Start today in a different voice, directed to a different audience. I imagine the oracle directed to the bystander audience of the previous challenges to the elites who have betrayed the people. The prophet calls all to repent and return.
Yes, referring to the last image of chapter 5, of the pride of lions tearing at the wounded Israel and Judah, God has torn – yet God will heal. Yes, God struck down – yet God will bind.
Christians love the next verse: two days dead, and raised up on the third day, to live in the presence of God. Have you ever heard of resurrection on the third day, rather than preventing and avoiding death, or souls simply escaping death?
We are encouraged to press on, like those working amid darkness and drought, in hope of dawn and rain. Chiding the nations, God says their self-care is like morning dew or a passing single cloud, when full day rain is what is needed.
This is not a technological fix, using a tool or device or ritual or rite to repair a problem, but a demand for a conversion of heart and mind, relationship. You can’t buy off God with a tip, even a sacrifice. You should not have been bought.
All the way back to Adam’s covenant, people break faith with God. Even those across the Jordan in Gilead, bandits raid pilgrims coming to Shechem – this is a universal human mystery – Israel and Judah are no better, punished the same.
You’ll notice the odd half-verse ending the chapter. I’ll tie it to the start of chapter 7 tomorrow, this note of hope or promise. Chapter headings go back to early in the common era. Jerome used to use chapter breaks to facilitate correspondence with Jewish scholars in Alexandria. Verses come later, many added in Reformation days, again for convenient reference as widespread literacy focused on key scripture phrases. My commentaries don’t explain this break convincingly.
Hosea Chapter 6
1 ‘Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
3 Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.’
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my* judgement goes forth as the light.
6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.
7 But at* Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood.
9 As robbers lie in wait* for someone, so the priests are banded together;* they murder on the road to Shechem, they commit a monstrous crime.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s whoredom is there, Israel is defiled.
11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed. When I would restore the fortunes of my people,