Scripture reading – Hosea 6
After modeling the LORD’S longsuffering, and restoring his adulterous wife (Hosea 3), Hosea called on Israel to join him in returning to the LORD (6:1). The LORD had described His judgment against Israel as a lion that attacks and tears its prey, and retreats to its lair (5:14-15). Following that analogy, Hosea appealed to His people, “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” (6:1).
Seek the LORD (6:1-3)
Hosea longed for His people to turn the LORD, and he promised the LORD would receive them, if they would genuinely repent of their sins (6:2). As surely as the sun rises, and the rain refreshes the earth, Hosea promised the LORD would accept them, heal their wounds, and bind up their sorrows (6:3).
The Pseudo-Piety of Israel and Judah (6:4-6)
Both Ephraim (the principal tribe of northern Israel, and representing the nation) and Judah (the southern kingdom) had made a pretense of “goodness” (6:4). Tragically, their religious piety was temporal and fleeting, like “a morning cloud, and as the early dew” (6:4).
Because the “word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), the LORD had sent prophets who “hewed” [cut] the people with words that had “slain them” (convicted, 6:5). Their warnings had been like the lightning that pierces a darkened sky, and their messages had pierced the hearts of His people (6:5).
The people had brought offerings to the LORD, but their hearts were stubborn, and proud. Hosea declared, the LORD did not require sacrifices, but “mercy” (faithfulness; favor, 6:6a). Like a husband desires the affections and devotion of his wife, the LORD required more than “burnt offerings” (6:6a). He longed for His people to have a personal, intimate “knowledge” of their God (6:6b).
Israel Had Broken Her Covenant with the LORD (6:7-9)
The LORD had chosen Israel and favored that people above all nations; yet, they had followed the sins of man, and “transgressed the covenant” (disobeying His Law and Commandments, Exodus 20). Israel had “dealt treacherously” (20:7), and Gilead, a city of refuge, had become a refuge for murderers (6:8). The priests that resided in Israel became like the people…robbers, murderers, and guilty of all manner of sexual depravity (6:9).
The Sickle of God’s Judgment (6:10-11)
Hosea’s vision of God’s judgment was a terrible thing to behold. Ephraim, the principal tribe of Israel was described as a spiritual whore, and thereby all Israel had been defiled (6:10).
Hosea then turned his focus from Israel, and warned, “O Judah, He [the LORD] hath set an harvest [a time of cutting and reaping] for thee” (6:11a). The vision of the sickle, the tool of the harvest, and its cutting blade gliding through the grain was a devastating picture of God’s judgment.
Judah would be cut down by Babylon, and the people taken away. Yet, the LORD promised He would one day return “the captivity of my people” (6:11b). Indeed, seventy years would pass, and the Jews did return to their land.
Closing thoughts – The religious culture of our day mirrors the vileness of sin God declared was the provocation of His judgment against Israel and Judah. A faithful prophet, Hosea had urged the people to turn to the LORD, and promised He would heal the nation (6:1). Yet, the people continued in their sins. The LORD had sent His prophets, and their messages were powerful and cutting (6:5), but the people preferred their priests who mirrored their wicked ways (6:7-9).
There is a season of life when we choose what we will favor and sow, and there is a time when what has been sown must be reaped. God bless the few preachers who continue to declare what Paul admonished the believers in Galatia to acknowledge:
Galatians 6:7–9 – 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Is your life ready for the sickle of God’s judgment?
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith