Summary: Sermon 6 in a study in Hosea
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Seldom have I seen such a glaring contrast between Bible commentators in their approach to a particular portion of scripture as I found as I read different ones on the opening verses of Hosea 6.
Just look back for a moment at the end of chapter 5 and be reminded that God has declared that for their sin and rebellion and unwillingness to repent, He will be like a lion to Ephraim and a young lion to the house of Judah, and tear them both apart and then go away, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek His face.
He ends saying, ‘In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me’.
Let me add an interesting side note here in reference to God declaring that He will go away and return to His place.
As I have done my own research for this study one source I use pointed out that in the writings that come out of the time of the captivity, they all refer to God exclusively as ‘the God of heaven’. None say ‘the God of Israel’ or ‘the God of Jerusalem’ or any other reference indicating a sense that He is near. He said that He would withdraw from them until they acknowledge their guilt, and these writers were apparently acutely aware of His distance from them in this respect.
So I go to one commentator and he says that what we have been given in chapter 6:1-3 is what the people will say in their contrition and their repentance and their faith in a good and loving God.
When they say, ‘He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him’ they are expressing trust that He will not allow their suffering to be long, but will quickly relieve them in their distress and be their champion.
Another one says that the first three verses of chapter six are a call from Hosea to the people; an encouragement, if you will, to come and turn to the Lord and receive His healing mercies.
So I go to another guy, and he says that no, these first three verses really belong to chapter six and the things that come next indicate that they are only continuing in their insincerity and their penchant for taking God’s goodness for granted.
I tend to believe he is right. Let’s dive on in and let me show you why.
SOMETHING IS MISSING
If you read verses 1-3 of chapter 6 and think like a detective, you may begin with a line that you may have read in mystery novels or seen on television detective programs, saying, ‘I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I’ll know when I see it’. Then you might employ another tactic and ask, ‘Isn’t there something that should be here but is not?’
Let’s read the verses.
“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. 3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”
I think that in order to find the thing we are looking for in the text; the thing we will recognize when we see it; we first need to figure out what is missing.
We’ve already been given a clue. In fact, I read it for you in my opening statements. It is to be found back in the end of chapter 5.
God has declared through the prophet that He will ruin their physical circumstances to match their spiritual ruin, and then He will withdraw Himself from them until a certain thing happens.
It is there, again, in verse 15. “Until they acknowledge their guilt, and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me”.
Is there an acknowledgement of guilt to be found anywhere in the first three verses of chapter 6? Not even one.
Is there an earnest seeking of His face? No, there is not.
We will talk about what is to be found there in a few minutes. First, let’s consider what is not found there.
The word is ‘repentance’
Acknowledgement of guilt is what God calls for before He can help; before men can approach Him to any degree at all.
This is a point that is largely ignored in modern evangelical Christianity because it is an unpopular notion; that people are accountable to a holy God and have fallen short.