the final repentance of the last days. That is an argument that can be made, but the way I see it is this way.  God interjected the idea of a future repentance in the middle of his lecture on judgment, and now from verse 5 on, he simply gets back to the issue at hand, which is, judgment on Israel.   

 

Verse 2 says, "after two days He will revive us, on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence".  The talk of two days and three days in this verse seem to remind many Bible teachers of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Many teachers say this is what this verse is speaking of, but I strongly disagree.  The context for one thing says otherwise.  The context is about Israel 's future repentance that leads to the restoration spoken of here in verse 2, and Israel did not repent after Jesus rose from the dead.  They dug their heals in worse than ever.    

 

Besides the context, the pronouns in this verse tell us that this is all about Israel's resurrection, not Jesus' resurrection.  The verse says, "He will revive us".  The word "us' can't refer to one person, meaning Jesus.  The verse also says, "we may live in His presence'.  The word "we" can't refer to one person, meaning Jesus.  If that were the case, you would need a singular pronoun.  Besides, then who would "His presence" refer too.  This verse is clearly speaking of Jesus reviving and restoring Israel.

 

The insertion of two days and three days is more debatable.  I believe these are literal days, but how that fits into the prophetic scenario, I'm not sure.  It appears to me that the reviving of Israel will take two days.  This might be the time it takes for Israel to complete her repentance.  The restoring then takes place on the third day.  The restoring then would be in reference to Israel being reconnected to Yahweh, their God. 

 

I think it is important to take the Bible as literally as possible.  I believe we go wrong if we don't.   Many people allegorize and spiritualize the Bible to mean just anything they want it to mean.

 

Whatever the case, the goal to Israel's troubles in the Tribulation period which causes them to repent is their restoration to their God.

 

What I say next is pure interpretation, speculation, and even a bit allegorical.  The two or three days does remind us about the death and resurrection of Jesus, but I wonder if Jesus death, how long he was dead, isn't symbolic of Israel's death, and then, her future restoration, or resurrection.  Some make a big deal about a thousand years being like a day in God's sight.  I don't make that big of a deal about that for various reasons, but if you take this thinking, Israel has been dead two days and now is in the third day, ready to be resurrected, or, restored.    

 

Verse 2 ends with, "so that we may live in his presence".  This to me speaks of the return of Jesus when He will physically dwell in Jerusalem.  At that time, Israelis will literally live in His presence, something they didn't exactly do in Nehemiah's day.   

 

Verse 3 simply states a Biblical fact.  If one repents and acknowledges the Lord, He will come to him.  Concerning the word "acknowledge" here.  I believe this is more than a mental acknowledgment of the existence of God, although that is surely the first step.  Acknowledging the Lord is including Him and what He wants into your life.  Allowing Him to walk with you every step of the way, and consulting Him on all matters is what acknowledging the Lord really is.   I believe this is what verse 3 is talking about, and this is what Israel will finally due after being brought to their knees in the Tribulation that will end this present age.

 

The words "He will come" and "He will appear" in verse 3 suggest to me of the return of the Lord Jesus and refer back to the last verse in chapter 5.  As certain as the sun rises, the prophet says that God will return to Israel, and we  know that He will return in Jesus.  

 

From verse 4 on, it seems that God is responding to Israel's confession of sin and call for the return of their Messiah.  If this is not a response, it definitely is God's word to a love forsaken nation.  Yet before Messiah's return comes, God reminds Israel in this passage of their past.  So many times in Israeli history the Jews turned back to their God, but it didn't last long.  Soon after acknowledging their guilt, they would return to their sin.  This is what verse 4 is speaking about.  Israel's love and faith is like the morning due and mist. It doesn't last very long.  Note that verse 4 is directed to both Ephraim and Judah, that is, to both the northern and southern kingdom.  The north fell first in about 722 B.C. and around a hundred hears or so later the south fell.

 

Because of this, in verse 5, God says that He cuts Israel to pieces through His prophets, and killed them through the words of His mouth.  Any quick reading of the prophetic books of the Bible shows that God can sure cut His people down with His words.  Yet His words have teeth.  They are not just words.  They lead to action, and when you see the word "killed" in verse 5, that is literally what God did.  Millions of Jews have been killed over the course of their history because they have failed to be consistent in their love and faith to their God.  Yet amazingly and miraculously enough, the Jewish race has not disappeared.  Their has always been a remnant of Jews throughout history that have carried on the Jewish lineage that will be restored at the end of this age.

 

Note the past tense of the word "killed" in verse 5.  This might be one reason why some see this section of chapter 6 as a response to Israel's repentance as seen in the first part of this chapter.  God might be speaking from a future tense after Israel returns to Him.

 

Note also that the prophets of God are part of God's judgment.  They first warn and then they speak the words of judgment.  During the warning, there is time for repentance, but once the judgment is proclaimed, I think there is no turning back.  It's too late for repentance.   

 

Verse 6 is very important.  It shows us the heart of God that is behind all 613 laws in the Law of Moses.  Remember, the Law of Moses set forth all sorts of rules concerning offerings and sacrifices.  It was clearly God's will for Israel to offer offerings and sacrifices to the Lord.  In light of that one might struggle with how to understand verse 6 where God says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifices, and the acknowledgment of God and not offerings".  The Law of Moses was to be obeyed by Israel, yet at the same time Israel was to be a nation of merciful people who acknowledged their God before the nations of the world.  They failed to do this, which in turn made the sacrifices and the offerings specified in the law meaningless.  There was no use for Israel to just go through the motions of these sacrifices and offerings when they weren't living as God wants.  The same is valid today in the church.  Going through the motions of religiosity but ignoring the life God wants us to live is a waste of time.  So, fundamental to obeying the rules of the Old Testament Law of God was trusting in the God who gave the Law.    

 

We do see the heart of God in verse 6 and how His heart relates to New Testament times.  We know that the apostle Paul told us that "Christ is the end of the Law" in Romans 10:4.  I believe that means that Jesus is the end of the Law for things pertaining to salvation.  The Law is just as much prophetic as it is a list of rules.  There are parts of the Law that are yet to be fulfilled.  That being said, New Testament times are all about mercy and acknowledgment of God, not obeying the Law of Moses.  That's been in the heart of God all along.  That being said, obedience is not only a matter of the Old Testament.  Obeying God is fundamental to the New Testament as well.  Obeying God in New Testament times means obeying the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why He is called "Lord".  A Lord is one to be obeyed.  

 

I do believe verse 6 is prophetic of New Testament times.  If you were a good Jew back in Hosea's day and you heard these words, you might well struggle over their meaning because the reason for God judging your nation in the first place is because your nation has failed to obey the Law of Moses, and now God tells you that the sacrifices found in the Law for you to obey aren't really important anyway.  There is a definite disconnect here.  But, if you view these words as prophecy, spoken in the future, they make sense.  The cross of Christ makes these words relevant to us today, when these words are meant to be spoken.      

 

Verse 7 states that Israel is like Adam, "they broke the covenant" because they were unfaithful.  There are a couple of points here.  One point is that we should view Adam's sin, even though Eve sinned first, not merely as disobedience to God, but actually unfaithfulness.  When Adam agreed to eat the fruit handed him by his wife, he became unfaithful to God.  Disobedience then is a matter of unfaithfulness, a lack of trust. 

 

We know that Israel broke their covenant with God, and I believe it is the Mosaic Covenant spoken of here that both God and Israel jointly agreed to.  Beyond that, this verse seems to suggest that God made a covenant with Adam, which I believe He did, even though the word "covenant" is not stated in the text in Genesis.  Most Bible teachers call this covenant the "Adamic Covenant".  God laid out Adam's responsibilities as manager of this planet.  God would surely be with him as he carried out the tasks relating to his responsibilities.  And, God gave the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Disobeying this command would break the covenant, and this is exactly what happened. 

 

All that being said, many scholars do not believe this verse is speaking of Adam the first man, but the city called Adam in the northern kingdom. They think this because Adam was a city and since there are other cities mentioned right in this context, they interpret Adam as a city.  Therefore, Adam is just one of a number of cities that have broken God's covenant.   

 

Verse 8 states that "Gilead is a city of wicked men".  This reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There might be more significance to this than what appears on the surface.  Verse 9 speaks of marauders.  Marauders are bands of people who roam around searching to make mischief.  In this case some of the marauders were actually priests, roaming the streets to kill and to do shameful things.  Can you imagine priests of God hiding out in the bushes in order to do shameful things and kill people.  The word "shame' in the Bible is often linked to sexual sins, and for this reason, that is why I suggest that Gilead might be more like Sodom and Gomorrah than what we might think.  This reminds of the problems Cathocis have had over the years with sexual abuse of children by their priests.

 

The idea of sexual sins is carried on in verse 10. God sees prostitution in the northern kingdom, and He views that is horrible.  So the sexual sins that may be eluded to in the last couple of verses are clearly specified here.  We should note that the Jews committed two kinds of prostitution.  One is literal prostitution with prostitutes.   The other is spiritual prostitution because they married themselves to other gods, forsaking their true God, who was Israel 's husband. 

 

Verse 11 is directed to Judah as an aside.  For the most part, the book of Hosea is written to the northern kingdom of Israel, called Ephraim in this passage.  That being said, at times it is as if God turns around and speaks to Judah, the southern kingdom, just in case she is listening in.  This is one of those times.  The harvest referred to here concerning Israel is the harvest of judgment.  Judah too will be judged and eventually fall, but not for a hundred or so years later.

 

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