Hosea 6

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 28, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Israel and Judah Are Unrepentant


The chapter opens with a declaration among the people to return to the LORD. It appears genuine at first, but upon closer examination, no sin is actually confessed. It is more for self-preservation than true, heartfelt repentance. This is apparent from God’s continued reproach with the nation in the rest of the chapter. The people assumed that their suffering would be short-lived, saying, “After two days he will revive us” (Hos. 6:2). This rootless announcement signified their selfishness to be rescued quickly from difficulty.

In Hos. 6:4-6, God responds to Ephraim (Israel) and Judah. Their love for God is compared to a “morning cloud” and “dew that goes away early” (Hos. 6:4), briefly present but evaporating quickly. As soon as their troubles pass, they would go back to their old habits. Therefore God metes out corrective judgment that would bring authentic, heart-felt repentance. God’s desire is not for their empty gestures of sacrifice but their “steadfast love” and “knowledge of God” (Hos. 6:6).

The remaining verses (Hos. 6:7-11) are of Israel’s faithlessness and its effects. Their transgression is compared to Adam’s failure to keep the single command in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:16-17; Gen. 3:17). Israel transgressed the Mosaic covenant while Adam broke the relationship Yahweh had established in Gen. 1-3. The prophet had seen “a horrible thing” in Israel’s whoredom (idolatry) and how they had become “defiled” (Hos. 6:10). Hosea also addresses Judah and that “a harvest is appointed” (Hos. 6:11). This is thought by some to be a harvest of suffering before God restores the fortunes of His people but by others as a harvest of blessing.


The Israelites feigned remorse and a turning back to God. But God knew their hearts and the shallowness of their posture. Their love for Him was a like a morning dew that burns away as the sun rises, providing worldly warmth and comfort. God thus had to employ corrective action on a level and a timeline that would produce a lasting effect.

As I read how Israel went to God in apparent sincerity, I cannot help but be reminded of my own turning to God to save my marriage. Naively, I thought that I had turned a corner and was ready to be a better husband. In reality, if God had reversed the course of our dissolution, it is doubtful that these changes would have endured. Surely, I would have expressed gratitude for His intervening work but then quickly return to my old ways. God knew this and lovingly declined my supplication because He favored a permanent change. It was difficult to see this in the moment but have since become so thankful that He allowed these events to play out in their entirety.

Praise be to God for His eternal perspective and for never leaving a work undone. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

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