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IV. THE THIRD SERIES OF MESSAGES ON JUDGMENT AND RESTORATION: WIDESPREAD GUILT 4:1-6:3
The remaining messages that Hosea recorded in this book continue to expound the themes introduced in the first two series (chs. 1-3). All five series of messages major on Israel’s guilt and coming judgment, but all conclude on a positive note promising restoration in the future. [Note: See Charles H. Silva, "The Literary Structure of Hosea 4-8," Bibliotheca Sacra 164:655 (July-September 2007):291-306.]
"At this point we leave the account of Hosea’s marriage and begin a new section, which extends to the end of the book and contains oracles of doom and hope. Even in this section, however, we are never far from Hosea’s marriage, for it is always in the background and is the catalyst for his message to his people. We see it in the references to the nation as mother and children, as well as in the numerous allusions to spiritual harlotry and adultery." [Note: McComiskey, p. 56.]
Chapters 4-14 contain speeches that Hosea probably gave at various times in his long prophetic career.
The repentant Israelites would encourage each other to return to Yahweh because they believed He would heal them (as a shepherd, cf. Hosea 5:13) even though He had torn and wounded them (as a lion, cf. Hosea 5:14). They would recognize that their punishment had come from Him, not just from a foreign enemy (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39).
B. The restoration promises 6:1-3
This first part of chapter 6 envisions Israel’s repentance. The prophet predicted the words that the penitent generation of Israelites would say when they sought the Lord (Hosea 5:15). The message contains two cycles, each containing an exhortation (Hosea 6:1 a, Hosea 6:3 a) and a motivating promise (Hosea 6:1-3 b). [Note: Chisholm, "Hosea," p. 1393.]
"Some of the most gracious calls to repentance in all Scripture are found in Hosea 6:1-3 and Hosea 14:1-3." [Note: Kaiser, 197.]
He would revive them after a relatively brief period of judgment (two days; cf. Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 30:15; Proverbs 30:18; Amos 1:3; Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9, et al.) and restore them to life and usefulness. He would do this so they might enjoy His fellowship and serve Him. The fact that Jesus Christ was in the tomb two days and arose on the third day is only a coincidental parallel. It is, however, one of many similarities between Christ and Israel.
Such a hope would motivate this revived generation of Israelites to encourage themselves to pursue intensely knowing (acknowledging) Yahweh as the true God and as their God (cf. Hosea 4:1; Hosea 4:6; Hosea 5:4). They would be confident of His restoration because of His character, His faithfulness to His promises (e.g., Hosea 5:15), and His power. His return to bless them would be as certain and as life-giving as the sunrise. He would bring refreshment and fertility back to the nation (cf. Deuteronomy 11:13-15). No more would they look to Baal for these blessings.
Corporate Israel has never prayed like this. The fulfillment must still be future, at the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign.
The Lord twice asked rhetorically what He would do with Ephraim and Judah. The questions express frustration, helplessness, and despair more than inquiry. The loyal love (Heb. hesed, cf. Hosea 2:19; Hosea 4:1) of these elect nations, expressed in their obedience to Yahweh’s covenant, was as short-lived as the morning fog or as dew. Both disappear quickly, especially in the hot Palestinian sun.
A. More messages on coming judgment 6:4-11:7
The subject of Israel’s ingratitude is particularly prominent in these messages. Each of the two major messages of judgment ends with a reference to Israel returning to Egypt (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 11:5). The message on restoration that follows these two (Hosea 11:8-11) refers to the Israelites returning from Egypt (Hosea 11:11).
Lack of loyalty 6:4-11
This section stresses Israel’s covenant disloyalty to Yahweh.
V. THE FOURTH SERIES OF MESSAGES ON JUDGMENT AND RESTORATION: ISRAEL’S INGRATITUDE 6:4-11:11
This section of the book contains another series of messages that deal, first, with the judgment coming on Israel and, second, the restoration that will follow. There are three major addresses in this section each introduced by a direct address (Hosea 6:4; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 11:8).
1. Israel’s ingratitude and rebellion 6:4-8:14
Two oracles of judgment compose this section. Each one begins by referring to Israel’s breach of covenant (Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1), and each one contains a reference to Egypt near the end (Hosea 7:16; Hosea 8:13).
Accusations involving ingratitude 6:4-7:16
The Lord accused the Israelites of being ungrateful for His many blessings in the past and therefore being disloyal to Him and His covenant with them. The section primarily enumerates and illustrates these accusations, but it closes with an announcement of coming judgment (Hosea 7:12-13; Hosea 7:16).
Therefore the Lord had sent messages of condemnation through His prophets that had the effect of mowing His people down. These messages had been as destructive as lightning bolts (cf. Amos 4:6-11).
God’s preference is that His people love Him faithfully more than that they offer Him other types of sacrifices. He wanted the Israelites to acknowledge (know) Him rather than bringing burnt offerings to their altars (cf. Hosea 2:20; Hosea 4:1; Hosea 4:6). Sacrifices were meaningless, even offensive, unless offered out of a heart of love that demonstrated obedience to God’s Word (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-17; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7).
Like Adam, the first and typical man in an endless stream of human beings, the Israelites had violated God’s loving directions even though His blessings had been abundant. The AV translation "like men" (Heb. ’adam) highlights Adam’s typical significance. The covenant that Adam transgressed was not the Mosaic Covenant, which the Israelites and Judahites had violated. It was the arrangement with Adam that God had specified for life within the Garden of Eden, the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 2:16-17). Ever since Adam, all people, including God’s people, dealt treacherously with Him by trying to seize the sovereignty from God because they doubted His love for them.
The Lord viewed Gilead, a region of Israel east of the Jordan River, as a city. Perhaps He meant that the whole area was similar to a city in which violence and murder were so widespread that one could see bloody footprints in the streets. He may have been referring to a particular city named Gilead (Ramoth-Gilead?) in the region of Gilead where those conditions prevailed (cf. Genesis 31:47-48; Judges 10:17). In any case, the point is clear. Evidence of gross violence against one’s neighbors demonstrated lack of love for Yahweh and lack of respect for His covenant.
Whether priests were really murdering travelers as they approached the Israelite town of Shechem is uncertain. Perhaps they were. Shechem was a major religious and political center in Israel. On the other hand, this may simply be another (hyperbolic) way of describing the perverse behavior of even those who should have been closest to God. Shechem and Ramoth-Gilead were cities of refuge where people could supposedly flee for safety (cf. Joshua 20:1-2; Joshua 20:7-8). Shechem stood on the route between Samaria and Bethel, so many pilgrims traveled through Shechem. The Hebrew word translated "crime," (zimmah) refers to the vilest sexual sins elsewhere (e.g., Leviticus 18:17; Leviticus 19:29; Judges 20:5-6; Job 31:9-11). Such behavior by priests, who should have been serving the people by leading them to Yahweh, was vile to God.
The Lord had observed a horrible thing. The Israelites as a whole had practiced harlotry by going after pagan gods and had thus made themselves unclean. Religious apostasy involved sexual immorality, so both forms of harlotry are doubtless in view.
Judah also had sinned horribly and could anticipate a harvest of judgment. This would come when the Lord paid back His people for their sins. Yet the hope of eventual restoration was clear. This would be another type of harvest, a harvest marked by blessing and restoration, and that is the one primarily in view here. Reference to restoration concludes this brief message as it does the major series of messages on judgment.
The mention of Judah at the beginning and at the end of this message proves again that both kingdoms were guilty of disloyalty to God, though Israel was the worse offender.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent