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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Hosea 6

Verses 1-11

Chapter 6

What Shall I Do Unto Thee?

The opening verses (1 Timothy 3:0) connect intimately with what we have just been considering, while the balance of the chapter is another appeal to the consciences of Ephraim and Judah.

Nothing could be more suited than the expression of these first three verses upon the lips of the restored remnant in the coming day of His power whose face has so long been hidden from them: “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. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. 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 ram unto the earth.”

It is the cry of the returning residue who have learned to know the Lord in the smoking furnace of the tribulation period, and who now ask the way to Zion, and with chastened spirits return unto the One so long despised. The awakening in the 12th chapter of Zechariah links closely with what we have here. Like Naomi, they recognize that He it is who has torn and smitten them; but faith counts on Him for healing and enlargement. After two days of solemn testimony to their consciences, leading to manifest repentance, He revives them on the third day; answering to the day upon which the water of separation was sprinkled upon the unclean man (Numbers 19:0), that he might be declared clean upon the seventh day. Thus they who once were denied by the dead are made to live in His sight. So when He descends in glory like showers upon the grass, they find revival and blessing, with daily growth in the knowledge of Himself in His kingdom throughout the age to come.

But, alas, though this shall indeed be when they are made willing in the day of His power, they were far from being in that happy state when the prophet Hosea was sent among them. The lovely millennial picture is presented but for a moment ere the Spirit of God goes on to deal with them because of their wretchedly fallen condition, and to plead in tenderest beseechings that they turn from their evil ways.

There had once been what seemed like a desire to be true to Himself, but it had proven to be but transitory. “O Ephraim,” He cries, “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” (ver. 4). Like Ephesus of a later day, it was but for a brief season that they clung to their first love. The tender feelings of those early days, when they went after Him into the wilderness, had been evanescent indeed, and had now vanished like the dew when the sun rises in its strength. Because of this, in place of sending prophets to gladden their spirits, He had been obliged to give them a ministry like that afterwards given through John the Baptizer, laying the axe unto the root of the trees, which in their pride rose up in such loftiness (ver. 5). The distinction might be made that the prophets of old were more like men sent to prune and hew away all excrescences, thus endeavoring to trim the trees and purge them, with a view to fruitfulness. But all their efforts were in vain; so John came to lay the axe unto the root of the trees. All must come down. Recovery was hopeless. The first man could bring forth nothing for God. He must be superseded by the Second! This is the great difference between the closing books of the Old Testament and the opening message of the New. Mere outward correctness and attention to forms and ceremonies would not do for God. His word is, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (ver. 6). Isaiah similarly declared the incompatibility of mere ritualistic observances when the heart was far from the Lord. See Isaiah 58:0, et al. God must have reality. All else is but hollow mockery in His sight who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.

Like Adam (see margin, ver. 7), they had transgressed the covenant. God had made known His will to them, but they had violated His every command, following the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Thus had they dealt treacherously with Him whose servants ^they professed to be.

And Gilead, so greatly favored naturally, had become a city of iniquity, and stained with blood (ver. 8). A priestly city, it should have been holy to the Lord; but these godless sacerdotalists were but as troops of robbers, plundering those they should have led in the right way; living in uncleanness too, instead of in God’s holy ways. The leaders of the people caused them to err, and led them astray from the paths of truth.

Who can fail to see the same ungodly conditions developing now in Protestantism, so-called? The open debauchery of the well-named “Dark Ages” has been checked by the light of an open Bible, which has made men ashamed of what they once dared to revel in, in the darkness and ignorance of Romanism and medieval times. But now Satan’s supreme effort is to poison the minds of men by the unholy speculations of infidel clerics who give free rein to the filthiness of the spirit, and use their positions as “leaders of Christian thought” to enrich themselves while starving the true flock of Christ and poisoning those who, while bearing the name of Christians, are destitute of divine grace! Terrible must be the end when false religion is judged in the day of the Lord’s anger!

In vain the warning voice was raised of old. In vain it is raised today. The mass, then and now, went recklessly on their way, heedless of His solemn rebuke. “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the harlotry of Ephraim, Israel is defiled” (ver. 10).

The last verse seems to admit of a double interpretation. For Judah a harvest is appointed when their captivity shall be brought again. It might mean that God would get His harvest, whatever man’s failure, when they are at last restored to Himself; but as Judah alone is mentioned, while the guilt of both had just been proclaimed, I judge the harvest referred to is that awful one of judgment yet to be reaped because of the rejection of Messiah. Judah must pass through this, as we have already noticed, just prior to their restoration and blessing. The ten tribes, as such, had no part in the rejection of the Lord Jesus. It was not on them the rabid elders invoked the curse when they cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children!” Consequently, for Judah a terrible harvest is yet to come. They sowed the wind: they shall reap the whirlwind, when the vials of the wrath of God are poured out upon the prophetic earth.

Chapter 7

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Hosea 6". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/hosea-6.html. 1914.