I Will Hide Myself
This chapter is replete with searching ministry for the consciences of the people of God in all ages, which we of the present latitudinarian times will do well to lay to heart. It may be part of a single discourse of which the previous chapter is the introduction, and the balance of the book the remainder; or the various sections may have been penned at different intervals, as the prophet was led of God to write them. In either case the moral value is the same, and the object is one throughout, namely, to bring the backslidden people into the presence of God, that they may be restored in soul, and taste the sweets of companionship and communion with the Everlasting One.
Priests, people, and the royal house, are all alike addressed in ver. 1, and told that judgment is toward them. It had not yet come; but it was as an angel of wrath with drawn sword facing their way, and naught but repentance could cause that sword to be sheathed.
In vain they had been rebuked by Him to whose eyes all things are naked and open. Their iniquity was ever before Him; but though He had sought their recovery so long, they persistently refused to “frame their doings to turn unto their God.” A malignant demon, “the spirit of whoredoms,” seemed to possess them, and they knew not the Lord (vers. 1-4).
Nor was this the worst. Despite their wretched condition, they were puffed up with haughtiness. “The pride of Israel doth testify to his face.” Because of this they must be brought low. “Therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them” (ver. 5). Failing to learn by the sin of her sister,. Judah had followed in the same path, and she too must be cast out of the land under the judgment of God.
The sentence of Lo-Ammi, referred to in the first chapter, cannot be turned aside. Even though there seem to be a desire after God, they shall not find Him; for they had hated knowledge and despised all His reproof.
When people refuse light, the light is withdrawn, and they are given up to judicial darkness. So here we read: “They shall go with their flocks and with their herds [for sacrifice] to seek the Lord; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them” (ver. 6). Thus should be fulfilled the word spoken through Moses long years before: “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith” (Deuteronomy 32:20).
Observe, God would not forget them, nor should they be finally cast out of His presence; but He would withdraw Himself from them, leaving them to spiritual famine and desolation till they realized their true condition, and owned it before Him.
In the present dispensation of grace we are not without instances of similar dealing. It was thus the Lord acted in the case of the Gadarenes. Finding them bent upon going their own way, He left them for a time, but was welcomed by them on His return. And indeed this incident pictures to us His rejection when He came at first, but points too to the day when He shall return in glory, and shall be welcomed by the cry, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of Jehovah!” All this is in full accord with Hosea’s prophecy.
Till repentance ensues, He will not publicly manifest Himself on their behalf. They may go on in their pride, begetting strange children and boasting of progress and enlargement, but all is hollow and empty, for the Judge is at the door (ver. 7).
From vers. 8 to 14 the prophet seems to have the invading army in sight. “The day of rebuke” is almost upon Israel. In vain they blow the trumpet and seek to defend themselves. In vain they attempt an alliance with Assyria. It is but leaning on a broken reed. God has become as an enemy, and He it is with whom they have to do. To both Ephraim and Judah He will be as a destroying lion, from whose power none shall deliver them.
But, be it noted, in all this He is seeking their blessing still. So He says, “I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early” (ver. 15).
How clearly is the Spirit of Christ here discerned to be speaking in the prophet. The same conditions prevailed when the Lord Jesus presented Himself that were characteristic of Hosea’s day. True, idolatry was done away; but pride, arrogancy and self-will abounded on every hand. Consequently, “He came unto His own, but His own received Him not.” Therefore He had to say, “I will go and return to My place.” If they had no room for Him here, the Father had a seat for Him on His throne. So He left their house desolate, and has gone up on high, where He waits till they acknowledge their offence. The great tribulation--the time of Jacob’s trouble-will result in a remnant seeking His face in contrition of heart. Then He will no longer hide Himself, but shall appear as their Deliverer in manifested glory.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Hosea 5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany