Hosea 6 – “Come, Let Us Return to the Lord”
A. A call to return to the Lord.
1. (1-2) Israel should trust in the God who chastened her.
Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but 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 in His sight.
a. He has torn, but He will heal us: 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.
i. 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. Of course, the parents do love the child, but in their rebellion and lack of submission, they can’t receive or respond to that love. Hosea prays with a different heart.
b. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up: Hosea prayed this full of confidence in God’s love and power to restore. In the prayer, there is a shadowy prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. The context 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.
2. (3) Walking in confidence.
Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.
a. Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord: Israel’s problem was described back in Hosea 4:6 (My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge). Hosea leads the nation in a repentant correction of this problem.
i. We should also know that when we pursue the knowledge of the Lord, He blesses it. It must be more than superficial, it must be a pursuit. But when we endeavor to know the Lord, especially through His word, He reveals Himself to us. He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
b. He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain: In Israel, the only way crops were watered was by rain. So farmer waited for the rain with great anticipation. When we anticipate and wait for God with this kind of earnest expectation, He answers and will come to us.
i. Clarke on the latter and former rain to the earth: “The first, to prepare the earth for seed; this fell in autumn: the second, to prepare the full ear for the harvest; this fell in spring.”
ii. “Notice, again, it is a repeated gift. He shall give the former rain and the latter rain. If you have had grace once the Lord has more for you. Did you have happy times when old Dr. So-and-so was your pastor? Well, the doctor is dead, but God is not. Were you very much delighted when you used to sit in such-and-such a church, in years gone by, and have you moved into the country now? Yes, but God has not moved. He is in the country as well as in the town. You tell me you had such happy times when you were young. Yes, but God is neither younger nor older. Go to him, for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Do you suppose that, because he gave you the former rain, he has emptied the bottles of heaven?” (Spurgeon)
c. He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth: This passage along with others (Deuteronomy 11:14, Joel 2:23) were taken to give the name of the “Latter Rain Movement” starting in 1948.
i. In 1948, a Oneness Pentecostal minister named William Branham held meetings at an orphanage and school founded by a Foursquare Church in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Those attending the meeting were so impressed by the supernatural works – healing, prophecy, word of knowledge, and strange phenomenon – that they considered it a beginning of a new work of God on earth. In their newsletter, this is how they described it:
“All the great outpourings of the past have had their outstanding truths. Luther’s truth was Justification by Faith. Wesley’s was Sanctification. The Baptists taught the premillenial coming of Christ. The Missionary Alliance taught Divine Healing. The Pentecostal outpouring has restored the Baptism of the Holy Ghost to its rightful place. But the next great outpouring is going to be marked by all these other truths plus such a demonstration of the nine gifts of the Spirit as the world, not even the Apostolic world, has ever witnessed before. This revival will be short and will be the last before the Rapture of the Church.”
ii. They felt that the Pentecostal denominations of their day were “dead” and “dry,” and needed the blessing of the “Latter Rain,” which would especially be marked by miraculous signs and supernatural works. The Pentecostal denominations – notably the Assemblies of God and the Foursquare Church denounced the Branham and the Latter Rain movement for both their teaching and practices.
iii. William Branham continued, drawing large crowds to his prophecy and healing crusades. He and a young evangelist named Oral Roberts led the Latter Rain Movement for several years. Branham’s doctrine became more and more aberrant. Branham believed that the word of God was given in three forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written scriptures. He also taught the “serpent seed” doctrine, which was based on his interpretation of Genesis 3:13, saying that Eve had sexual relations with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
iv. The Latter Rain Movement, as led by William Branham and Oral Roberts eventually faded from prominence. Branham himself died in a traffic collision with a drunk driver in 1965. He died on Christmas Eve, and his faithful followers believed that he would rise from the dead, so they delayed his burial for several days. But the influence of the Latter Rain movement lived on. The Latter Rain popularized many attitudes and doctrines popular in revival movements today:
· The “five-fold ministry” and “restoration of apostle and prophets”
· The “foundational truths” of Hebrews 6:1-2
· An emphasis on signs and wonders as marks of true revival
· A strong emphasis on unity
· Replacement theology, replacing Israel with the church
· Dominion theology, saying the church will conquer and rule the world
· An elitist attitude, promoting the idea of a group of “superchristians”
v. Many researchers – and many within these modern groups today – believe that many modern “revival” movements are really just a continuation of the Latter Rain movement. Movements such as “Joel’s Army,” the Manifest Sons of God, the Dominion Movement, the Kansas City Prophets, the Toronto Blessing, the Pensacola Revival are connected in some way to the Latter Rain movement. For example, Paul Cain – later to re-emerge as head of the Kansas City Prophets in 1989 – traveled with William Branham and called him “the greatest prophet that ever lived.”
vi. The modern Latter Rain movement believes: “The Latter Rain is God’s great end-time ministry. This concept as revealed in the Bible, comprises the restitution of the church to it’s rightful place, the enormous last day revival and the harvest of souls before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. It is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh promised to us in the last days and the restoration of apostolic and prophetic gifts.” (From latter-rain.com)
B. The sin of Israel and Judah.
1. (4-6) How God’s people missed God’s heart.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and your judgments are like light that goes forth. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
a. Your faithfulness is like a morning cloud: It wasn’t that there was nofaithfulness among the people of God. It’s just that whatever there was quickly dissipated like the early dew.
b. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice: At this time, God’s people were still good at bringing sacrifice (Hosea 5:6). But they had forsaken mercy, and they abandoned mercy because they gave up the knowledge of God and truth (Hosea 4:1). God would rather have right hearts, full of truth and mercy than sacrifice.
i. Jesus twice quoted this passage of Hosea to the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7). They also missed the heart of God, focusing on the wrong and superficial things.
c. And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings: Israel brought animals for sacrifice, but they never brought themselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). They missed what God really wants: a deep, close relationship with Him.
2. (7-11) The transgression of idolatry.
“But like men they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt treacherously with Me. Gilead is a city of evildoers, and defiled with blood. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; surely they commit lewdness. I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people.”
a. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder: When the priests when to places of pagan sacrifice, it was a thieving, killing sin.
b. Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives: When the people of God came back into the land after the Babylonian exile, they mainly settled in the area of Judah. The harvest of returned exiles was mainly for Judah, not for Israel.
© 2006 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission