Come, and let us return to the LORD: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up.
Affliction is represented as having at length accomplished its work. In the far country the prodigal bethinks himself of his father's house. He comes to himself. He says, "I will arise," etc. (Luke 15:18). Thus shall Israel at last take with them words, and turn to the Lord (Hosea 14:2). The words stand as a form for Israel to take up whenever their hearts shall turn to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16).
I. RETURN TO GOD RESOLVED UPON. (Ver. 1.) The people incite one another to return to God, as formerly they had encouraged one another in wickedness. They strengthen each other's good resolves. This is as it should be. Their language is that of true wisdom. It shows:
1. That they rightly understand the Source of their affliction. "Let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn," etc. They see God's hand in what has befallen them. They recognize him as their Chastener. They own the justice of what he has done. They acknowledge their sufferings to be a just punishment for their sins. The penitent justifies God and condemns himself (Psalm 51:4).
2. That they recognize God's beneficent hand in their affliction. "He hath torn, and he will heal us," etc. They no longer upbraid God because he has dealt thus hardly with them. They feel that they deserved it all and more. They perceive, too, what his end has been in the tribulation through which he has caused them to pass, viz. to subdue their rebelliousness, and bring them to repentance, that he might heal them. God's rod has always kindness hidden behind it. The true penitent owns this.
3. That they have confidence in God's power and willingness to restore them. They argue from his power to smite what his power must be to heal. His power to destroy is the measure of his power to save. Nor do they doubt - perceiving as they do his hand in afflicting them - that if they return they will be graciously received (Hosea 14:2, 4). The sinner may always have this confidence towards God. He has no pleasure in afflicting, He desires only to lead to repentance. When the sinner returns, he may rely on a warm welcome. The wounds made by his Law or his judgments God will heal; his smiting will prove to have been in love.
II. ISRAEL'S HOPE IS RETURN TO GOD. (Ver. 2.) Returning to God, the people are confident that God will "revive' them, will "raise them up." The terms include both national restoration and spiritual quickening.
1. Revival implies a previous state of death. So Israel, in her banishment, was as it were dead to God. The nation is still sunk in the moral death of unbelief. Its recovery will be as "life from the dead" (Romans 11:15). The soul, in its natural condition, is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
2. Revival is an act of Divine power. An act even of omnipotence (Ephesians 1:19). Only Omnipotence can "open the graves" of scattered and rejected Israel (Ezekiel 37:11-14). Omnipotence is required for all resurrection (Matthew 22:29) - the resurrection of Christ (Ephesians 1:20), the resurrection of the dead soul (John 5:25), the resurrection of the body (John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58). Only almighty power can revive the Church when life is gone, or is going, out of it.
3. Revival follows speedily on penitent return. "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up." The words indicate a short period. Israel would not be kept waiting at the door of mercy. God hastens to meet the returning sinner with his mercies. David was forgiven the instant he confessed (Psalm 32:5). The prodigal was without delay reinstated in his place as son (Luke 15:22-24).
4. Revival is through Christ. His resurrection is the pattern and ground of every other (Ephesians 1:19, 20). Israel's history in a manner recapitulated itself in him. His rejection and death was for her sins, and the sins of the whole world. In his cross the judgment of God on sin culminated. His resurrection, in like manner, conditions all revival. It is therefore to say the least, significant that words should be used here so exactly descriptive of the period during which Christ remained under the power of death. There is probably a glance Christ-wards in the passage.
5. The end of revival is that we may live unto God. "And we shall live in his sight." See this thought developed in Romans 6:10, 11; 2 Corinthians 5:15. The new life, having God as its Source, has God also as its End.
III. THE ASPECTS OF GOD'S GRACE TO ISRAEL. (Ver. 3.) What God wills to be to his people, he cannot discover to them all at once. There is greater fullness in him than they can at once apprehend. His coming is like the dawn - progressive, brightening by degrees till it culminates at noon; and like the rain, falling in repeated and seasonable showers. Would Israel, therefore, know all that God is, she must "follow on" - must persevere in her new way. God would open himself up to her in new manifestations of grace, suited to each step in her advance. "Dawn" and "rain" are influences.
(3) beneficent; yet
(4) distinct in their effects.
1. The dawn is primarily enlightening; the rain fructifying.
2. The dawn gladdens; the rain refreshes.
3. The peculiar effects of the dawn are those of contrast; the rain gives heightened beauty to effects already existing. - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.