Hosea 6

 

 

The first three verses have, by the division into chapters, been violently and

improperly torn from the preceding chapter, to which they naturally belong.

Their connection with the foregoing sentiments is indicated by the ancient

versionsChaldee and Septuagint, the Septuagint, for example, inserting

le>gontev legontes - as if the reading had been rsoale: This

 

  • represents the Israelites exhorting one another in that good time which

the prophet encourages them to expect.

 

  • But it may be regarded as the prophet’s own exhortation to the exiles;

their affliction urging them to seek the Lord, and their encouragement

consisting in the knowledge of His ability and willingness to heal the

wounds which His own hand had inflicted.

 

1 “Come and let us return unto the Lord:  for He hath torn, and He will

heal us;” -  The presence of the pronoun imparts emphasis to the statement, so

that it is rather, He it is that hath torn; and the preterite of this verse, compared

with the future in v.14 of the foregoing chapter, implies that the destruction there

predicted has become an accomplished fact – “He hath smitten, and He will

bind us up.” The language is figurative, and borrowed from medical science.

Jehovah, not Jareb nor any sovereign of Assyria, is the physician. Long before He

had assured His people Israel of this, saying, “I am the Lord that healeth

thee” (Exodus 15:26); and again, “I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and

I heal” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Aben Ezra, commenting on yachbeshena, alludes

to the ancient mode of surgical practice, probably as indicated in Isaiah 1:6:

A wound needs to be pressed out and bound up, and afterwards softened with oil.”

 

2 “After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and

we shall live in His sight.”  The expression of time here employed denotes a

comparatively short period, and implies that Israel’s revival would be speedily as

well as certainly accomplished. Paucity is signified by the binary number in Old

Testament language, just as we speak of two, or a couple, in the sense of fewness.

In I Kings 17:12 we find “two” used in this way: “Behold, I am gathering two

sticks;” so in  Isaiah 7:21, “A man shall nourish a young cow and two sheep;”

in Isaiah 17:6 a small number is spoken of as “two or three;” while a short

period is similarly described in Luke 13:32, “Behold, I cast out devils,

and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.”

The important idea of this verse connects itself with the terms corresponding

to revival, resurrection, and restoration to the Divine favor and protection.

The drooping, declining, dying state of Israel would be revived; their deathlike

condition would undergo a resurrection process; their disfavor would give way

to Divine complacency; and all this, though not immediately, yet in a comparatively

short time. This appears to us the import of the prophecy. Similar figurative language,

and with like significancy, is employed by Ezekiel (37.) in his vision of the valley and

the resurrection of its dry bones; as also by Isaiah (26.), where the same or a

similar thought is presented in briefer, but still more beautiful, language:

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.

Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of

herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).  Calvin

understands this verse as containing a source of consolation to Israel. “When,”

he says, “the Israelites, through their long obstinacy, had become nearly

incurable, it was needful to lead them to repentance by slow punishments. They,

therefore, said, After two days God will revive us; and thus they confirmed

themselves in the hope of salvation, though it did not immediately appear;

though they long remained in darkness, and the exile was long which they

had to endure, they yet did not cease to hope. ‘Well, let the two days pass,

and the Lord will revive us.’” To man in sorrow the time appears long; it is

short in the sight of Him with whom a thousand years are as one day.

Kimchi’s explanation is also, to a certain extent, satisfactory: “The prophet

says, ‘our sickness lasts for two days, yet He will heal us of our sickness,

till on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live long before Him,’

as if he said, ‘though our afflictions continue a long time.’ The two days

are a figure, for ‘in a short time He will bring us His salvation,’ and ‘on the

third day’ is figurative.” He afterwards refers the “two days” to the

captivities of His people — that in Egypt and that in Babylon; while “the

third day” denotes the third or present Roman captivity, “out of which He

will raise us up and we shall live before Him? so that we shall never again

go into captivity, but shall live continually before Him, while we sin no

more.” Rashi refers the words to the three temples — that of Solomon, that

of Zerubbabel, and the temple that is to be built by Messiah. Some of the

Fathers understand the three periods in the history of humanity — the first,

under Adam, as the time of Law and captivity to sin; the second, under

Christ, as the time of the gospel and of grace; and the third, with Christ, as

the time of the general resurrection. Theodoret and most of the Fathers

understood this verse to refer to the resurrection of Christ on the third day

after three days’ rest in the grave. Calvin, after giving what appeared to

him “the simple and genuine sense” of the passage as applying primarily to

the Jews, as we have already seen, adds, “I do not deny but that God has

exhibited a remarkable and memorable instance of what is here said in his

only begotten Son. As often, then, as delay begets weariness in us, LET

US FLEE TO CHRIST for, as it has been said, His resurrection is a mirror

of our life; for we see in that how God is wont to deal with His own people:

the Father did not restore life to Christ as soon as He was taken down from

the cross; He was deposited in the sepulcher, and He lay there till the third day.

When God, then, intends that we should languish for a time, let us know that we

are thus represented in Christ our Head, and hence let us gather materials

of confidence. We have, then, in Christ an illustrious proof of this

prophecy.” The political resurrection of Israel may dimly shadow forth, by

way of type, the resurrection of Messiah and the general resurrection of

which HE IS THE FIRSTFRUITS!

 

3 “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:” - This

is more accurately rendered by, let us therefore know, hunt after the

knowledge of Jehovah, the verbs being both cohortative and no conditional

particle (“if”) in the second clause. The second clause is a more emphatic

and energetic reaffirmation of the first, urging to active and zealous effort

and steady perseverance in obtaining the knowledge of God — a

knowledge theoretic, but especially practical. Aben Ezra understands the

exhortation of intellectual knowledge: “To know Jehovah is the secret of

all wisdom, and for this alone was man created. But he cannot know God

till he has learnt many doctrines of wisdom, which are, as it were, a ladder

in order to mount up to this highest step of knowledge.” Kimchi, on the

other hand, though quoting Aben Ezra’s comment with approval, inclines

to the practical side of knowledge: “Let us follow on to know Jehovah,

exercising justice and righteousness ” - His going forth is prepared as the

morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and

former rain unto the earth.” Here, again, the translation of the Authorized

Version is susceptible of improvement: His going forth is fixed as the

morning dawn; and He shall come to us as the plentiful rain, as the latter

rain which watereth (or, watering) the earth. Here we have two beautiful

figures — the morning dawn and the fertilizing rain. The going forth of

Jehovah is represented as the sun rising upon the earth, or rather as the

dawn which heralds the day. The advent of salvation to His people is

identified with, or symbolized by, His appearance. But the dawn of day only

brings the commencement of salvation; its complement is found in the

fruits and blessings of salvation. The root of motsav is zatsa, which is

applied to the sunrise in Genesis 19:23, as also in Psalm 19:5.

Parallel passages are found in Isaiah 58:8, “Then shall thy light break

forth as the morning (dawn), and thy health shall spring forth speedily;”

and 9:2, “The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon

thee.” Further, the word nakon, meaning “prepared,” “fixed firm,” is

applied to the clear bright light of morning, as in Proverbs 4:18, “The

path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the

perfect (nekon) day.” The plentiful rain is that which falls after the sowing

of the seed in October (the beginning of the Hebrew year) and in the

following months; while the malqosh is the late or spring rain, which,

tailing in March and till the middle of April, precedes and promotes the

harvest. The Septuagint translates the

 

  • concluding clause by uJeto<v prw>imov huetos proimos

and o]yimov opsimoslatter -  erroneously, for zoreh is not a

noun with b, being understood before “earth;” neither is it

 

  • the future Hiph., which would necessitate the ellipse being supplied by

asher; it is the Qal participle in the sense of” watering.” Geshem is “a

violent or plentiful rain,” stronger than the usual word for” rain,” matar;

while malqosh is “the late rain” which ceases a short time before harvest.

The explanation of the “dawn” by Aben Ezra is erroneous: “The intelligent

man at the beginning knows God — blessed be He! — by His works, like

the dawn of day in its going forth; but moment after moment the light

increases, until the full truth becomes visible.” Kimchi more correctly

explains the figure as follows: “If we shall do this, viz. follow on to know

the Lord, then He will be to us as the morning dawn, of which the going

forth is fixed [purposed by God and certain] as though He said, He will

cause His light and His goodness to shine over us.” His comment on the

second similitude is equally appropriate: “He will come to us as the

plentiful rain, as the plentiful rain which revives the dead plants; so man

sunk in sorrow is like one dead; but when deliverance comes to him it is

with him as if he revived out of his dead state.” Thus He shall be to His

people as “morning to the weary watcher,” and as “plentiful rain to the

parched ground.”

 

 

Exhortation and Encouragement to Repentance (vs. 1-3)

 

Whether the opening words of this chapter be those which the penitents address

mutually to each other, or whether they be the exhortation of the prophet encouraging

the people to return to God, the sentiment they contain is equally important, and the

duty enjoined is equally imperative.

 

  • THE URGENCY OF THIS APPEAL IS STRIKING. From whichever

of the sources indicated this appeal proceeds, its urgency is unmistakable,

as implied in the cohortative form of the verb “return,” as also in the

hortatory “come” at the commencement. In God’s dealings with mankind

we find now reproofs for sin and threatenings of wrath, again invitations to

repentance and promises of mercy. We are warned to flee from the wrath

to come on the one hand, and urged to return unto the Lord on the other.

It is our duty to exhort one another with earnestness, and even affectionate

importunity, to return to Him from whom we have wandered, to seek Him

whom we have slighted, and, like the prodigal in the parable, to arise and

go to our Father with confession of our many wanderings of heart and life

from the living God.  (Luke 15:11-32)

 

  • THE SOURCE WHENCE HEALING COMES. They had tried

Assyria, but to no purpose; they had sent to King Jareb, but in vain. A

greater power than that of Assyria, great though that was, was needed; a

mightier monarch than Jareb, champion sovereign though he was, was

required to heal the disease and bind up the wounds of Israel at this

 time, or indeed at any time. None but the hand that tore could heal; none

other than He who smote could bind up. Nay, He wounds in order that He

may heal; He sends afflictive providences that we may apply to Him for the

restoration of prosperity; He produces conviction of sin before that, and in

order that He may impart to us everlasting consolations. His method is to

convince us in order that He may comfort us, to show us our sin that He

may lead us to the Savior, to show us our ruin and then apply the remedy.

He shows us our danger and then urges us to the discharge of our duty; He

shows us our fat, and how we are to rise again; in short, He urges us to

repentance, showing us what to do and what to say, and encouraging us

withal by His readiness to receive penitents.

 

  • LIFE FROM THE DEAD IN GOD’S GOOD TIME. The guilt of sin

may for a time overwhelm us, terrors of conscience alarm us, afflictions of

various kinds crush us to the earth; there may be fightings without and

fears within (II Corinthians 7:5). In our distressed and downcast state we

may look upon ourselves, and be looked upon by others, as dying —

almost dead.

 

Ø      In this deathlike condition the sorrows of death may compass us and

the pains of hell get hold on us, we may find trouble and sorrow; we

may be like those that go down into the pit. All this may continue for

a time, and the time may appear long; yet we may not despair nor

despond. Rather let us imitate the example of the psalmist, who in

his distress called upon the Lord and cried unto his God. Nor did

he cry in vain. God heard his voice out of his temple, and his

cry came before him even into his ears  (Psalm 18:6).  In like

circumstances of disaster on another occasion he called upon the

name of the Lord and said, “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my

 soul ” (Psalm 116:4); and AS USUAL A REPLY AND

RELIEF CAME!  I was brought low, and he helped me;”

(Ibid. v.6); He delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from

tears, and my feet from falling” (Ibid. v.8).  THUS GOD

DEALS WITH HIS PEOPLE STILL! - “Weeping may endure

for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ibid.ch.30:5).

For two days — a relatively brief period — the sleep or sorrow of

death may be upon us, but He will then restore us to life, revive and

quicken us; and on the third day, when we have been thus restored

to animation and vigor, He will raise us up.

 

Ø      The words of v. 2 are, no doubt, applicable to the death and resurrection

of our Lord, and they have been so understood by many Christians

both in earlier and later times. “The resurrection of Christ,” says

Pusey, “and our resurrection in Him and in His resurrection, could not be

more plainly foretold.... It was not the prophet’s object here, nor was it so

direct a comfort to Israel, to speak of Christ’s resurrection in itself. He

took a nearer way to their hearts. He told them, ‘All we who turn to the

Lord, putting our whole trust in Him, and committing ourselves wholly to

Him, to be healed of our wounds and to have our griefs bound up, shall

receive life from Him, shall be raised up by Him.’ They could not

understand then how He would do this. The ‘after two days’ and ‘on

the third day’ remained a mystery to be explained by the event. But

the promise itself was not the less distinct, nor the less full of hope, nor

did it less FULFILL ALL CRAVINGS FOR LIFE ETERNAL

 because they did not understand — how shall these things be?

 

Ø      The sequel of revival and resurrection is life in God’s sight, or, “before

His face,” according to the literal rendering. The face of man is the

index of the mind and heart; of the operations and various workings of

the former, and of the feelings and emotions of the latter. We turn away

the face in sorrow or in mirth; we look the object of our love or

satisfaction full in the face. God had withdrawn Himself and turned

away His face until they acknowledged their offence and sought His face.

But life is not only restored; it is life in God’s sight, that is, before His

face.  This is real life — life in God’s favor, with the light of His

countenance lifted up upon us; with His eye on us to guide and to direct

us as well as to guard and protect us.  (in thy presence is fullness of

joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  - Psalm

16:11;  in His favor is life.”  - Ibid. ch. 30:5).  We live in His sight

when, whatever we do, we do it as unto the Lord  (I Corinthians 10:31).

Every duty is discharged as in His immediate presence and under

His All-seeing Eye. Our thoughts, our purposes, our plans, our

feelings, the inmost actings of our spirit, are all ordered with the

abiding impression that they are in God’s sight, open and naked

before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.  (Hebrews 4:13)

 

  • THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND GROWTH THEREIN. What is

the great end of man’s being? What is the thing that chiefly concerns him?

To such questions various answers will be returned according to the tastes,

or habits, or capacity of the individual. Some will answer and say that life

itself, its preservation and well-being, is the great concern of man; or that

health — health of mind with health of body, a sound mind in a sound body

— is chiefly to be attended to. Others, again, will reply that the

advancement of one’s family or the increase of one’s fortune is the main

thing to be sought and attained. Whatever truth may be in any of these, it is

not the right answer. There is something higher and holier, nobler and

better, than any of the things specified. THE GLORY OF THE

CREATOR  and the good of the creature must be placed above

 everything else. But TO GLORIFY THE CREATOR, and thereby

and therewith to attain to the good of the creature, WE MUST

KNOW GOD!

 

Ø      Wherein does the knowledge of God consist? What do we mean

by the knowledge of God? It is to know God as He has made Himself

known, in the two great volumes which He has spread out before us.

The one is the volume of His wor, (Psalm 19:1-6), open to the eyes of

all men; but that volume only takes us a short way; we get the

 knowledge of His Godhead, or existence as God, and of His

power; we learn that there is AN ETERNAL POWER THAT

CALLED CREATED THINGS INTO BEING  and that that

 Power is neither blind physical force nor the pantheistic spirit

of the universe, but A DIVINE PERSON;  for” the invisible

 things of Him since the creation are clearly seen, being

understood by the things that are made, even His eternal

power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans

1:20).  The other volume is HIS WORD (Psalm 19:7-11) in which

He has fully revealed HIS WILL!   From this volume we know His

various attributes and infinite perfections — His holiness in hating sin,

His justice in punishing it, His wisdom in devising the plan of salvation

(from eternity – Revelation 13:8), His love in sending His Son to

 work it out, His mercy in shedding down His Spirit to apply it.

But, over and above all this, the knowledge of God must be personal,

experimental, and practical. We need to know GOD AS OUR

GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, HIS SON AND OUR LORD;

we need to know by happy experience His love to our souls; we

need to know the duty which we are bound to render to Him in

gratitude for His amazing loving-kindness, and in love to Him

 who first loved us.

 

Ø      How is this knowledge attained? There must be diligent, prayerful

study of the Divine Word under the teaching of the Divine Spirit.

The physician never dreams of gaining a knowledge of his profession,

and of qualifying himself for the performance of its responsible duties,

without years of preparatory study in order to grasp its principles and

master its details; nor can he afford to abandon that study even after

he has entered on the practice of his professional labors — earnest

thought and unwearying diligence are still required.  (It is for

this purpose that this web site exists!  Dear Reader:  Does this

mean that your doctor cares more for your body than you care

for your soul? – CY – 2012)  - The merchant who would succeed

in business must devote much attention to the principles of commerce

and the various departments of trade; days of toil and nights of close

application to business are indispensable. (Dear Reader:  Does this

mean that as a businessman, you seek to know your business inside

and out, while neglecting study for your spiritual needs? – CY –

2012)    The agriculturist, if he would attain to eminence or even

respectability in his calling, cannot expect to do so without suitable

training and diligent attention in order to acquaint himself with the proper

methods of tillage. (I remember my Dad, an aspiring dairy farmer,

going to agricultural classes on a G.I. bill after World War II, to learn

as much as he could so as to increase his chances of being successful!

I am thankful that among my many memories of him, this fact, that

he nightly studied his Bible.  Dear Farmer Friend:  Does this mean

that your agricultural pursuits trump your soul’s needs? CY –

2012)  Shall men willingly devote their noblest energies and

highest powers and best days to the occupations of time, and yet

afford only some brief intervals of leisure, or some spare hours, and

very slight attention to attain the knowledge of that God who

 is above them, and to prepare for that eternity that is before

them?  (I highly recommend The Preciousness of Time by Jonathan

                        Edwards - # 7 – this web site – CY – 2012)

 

Ø      By what means do we gain increase of this knowledge? What

promotes our growth at once in grace and the knowledge of God?

The answer is before us. We are to follow on, hunt after, strive

zealously to know the Lord. There must be continued diligence,

constant perseverance; there must be devout and daily reading of

God’s Word — some time every day less or more should be given to

the study of Holy Scripture (I put on the home page of this web site

the following: - CY – 2012) -

 

“Someone has said that there are four things necessary in studying the

Bible:  Admit, Submit, Commit, and Transmit.  First, admit its truth;

Second, submit to its teachings; third, commit it to memory; and

Fourth, transmit it!  If the Christian life is a good thing for you, pass

It on to someone else.  You know it is always regarded a great event

in the family when a child can feed itself.  It is propped up at the table,

and at first, perhaps, it uses the spoon upside down, but by and by it

uses it all right and mother, or sister, claps her hands and says “Just

see, baby’s feeding himself.”  Well, what we need as Christians is

to be able to feed ourselves.  (Dwight Moody)   

 

 there must be fervent prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit:

for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit

of God; they are foolishness unto him, because they are spiritually

discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).  Have we already acquired some

knowledge of God, not merely out of the volume of creation, or by the

light of our own intellect, or from the teachings of others, but from this

Word of God, which is BRIMFUL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF

GOD and do we know God to be a just God and yet a Savior

OUR GOD AND SAVIOUR THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR

LORD?  Then we must beware of becoming cold, or languid,

or lifeless. We must avoid everything and anything that would turn us

aside, or tempt us to prefer our secular business to salvation, or to

set THE TRIFLES OF TIME IN THE PLACE OF REALITIES

OF ETERNITY!   But should coldness creep over us, or should a spirit

of slumber overtake us as the virgins in the parable (Matthew 15:1-13),

or should our little progress in the Divine life and Divine things

discourage us, let us repair at once to the mercy-seat for Divine

 help and grace; and the Spirit of truth will guide us into ALL

TRUTH!  (John 16:13).  Let us ever bear in mind that we must

persevere to the end in order to be saved, that we must be faithful unto

death if we would obtain the crown of life, and that if, after having put

our hand to the plough, we turn back, the Lord will have no

pleasure in us. (Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10; Luke 9:62).

Follow on, then, as the runner in the race to win the prize,

as the warrior in the conflict to gain the victory, as the mariner steers

his homeward-veering bark to reach his native shore.

 

  • THE BLESSEDNESS PROMISED TO THOSE WHO PERSEVERE

IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. The promised blessing is here

presented under two beautiful figures — the returning light of morning,

and the refreshing rain.

 

Ø      There is freshness in the morning air, there is beauty in the morning

light, there is loveliness in natural scenery when the light of morning

shines on it. One of the oldest Greek poets often speaks of morning,

and usually with some epithet of praise or admiration, such as “saffron-

robed Aurora,” or “Aurora, daughter of the dawn.” “The morning.”

We associate morning with the idea of refreshment and relief. If you

have been laid on a bed of sickness, or tossing on a bed of pain, or

watching by the bedside of one dear to you as your own life, how

welcome is the light of morning! After tossings to and fro till the

dawning of the day, the morning brings some measure of relief or

relaxation. Many a one in the circumstances supposed

is crying out, “Would God it were morning!” or sighing out,

“Oh for the light of morning, to shorten the weariness of the night,

or bring some alleviation!” There, again, is the mariner toiling

through the dreary hours of a stormy winter night, while neither

moon nor stars appear; how he wishes and longs for the light of

morning! Or a traveler has been overtaken by the darkness of

the night, and has lost his way in some pathless wilderness, or

among the glades of a mountain forest; how he waits and watches

for the first gleam of morning light to extricate him from his perplexity

and peril!  In all these cases the morning is looked forward to for

relief; nor is it ever looked for in vain, for morning is sure to come.

(“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,

because His compassions fail not, They are new every

morning:  great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23).

It may seem slow in coming, and long before it comes; or the

weary watcher may be many a time on the point of giving up in

despair. But the return of morning, after a night however long, or

dark, or painful, or perilous, is certain to take place; its return is

prepared; it is a fixed ordinance of nature.  (“While the earth

remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,

and summer and winter, and day and night shall not

cease.”  (Genesis 8:22) So, to every persevering seeker after the

knowledge of God, the Lord’s going forth is fixed and cannot fail;

it is sure as the morning sunrise. To every afflicted, anguished spirit,

to every weary waiting soul, the morning dawn shall come surely

as the day succeeds the night and the light alternates with darkness,

for God has established this order of things. The Dayspring

from on high (Luke 1:78), with the light of saving knowledge and

spiritual healthfulness, shall visit all who patiently wait and

perseveringly pursue the knowledge of God. There is a joyousness

of spirit, a buoyancy of feeling, peculiar to the morning, and not

experienced to the same extent, or perhaps at all, during the

remainder of the day. Delightful as is the figure, the fact represented

by it is even more so. What joyfulness comes with morning to the

bewildered wayfarer, or tempest-tossed sailor, or sorely afflicted

sufferer! Then hope rakes the place of despair, and joy succeeds

to sorrow. To the soul that waits upon the Lord, His coming is as

sure as the return of the morning light; and brings with it peace and

joy in believing, favor and forgiveness.  To him who has waited

long, and watched with patience till hope deferred had begun to

make the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), the Lord’s going forth is

certain as the morning dawn; and simultaneously therewith the light

of His countenance is lifted on the soul, and cheerfulness is imparted

to the spirit. It is a blessed assurance that NONE EVER WAITED

ON THE LORD IN VAIN, no one ever trusted Him and was

disappointed. Wait, then, for His going forth. It may tarry, but

wait for it; for at last it will come and will not tarry (Habakkuk 2:3);

for the time is fixed, and the Sun of righteousness shall arise on every

patient soul with healing under his wings (Malachi 4:2).  Fortified by

this assurance, the psalmist says, in language we would do well to

adopt and act on, “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and

in His Word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more

than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they

 that watch for the morning.” (Psalm 130:6)

 

Ø      That the Authorized Version is inaccurate, is obvious from its making

the latter rain precede the former. The reverse is the natural order and

the order here observed, geshem standing for the one or rather for

plentiful rain” in general, malqosh for the other or “latter rain,” and

roreh not a noun at all. This beautiful figure is specially suitable to the

Orient, and finds its most striking application in Eastern lands; it is

also more or less appropriate in all lands. Not only so, it forms a

fitting counterpart to the figure which precedes, and with which it is

so intimately connected — the one exhibiting the fact, the other the

fruit, of salvation; the one the beginning of salvation, the other its

benefits; the one its commencement, the other its consummation.

In the land of Israel, as well as other countries of the East, soon after

seed-time, when the seed has been sown in the furrows, comes the

early rain to make the seed germinate and the tender blade

spring up; but there is also the latter rain in the weeks preceding

 harvest, to fill the ear and mature the growing grain. (This was

God’s design and was on time, like clockwork, until the wickedness of

the land stopped up the heavens – Deuteronomy 28:12, 23-24 – CY –

2012).  With a rich Eastern soil below and a warm Eastern sun above,

the beneficial effects of the former and latter rain are obvious. In

connection with the combined action of sun and soil and shower, there

are first the blade, then the ear, and eventually the ripe corn in the ear

(although we know not how – see Mark 4:27-28 - CY – 2012).

Thus in spiritual husbandry, the seed of Divine and saving knowledge

has been no sooner cast into the furrows than the rain-shower of

Divine grace waters it, so that it germinates and grows - blade and ear

and ripened grain as in the natural world; nor are showers of grace

withheld before and up till the reaping-time, so that even in old

age there is abundant fruitfulness. “They shall still bring forth fruit

in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing [margin, ‘green’]”

(Psalm 92:14); and when the time of the end comes and the harvest

day arrives, they resemble a shock of corn in its season (Job

5:21);  rich with golden grain, ripe and ready to be gathered

into the heavenly garner. Thus shall it fare with the soul that follows

on to know and love the Lord (v.3). Sure as the dawn brings on the

day; sure as the sun goeth forth out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a

strong man to run his race (Psalm 19:5); sure as the alternation of day

and night; sure as the succession of the seasons; sure as the rain comes

down from heaven, and returns not thither again till it has moistened

and fructified the earth (Isaiah 55:10); — God shall bless that

soul with light and life and love. (What more could one want?  The

greatest things I have ever experienced are LIGHT, LIFE AND

LOVE – all come from God -  CY – 2012).  Therefore let us know,

let us follow on to know the Lord; for it is good that a man

 quietly wait and patiently wait for the salvation of God.”

 (Lamentations 3:26)

 

Although we in this age do not live in the last days of Israel’s restoration, the sweet voice

of this mutual appeal is for us. We need to stir up our own hearts to exercise the

 grace of repentance, and to pursue the study of saving knowledge. Some of us

perhaps have gone astray into very miry paths, and have been sorely chastised for our

sin. Oh for grace to respond to this twofold appeal, that we may know the Lord

 our  Savior as the bright Morning and the genial Rain, and that we may

“LIVE IN HIS SIGHT!”

 

4  O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?  O Judah, what shall I do unto

Thee?  For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it

goeth away.”   A new section here commences. God, having tried

various expedients and many ways to restore Israel to faithfulness, finds all

those methods unavailing; and now he asks what further means of

reclamation He can resort to; what further punishment He is to inflict. Thus

in Isaiah 1:5, Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more

and more!” or what additional privileges can be vouchsafed? Thus in

Isaiah 5:4, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, than I

have not done in it?” The reason is then assigned for such questioning; it

was the brief duration of Israel’s piety. It was evanescent as the early cloud

which floats across a summer’s sky and which the sun soon scatters for

ever, or which promises a refreshing shower, but which is exhaled by the

sun’s heat; it was transient as the dew which lies in pearly drops of beauty

upon the grass, but which the foot of the passing traveler brushes away in a

moment. The prophet had, in the opening verses, referred to real

repentance; but now, turning to Israel, he reminds them of their repentance

by way of contrast, showing them that it was neither of the consistency

nor permanent character required. Proofs of their deficiency lay on the

pages of their national history. Hezekiah had done “that which was right in

the sight of the Lord” (II Kings 18:3); but his son and successor, Manasseh,

“wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to

anger”  (Ibid. ch. 21:6).  Josiah, again, was eminent for piety, so that “like unto

him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart,

 and with all his soul, and with all his might”  (Ibid. ch. 23:25); but his

successors degenerated, for it is added, “neither after him arose there any like

 him.”  The connection and meaning are well given by Kimchi: “How shall I heal

you, and how shall I bind you up, as your repentance is by no means perfect? For

if the kings of Israel did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, so have

they soon turned to do evil, like Jehu. And likewise the kings of Judah, who in

the days of Josiah did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, turned

again to do evil in the days of his son and son’s son.” Thus he reproves

them for the superficial and fleeting character of their goodness. The

participles mashkim and holek are either coordinated asyndetously, thus:

“coming in the morning, going away;” or the latter is subordinated to the

former: “in the morning passing away.” Kimchi takes the former word as a

noun after the form of makbir, equivalent to “abundance” (Job 36:31);

the right rendering is, “as the dew early going away.” A somewhat different

rendering is proposed by Wunsche, viz. “Your goodness goeth away like a

morning cloud, and like the dew in the morning;” “goodness” being the

subject, “goeth away” the predicate, “like morning cloud and dew” nearer

definitions.

 

In vs. 5-6, the consequence of Israel’s unsteadiness and inconstancy is stated.

Because of the fluctuating and formal nature of their religiousness, God cut

them down (instead of rearing them up) through His prophets by fierce

enunciations, and slew them (instead of reviving them) by the Divine word.

The judgment of Jehovah went forth as the lightning-flash, or was as clear and

conspicuous for justice as the light of day. Neither could outward services

expiate their sins, when the proper feelings and meet fruits were absent.  

 

5 “Therefore I have hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them

by the words of my mouth:” -  The language is figurative — the

first clause seems borrowed from hewing hard wood and shaping it so as to

assume the required form; so God dealt with Israel to bring them into

shape MORALLY SYMETRICAL and make them correspond to the

character of a holy people. The slaying is metaphorical, and consisted in the

denunciation of death and destruction to the impenitent; in this way He

killed, but did not make alive. A different rendering of the clause is given

by the Septuagint and also by Aben Ezra; the former has, “Therefore have I

mown down your prophets; I have slain them with the word of my mouth;”

the latter has, “The sense is that he slew some of the prophets who misled

the people so that they did not turn (repent).” But be does not imply His

hewing in among the prophets; it is instrumental - “and thy judgments are

as the light that goeth forth.” The judgments here spoken of are the

Divine judgments denounced against, or inflicted on, the people. Another

reading has the pronominal suffix of the first person: “My judgment goeth

forth as the light;” to which the Septuagint corresponds: kri>ma mou

krima mou - equivalent to “my judgment.”

 

Vs. 4-5 remind us that God’s compassions fail not, but that persistent

 sinfulness on man’s part will shut him out from the enjoyment of

THE DIVINE MERCY!

 

6  “For I desired mercy (or, mercy I delight in), and not sacrifice;  and

the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”  The former is the

right state of the life, the latter the correct condition of the heart; the

former manifests itself in practice, the latter embraces the proper feelings

and affections; the former is seen in works of charity and benevolence, the

latter consists in right motives and the right relation of the soul to God.

The Hebrew form of speech here used denotes inferior importance, not the

negation of importance. A similar sentiment occurs in I Samuel 15:22,

“Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in

obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and

to hearken than the fat of rams.” Parallel statements are found in Isaiah

1:11-17; Psalm 40:7-9 and 50:8; also in Micah 6:8. Our Lord cites the first clause

of v.6 twice — once against Pharisaic ceremonialism (Matthew 9:13), and again

against rigorous sabbatarianism (Ibid. ch.12:7); while there is an allusion to it in

Mark 12:33, where love to God and to one’s neighbor is declared to be better,

or “more than, whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Sacrifices in themselves,

and when offered at the proper time and place, and as the expressions of

penitent hearts and pure hands, were acceptable, and could not be

otherwise, for God Himself had appointed them. But soulless sacrifices

offered by men steeped in sin were an abomination to the Lord; it was of

such He said, “I cannot away with” them. It is to such that the prophet

refers here, as is plain from the following verse.

 

7 “But they like men (margin, like Adam) have transgressed the covenant:

there have they dealt treacherously against me.”  This verse is variously

rendered.

 

  • They like men (that is, men in general, or the rest of mankind, to whom

they are in no way superior) have transgressed the covenant.

 

  • They are like men who transgress a covenant; according to this

rendering the word μda is otiose, or adds nothing, nor is indeed required.

 

  • They like Adam have transgressed the covenant; this rendering,

supported by the Vulgate, Cyril, Luther, Rosenmüller, and Wunsche, is

decidedly preferable, and yields a suitable sense. God in His great goodness

had planted Adam in Paradise; but Adam violated the commandment which

prohibited his eating of the tree of knowledge, and thereby transgressed the

covenant of his God. Loss of fellowship with God and expulsion from

Eden were the penal consequences that immediately followed. Israel, like

Adam, had been settled by God in Palestine, the glory of all lands; but,

ungrateful for God’s great bounty and gracious gift, they broke the

covenant of their God, the condition of which, as in the case of the Adamic

covenant, was obedience. Thus the comparison projects the shadow of a

coming event when Israel would lose the land of promise. There is still the

word “there” to be accounted for. It cannot well be rendered “therein,” nor

taken as a particle of time equivalent to “the,” with Cyril and others. It is

local, and points to the place where their breach of covenant and

faithlessness had occurred. Yet this local sense is not necessarily so

limited as to be referred, with some, to Bethel, as the scene of their apostasy

and idolatry. “There, to Israel,” says Pusey, “was not only Bethel, or Dan, or

Gilgal, or Mizpah, or Gilead, or any or all of the places which God had

hallowed by His mercies and they had defiled. It was every high hill, each

idol-chapel, each field-altar, which they had multiplied to their idols. To the

sinners of Israel it was every spot of the Lord’s land which they had

defiled by their sin.” The word thus acquires a very suggestive significance,

reminding Israel of God’s goodness on the one hand, and of their own

sinfulness and ingratitude on the other.

 

In the next two verses the prophet adduces proof of that faithlessness with which

he had just charged Israel.

 

8  Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.”

 The latter clause is more literally rendered, foot-printed or foot-tracked from blood.

Two things require consideration here — the place and its pollution. Gilead is

sometimes a mountain range, and sometimes the mountainous region east

of the Jordan; it has Bashan on the north, the Arabian plateau on the east,

and Moab on the south. It stretches from the south end of the Sea of

Galilee to the north end of the Dead Sea — some sixty miles in length by

twenty in breadth. The part of Gilead between the Hieromax and the

Jabbok is now called Jebel Ajlun; while the section south of the Jabbok

forms the province of Belka. In the New Testament it is spoken of under

the name of Perea, or beyond Jordan. Sometimes the whole trans-Jordanic

territory belonging to Israel is called Gilead. In the passage before us it is

the name of a city, though some take it to mean the whole land of Gilead.

The men of Gilead and the Gileadites in general seem to have been fierce,

wild mountaineers; and yet they are represented as still worse in this

Scripture. They are not only barbarous and wicked, but murderous and

infamous for homicidal atrocities. As evidence in some sort of the justness

of this dark picture, the murder of Pekahiah by Pekah with “fifty men of

the Gileadites.” as recorded in II Kings 15:25, may be specified. The

word hB;Wq"[] is taken:

 

  • by some as the feminine of the adjective bwq[;, crafty, cunning, wily;

thus Rashi explains it: “Gilead is full of people who lie in wait for murder;”

and Kimchi likewise has, “Gilead is a city of evil-doers, who are crafty to

murder men.”

 

  • but it is rather the Qal Pual participle feminine from bq"[;, to seize the heel

of any one, hold, tread in the footsteps, follow, .go after; which is the right

meaning, viz. “tracked,” as given above. We retain the Authorized Version

of the first clause of v. 9, slightly modified, viz.

 

9 As troops of robbers wait for a man, so is the company of priests; murder

in the way by consent:” - yKej" equivalent to hKej", wait, being an anomalous

form of the infinitive Piel for hwOKj"; thus Kimchi says, “The yod stands in the place

of he, and the form is the infinitive.” Both Aben Ezra and Kimchi translate the first

clause as above; the former beg, “The sense is, As robber-troops wait for a

man who is to pass along the way, that they may plunder him, so is (or so

does) the company of the priests;” the latter explains, “As troops of

robbers wait for a man passing along the way to plunder him, so is the

company of priests, he means to say, as the priests of the high places who

combine to plunder those who pass along the way. There is another translation,

which, connecting ish taken collectively with gedhudhim, and making it the

subjective genitive of the infinitive k, is,“Like the lurking of the men of the

gang, s is the company of the priests.”

 

This first clause is quite misread and not rendered by the Septuagint: Kai< hJ ijscu>v

sou ajndro<v peiratou~ e]kruyan iJerei~v oJdo>n kai hae ischus sou andros

peiratou ekrupsan heireis hodon - as gangs of robbers wait to ambush a man,

so the company of priests….in the way -   “And thy strength is that of a

robber: the priests have hid the way.” Instead of yKej"K] they read Új"K], and

for dbj they read wbj or wabj. In the second clause we prefer decidedly

the translation which is intimated in the margin of the Authorized Version;

thus: Along the way they murder even go Shechem. The word derekh is an

adverbial accusative of place; and Sichem, the present Nablus, was situated

on Mount Ephraim between Ebal and Gerizim. It was a Levitical city and a

city of refuge; it thus lay on the west as Gilead on the east of Jordan, and

both cities, thus perhaps nearly parallel in place on opposite sides of the

river, were equal in crime and infamy. The prophet does not tell us who the

wayfarers were, or whither they were bound; he only intimates that they

fell victims to certain miscreant priests located in these quarters. As this

city lay on the main route from the north to Jerusalem, pilgrims to the

annual feasts passed along this way. The priests of the calf-worship, being

in general persons taken from the dregs of the people, waylaid those

pilgrims, whether for plunder, or through hostility to the purer worship still

maintained in the holy city, or from sheer cruelty.

 

Or it is even possible that the wayfarers referred to may have been persons

going from Samaria, the northern capital, to the idolatrous worship at

Bethel. In either case, on the way to their destination or on the return

journey they were set upon and robbed, or, in the event of resistance, they

were murdered – “for they commit lewdness.”  Rather, yea, they have

committed enormity. The zimmah, or infamy, here mentioned is referred

 

  • by some to unnatural wickedness (compare Leviticus 18:17; 19:29);

 

  • it is rather a designation of wickedness and abominations in general;

thus Kimchi explains it of “evil and abominable work of every kind.”

He further remarks: “The prophet says, Not this alone have they done;

but all their works are zimmah. And perhaps zimmah may be explained

of thought, as if he said, As they have thought in their heart so they have

acted.”

 

On this verse generally it may be briefly remarked:

 

·        that “by consent” of the Authorized Version would require dja to be

joined with “shoulder;”

 

·        the connection of the first and second clauses in the Authorized

Version is much the same with that of Ewald: “And as troops lie in wait

 The company of priests murder along the way to Sichem.”

 

·        His explanation is that the priests murdered those that fled by the way

before they reached the refuge, perhaps at the command of some leading

persons ill disposed towards them.

 

 

Israel’s Inconstancy (vs. 4-9)

 

The Lord had just comforted the truly godly portion of the people; He now

turns aside and expostulates with the ungodly. Judah as well as Ephraim —

the two tribes and the ten — fell far short, unspeakably short, of the

picture of penitence, with the annexed promises, which God  had just placed

before them. Their state had become so desperate that destruction had

become their desert, not because of His severity, but their own sin,

themselves being judges.

 

·        THE COMPLAINT OF THEIR INCONSTANCY.

 

Ø      God here speaks as if all remedies had proved futile, and as if He were

at a loss to know how to deal towards them or what to do with them.

Various means had been tried, diverse methods resorted to: He had sent

them precious promises of mercy and alarming threatenings of wrath;

means and expedients had been exhausted; but they had gone from bad to

worse. And now, as though resourceless, the Almighty puts the question

as if to their own conscience, “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?

O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?” (v.4)

 

Ø      Or perhaps we may rather understand such questions as a lamentation

over their case, so deplorable had it become. Thus our Lord wept

over Jerusalem and the desperate state of its doomed inhabitants.

(Luke 19:41-44).  Nor was it a few tears He dropped (ejda>krusen–-

dakrusen - wept ), as at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35); His eyes

brimmed over with tears (e]klausen eklausenlament) , while

His lips uttered the touchingly pathetic words, “If thou hadst known,

 even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong

unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luke

19:42)

 

Ø      The picture of their inconstancy is sadly appropriate. The morning cloud

is an attractive object as it floats sublimely overhead on a summer’s

morning; but it is as evanescent as conspicuous, suddenly fading away

into the “azure deep of air.” Still more lovely is the dew which lies

copiously on the herbage in the early morning, glistening on every blade

of grass and flower petal, and beautifying with its pearly drops the lawns

and pasture grounds.  Soon, however, the footstep of man or beast

brushes it aside, and it disappears; or it is exhaled, and vanishes by the

heat of the advancing day. Thus it was with the goodness of the

Hebrew people, both north and south, at the time referred to.

Several cases of reformation had taken place in Judah; revivals of religion

had occurred, as in the days of Hezekiah, and subsequently in the time

of Josiah; and even in Israel we read of the humiliation of Ahab and the

zeal of Jehu; but these were to a large extent transient and temporary.

So, too, it often happens in times of awakening, sorrow for sin may

becloud the brow of the penitent and tears of contrition bedew his eyes;

but ere long the excitement dies away, and that sorrow and those tears

have passed away, and all serious impressions and gracious influences

have vanished with them.

 

·        CONSEQUENCES OF THE INCONSTANCY COMPLAINED OF.

These consequences are enumerated with some detail in vs. 5-7, though

the fifth verse is differently understood by some, as though it contained

two different kinds of messages sent by God to Israel — messages of

coming wrath to arouse and awaken them, thus hewing them by the

prophets and slaying them by the words of His mouth; and messages of

mercy, bright as the light and beautiful as the sunbeams, to encourage

them, thus causing His judgments to go forth as the light. But this latter

sense does not suit the context.

 

Ø      First of the consequences is denunciation of wrath, when God

denounced their destruction with severity by His messengers the

prophets, and the words of His mouth which constituted the

message which they delivered; while the justice of the judgments

thus visited on them was positively demonstrated and plainly

proved, so that it was seen to be and must have appeared even

to the guilty sufferers clear as the light.

 

Ø      The second consequence is degeneracy in religion. It had

degenerated into mere formalism. In place of mercy came

sacrifices, and for the knowledge of God burnt offerings

were substituted. Outward observances took the place of

 inward devotion. Instead of piety towards God and charity

to man, a tedious round of services was performed. Ritualism

was substituted for religion; ceremonialism for clean hands and

a pure heart.  Obedience to the commandments of God, whether

prescriptive or prohibitory, was neglected; morality was dissociated

from religion; mere rites supplanted moral or religious duties.

 

Ø      But a third consequence was declension of spiritual life in general;

this was additional evidence of the religious degeneracy just referred to.

Covenant-breaking and treacherous dealing are specified. Like the most

reckless of men, they were truce-breakers (this is one of the signs of

the Second Coming of Jesus – II Timothy 3:3 – CY – 2012), bound by

no compact, and regardless of the truth of promises. Besides being

thus practically dishonest, they were altogether unreliable and faithless.

Their sin in this respect, though declared to be against God, involved

a fortiori similar conduct in relation to their fellow-men.

 

·        CONFIRMATIONS OF ISRAEL’S GUILT. Two places are specified

as instances, and their inhabitants singled out as specimens of the

wickedness of the times — Gilead on the east and Shechem on the west of

Jordan. If Gilead be a city — Ramoth-gilead, perhaps — a city of refuge

and a Levitical city, the sin of its inhabitants was something shocking.

When men, who by profession should be an example and pattern to others,

descend to practices directly opposed to that profession, and degrade

themselves by criminal actions of the worst and basest kind, religion is evil

spoken of, a stumbling-block is cast in the way of the weak, the Master

Himself is stabbed in the house of His professed friends. The people of this

highly favored place had set themselves to work iniquity, and that of no

ordinary kind; the blood of murdered innocence clave to their hands.

Shechem was even worse in this respect. In this other city of refuge the

privilege of asylum was profaned. Either guilty persons were admitted and

protected for a bribe, when they should have been delivered up to death;

or, in addition to thus screening the guilty, those who had committed

homicide unwittingly, but who were too poor to offer bribes, were

ruthlessly given up to the blood-avenger; or, worst of all and vilest of all,

the priests who had got settled in the place formed themselves into robber

gangs or common banditti to rob, and in case of resistance murder, the

travelers who were so luckless as to journey that way, or from a

bloodthirsty spirit of revenge they waylaid and assassinated the objects of

their displeasure. In one way or other blood was defiling the land and

crying to Heaven for vengeance. Long before a bloody deed had been done

in this very place, when Simeon and Levi in cruel wrathfulness put the

defenseless Shechemites to the sword; history in a still worse form now

repeated itself.   (Genesis 34)

 

·        COMMUNITY IN CRIME. The proverbial expression of” “Like priest,

like people,” was fully verified in the case before us. When priests

perpetrated such atrocities, what could be expected from the populace?

When religious teachers distinguished themselves as ringleaders in

wickedness, what could be hoped for among the less privileged of the

population? There was, in fact, a community in crime. In the house of

Israel, or main body of the people in the northern kingdom, there was

wickedness so horrible as to make one shudder or the hair stand on end.

However men might attempt concealment, God’s eye detected and

discovered their horrid iniquity, while His justice denounced vengeance

against it. Ephraim is again foremost and first in the present iniquity, as

previously in the idolatrous calf-worship and original revolt. Their

whoredom, whether literal or figurative, exercised a contaminating effect

on the rest of the ten tribes. How baneful the effects of evil influence!

How great the responsibility connected with the exercise of influence!

Judah also, from whom better was to be expected, with the ancient sanctuary

among them and a purer ritual, had been seduced to sin; the example and

influence of their brethren in the north had, no doubt, helped their

depravation, evil communications corrupting good manners. Be this as it

may, they had sown the wind and must in consequence reap the

whirlwind (ch.8:7).   As they had sown and what they had sown, they

must by-and-by reap (Galatians 6:7-8). The general judgment is likened

to harvest (Matthew 13:38-42); so also are special judgments. The

Judahites  who had been made captives by Israel had been set at liberty

through the interposition of the prophet Oded (II Chronicles 28:8-15).

God had spared them then, but set them a harvest at another time; as it

has been remarked, “Preservations from present judgments, if a good

use be not made of them, are but reservations for greater judgments.”

 

10 “I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom

of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.”  The house of Israel comprises

 

·        the ten tribes of the northern kingdom,

·        according to some; it seems more correct to understand it of the whole nation,

including both the northern and southern kingdoms, in which case the remainder

of the verse relates to the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, and the succeeding

verse to the southern kingdom of the two tribes. Further, Israel is not synonymous

with the parallel Ephraim, as Keil thinks; the latter is the principal tribe which

led the way in Israel’s apostasy. The “horrible thing” comprehends every

sort of crime and abomination; while the “whoredom,” literal or spiritual, is

specified as an example thereof. (For the explanation of “there,” see on v. 7.)

 

11 “Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee. The subject

of shath is the indeterminate third person, like the French on, and our

“they” or “one.” The third person singular masculine, the third person

plural, the second person singular masculine, and the passive voice are all

used in this way. So here it is: “One hath appointed (set) a harvest for

thee,” or “a harvest is appointed for thee.” The harvest is either

recompense or retribution, and thus it is either good or evil, for as a man

sows he reaps. The context shows that the reaping here is punishment.

Judah had sinned like Israel; and, in the case of both, A SEED-TIME OF

SIN produced A HARVEST OF SUFFERING AND SORROW!

“when I returned (better, return, or, restore) the captivity of my people.”

The restoration here mentioned is thought

 

  • by some to be the bringing back of the captives;
  • but Keil and others, with good reason, understand it to be turning of the

captivity, and that figuratively, that is to say, the restoration of His people’s

well-being. The shebhuth is the misery of the Hebrew people; the shubh

shebhuth, recovery and restoration of them to their true destiny, But this

necessitates a previous purification by punishment: with this JUDAH,

AS WELL AS ISRAEL, SHALL BE VISITED!   It is as though

God said, “Let not Judah claim superiority over Israel, nor expect to

escape Divine judgment more than Israel. Each reaps what he sows.

When Israel has received the deserved chastisement, Judah’s turn shall

then come also.” The “turning of captivity” is a formula denoting the

restoration of the lost fortune or well-being of a people or person; thus

Job 42:10, “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job.”

 

 

The Broken Covenant (vs. 7-11)

 

Israel had broken covenant with God. In the rupture of this bond was ruptured

also THE BOND WHICH BOUND SOCIETY TOGETHER!   Fearful

wickedness was the result.

 

  • THE BOND BROKEN WITH GOD. (v. 7.)

 

Ø      The primal sin. They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant.”

Our first parents were placed under arrangements involving in them the

essentials of a covenant. Through breach of this covenant came “death

into our world, and ALL OUR WOE!”

 

Ø      Israels sin. God made a covenant with Israel at Sinai. It was a

Covenant of Law, yet it had mercy in the heart of it. It required

obedience, but it embraced provision for the removal of guilt. It

asked from Israel only the pure will and the steadfast heart. It

conveyed to them the highest privileges, and conferred on them

the greatest blessings. Yet they shamefully broke it. They trampled

their compact underfoot. They traversed in every direction the Law

which God had given them.

 

Ø      Our own sin. God has a covenant made with us in the very

Constitution of our nature. There is that within us which binds us to

God and to the practice of goodness. We find ourselves within the

bond of this covenant.  Its obligations be upon us. Yet we have

broken it. We have gone astray. Sin is the breach of this

 covenant.  In committing sin, we know that we:

 

o       violate the law,

o       are guilty of unfaithfulness to God, and

o       are doing violence to our own nature.

 

·        THE BOND BROKEN WITH MAN. (vs. 8-9.) The result of breach

of covenant with God is seen in the open throwing off of all regard from

ordinary moral obligations. The principle of love being dethroned — and

love soon dies out in the soul that has cast out love to Godself-will,

egoism, greed, evil principles of various kinds, usurp its place, and

rule the conduct. These verses, accordingly, hold up A PICTURE OF

LAWLESSNESS AND DISORDER.  (More and more these are

characteristic of society in America in the 21st Century!  This is a sign of

the coming of Christ – Matthew 24:12 – CY – 2012)  Violence filled the

cities; the very priests took part in highway robberies and murders. Society

without God is like an arch from which the keystone is removed.

IT FALLS IN RUINS!   It is like a system of planets without a central sun —

unable to maintain its independence. It becomes a SCENE OF

CONFUSION, A CHAOS!

 

  • INIQUITY MOST SHAMEFUL AMONG THOSE WHO HAVE

KNOWN GOD. (v.10.) This was the aggravation of Israel’s sin. They

had known God, yet were now in this deplorable and desperate condition.

Their knowledge of God made their sin “an horrible thing” — “an

abomination.” Specially hateful to God were the impurities of their

worship. He would punish them with special severity on account of their

special relation to Him (Amos 3:2). Judgment shall begin at the house

of God (I Peter 4:17).  “For if after they have escaped the pollutions

of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus

Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter

end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better

for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after

they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered

 unto them.  But it is happened unto them according to the true

 proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow

 that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  (II Peter 2:20o-22).

 

  • A SIDE-WORD TO JUDAH. (v. 11.) In the judgments that were

about to fall — having, however, for their object, not Israel’s destruction,

but her salvation; the turning of her captivity — Judah might be sure that

she would not escape. God had set a harvest for her also.  What applies

to one sinner applies to another!

 

Terms for Thought

 

Godly Repentance                             Saving Knowledge    

The Promised Dayspring                   God’s Grief over Passing Goodness

Mercy Better than Sacrifice             Divine Institutions Corrupted

 

 

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