Hosea: Let Us Return to the Lord

open hands on sky

Hosea 6:1—3

 

These verses are Hosea’s heartfelt cry to his people.  They are also God’s final call to the northern kingdom of Israel.  Yet they are verses that look ahead, way ahead, to the future of the nation of Israel when God will heal them and restore them.  They are historical verses:  Hosea did say them.  They are prophetic because what they say hasn’t happened yet.  Sadly, the triumphant words of Hosea 6:1—3 will not come to pass until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to stand on the Mount of Olives.

Then I will pour out the spirit of grace and prayer on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on him they pierced, and mourn for him as for an only son, and grieve bitterly for him as for an oldest child who died.  (Zechariah 12:10  TLB)

I will give you back your health again and heal your wounds. Now you are called “The Outcast” and “Jerusalem, the Place Nobody Wants.”(Jeremiah 30:17  TLB)

While these verses apply solely to national Israel, it’s wise to view them as a warning:  God will most certainly judge any nation that claims to be a “Christian nation,” has enjoyed His blessings and the privilege of the Word God, but then goes its own way with no regard for its divine heritage.

1.  There must be repentance

Come, let us return to the Lord; it is he who has torn us—he will heal us. He has wounded—he will bind us up.  (Hosea 6:1  TLB)

Chapters 5 and 6 are a continuous thought, so the chapter break is jarring and interrupts the flow of that thought.  Verse 1 of chapter 6 is connected to 5:15—

I will abandon them and return to my home until they admit their guilt and look to me for help again… (Hosea 5:15  TLB)

That’s God talking, and beginning at 6:1, we read Hosea’s cry—his response—to God, not that of his people in his day or ours.  In the future, the remnant of Israel will cry out like this and they will be restored.

This verse is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we see the sovereignty of God at work.  It was God who had “torn” and “wounded” Israel.  God is the source of all, at least in the view of Hosea.  But had God perpetrated all that evil on Israel?  The view that God is the author of both good and evil was certainly the way Israel looked at things; even a casual reading of the Old Testament bears that out.  Even some in the Christian church today credit God with the cause of good and evil.  The problem is when that way of thinking collides with verses like James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; 1 Corinthians 14:33, etc.  God is not the author of evil; nothing bad flows from Him.  Israel, from their perspective, attributed all things, good and bad, to God.  That was their error.  It is more accurate to say that God allows evil to occur, and He is able to turn that evil around so that good can come of it and His character glorified.  He is in charge of all things and His foreknowledge is absolutely perfect.  Sometimes the Lord prevents evil from occurring and touching us, other times He allows it for reasons that may or may not be apparent to us but are clear to Him.

Israel was, in truth, torn and tortured by her own sin and rebellion.  God did not force them to sin and rebel.  Because of their backslidden state, they had experienced continual defeat and failure.  All of this could have caused them to come running back to God, yet it had the opposite effect.  God was teaching His people a lesson; a lesson they could learn only the hard way.  They needed Him; they need Him still.  One day, according to prophecy, this divine truth will finally dawn on them.

All people, not just Israel, need to understand this.  There is a real need for all people to repent and come to Christ, and even Christians need to repent sometimes!  Think about it:  we, like Israel, are constantly being torn apart by our own fears, anxieties, and other destructive emotions.  Time and time again, God in His providence puts us in positions where our only hope is Him.  Often in our pride, we go in the other direction, like Israel did.  Sometimes, we make the right choice and choose God.  But in either case, He can be glorified.

2.  How to repent

…return to the Lord…

The call to “return” means Israel had “left” the Lord.  They backslid (they “slid” away from God by their own volition), but they never for a moment stopped being His people; God continued to call out to “His people” even while they appeared to not be His people.

We see a New Testament teaching about this in the parable of the prodigal son.  When that wayward son made the decision to return home, he was demonstrating what real repentance is all about:  he realized his sinful condition, turned away from it, and returned home.  Those are the movements of true repentance.  Repentance is not the same thing as “feeling sorry” for your sins.  Anybody can feel sorry for their sins, especially when they get caught.  Real repentance involves a realization of your sinful condition, feeling Godly sorrow for it, but then going a step further and replacing that sin with God.

The beauty of God is that His arms are open wide, ready to accept the repentant sinner and the repentant believer!  God never gives up!

3.  Results of repentance

…he will heal us.  (Hosea 6:1a  TLB)

Israel will be healed when they finally repent of the things that are destroying them.  That makes common sense, doesn’t it?

Not only that, but repentance leads to peace with God and results in a joy that changes one’s whole disposition.  It’s amazing how a changed attitude can change the way you feel!

…He will revive us… (Hosea 6:2a  NKJV)

After the “healing” and the “binding up,” God will “revive” the  nation of Israel.  Remember, we are looking ahead to the future; to the days of the Millennial Kingdom.  At that time, Israel as a  nation will be revived.

If we look at the whole statement, we see something interesting:

After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up… (NKJV)

Who cannot make a connection between the Resurrection of Christ and the revival of national Israel?  Jesus Christ was raised on the third day for the justification of both Jews and Gentiles.  Contextually, this verse cannot refer to Jesus, but to the sudden revival (resurrection) of Israel when she finally repents.

When any sinner repents, his new position in Christ occurs immediately.  Salvation is immediate.  The new life begins the moment repentance takes place.  The very moment a sinner repents, he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and his new life begins:

Only the Holy Spirit gives eternal life.  (John 6:57  TLB)

This is what “revival” is all about!  In terms of national Israel, we see a graphic illustration of how life will return to them in Ezekiel 37.  After the prophet saw a vision in which a valley of old, dry bones suddenly came back to life, the Lord told him the meaning of that strange vision:

I will put my Spirit into you, and you shall live and return home again to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have done just what I promised you.  (Ezekiel 37:14  TLB)

And this is what happens when a sinner repents and when a Christian gets serious in his relationship with God.

The nation of Israel has a glorious future.  God refers to it as a resurrection. Israel’s resurrection will be based on the resurrection of Christ.  Our resurrection is also based on the One who rose from the dead on the third day.  Paul takes time in Romans 11 to talk about this.  Today, God’s purpose is to build His Church; to draw all people, both Jew and Gentile, to Himself through the work of Christ on the Cross.  When that Church is complete, and when it is taken out of the world, God will return to dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.  God has never forgotten them; He will never forget them.  He has a plan for Israel, and that plan involves returning their national glory based on His purposes for them.

…we may live in His sight…  (Hosea 6:2b  NKJV)

God will always have an eye on His people, Israel.  What a comfort!  Living in God’s sight is the privilege of all believers, of all dispensations.  To live in God’s sight means that God will always take care of you.  He sees every need you have.  He sees every struggle you engage in.  He sees every moment of doubt you experience.  But He is a loving heavenly Father who has given you LIFE.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:37—39  NKJV)

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him… (Hosea 6:3a  TLB)

The result of Israel’s revival or resurrection will be a desire to know Him more.  But knowing God more involves more than just head knowledge, as indicated by “let us press on.”  Knowing God for Israel in the future involves the same thing as knowing God today:  actively pursuing Him and searching Him out in His Word.

Every young man who listens to me and obeys my instructions will be given wisdom and good sense.   For the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding.  (Proverbs 2:1, 2, 6 TLB)

He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  (Hosea 6:3b  NKJV)

The Second Coming of Jesus, which will trigger the revival of national Israel, will be the latter, or the spring, rain:  a cause for great rejoicing.  Farmers and those who live off the land love the spring rains because of the benefit that is given to the crops.  That’s how the Second Coming will be received by those who will be looking for it!

But not only that, verse 3, which speaks of the glorious future, teaches us something of the faithfulness and grace of God today.  He is unchanging.  He is infinite and not limited by time.  Our mighty God, the One who created day and night and established the seasons is as sure and dependable as the sun that rises and sets as His command.  His grace and mercy refreshes our souls today.  He blesses us with His presence all day, every day so that we may keep returning to Him so that He may continually revive us.

The blessing and benefits waiting for national Israel are available to all believers today who live in a state of repentance.  Revival is there for the experiencing if believers would just take the time to get serious in their relationship with God.  Israel of Hosea’s day wasn’t ready to experience any of this.  They did not return to God.  Theirs will be future blessing.  You don’t have to wait.  You may experience the fullness of God’s richest blessings right now.  Like so many things in life, though, it’s all up to.

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