In our study of Hosea chapter six, we look at the promise that God made to His people to bring restoration. In chapter 5, we saw how Israel's relationship with God was broken by their disobedience.
'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.'
The prophet issues the call for Israel to return to the Lord. He described how their relationship was torn apart but that God brings healing. That same promise is for each and every one of us.
'After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.'
Although these words were spoken to God's people about 750 years before their fulfillment, they clearly point to the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way for the healing to come. Throughout the Bible, the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will and we see that it was His will to repair the relationship through Jesus. This verse is a clear picture of the coming death and resurrection of Jesus.
'Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.'
The number two, throughout the Bible, is the number of witnessing as it was the number of people required to establish something as fact. Here, we see, in the repetition of the call to acknowledge the Lord, that the truth is man cannot repair their relationship with God and that it can only come by accepting what Jesus has done. The promise is as sure as the rising of the sun and the harvest is guaranteed by the coming of the rains.
'What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.'
Here, God compares the love of His people for Him to the dew that appears in the morning. When the sun comes up and the day begins, the dew begins to disappear. The same type of thing happened with Israel and can even happen with us today. We can get caught up in our daily lives and drift away from the daily call of the Lord on our lives.
'Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.'
God did not want mere rituals performed by people but instead wanted His people to turn their hearts towards Him. He would send the prophets to warn and correct them but many times they would not listen and so suffer judgment. It is much the same way with God's people today in that many just want to fulfill what they see as their obligation (going to worship, tithing, etc.) but really don't want the true walking with God on a daily basis.
Like Adam, they have broken the covenant - they were unfaithful to me there.
In Leviticus 26, God set the conditions of the covenant between Himself and Israel. This was a covenant of obedience and the first part was to stay away from idolatry. During Hosea's time this covenant had been broken by God's people.
Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood. As marauders lie in ambush for a man, so do bands of priests; they murder on the road to Shechem, committing shameful crimes.
God compares the priests to murderers as they are leading the people to idolatry. They were supposed to worship in Jerusalem but were teaching the people to go elsewhere for worship and was in disobedience to God. This reminds us of what Paul was telling Titus about sound teaching and its importance (see Titus 2).
I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled.
In going to worship God in any place that they chose, they were trying to make God to be the "god" that they wanted. This is idolatry or what is referred to here as prostitution. The same type of thing is going on today in the body of Christ as men are trying to shape God into a form that complies to their ways of thinking. A good example of this, today, is the fact that many preach that God is a God of love and that He would not condemn any man and so we are all going to heaven no matter what we believe.