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The Book of Hosea
This chapter tells of some who were truly penitent, and stirred up one another to return to the Lord, encouraged by His power, grace, and goodness, and then of others, who had only a form of religion, and were very unstable in it. They regarded the ceremonial law more highly, and the external sacrifices of it, rather than the moral law which respects the love of the neighbor; neither were they concerned about the knowledge of God; for they dealt treacherously with the Lord, transgressing the covenant. Golden Rule: (Lev.19:18; Deut.5:14-15; Mat.7:12; Lk.6:31; Rom.13:9-10; 2 Cor.8:14; Gal.5:14; 6:1; Jam.2:8)
Israel Will Return In The Last Days Hos.6:1-3
Hosea 6:1 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. (KJV)
Come, and let us return unto the Lord . . . chapter 5 ended stating God's being resolved to bring His chosen ones (1 Chron.16:13), true Israelites, by deep distresses to repentance. They were to seek Him whom they had forsaken. This chapter starts with a statement of the success. The prophet brings them in exhorting and calling upon one another, and encouraging each other (Isa.2:3; Mic.4:2). "Let us return unto the Lord" . . . let us finally be wiser, because idols certainly have not profited us. The idols have instead been their sin and their downfall. They forsook the "fountain of living waters" (Jer.2:13) when they turned their backs on the Lord. They must now, with repenting hearts, forsake those worthless idols, and return to the Lord. They must cast them off, and take for themselves the worship, obedience, love and fear of the Lord, because He is the only true and eternal God.
For he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up . . . because of their sin, they had seen His Hand in all that they suffered. Because they, like bullheaded rebels, sought help from His enemies, He, as He had threatened, had met them like a lion, and had torn them. His voice was in their judgment, like the roaring of a lion. It had awakened them, and their bleeding wounds made it clear, that God had done all this against them, and all this was done because they rejected Him and turned their backs on Him.
And he will heal us . . . He will bind them up, as a skillful and tender surgeon binds up to heal. Those that God had wounded, He would now heal, because they finally came to their senses. With the same hand that had torn, will now heal and those that were smitten, He will bind up, for NO one else can do it. Therefore, it was necessary for them to return to Him for healing and a cure (Deut.32:39). Hosea prays with the right heart in response to the chastening hand of God. Instead of arguing with God, or resenting His correction, Hosea leads Israel in humble prayer. This is a prayer that trusts the love of God, and sees His loving hand even in correction. Often, a rebellious child will complain that their parents do not love them. The parents do love the child, but in their rebellion and lack of submission, they cannot receive or respond to that love, just like Israel . . . and us today!
Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (KJV)
After two days will he revive us . . . although they were as dead men, buried in their miseries, and did not deserve grace from God, nor did they have hope from any other. Yet our merciful God will quicken us again and recover us to a better state. God does not delay long when we return to Him: (Jer.31:18-20; Hos.14:3-4)
The following states their return out of captivity in words that well paraphrases our prophet. Ezra 9:8-9 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. (KJV)
In the third day he will raise us up . . . in just a short time, He can give complete deliverance. These words are refer to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. 1 Cor.15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (KJV) . . . Hosea 6:2 is the only place in the Old Testament, where the resurrection of Jesus on the third day is hinted at. They who trusted in Him could believe that they should be quickened together with Him.
1 Cor.15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (KJV)
2 Cor.4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (KJV)
1 Thes.4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (KJV)
Resurrection of ALL people: (Dan.12:2; Lk.20:35; Jn.5:28-29; 11:24; Acts 24:15; Rev.20:13).
And we shall live in his sight . . . they shall live . . . flourish in peace, wealth, and joy. They shall enjoy pure worship of the one and only TRUE God, living in righteousness among themselves, and in safety from enemies. "In his sight" . . . the eye of the Lord God being upon them for good. Israel shall in the last days be filled with the fruits of His favor and grace, inheriting His Promises and fully possessing them in the light of His glory.
Golden Rule: (Lev.19:18; Deut.5:14-15; Mat.7:12; Lk.6:31; Rom.13:9-10; 2 Cor.8:14; Gal.5:14; 6:1; Jam.2:8).
Brought home to dwell in safety: (Lev.26:12; Jer.3:17-18; 4:2; 23:8; 30:22; 31:1,33; 32:38-41; Eze.11:20; 36:28; 37:25,27; Hos.2:19-23; Joel 3:20; Amos 9:14-15; Ob.1:17-21; Zep.3:14-20; Zec.13:9; 2 Cor.6:16-18; Rev.21:3,7)
Psalm 130:7-8 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (KJV) . . . Israel and ALL people who repent!
Why Israel (and all people) Should Hope in God: . . . see Psalm 130
God does not mark iniquities for punishment without mercy.
God does forgive.
God is merciful.
God does have plenteous redemption.
God is the One and ONLY Fountain for sin and uncleanness (Zec.12:10-13:2).
Hosea prayed with full of confidence in God's love, grace and power to restore. In his prayer, there is a prophecy, looking forward to Jesus' resurrection on the third day. The context here in Hosea, supports this wonderfully; on the cross Jesus was torn and stricken for our sake, yet He was also gloriously raised up on the third day.
Hosea 6:3 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. (KJV)
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord . . . "then" . . . after God has revived and raised His repenting captives, brought them to His temple and city, and restored rightful worship and His law among them. "Shall we know" . . . after they were better instructed in the law of God, and know just what worship He requires and is best pleased with. This knowledge of God shall lead them to a holy, righteous, sober and temperate lifestyle. Such knowledge, was promised to the Jews after their return out of captivity, and their seeking the Lord (Jer.24:5-7; 31:34; Eze.11:17-20; 36:23; Hab.2:14; Zep. 3:9). IF they or we, do not "seek" the Lord, this knowledge will NOT come to us! We shall know Him, and it will be as clear to us as the light of the morning without clouds.
"If we follow on to know" . . . this means an increasing knowledge, which we receive by a diligent attendance to the Word and works of God (Jn.8:31-32). Before we know God, we sin and provoke God. Only when we "know" God, do we have any desire to know, obey and please our God and Saviour. This Passage is NOT conditional, but absolute! When people are converted, then they can know Christ, NOT before. When He is revealed to them, and in them, as the ONLY Saviour and Redeemer (Jn.14:6), only then can they continue to increase in the knowledge of Him. Only then can they earnestly desire to know more of Him, and eagerly pursue the means and methods by which they can attain a greater degree of it. First a person must "know" Him, then they serve Him. And serving Him is NOT a dreaded obligation! It is an absolute deep down desire that we do earnestly and willingly.
His going forth is prepared as the morning . . . His Coming to us is as sure as the morning dawn! Just as sure and stable, and predictable as the morning dawn; which dispels the darkness, and proclaims its own approach. Phil.3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (KJV) . . . When Jesus comes at the Rapture (1 Thes.4:13-18), all TRUE believers shall be resurrected. When Jesus comes at the end of the Great Tribulation (Second Coming; Zec.14:4; Rev.19:11-21), all remaining souls shall be resurrected (Dan.12:2; Rev.20:13).
See or article on the Rapture and the Second Coming: http://www.hisservants.org/rapture,_second_coming_h_s.htm
And he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth . . . just as rains revive and make fruitful and beautiful, so too shall God abundantly bless His repenting Israel, His returning people. This blessing He promised over and over to the Jews after the captivity (Eze.34:25; Hos.2:18; 14:5-6; Mal.3:10).
The former rains were the heavy rains that fell at the end of October; the latter rains were the heavy showers of March and April which came before the harvest. There are those who say that the latter rain has returned to that land, but Israel does not have enough water to irrigate all their land. This prophecy in my estimation, still lies in the future. BUT . . . when these people turn again to God, this blessing shall come not only to the people, but also to the land and the animals. The spiritual Coming of Christ to the Jews in the latter day shall be a tremendous time! Psalms 72:7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. (KJV)
All those who have willingly abandoned God, and have drawn others into sin, should willingly repent and return to Him, for by doing such, will be for their benefit, glory and good. Returning to God, will be great help and support under afflictions, and will encourage our obedience to Him.
Let us always keep good thoughts of God, and realize that His purposes and plans concerning us are always for our best (Rom.8:28). Deliverance out of trouble should be to us a tremendous blessing! Let us be ever so grateful for the love, grace, goodness and wisdom of God.
The Holy Word of God gives us a precious Promise! IF we are wise, we will take advantage of this FREE Gift, that being eternal life . . . and that is to know God, now and forever more! 1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (KJV)
The grace of God in Christ is both the latter and the former rain; and by it the good work of our fruit-bearing is begun and carried on. And as the Redeemer was raised from the grave, so will He revive the hearts and hopes of all that trust in Him. The most feeble glimpse of hope in His Word, is a sure "earnest" (2 Cor.1:22; 5:5; Eph.1:14) of increasing light and comfort, which shall be attended with purifying and comforting grace that makes fruitful.
Hosea 6:4 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. (KJV)
O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? . . . Israel is here again called "Ephraim." The Lord now enters into a discussion with both Israel and Judah, all of which were His people, but were froward and ungovernable (Isa.5:3-6; Mic.6:3,5). The Lord wanted to know what He could do to make them become holy, just and wise, and what more could He do to save them from ruin. Did they want Him to stop being God, so they could stay with their idols? Did they want Him to repeal His laws, which were only for their good . . . and let them perform their idols' rites and rituals? Or did they really want to stay with Satan, the wicked one (Mat.13:38; 1 Jn.5:18), who had deceived and seduced their kings, prophets, priests and people, whom they were worshipping in their idols. Did they really want God to bless them in this?
For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth way . . . their love is like a morning cloud, and like the dew that disappears early with no benefit at all. The Lord would do any thing that could be done to reclaim and reform them, for they are just like disrespectful adulteresses, who will not be honest and faithful to their reconciled husband. Their goodness, kindness and love for God, His honor, law and worship, and their promises of faithfulness and loyalty, is as a morning cloud or early dew, that vanishes completely without any result. They were deceitful, they were hypocrites (Mat.23), they were invalid signs of goodness, piety and obedience. Their hypocrisy and unfaithfulness renders them unable of willing obedience.
God is frustrated. He is saying, "What shall I do with you? I love you, but you continue to sin, so I must judge you!" Judgment is the strange work of God. He does NOT want to judge you . . . He wants to save you! BUT . . . when people insist on turning away from Him, He must judge them.
The people of Israel were "religious," but they had no knowledge of God and were far from Him. Today, people have much religion. Consider the following: Religious = faithful devotion to a reality or deity; devoted to beliefs or observances; scrupulously and conscientiously faithful to something, could be anything! Religion = cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis. There are many religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, etc.. Hockey is a religion in Canada. Politics are a religion. Football is religion to millions. Food can be a religion.
Religion is man's attempt to reach God through his own efforts. To gain eternal life in Heaven, we must forget about "religion" and turn to Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.
See our article on "Religion? or Christ?" . . . http://www.hisservants.org/religion_or_christ_h_s.htm
The Israelites were religious, but their goodness was like "a morning cloud" . . . just form and ritual and ceremony. "As the early dew it goeth away" . . . that is all their religion amounted to, as well as billions of people world-wide today! Many people wear religion like a jacket, putting it on and off at any time. God condemned these people because they were religious, but they did NOT know Him, and they had never had a life-changing, experience with Him. A person MUST believe God and accept His Son!
John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (KJV)
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (KJV)
John 3:35-36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (KJV)
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (KJV)
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (KJV)
John 14:6-7 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (KJV)
1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (KJV)
Hosea 6:5 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. (KJV)
Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets . . . "therefore" . . . because God would do for them whatever could be done, because He wanted desperately to cure their obstinacy and hypocrisy, and make them upright and faithful. God "hewed them" . . . severely, continually and tirelessly by the prophets . . . meaning that He chastised, reproved, warned and threatened, but their hearts were like knotty trees and hard stones. God had made His prophets like laborers, and His Words like axes or hammers to cut out the knots, and to hew off the roughness which made them unfit for use. All this was done but the desired effect had not been attained. "By the prophets" . . . some that were before Hosea. Jeroboam the First was by a prophet reproved and threatened for this idolatry, in which Israel persisted, and to which Judah did also fall. From Jeroboam the First to Hosea's time, many other prophets were sent: Ahijah, Jehu, Hanani, Elijah, and Elisha. These and such like were the prophets that did hew crooked and knotty Israel.
Ahijah, the Shilonite: (1 Ki.11:29; 12:15; 14:4,18; 15:29; 2 Chron.9:29; 10:15).
Hanani: (2 Chron.16:7).
Jehu, son of Hanani: (1 Ki.16:1; 2 Chron.19:2; 20:34)
Elijah: (1 Ki.17:1; 21:19-24; 2 Ki.1:2-17; 9:25-37; 2 Chron.21:12-15).
Elisha: (2 Ki.7:1-2; 8:1-3,7-15; 13:14-19).
I have slain them by the words of my mouth . . . some say the false prophets are meant here, whom God did slay for their sin, seducing Israel to sin, and confirming them in idolatry. This is so with Elijah's sincere zeal, cutting off many (1 Ki.18:22,40), and Jehu's counterfeit zeal cut off so many (2 Ki.10:21-25), something that could not be forgotten among the people. So, many false prophets were slain for this sin. But the persons in this text were not these false prophets, but were instead the people of Israel and Judah, the idolatrous hypocrites among them, whom God threatened with death, and that by the sword of enemies.
And thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth . . . the punishments threatened and the miseries foretold, which fell on this people, did so fully answer the prediction, that every one might see them clear as the light, and as constantly executed as the morning (Zep.3:5). They could not plead any excuse of ignorance of the warnings, which were open to all, for God's judgment goes forth as the light. They were not sinning because of ignorance . . . because there was no lack of information. God had sent the prophets to them, but they had turned their backs on God and His Word (Isa.30:9-11). And it is so today as well! People do not sin because of ignorance! The Bible is there for one and all! People simply do NOT want to know God.
Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (KJV)
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice . . . because they did not do what God approved, desired, and would accept, because they were full of sacrifices, formality and pride in their idols, these sacrificers were to the Lord, abominable idolaters or proud hypocrites. God desires mercy, compassion and good will towards men. This is what pleases the Lord! This is what delights and pleases Him, but He had found little of this among them, nor could He persuade them in this manner. Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (KJV)
"And not sacrifice" . . . instead of sacrifice, God preferred mercy to anyone who needed it, rather than a sacrifice to Him who needed it not. Mercy was more pleasing than a sacrifice, although required, than cruelty to man, which He forbid. Hebrews 13:15-16 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (KJV)
The Lord wants us to have the knowledge of Him, more than burnt-offerings. He wants us to have affectionate, heart-felt knowledge of Him, which fills our mind with reverence of His majesty and His goodness, and a deep love of His holiness and purity. He wants us to trust in His Promise, and submit (cooperate voluntarily) to His will. When we have this knowledge of Him, obedience to Him is self propelled, and His favor, grace and love for us comes shining through. The reward for our obedience, and knowledge of His omniscience (all knowing), our discerning it, are worth more than any and all burnt-offering physical sacrifices. Those who truly know God aright, and keep their heart for God, give God much more than he could ever bring with burnt-offerings . . . for these are just ceremonies, rites, rituals and signs . . . empty and boring to God, for these were without the heart.
Hosea 6:7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. (KJV)
But they, like men, have transgressed the covenant . . . the Lord had clearly told them by His prophets what He required of them by the covenant, but He could not obtain it, for they did NOT listen (hearken) to what He said. "Like men" . . . like Adam. There are those who refer this to the first man, and his breaking the covenant. "The covenant" . . . the covenant (Deut.4:13), that God had made with this nation; the law of their God, which directed and encouraged their obedience, and which threatened their disobedience, and cursed it. Divine Curse: (Gen.3:14,17; 4:11; 5:29; Deut.11:28; 27:15-26; 28:16-68; 29:20-27; 30:7; Josh.6:26; 8:30-34; Judg.5:23; 2 Chron.34:24; Ps.119:21; Pro.3:33; Isa.24:6; 65:20; Jer.11:3; Lam.3:65; Dan.9:11; Zec.5:3; Mal.1:14; 3:9; 4:6; Mat.21:19; Mk.11:14; Rom.5:16; 8:22; Gal.3:10; Rev.22:3).
There have they dealt treacherously against me . . . "there" . . . in the very place where God gave them the covenant, they broke His covenant. "Dealt treacherously against me" . . . they were froward, wilfully perverting God's law; they were habitually inclined to disobedience and opposition, headstrong, self-willed, disobedient, not obeying or complying with commands of the Lord. They were disobedient children. God wanted obedience, not sacrifice; but there was no obedience, just the offering of many sacrifices. They were openly rebellious, like millions today!
Hosea 6:8 Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. (KJV)
Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity . . . Gilead was one of the six cities of refuge, situated on a high hill (Num.35:6). The city of Gilead is best known to us for the "balm in Gilead" (Jer.8:22), which was an aromatic gum or resin used for medical purposes. But, in Hosea's day only iniquity came out of Gilead. Cities of Refuge: (Ex.21:13-14; Num.35:11-32; Deut.4:41-43; 19:2-13; Josh.20:1-9).
And is polluted with blood . . . murders committed there have polluted it, or murderers were protected there against the law of God. Cities of refuge provided relief without malice, if by chance a man slew his neighbor. These cities were NOT for wilful murderers . . . but for money, murderers got in and were secured there; and possibly many were kept out or delivered up to the avenger of blood contrary to the law. Because of this, Gilead and all the rest of the cities of refuge were polluted with blood.
Hosea 6:9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. (KJV)
And as troops of robbers wait for a man . . . just like a gang of greedy, evil men hide and lie in wait, for a man they know will come by that way, who has money, so they can rob him.
So the company of priests murder in the way by consent . . . these priests have turned into highway-men and murderers. They not only encourage murderers, and commit murders within the city, but go out together in a body on the highway, and there commit murders and robberies and divide the spoil among them . . . all this they did as a group, being agreed, being brethren in iniquity. As good people passed by Gilead to Jerusalem, to worship there at the solemn feasts, they lay in wait for them, and murdered them; because they did not contribute to the idolatrous worship of the calves at Dan and Bethel.
For they commit lewdness . . . purposely committing corrupt, evil and vulgar crimes, carefully devising and contriving them.
These priests, in refusing to give the people the Water of Life and the Bread of Life actually committed murder. Any pastor who stands in the pulpit and does not give out the TRUTH in the Word of God is just as guilty.
Hosea 6:10 I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. (KJV)
I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel . . . this could be the prophet speaking of what he had seen . . . or of God Himself. "In the house of Israel" is the whoredom of Jeroboam, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, and caused Israel to sin, to go a whoring after idols; both physical and spiritual whoredom, or idolatry is meant.
There is the whoredom of Ephraim . . . the spiritual idolatry of Ephraim; which was brought in by an Ephraimite, by Jeroboam the First, long ago, and it is there still.
Israel is defiled . . . with whoredom of both kinds; it had spread itself all over the ten tribes; they were all infected with it, and polluted by it (Hos.5:3). It had spread all over Israel, none were free of it, all were terribly defiled with it.
Hosea 6:11 Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people. (KJV)
Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee . . . "an harvest" . . . of judgments (Jer.51:33; Joel 3:13; Rev.14:15). Called a "harvest" because it is the fruit of the seed which Judah herself had sown (Hos.8:7; 10:12; Job 4:8; Pro.22:8). Judah, under Ahaz, lost a hundred twenty thousand slain in one day by Israel under Pekah (2 Chron.28:6), "because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers."
When I returned the captivity of my people . . . when God, by Oded His prophet, caused "two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters," of Judah to be restored from captivity by Israel (2 Chron.28:8-9).
When Israel shall have been exiled for its sins, and has been subsequently restored by God, then, Judah also shall be exiled for their sins. Judah's punishment was not at the same time when God restored Israel. The first captivity of Israel under Tiglath-pileser (2 Ki.15:29), and was followed by a second under Shalmaneser (2 Ki.18:9-11). Then came the siege of Jerusalem, and the capture of the fenced cities of Judah, by Sennacherib (2 Ki.18:17-37), the forerunner of other attacks, ending in Judah's captivity (2 Ki.24:11-16; 2 Ki.25).
Judah, like Israel is polluted, and must expect to be chastised. Judah was polluted like Israel in sin, and could expect to receive like punishment. This prophecy is both of their captivity, and of their return from it, and it may also be applied to their return from their spiritual captivity to sin and Satan. This is a warning to Judah that their day of judgment is also coming. There is a future day when God will bring the people back to the land, but at that time He had to judge them for their sin.
At times Israel and Judah seemed as if they would repent under their sufferings, but that goodness vanished like a morning cloud or an early dew, placing them right back where they were, as disobedient as ever. Because of this, the Lord sent stern warnings by His prophets. The Word of God can be the death of the sin, OR the death of the sinner. God wanted mercy, instead of sacrifice, and He wanted them (and us) to have a knowledge of Him that produces holy fear (reverence), love and obedience. This Truth clearly exposes the stupidity of all those who trust in outward observances such as ridiculous rites and rituals. Just as Adam broke the covenant of God in the Garden of Eden, so Israel had broken God's national covenant, even after all the favors they received. Judah also was ripe for Divine judgments. May we today, take the Book of Hosea to heart. For, we too are sinners, and if we are wise, we will be warned against disobedience!
Book of Hosea
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