Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
I. These words declare that the motive of every Divine judgment, within the limits of this life, is mercy: the end of every affliction, however crushing, is the restoration of a sinner to the peace and the love of God. Within the limits of this life, I say. Thus far our vision stretches. We see but dimly what may lie beyond. Here at any rate the one constant, patient aim of God, by every means of influence which He wields, is to bring men unto Himself.
II. It is important for us to remember what some schools of Christian thought have strangely forgotten—that God's righteousness is not a righteousness which would be satisfied equally by the conversion or by the punishment of a sinner. God's righteousness, God's justice, God's holiness, yearn for the restoration of the sinner to righteousness, quite as much as His holiness and His mercy and His love.
III. There is absolutely nothing on earth irreparable while we can repent and turn unto the Lord, "for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up." There is absolutely nothing in the experience of the sinner, the sufferer, which God cannot transmute into joy. Turn to Him, and as in a healthy frame when wounded, the repairing power begins its work at once. No cloud can long remain on the life which He wills to vindicate. No calamity can long oppress the spirit which He wills to draw to the shield of His strength, and to rest on the bosom of His love.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 269.
References: Hosea 6:1, Hosea 6:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 400; vol. xxiv., No. 1396. Hosea 6:1-10.—F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 261. Hosea 6:2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 132.
Hosea 6:3The infatuation of knowledge is the curse of life; the desire to know unsettles life. We honour the knower, the man who has eaten most of the sad fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Yet what is most of our knowledge? Think of a man in a churchyard, spelling out the inscriptions on the stones—a clever archaeologist; you would not say this added much to his worth of attainment because he was able cleverly to decipher the inscriptions. Yet the world is a vast, wide churchyard, and what we call knowledge is much such a reading of inscriptions. This is not the knowledge that is power. Christian knowledge, true knowledge, is power. Now Christ promises knowledge. You are to estimate a measure yourself by what you know; you are to fall back upon first principles. But you are to follow on and follow after; and as you advance, the light, the gracious light, shall shine upon your way.
I. If religion is progression, it is surely, before it can be this, a beginning; but as a beginning it is a consciousness—consciousness which being translated is knowledge. This knowledge is great because God is the substance of the soul. When God is the substance of the soul, and of all its knowledge, then the blessed life and the blessed knowledge give light within. The old superstitious theosophists used to say, that all things had their star, and each star had its angel above itself, and each angel its idea, or essence, or truth, in God. Is thy. flower withered?—thou hast it in thy star. Is thy star darkened?—thou hast an angel. Is thy angel withdrawn?—thou hast God. See now what knowledge is; as we are said to see all things by the crystal sphere in the eye, so the spirit is the crystal in the eye of the soul; and as the soul has the Divine knowledge within it, so it perceives.
II. But it is a progression. Follow on. I can only conceive of the state of souls as a state of immortal consciousness, a state where hope and memory are as one, and love is only passive in certain and secure possession. "Then shall we know," but the quality of our knowledge will be the same as that which makes the holy life and joy and certainty of earth. We shall live then, not by the accumulation of facts but by consciousness, by feeling, and by thought.
E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 223.
References: Hosea 6:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1246. Hosea 6:3, Hosea 6:4.—Ibid., vol. xv., No. 852; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 75.
Hosea 6:3It is Christ whom our faith must grasp under these two figures, the Day-dawn and the Rain.
I. The day-dawn and the rain represent some resemblances between the coming of Christ in His Gospel and in His Spirt. (1) They have the same manifest origin. The day-dawn comes from Heaven, and so also does the rain. They are not of man's ordering and making, but of God's. It is not less so with the Gospel and Spirit of Christ. The same God who makes morning to the world by the sun, gives the dawn of a new creation to the spirits of men through the Saviour. (2) They have the same mode of operation on the part of God. That mode of operation is soft and silent. The greatest powers of nature work most calmly and noiselessly. And like to these in their operations are the Gospel and Spirit of Christ. The kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation. (3) They have the same form of approach to us—in perfect freeness and fulness. The morning light comes unfettered by any condition, and so also descends the rain. And in this they are fit and blessed emblems of the way in which Christ approaches us, both with His Gospel and His Spirit. (4) They have the same object and end. It is the transformation of death into life, and the raising of that which lives into higher and fairer form. Here, too, they are emblems of the Gospel and Spirit of Christ. These, in like manner, have the same aim—life and revival. The Gospel of Christ is the word of life. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of life.
II. Notice some of the points of distinction between them. (1) Christ's approach to men has a general and yet a special aspect. The sun comes every morning with a broad, unbroken look, shining for all and singling out none. But the rain as it descends breaks into drops, and hangs with its globules on every blade. There is this twofold aspect in the coming of Christ. (2) Christ's coming is constant and yet variable. The sunrise is of all things the most sure and settled. But for the rain man knows no fixed rule. Christ visits men in His Gospel, steady and unchanging as the sun. But with the Holy Spirit it is otherwise: His coming may vary in time and place, like the wind which bloweth where it listeth, or the rain, whose arrival depends on causes we have not fathomed. (3) Christ's coming may be with gladness, and yet also with trouble. And as God's sun and cloud in the world around us are not at variance, neither are the gladness that lies in the light of His Gospel and the trouble that may come from the convictions of His Spirit. (4) Christ's coming in His Gospel and Spirit may be separate for a while, but they tend to a final and perfect union. The Gospel, without the Spirit, would be the sun shining on a waterless waste. The Spirit, without the Gospel, would be the rain falling in a starless night.
J. Ker, Sermons, p. 82.
Hosea 6:4We sometimes hear it taken for granted that there are men who live and die without any serious thoughts. It may be so. But of the far larger class it may assuredly be said that they have, from time to time, their painful misgivings, their agitating fears, their keen convictions; and that the fault is rather that these emotions are intermittent, transitory, evanescent—ever and anon choked and smothered, or else scorched and withered, so that they bring no fruit to perfection.
I. There is first, the "goodness" of early childhood; found not quite unfrequently in the sanctuary of a Christian home, where God is known and loved and honoured, and everything that is attractive and glorious is connected with His name. There, in those earliest days, where open and defiling sin has not yet entered, the thought of God as Father, of Christ as a Saviour, of the Holy Spirit as a Comforter; the thought of heaven as the place where all is pure and loving and happy; the thought of sin as something deadly and hateful—thoughts such as these may be pressed upon the young heart with a freshness, and a fulness, and a beauty which the most advanced Christian warrior would give a thousand worlds to purchase. Happy are they who from such a life are early called to rest. How different their lot from that of those whom the present subject rather sets before us; those who fall from this earliest goodness; those on whom when the sun is up, he shines with a scorching and withering glare, so that their goodness is like the morning cloud or the early dew which are scattered by his rising.
II. There is a second growth of goodness, when he who has already lost much of the innocence of childhood begins to seek earnestly God's grace in boyhood. This kind of goodness is of a higher order than the former, in proportion as victory over sin is more glorious than freedom from temptation. Yet how often is it but as a morning cloud, dispersed by the first rising of the sun. Let us therefore fear. Fear—but not be cast down. There is One who giveth power to the weak, and to those who have no strength increaseth might.
C. J. Vaughan, Harrow Sermons, 2nd series, p. 1.
Hosea 6:4The theme thus brought before us is the frequently transitory character of religious impressions. We may classify the causes which tend to make religious impressions evanescent under three heads.
I. There are, first, those which are speculative in their nature. It has often occurred that when the conscience is awakened the soul takes refuge in the perplexing difficulties which revelation leaves unsolved, connected with such subjects as these—namely, the harmony of prayer with the foreknowledge of God; the consistency of special grace with the free offer of salvation to every hearer of the Gospel; the origin of evil, the doctrine of the atonement, the doctrine of election, and the like: and because no satisfactory solution of these is found, the individual is content to be as he was before, and his half-formed resolutions vanish. Observe (1) that the existence of difficulties is inseparable from any revelation which is short of infinite. (2) These difficulties in revelation are of the very same sort, so far at least as they touch our conduct, as those which we meet in God's daily providence. (3) Difficulties in regard to things of which we are in doubt ought not to prevent us from performing duties that are perfectly plain.
II. A second class of causes which operate in the way of removing spiritual impressions may be styled the practical. There is (1) fear of opposition, (2) the influence of evil associates, (3) the fettering influence of some pernicious habit.
III. A third cause is connected with the conduct of professing Christians. The seriousness produced by some searching discourse is often wiped out by the thoughtless, flippant remarks of a so-called Christian on the way home from church. (1) To those who have felt their religious convictions shaken by this cause, I say: Religion is a personal thing; every man must give account of himself to God, and these inconsistent professors of religion shall be answerable for their hypocrisy at the bar of His judgment. But their inconsistency will not excuse you. (2) My second remark is to those who profess and call themselves Christians. See what stumbling-blocks your inconsistencies put in the way of sinners who may be seriously thinking of returning to God, and be warned to be watchful over your lives.
W. M. Taylor, Limitations of Life, p. 280.
References: Hosea 6:4.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 138; Homiletic Quarterly, vol iv., p. 140.
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: 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.
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.
Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.
Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.
And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.
I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.