Hosea 5:15
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
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(15) Tenderness blends with judgment, and insulted love bleeds and hopes. The image of the lion is dropped. Jehovah speaks of “His own place”—Heaven. He will cause all manifestations of His regard for them to cease till “they suffer punishment, and seek my face,” and, like the prodigal in the flush of a new morning, will arise and go unto the Father.

Hosea 5:15. I will go and return to my place — I will withdraw myself from them, and give them up to exile and punishment, till they acknowledge their offence and seek my face: that is, till they confess their sins, and, by a sincere humiliation, and in fervent prayer, implore my favour. The Chaldee paraphrase expresses the sense thus: “I will take away my majestic presence, or shechinah, from among them, and will return into heaven.” Thus Ezekiel describes the destruction of the temple and kingdom, by God’s removing his glory from the sanctuary and city: see Ezekiel 10:4; Ezekiel 11:23. In their affliction they will seek me early — That is, without delay, and earnestly; or, with great diligence and assiduity. Observe, reader, when we are under the corrections of the divine rod, our business is to seek God’s face, that is, an acquaintance with him, a token of his being at peace with us, and a manifestation of his favour. And it may reasonably be expected that affliction will bring those to God who had gone astray, and kept at a distance from him. For this reason God turns away from us, that he may turn us to himself, and then may return to us. Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. The first three verses of the next chapter should have been joined to this. So the LXX. thought, connecting the last verse of this with the first of the next, by the participle λεγοντες, saying. 5:8-15 The destruction of impenitent sinners is not mere talk, to frighten them, it is a sentence which will not be recalled. And it is a mercy that we have timely warning given us, that we may flee from the wrath to come. Compliance with the commandments of men, who thwart the commandments of God, ripens a people for ruin. The judgments of God are sometimes to a sinful people as a moth, and as rottenness, or as a worm; as these consume the clothes and the wood, so shall the judgments of God consume them. Silently, they shall think themselves safe and thriving, but when they look into their state, shall find themselves wasting and decaying. Slowly, for the Lord gives them space to repent. Many a nation; as well as many a person, dies of a consumption. Gradually, God comes upon sinners with lesser judgments, to prevent greater, if they will be wise, and take warning. When Israel and Judah found themselves in danger, they sought the protection of the Assyrians, but this only helped to make their wound the worse. They would be forced to apply to God. He will bring them home to himself, by afflictions. When men begin to complain more of their sins than of their afflictions, then there begins to be some hope of them; and when under the conviction of sin, and the corrections of the rod, we must seek the knowledge of God. Those who are led by severe trials to seek God earnestly and sincerely, will find him a present help and an effectual refuge; for with him is plenteous redemption for all who call upon him. There is solid peace, and there only, where God is.I will go and return to My place - As the wild beast, when he has taken his prey, returns to his covert, so God, when He had fulfilled His will, would, for the time, withdraw all tokens of his presence. God, who is wholly everywhere, is said to dwell "there," relatively to us, where he manifests Himself, as of old, in the tabernacle, the temple, Zion, Jerusalem. He is said to "go and return," when He withdraws all tokens of His presence, His help, care, and providence. This is worse than any affliction on God's part , "a state like theirs who, in the lowest part of hell, are "delivered into chains of darkness," shut out from His presence, and so from all hope of comfort; and this must needs be their condition, so long as He shall be absent from them; and so perpetually, except there be a way for obtaining again His favorable presence."

Till they acknowledge their offence - o: "He who "hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live," withdraws Himself from them, not to cast them off altogether, but that they might know and acknowledge their folly and wickedness, and, seeing there is no comfort out of Him, prefer His presence to those vain things." which they had preferred to Him To say, that God would hide His Face from them, "until they should acknowledge their offence," holds out in itself a gleam of hope, that hereafter they would turn to Him, and would find Him.

And seek My Face - The first step in repentance is confession of sin; the second, turning to God. For to own sin without turning to God is the despair of Judas.

In their affliction they shall seek Me early - God does not only leave them hopes, that He would show forth his presence, when they sought him, but He promises that they shah seek Him, i. e. He would give them His grace whereby alone they could seek Him, and that grace should be effectual. Of itself affliction drives to despair and more obdurate rebellion and final impenitence. Through the grace of God, "evil brings forth good; fear, love; chastisement, repentance." "They shall seek Me early," originally, "in the morning," i. e., with all diligence and earnestness, as a man riseth early to do what he is very much set upon. So these shall "shake off the sleep of sin and the torpor of listlessness, when the light of repentance shall shine upon them."

This was fulfilled in the two tribes, toward the end of the seventy years, when many doubtless, together with Daniel, "set their face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes" Daniel 9:2-3; and again in, those "who waited for redemption in Jerusalem" Luke 2:25, Luke 2:38, when our Lord came; and it will be fulfillment in all at the end of the world. "The first flash of thought on the power and goodness of the true Deliverer, is like the morning streaks of a new day. At the sight of that light, Israel shall arise early to seek his God; he shall rise quickly like the Prodigal, out of his wanderings and his indigence."

15. return to my place—that is, withdraw My favor.

till they acknowledge their offence—The Hebrew is, "till they suffer the penalty of their guilt." Probably "accepting the punishment of their guilt" (compare Zec 11:5) is included in the idea, as English Version translates. Compare Le 26:40, 41; Jer 29:12, 13; Eze 6:9; 20:43; 36:31.

seek my face—that is, seek My favor (Pr 29:26, Margin).

in … affliction … seek me early—that is, diligently; rising up before dawn to seek Me (Ps 119:147; compare Ps 78:34).

I will go and return to my place: after the manner of man God speaks, he will do that which shall be like a man’s going away from such as refuse though they need his help, he retires; God will withdraw his saving help.

Till they acknowledge their offence; till they confess and humble themselves for their sins.

And seek my face; me their God, my mercy, and my law; their Sovereign as well as Saviour.

In their affliction they will seek me early; in deep distresses they will, at least some will, seek me diligently, as indeed they did at the end of Judah’s seventy years’ captivity. I will go and return to my place,.... Leave the countries of Israel and of Judah, where he had used to grant his gracious and spiritual presence unto his people, and watched over them, and cared for them, and bestowed many favours on them, and go up to heaven, the place of his more glorious presence, as the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it; and there, as it were, shut himself up, particularly with respect to these people, as if he had no more thought of them, or concern for them: this is to be understood in a sense becoming and agreeable to the omnipresence of God:

till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; till the Israelites acknowledge their idolatry, and the Jews their disbelief and rejection of the Messiah, and all other sins; till they ingenuously confess themselves to be guilty, or know and acknowledge they have sinned, as the Targum; and then humbly seek the face and favour of God, the remission of their sins from him, and acceptance with him:

in their affliction they will seek me early; in the morning, betimes, early, and earnestly; which affliction may be understood both of the Assyrian and Babylonish captivity; or rather of their present affliction toward the close of it, when they shall be sensible of their sins, and confess them, and look to him whom they have pierced, and mourn, and seek for pardon, righteousness, and salvation, from him; and so all Israel shall be saved, of whose conversion this is a prophecy.

I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
15. return to my place] See Micah 1:3, from which it is clear that Jehovah’s ‘place’ is the heavenly temple (Isaiah 6:1). Now that Jehovah has for a time deserted his guilty people, he will return to his seat on high, and watch (Isaiah 18:4) the doings of men. He has full confidence that Israel on his side will return and repent.

acknowledge their offence] Rather, feel their guilt (as the word means in Leviticus 4:4-5; Zechariah 11:5).Daniel 10:2, Daniel 10:3 introduce the following revelation by a statement of the occasion of it. ההם בּימים refers back to the date named in Daniel 10:1. The ימים after שׁבעים does not serve to designate the three weeks as common day-weeks, in contrast to the שׁבעים of Daniel 9:24., but is an accusative subordinated to the definition of time which expresses the idea of continuance: three weeks long, or three whole weeks, as Genesis 41:1; cf. Gesen. Gramm. 118, 3. For three weeks Daniel mourned and fasted, i.e., abstained from the usual food. חמות לחם, precious food, delicacies; but Hv., v. Leng., Maur., Hitz., and Kran. interpret it of leavened bread, so called in contrast to the unleavened paschal bread, the bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3). But this contrast is not well founded, for the מצּות (unleavened cakes) of the passover was not (notwithstanding Deuteronomy 16:3) bread of sorrow, but pure, holy bread, which Daniel did not eat, in opposition to the law, for three weeks. לחם is not to be limited to bread in its narrower sense, but denotes food generally. Flesh and wine are festival food, Isaiah 22:13; Genesis 27:25, which is not had every day. The anointing with oil was the sign of joy and of a joyous frame of mind, as with guests at a banquet, Amos 6:6, and was intermitted in the time of sorrow; cf. 2 Samuel 14:2. Fasting, as an abstaining from the better sustenance of common life, was the outward sign of sorrow of soul.

According to Daniel 10:4, Daniel mourned and fasted in the first month of the year, the month in the middle of which the paschal feast was kept, in which Israel celebrated their deliverance from their state of slavery in Egypt and their advancement to be the people of God, and were joyful before their God. On the 24th day of this month occurred the Theophany (Daniel 10:4.), with which, however, his fasting came to an end. According to this, it appears that he fasted from the third to the twenty-third of the month Nisan; thus it began immediately after the feast of the new moon, which was kept for two days (cf. 1 Samuel 20:18., 27, 34 with 6:29; Daniel 2:19). Thus Hv. and Hitzig conclude; while v. Leng. and Maurer argue, from Daniel 10:13, that between the time of fasting and the appearance of the angel an interval elapsed, consequently that Daniel fasted from the first to the twenty-first of the month Nisan. But from Daniel 10:13 nothing further follows than that the angel was detained twenty-one days; so that the question as to the beginning and the end of the fast is not certainly answered from the text, and, as being irrelevant to the matter, it can remain undecided. More important is the question as to the cause of such long-continued great sorrow, which is not answered by the remark that he was thus prepared for receiving a divine revelation. According to Daniel 10:12, Daniel sought הבּין, i.e., understanding as to the state of the matter, or regarding the future of his people, which filled him with concern. The word about the restoration of Jerusalem which he had received through the angel Gabriel in the first year of Darius (Daniel 9) had come to pass since that revelation in the first year of Cyrus, but had had only little effect on the religious lukewarmness of the majority of the people. Of the whole people only a very small portion had returned to the land of their fathers, and had begun, after restoring the altar of burnt-offering, to build the house of God in Jerusalem. But while the foundation of the new temple was laid, there mingled with the joyful shoutings of the people also the loud wailings of the old men who had seen the former temple in its glory, when they beheld this building undertaken amid circumstances so depressing and sorrowful (Ezra 3:1-13). In addition to this, the Samaritans immediately, when the Jewish rulers refused for conscience sake to permit them to take part with them in the building, sought, by means of influences used at the Persian court, to prevent the carrying on of the building (Ezra 4:1-5). This sad state of matters could not but, at the beginning of the new year, fill the heart of Daniel with deep sorrow, and move him at the return of the time of the passover to mourn in fasting and prayer over the delay of the salvation promised to his people, and to supplicate in behalf of Israel the pardon of their sins, and their deliverance out of the hand of their enemies. Therefore he mourned and fasted before and during the paschal days for three weeks, until on the twenty-fourth day of the month he received a revelation from God.

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