If you had any doubts about Hosea 6:1-3 being a false confession, God’s response should settle the question in your mind. It did for me. After Israel’s eloquent and verbose declaration to return, God doesn’t even acknowledge it. He doesn’t pat them on the back and say, “Oh good for you! I’m glad that I was finally able to get through to you!” On the contrary! His response is more along the lines of, “You still don’t get it, do you?”
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
This is probably one of the most well-known passages in Hosea. Often quoted in reference to God’s faithfulness and His desire to bring restoration, this passage is generally looked on in a positive light—a confession of sincere repentance, an acknowledgement of the need to return. But is it?
Does God ever abandon His children? Does He ever see their continued sin and say “Enough!”? If so, how can a loving and forgiving God do such a thing?
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.”
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, you generally go looking for help. The question is where do you go to for help? Who do you turn to?
Israel was in a difficult situation as God poured out His judgment upon her. Her land was desolate, her people broken, and her future seemingly hopeless. But instead of turning to the LORD and seeking forgiveness for her transgression, Israel dug herself into a deeper hole by pursuing alliances and help from her powerful, ungodly next-door neighbor.
So far, God has extended numerous warnings, calls to repentance, and offers of mercy to His wayward people Israel, but to no avail. They are determined in their sin and unwilling to acknowledge their guilt, and God’s patience is wearing thin. Pleading and contending has not worked on the people of Israel, and the LORD’s holy anger cannot be averted forever. Therefore, God declares that judgment is coming for this stubborn people.
Do you have a stubborn streak? Are you often the one who will not bend on an issue but holds tightly to your position and will not let go?
Sometimes stubbornness can be a good thing especially when it is used in the Spirit and for standing up for the things of the Lord. However, more often than not obstinacy is used in the flesh as a negative thing. It is built on the sin of pride and often rears its ugly head when we don’t want to admit wrongdoing.
When the knowledge of God is rejected and there is no understanding, people turn to other things or people to gain wisdom and guidance. Often times that other thing is something silly, foolish, and crazy. This was true of ancient Israel. She rejected the true and living God for measly pieces of wood.
Corrupt spiritual leaders. Rampant idolatry. A divine controversy. It appears that Israel was not in a good place. She had been unfaithful to her God and fickle in her love. However, the crux of the issue, the central theme around which God’s controversy and Hosea 4 is built upon, and the reason for God’s contention with the priesthood was the lack of spiritual knowledge and understanding among the general populace. We touched on this topic briefly last week when analyzing God’s controversy with Israel, but it’s time to revisit and focus solely on this fundamental subject.
At the center of God’s controversy and accusation against Israel was His dispute with the priests. They were the ones entrusted with the spiritual welfare of Israel and were the ones God held responsible for the current moral slide.
As we dive into chapter four, we find a sudden shift in the focus of the message. No longer centered on Hosea and Gomer’s side of the story, from chapter four on, the rest of this book is entirely devoted to God’s relationship with Israel, His love for that wayward people, and the controversy He had with them.