COMMENTARY ON 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. 2 After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. 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.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
The Lord has spoken harshly to wayward Israel. Because of their sin, He would be as a “moth” and ”rottenness” to them, slowly removing their resources, causing them to bear the consequences of their sin. He would thus come upon them unawares while they were carried away with their sin. He would also come suddenly and destructively upon them, like a “lion” and a “young lion,” tearing them and leaving them wounded and hurting. The way of the transgressors is, indeed, “hard” (Prov 13:15). Yet, the Lord opened the door of hope to Israel in the closing verse of the previous chapter: “in their affliction, they shall seek Me early” (5:15). The sixth chapter begins to elaborate on those words, showing how they will seek the Lord “early,” and the reasoning they will employ. Their determination will be accompanied by sound thinking and godly perception, which are essential to any effective return to the Lord. In this passage, we will also see the reason why God levels harsh judgments against His people when sin is found among them. It is not in order to merely vent His wrath – although, were that the case, it would be fully justified. The Divine objective is the recovery of His people, not their utter removal. If those who wear the name of the Lord obstinately continue in their sin, it only reveals the hardness of their hearts. Those professing believers who, in the end, are finally condemned, will have barged past all manner of Divine restrictions and chastening to do so.
LET US RETURN UNTO THE LORD
“ 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.” These words are spoken by those who have felt the chastening rod and learned from it. They are not spoken hastily, but deliberately and insightfully.
COME. This is a summons to leave the place where insensitivity and disobedience are cultured and maintained. Before those who have been exposed to the Lord and His mercy can sin against Him or fall away, they must leave the area of blessing to occupy the domain in which Satan works. The word “Come” is equivalent to “Come out,” or “Come away from where you presently reside.” It literally means “come away, depart, get away, go away.” STRONG’S Wherever Satan can be served must be left before God will receive us. For Israel to enter Canaan, they had to leave Egypt. For the prodigal to enjoy the benefits of his father’s house, he had to leave the strange country. For Judah to return again to its own country, Babylon had to be left. This is an unwavering principle in God’s dealings with men. They cannot receive the goodness of the Lord while choosing to remain in the realm He has cursed. Thus the Prophets cried out, “Turn from your evil ways” (2 Kgs 17:13; Ezek 33:11; Zech 1:4). Isaiah cried out, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts” (Isa 55:7). This is a requisite to blessing.
New Covenant expressions that carry this idea are: “Come out from among them” (2 Cor 6:17), “Come out of her My people” (Rev 18:4). When Jesus said “Come unto Me” (Matt 11:28; John 7:37), He implied it was essential to leave the place from which they were being called.
LET US RETURN. Hosea has already affirmed this mind-set would be embraced. “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” (2:7). It is apparent that in order to serve sin, one must leave the Lord. Frequently the heart of the Lord is seen in His pleading with His people: “return unto Me” (Isa 44:22; Jer 4:1). Through Malachi the Lord provided a most precise picture of His own nature: “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal 3:7).
CHASTISEMENT AND RECOVERY. The reasoning of the penitent heart is most arresting: “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.” NIV Although heathen nations were used to chasten them, the transgressors will see that it was actually God who was against them. He said He would come upon them as a lion, tearing them and leaving them (5:14). Now, they see it. It was God who reduced them to a state of hurt and debility.
When God promised, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Isa 54:17), He did not mean Israel would never be overcome by their enemies. That promise was preceded by the words, “In righteousness shalt thou be established” (Isa 54:14). That was a condition that would result from being taught by God and experiencing “great peace.” As it is written of that circumstance, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa 54:13). Moses promised the people, “But if thou shalt indeed obey His voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries” (Ex 23:22). All of this was forfeited when Israel chose to depart from the Lord. He then was turned into their Adversary. Jeremiah lamented, “He hath cut off in His fierce anger all the horn of Israel: He hath drawn back His right hand from before the enemy, and He burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He hath bent His bow like an enemy: He stood with His right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: He poured out His fury like fire. The Lord was as an enemy: He hath swallowed up Israel, He hath swallowed up all her palaces: He hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation” (Lam 2:3-5).
The time will come, declares Hosea, when the people will see that God Himself had “torn” and “smitten” them. They also would reason that God could therefore heal them and bind up their wounds. Through Moses God declared, “I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal” (Deu 32:39). Hannah declared, “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up” (1 Sam 2:6-7). Eliaphaz said, “For He maketh sore, and bindeth up: He woundeth, and His hands make whole” (Job 5:18). It is blessed day when those who are afflicted by God perceive that He is more desirous to bind up than to wound, and to heal than to tear. No person can effectively return to the Lord until this reality is perceived.
HE WILL REVIVE US
“ 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.” This verse is an elaboration on the Lord healing the people, and binding up their wounds (v 1). This is the language of recovery.
AFTER TWO DAYS. Here the imagery goes beyond merely being wounded. The precious chapter affirmed the Lord would “tear them and go away,” with none being able to “rescue” them (5:14). From the heavenly perspective “two days” is a short time. However, from the earthly point of view, it is sufficient time for death to set in, and all hope to disappear. The Lord said He would “return” to His “place,” leaving the people wounded and helpless (5:15). In such a condition, “two days” was sufficient to succumb, for no one would, in any sense, give aid to them.
It is God’s manner to leave transgressors in a helpless state for some time. During the duration of this period, all hope withers, and the absolute need of the Lord is seen. Sensitive souls dread the thought of Divine abandonment. Thus David pled, “leave me not, neither forsake me” (Psa 27:9). When the “sweet psalmist” sensed the Lord was hiding His face, he cried out, “how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Psa 13:1). When Job was left in the caldron of trial he cried out, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!” (Job 23:3).
However, sin so dulls the heart that the necessity of the Lord can only be seen by some length of time in a hopeless state. Even then, hard hearts fails to see the need of the Lord. As it is written, “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Rev 16:11). In our text, however, the wrath was being endured by the people of God. Furthermore, it was designed to bring them to their senses. This was God luring the people into the wilderness, where no other help was available to them (2:14). During these “two days,” all fleshly hope would die, and they would become as a valley of dry and parched bones.
HE WILL RAISE US UP. This is equivalent to a resurrection from the dead – to bringing the people back from a hopeless and helpless state. It is like the dry bones of Ezekiel being raised up (Ezek 37:10). Spiritually, it is being rescued “from the power of the grave” (Hos 13:14). It is something that only God can accomplish, for they were reduced to a state from which no one else could recover them.
WE SHALL LIVE IN HIS SIGHT. That is, God will consider them “alive.” Sin and transgression had reduced them to death, but God would raise them to life. This is doubtless a reference to the restoration and deliverance of Israel, for I know of no other sense in which they could be said to be “alive in His sight.” This is the language of reconciliation and Divine approbation.
There are numerous promises made to Israel concerning their ultimate acceptance by God. The Lord said to them, “And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin” (Isa 1:25); “I will raise up the decayed places rhereof” (Isa 44:26); Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations” (Isa 60:15); “I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them” (Isa 61:8); “I will extend peace to her like a river” (Isa 66:12); “after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again” (Jer 12:15); “And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase” (Jer 23:3); “For I will set Mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart” (Jer 24.6-:7).
Paul also spoke of this restoration. “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom 11:27).
All of this will be realized through Christ Jesus, who Himself is the “Deliverer.” It is not coincidence that God is said to have raised Jesus “the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4). I believe this Hosea text is the only place in the “Scriptures” where the Prophets referred to such a resurrection. At the time Hosea wrote this, the Messianic reference was vague to men – but the fact and anticipation of it were clear to God.
WHEN MEN BEGIN TO KNOW
“ 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.”
In the restoration of sinners, the extensive involvement of both men and God is required. The causes and effectiveness are owing totally to God. The appropriation of the benefit is realized through the participation of the ones being delivered or raised.
THEN SHALL WE KNOW. Other versions read, “Let us know,” NKJV “So let us know,” NASB and “Let us acknowledge the Lord.” NIV The idea is that the genuine awareness of God’s hand upon them will be realized – known in truth. Their recovery will not be credited to other gods, as they were prone to do at the time of Hosea’s prophecy (2:8; 3:1).
Spiritual recovery is always accompanied by initial spiritual knowledge – that is, the people know their deliverance has come from God. Frequently this aspect of Divine working was mentioned by the Prophets: “then ye shall know” (Ex 16:6), and “then shall ye know” (Ezek 6:13; 37:14; 39:28; Joel 3:17).
IF WE FOLLOW ON. Other versions read, “Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord,” NKJV “let us press on to know the Lord,” NASB “let us strive to know the Lord,” NJB and “we pursue to know Jehovah.” YLT The idea is that the introductory knowledge of God is intended to lead men into a deeper knowledge and more extensive involvement with Him. What is even more, this kind of knowledge cannot be appropriated casually. Men must “press” to obtain it, for there are adversarial influences all about them. If people are not eager to “know the Lord,” they will never arrive at that blessed state. To “follow on” is to energetically pursue the same course that brought about the initial knowledge of the Lord. The same focus that brought some understanding of the Lord in the first place must be pursued to obtain the fulness of that knowledge.
Paul counted all competing interests loss, considering them but “dung,” and pressed toward the mark, in order that He might “know Him” (Phil 3:7-10). He knew such wonderful knowledge is not dispensed to those who lag behind the blessing, lingering on the periphery of spiritual life.
The Lord still operates on the same principle. When Jesus “ordained twelve,” it is written that He did so that “they should be WITH Him” (Mk 3:14). Spiritual benefits cannot be appropriated apart from Christ. That is why we have been called by God into the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor 1:9). The “newness of life” to which we have been raised (Rom 6:4) can only be maintained within the framework of the knowledge of God. As soon as our familiarity with the Lord wanes, the breath of spiritual life begins to wane as well. Benefits from God cannot be maintained apart from walking with Him.
It is no wonder that those in Christ are urged to “grow” in the “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). This is why Paul prayed believers would be found “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). There is a great need among American Christians to enter into the experience of this text: following on to know the Lord. Where this is not taking place, there is no hope of being forever with the Lord.
PREPARED AS THE MORNING. Other versions read, “His going forth is as certain as the dawn,” NASB and “As surely as the sun arises, He will appear.” NIV This is another way of saying, “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). God will not allow any individual to seek Him in vain, or follow on to know Him without that knowledge being realized. That is why He said to Israel, “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isa 45:19). Peter affirmed the same promise in these words: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet 1:19). In the very process of pursuing the knowledge of God the “light of His countenance” (Psa 4:6; 89:15) will burst upon men, bringing spiritual health, strength, and satisfaction.
HE SHALL COME AS THE RAIN. This speaks of timely and needed refreshment – like the “former” rain that promotes growth in the spring, and the “latter” rain that promotes harvest in the fall (Deut 11:14; Joel 2:23; James 5:7). And when will the Lord come in such a refreshing manner? How will timely refreshment be realized? This blessing is accomplished while we are in the process of following on “to know the Lord” – while we are pursuing the knowledge of God, growing in it, and increasing in its appropriation. This is the secret to spiritual growth and satisfaction.