Hosea 6:1-3 is a continuation of verse 15 in the previous chapter. God wants to see Israel repent and return to Him. They could expect their nation’s healing only after God’s chastisement (6:1). Even if they were as dead ones today, by the next day God would revive them, and on the third day He would give them power to live for Him (6:2). If they would know God intimately and pray to God, God would surely appear before them, and bless them with good rains and good harvests (6:3).
Ephraim (v. 4a) represents northern Israel. God said to both Israel in the north and to Judah in the south, “What shall I do to you?” Their faithfulness to God and love for Him disappears like a morning cloud and like the early dew (6:4b). That is why the messages of God’s prophets declared to them His words of destruction (6:5-7). His judgments would come after the absence of their love for Him which disappears as easily as the morning cloud or early dew (6:5). They brought to God their animal sacrifices and offerings, but God desired their loving faithfulness (6:6). They acted against God’s expectation. As Adam had transgressed and sinned against God in Eden, they also had trodden down and broken their covenant with God (6:7).
Gilead was the most important region of Transjordan. Sometimes the whole Transjordan was represented by the name “Gilead.” As Samaria in the west of the river Jordan committed sin, Gilead in the east of Jordan also did evil (6:8). God pointed out the evil of the priests in Gilead (6:9). They were to be instructors of religious matters, and were expected by God to have a high moral standard. Nevertheless the priests acted like a band of robbers waiting for a man to come along to kill him on the way to Shechem, which robbers did (v. 9).
God saw horrible things in the kingdom of northern Israel (6:10). It was their idol worship which was as “fornication” in the eyes of God. They “defiled” themselves by their idol worship and lewdness and broke their relationship with God.
May we respond positively to God’s unchanging love for us, and may we have and enjoy a true relationship with God.
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D.