Hosea 6 Shall We Know?

Standard
Questions: Does God always accept us if we return to Him? Why or why not? Can we know Him? Will we? Can we be sure? What does God want from us? What does He promise?

“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Hosea.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Hosea 6:1-11

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 rain unto the earth.

I was a bit shocked to see The Message place the first three verses in quotes, which I presume means they weren’t the direct words of the prophet, but some third-party. If so, then it makes them seem empty whining, given God’s apparent response:

O Ephraim, 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.

This is a tough one, especially since I am very fond of the song based on those verses. Eugene Peterson (who wrote The Message) is a master of picking up the nuance of Scripture, and I can see how those apparently devout words might be as “fleeting as the morning dew.”

Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that they are true! Let’s step back and take another look:

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.

Surely this is good advice. We ought always return to the Lord, even — especially! — if He is the one who has judged us. Submitting to the one who wounded us definitely takes humility. And he does heal those who come to him with a broken and contrite heart:

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

An eerie, potentially Messianic reference — but I won’t go there. Rather, I’ll take this a generic sentiment that we tend to suffer “two times” as long as we think we can before God intervenes. 🙂

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 rain unto the earth.

Here’s where the understanding seems to diverge. The Message translates this as a self-descriptive statement:

We’re ready to study God, eager for God-knowledge.

Whereas the King James (above) has it as a statement of fact (even if they have to interpolate the conditional): If we are truly that eager to seek Him, God can and will be found. As certainly as the sun rises or the rain falls.

Which is right, or am I even reading The Message correctly? Sure, its a paraphrase, but the more literal-minded NASB also has the quotes, and drops the conditional “if”.

Ultimately, I suppose it doesn’t matter much. Yes, repentance is always possible, but it is rarely easy or without cost. And I know too well it is possible to mouth all the right words and not mean them. Or worse, to think we mean them out of spiritual passion or superficial vanity, yet they never permeate the depths of our psyche. Such that they evaporate at the first hint of heat:

O Ephraim, 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.

So, what’s the solution?

Therefore have I hewed [them] by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments [are as] the light [that] goeth forth.

Ouch. Yet, it makes sense. Deep repentance requires deep truth, of the sort that only comes from the Word of God. Like the dream I had a week or two ago, about finding my (lost) passport inside my old Bible. I suspect that is one of my great needs: to submit myself to the Light of God’s Word, in order to truly understand (and thus repent of) the sin of my self-will.

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Intriguingly, one could read this as God requesting an emotional change (compassion & mercy) rather than merely volitional submission (sacrifice & offerings). We have to really want to know who God is, not merely learn the forms of worship.

Of course, this is usually taken to mean God cares more about our horizontal relationships (with other people) rather than just our vertical relationship (with Him). But that isn’t quite true:

But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

Rather, God wants our hearts to be submitted to Him, not just our bodies. For a nominal submission to God is fully compatible with great inhumanity towards to mankind:

Gilead [is] a city of them that work iniquity, [and is] polluted with blood. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, [so] the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.

Woe unto those who measure their righteousness in terms of “theological correctness”, rather than loving their neighbors as themselves.

Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people

This verse can again be taken two ways: as a wonderful promise of what lies in store when God redeems Judah, or as a warning of the divine judgement that awaits (as we see in Chapter 7).

Again, I don’t know which is right. However, the primary purpose of the book is not to help us build up a systematic theology of repentance; it is to make us repent! And no matter how you read Hosea, the need for that is abundantly clear.

Prayer

God, I ask for you to purify my heart. I know so little of what it means to follow you, and submit to your word, and live by your spirit. Have mercy on me, O my Father. Show me your face, that I may know you as you are, and become who I truly am in Christ. In whose name I pray, Amen.

Advertisements